Rafael Nadal to Play Doubles with Roger Federer at Laver Cup

Rafael Nadal is partnering with his oldest rival…

The 36-year-old Spanish tennis superstar will join forces with Roger Federer as he plays the final professional match of his career at the Laver Cup in London on Friday.

Rafael NadalAt Thursday’s draw, it was confirmed that Federer will join Nadal for Team Europe against the American pair of Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock for Team World on Friday night.

Federer, a 20-time Grand Slam champion, will then be replaced by Italy’s Matteo Berrettini for the rest of the event.

“It’s super special playing with Rafa,” Federer said in a news conference. “… To be able to do that one more time, I’m sure it’s going to be wonderful.”

Said Nadal: “Tomorrow is going to be a special thing. Difficult. Going to be difficult to handle everything, especially for Roger, without a doubt. But for me too. At the end, one of the most important players — if not the most important player — in my tennis career is leaving.”

Federer, 41, who announced last week that he’s retiring because of an ongoing right knee issue, had said Wednesday that playing alongside 22-time Slam champion Nadal would be a unique, fitting way to go out.

“For as long as we battled together, having had always this respect for one another, our families, coaching teams, for us as well to go through a career we both have had, come out the other side and have a nice relationship, is maybe a great message to tennis and beyond,” Federer said.

The three-day team event will begin Friday afternoon at The O2 Arena with two singles matches. Norwegian Casper Ruud, the runner-up at the US Open earlier this month, will play Sock in the opener before Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece takes on Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman.

The evening session will begin with former world No. 1 Andy Murray up against Alex de Minaur before Federer takes the court for the final time.

“I’m not sure if I can handle it all, but I’ll try,” Federer said Thursday about his sure-to-be-emotional on-court farewell.

Tiafoe, who beat Nadal en route to his first Grand Slam semifinal at the US Open this month, deadpanned about the matchup, “Yeah, I’m just excited to play two up-and-comers tomorrow,” before adding, “It’s going to be iconic to be a part of that. Both guys are absolute legends.”

Federer and Nadal played each other in singles 40 times (Nadal won 26), including 14 Grand Slam matchups (Nadal won 10, going 6-3 in finals). Nadal came out on top in their classic 2008 Wimbledon final, considered by some the greatest match in history, while Federer won their last showdown, in the 2019 semifinals at the All England Club.

They also played one other doubles match together, defeating Jack Sock and Sam Querrey at the inaugural Laver Cup in 2017.

“To be part of this historic moment,” Nadal said about Friday, “is going to be something amazing, unforgettable.”

Raul Rosas Jr. Becomes Youngest MMA Fighter to Sign with UFC

Raul Rosas Jr. has earned his place in UFC history…

The 17-year-old Mexican mixed martial artist has become the youngest fighter to sign with the UFC.

Raul Rosas Jr.Rosas signed with UFC Tuesday night, following a unanimous decision win over Mando Gutierrez on Dana White‘s Contender Series.

White, impressed by Rosas’ performance, offered the teen a contract before the end of the show, which he accepted. Rosas is the youngest fighter to compete on the series.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” White said of Rosas’ age and outing against Gutierrez. “Not only that, the amount of fighters blowing me up saying you’re crazy not to (sign him). … He’s absolutely, positively talented. He’s special, he’s different.”

Rosas, a bantamweight fighter, dominated the 25-year-old Gutierrez for most of the fight with his grappling prowess. He nearly finished Gutierrez in the first round with a rarely used Suloev stretch submission from back control. Gutierrez had moments, taking Rosas down and landing some ground-and-pound. But almost always, Rosas would end up in the better position, using his dexterity, skill and creativity on the ground to scramble his way to the top.

Rosas (6-0) had finished all of his previous opponents before Tuesday night. The Mexican-born fighter, who trains out of Las Vegas, previously fought in the UWC promotion in Tijuana.

Dan Lauzon holds the record as the youngest fighter to compete in the UFC (18 years, 198 days), per ESPN Stats & Information research. As long as Rosas steps into the Octagon within the next 216 days — a likely scenario — he will beat that mark.

And Rosas is already talking about winning championships. The youngest UFC champion was Jon Jones at age 23 in 2011.

“Everybody shouldn’t be surprised,” Rosas said. “I’m the new king in here, so I’m coming for that belt now. … I’m gonna be champion when I’m 20. Respect to everybody, but I’m gonna be champion when I’m 20, or even earlier. Nobody is gonna stop me.”

Chris Avila to Fight YouTube star Doctor Mike in October

Chris Avila is puttin’ on the boxing gloves…

The 29-year-old Latino UFC and Bellator MMA veteran will compete against YouTube star Doctor Mike in a four-round, professional boxing match on October 29 in Glendale, Arizona.

Chris AvilaThe contracted weight will be 185 pounds, and the pair will fight with 10-ounce gloves. An official announcement is expected to be made soon.

Doctor Mike, whose real name is Mikhail Varshavski, is a well-known social media influencer with more than 23 million followers across platforms and more than 10 million YouTube subscribers.

Varshavski competed in an amateur boxing match back in May, a unanimous decision win over YouTube personality IaniDubbbzWashburn. That event raised $1.3 million for charity, and Varshavski donated his entire fight purse to Ukraine relief. For the Avila fight, Varshavski will donate his purse to the Boys & Girls Club, per officials.

“As a practicing physician, I’ve taken an oath to ‘do no harm,’ but when those ‘exam’ gloves come off and the boxing gloves slide on: all bets are off,” Varshavski said via a statement. “With one win under my belt, I’m hungry to add more. And this pro-fight with Chris Avila could be just what the doctor ordered.”

This will be Varshavski’s pro boxing debut, as he joins the likes of Jake Paul as famous YouTubers competing against professional boxers.

Avila is 1-1 as a pro boxer and is an eight-year veteran of mixed martial arts, a longtime member of Nate Diaz‘s team in Northern California. Most recently, Avila beat Paul sparring partner Anthony Taylor last December in a boxing match via majority decision. Avila is expected to be the first fighter signed to Diaz’s new promotional entity Real Fight Inc., which is still going through the process of getting licensed by athletic commissions.

“Hmmmm, let’s see. I am giving him a height advantage, a reach advantage and a medical degree advantage,” Avila said on Tuesday. “It’s whatever though. If he wants to go to boxing fantasy camp, then I’m glad to give him the lesson he wants. A real fight against a real fighter who is not here to play games or clout chase for Instagram.”

Also on the card, Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions‘ top prospect, 18-year-old Ashton Sylve, will face boxing veteran Braulio Rodriguez in an eight-round fight contracted at 133 pounds, per officials. Sylve is undefeated at 7-0 with seven knockouts, and Rodriguez (20-4, 17 KOs) is just one fight removed from competing against Ryan Garcia, a 2018 knockout loss at Madison Square Garden. This represents a major step up in competition for Sylve.

The card will be put on by MVP and distributed by Showtime.

“MVP was started 14 months ago with a goal to elevate fighters and provide a platform that puts them first,” Paul and MVP co-founder Nakisa Bidarian said via a statement. “From the highest levels of boxing like Amanda Serrano, to young elite prospects like Ashton Sylve and unique crossover matchups like Avila vs. Dr. Mike, we pride ourselves on delivering exciting events that have something for everyone. On Saturday October 29, we are proud to partner with Showtime once again and deliver a night of boxing for the ages.”

Willy Hernangomez Named Tournament MVP as He Helps Lead Spain to EuroBasket Gold

Willy Hernangomez is celebrating a valuable performance…

The 28-year-old Spanish professional basketball player, who plays for the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, scored 14 points as Spain topped France 88-76 on Sunday to win the EuroBasket gold medal.

Willy HernangomezFor his performance throughout the week, Willy was named the tournament MVP.

Meanwhile, his brother Juancho Hernangomez scored 27 points in the gold medal game.

It was Spain’s fourth European championship in its past six tries, all those golds coming under coach Sergio Scariolo.

“It’s easy to say that we are extremely happy,” Scariolo said. “We got into this championship in eighth place in the power ranking, and we managed to climb, step by step. … It’s been amazing now to see we are above all those great teams.”

Spain EuroBasket 2022 TeamLorenzo Brown scored 14 points and had 11 assists for Spain, while Jaime Fernandez scored 13.

Evan Fournier led France — which also dropped the gold-medal game at the 2020 Tokyo Games to the U.S. last summer — with 23 points, while Thomas Heurtel scored 16 and Guerschon Yabusele added 13.

“Spain played better from start to finish,” said Fournier, who plays with the New York Knicks. “They had a clear game plan, and we did not execute ours well enough. … We never really had control of the game. They just played better, man, period.”

This was supposed to be a rebuilding summer for Spain. Pau and Marc Gasol, the longtime leaders of the program, retired from international play following a quarterfinal loss to the U.S. at the Tokyo OLympics. Sergio Gonzalez also decided last summer was the right time to walk away, after 16 years with the national team. Sergio Llull and Ricky Rubio, two more of the team’s veterans, couldn’t play because of injuries.

The winning tradition continued anyway. Spain is now the reigning Basketball World Cup (won in China in 2019) and EuroBasket champion. It has also medaled in 10 of its past 11 EuroBasket appearances.

“It’s hard to explain with words how I feel,” said Willy Hernangomez. “I’m feeling extremely proud of my teammates, of my coaching staff, of all the Spanish federation from the top to the bottom. We much deserve this gold medal.”

But this young team also had the exuberance of youth: As Scariolo and Willy Hernangomez were trying to hold a postgame news conference, the rest of Spain’s roster crashed the session, armed with water bottles, and soaked the MVP and their coach.

“That’s the dark side of having a young team,” Scariolo said, as he happily dabbed at his face with a towel. “I don’t see Pau Gasol throwing water around.”

Juancho Hernangomez was 6-for-6 from 3-point range in a six-minute span of the second quarter, helping Spain extend what was a 23-14 lead into a 45-26 edge with just about three minutes left in the half.

It was perhaps a mildly unlikely source for a 3-point barrage. He had made a total of 12 3s in his eight previous games in this year’s EuroBasket tournament, and his high in any NBA game is six.

“We needed him today and he was there for us,” Willy Hernangomez said.

An 11-0 run helped France cut what had been a 21-point deficit to just 47-37 at the half — and the momentum carried into the third quarter.

Yabusele’s jumper with 6:52 left in the third got France within 49-46, and everything seemed to be shifting.

But Spain held on. Juancho Hernangomez’s seventh 3-pointer with 7:29 left made it a 71-61 game, and the outcome wasn’t in doubt again.

“I cannot be happier as a basketball coach,” Scariolo said.

Houston Astros’ Framber Valdez Sets MLB Single-Season Record with 25th Straight Quality Start

Framber Valdez has earned his place in Major League Baseball history…

The 28-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher for the Houston Astros set a major league single-season record with his 25th straight quality start in the Astros’ 11-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.

Framber Valdez Valdez’s streak is tied for the third-longest all time across multiple seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Valdez (16-5) allowed two runs and four hits in six innings to pass Jacob deGrom (24 in 2018) for the most consecutive quality starts in a single season in MLB history. Valdez, who threw his first career shutout in his last start, is 15-4 during his streak, which began April 25.

“It’s one of those things that just goes down on your resume, and to be able to have a record like that does mean a lot for me,” he said through a translator.

Valdez’s career-high 16 wins rank second in the American League behind teammate Justin Verlander (17) and his 2.57 ERA is sixth.

Manager Dusty Baker raved about the consistency Valdez has brought to the team this season.

“That’s a remarkable streak,” Baker said. “There have been some great pitchers that he surpassed by breaking this record and I’m just glad that he accomplished it and we won the ballgame.”

Canelo Álvarez Ends Bitter Rivalry vs. Gennadiy Golovkin with Unanimous Decision Victory

Canelo Álvarez has ended his rivalry with Gennady Golovkin in epic fashion…

The 32-year-old Mexican professional boxer beat Golovkin via unanimous decision in their third and final fight of their epic boxing trilogy.

Canelo AlvarezAlvarez was 115-113 on two judges’ scoreboards with the third scoring the fight 116-112. He defeated Golovkin in 2018 via a controversial majority decision and their first fight in 2017 ended in a split draw.

“He’s a strong fighter,” Álvarez told the crowd in Las Vegas. “For me, I’m just glad to share the ring with him. He’s a really good fighter. I’m glad to be involved in that kind of fight.”

Golovkin returned the sentiments to Álvarez.

“Everybody knows this is high level, the best fight for boxing,” Golovkin said. “Look at his face. Look at my face. It’s high level, because we trained well, and this shows that we did a very good fight, very good quality.”

Álvarez landed only 26% of his punches, including 85 power punches, according to CompuBox. Álvarez was also cut over his right eye.

He bounced back nicely from a devastating loss to Dmitry Bivol in May.

“Thank you so much for your support,” he said. “I’ve gone through very difficult things in my life. Only thing you can do is continue to move forward. I’ve gone through difficult times with my defeat, but defeats can show how you can be great, how you can come back and show humility.”

Álvarez improved to 58-2-2 in his career. Golovkin fell to 42-2-1. Golovkin has only lost to Álvarez in his career.

Yordan Alvarez Hits Three Home Runs to Help Houston Astros Clinch Playoff Berth

It’s a smashing night for Yordan Alvarez

The 25-year-old Cuban professional baseball designated hitter and left fielder hit three monster home runs to help the Houston Astros past the Oakland Athletics 5-0.

Yordan AlvarezAlvarez homered in his first three at-bats, to help the Astros clinch a postseason berth on Friday night.

The Astros (95-50) won their sixth straight game to join the Los Angeles Dodgers as the first two teams to secure playoff spots, reaching their sixth straight postseason.

There was no big celebration for this team with much bigger goals, but the Astros did share a quiet toast in the clubhouse postgame.

“You’ve got to keep in perspective … how hard it is to get to the playoffs and to stay on top like this for a while,” Verlander said. “It’s not easy. So I’m glad we were able to take a moment.”

Alvarez, tied for second in the AL with a career-high 36 home runs, had solo shots off Adrian Martinez in the first, third and fifth innings. He capped his big night with a single in the seventh to tie his career high with four hits.

“Hitting one home run feels great, imagine hitting three,” Alvarez said in Spanish through an interpreter. “Just a very special night.”

It is his second three-homer game and first since August 10, 2019, a season when he won American League Rookie of the Year. There have been only 15 three-homer games in Houston history and Alvarez joined Glenn Davis and Jeff Bagwell as the only Astros to have more than one.

Alvarez’s homers totaled 1,329 feet — 434, 431 and 464. He joined Nelson Cruz on July 25, 2019, as the only players with three 400-plus foot homers in a game since Statcast started tracking in 2015.

“Yordan was unbelievable,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Those balls he hit, I don’t know what the combined feet were, but boy that’s a lot of mileage.”

There were two outs in the first when Alvarez connected on a shot to straightaway center field to make it 1-0.

Alvarez’s second homer came with two outs in the third to extend the lead to 2-0.

Jeremy Pena hit his 18th homer to left field with one out in the fifth. The Astros went back-to-back when Alvarez sent the next pitch from Martinez into center field to extend the lead to 4-0 and send Houston’s dugout and the crowd into a frenzy.

“You take Alvarez out of the lineup and the line’s a lot different,” Oakland manager Mark Kotsay said. “Yordan is a guy that I referred to before the season started as a possible MVP candidate. And he showed why tonight.”

Cardinals Slugger Albert Pujols Near ‘700 Club’ with 698th Home Run

Albert Pujols inching closer to joining the MLB’s 700 club…

The 42-year-old Dominican-American professional baseball first baseman and designated hitter for the St. Louis Cardinal hit his 698th career home run on Friday night in a 6-5 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

Albert PujolsWith one out in the sixth inning, Pujols swung at the first pitch from reliever Raynel Espinal, an 84 mph slider, and launched a 427-foot shot out to left field.

The crowd was already on its feet in anticipation, and Pujols rounded the bases to a tremendous cheer.

Pujols is fourth on the all-time list, trailing only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).

The homer, which had an exit velocity of 106.3 mph, was Pujols’ 19th of the season, the second-most in a season for a player 42 years or older. He has 12 home runs since August 10, one behind Aaron Judge and Eugenio Suarez for the most in Major League Baseball over that span.

The two-run shot tied the score at 4-4 and gave Pujols a six-game RBI streak, his longest since 2017. He upped his career total to 2,203 RBIs, moving him within 11 of Ruth for second all time, behind Aaron’s 2,297.

David Puig Launching Pro Career with LIV Golf

David Puig is going pro.

The 20-year-old Spanish professional golfer, a senior at Arizona State University, has announced his decision to skip his senior season and turn pro through an Instagram post.

Puig didn’t include which professional tour h’d be joining or when he’d begin his pro career in the post, but he’s listed on the LIV Golf‘s website as a member of its roster and, according to Puig’s LIV Golf bio, he’ll make his pro debut at the LIV Golf Invitational Chicago, which will be played at Rich Harvest Farms on September 16-18.

Puig is now the second college golfer to forego their eligibility to join LIV Golf. Eugenio Chacarra left Oklahoma State before his senior year to join the upstart tour.

Now it’s Puig, who, like Chacarra, gave the impression over time that he would enter the professional ranks after the 2023 NCAA Championships. In a twist of fate, Puig will begin his pro career 62 miles from where his college teammates will play this weekend at Olympia Fields in the Fighting Illini Invitational.

Puig is currently ranked ninth in the World Amateur Golf Rankings and 100th in Golfweek‘s collegiate individual rankings. He’s a two-time All-American and finished T-11th in last year’s NCAA individual championships.

Puig waited to declare as a professional until he competed in the U.S. Amateur in August and the World Amateur Team Championships earlier this month. But a jump to LIV Golf was a topic he couldn’t avoid after playing in two LIV tournaments as an amateur over the summer.

He finished 40th in London and 42nd in New Jersey to earn $267,000 in prize money but didn’t accept it to retain his amateur status, which he vacated Monday.

Framber Valdez Ties MLB Quality Start Record with Career-First Shutout

Framber Valdez is on a monumental streak… And, he’s capping it off with a historic night.

The 28-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher threw his first career shutout and the Houston Astros beat the Detroit Tigers 7-0 on Monday night.

Framber ValdezValdez (15-5) posted his 24th straight quality start, tying New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom (2018) for the longest single-season streak.

“This means a lot to me, because it means I’m helping the team when I’m pitching,” Valdez said through a translator. “They help me with their great defense and their offense, and I know I’m giving them a chance to win.”

The All-Star left-hander gave up six hits and struck out eight with one walk.

“That’s a monumental streak — a lot of great pitchers have never come close to getting there,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “Players know when they are getting close to something like that, and that doesn’t bother me, because I know it motivates them to excellence.”

Valdez became the 12th major league pitcher to throw a shutout this season — on track for the fewest in a full season since eight in 1873. No pitcher has more than one.

It was just the 28th complete game in the big leagues this year — down from 50 during the entire 2021 season.

The Tigers were shut out for the second day in a row and club-record 21st time this season, tying them with the 1973 New York Yankees and 1976 Chicago White Sox for most by a team with a designated hitter.

Detroit had runners thrown out at the plate in the first and third innings.

“We made a couple young mistakes early, because we’re struggling to score and we’re trying to make things happen,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “That’s 91 wins for them, and a lot of that comes from elite defense.”

Jeremy Pena had three hits for the Astros and scored twice.

“We scored quite a few runs and I think we could have more,” Baker said. “I’m just happy with the results.”

Tigers starter Eduardo Rodriguez (3-5) allowed five runs on 10 hits and a walk in five innings.

“They just keep the line moving when they get something going,” Hinch said. “Eduardo wasn’t sharp and they got to him.”

Jose Altuve started the game with a single, stole second and scored on Pena’s single. Pena also stole second and Alex Bregman’s RBI single made it 2-0.

Valdez said the two outs at the plate inspired him to go for his first shutout.

“Once I got out of the third inning, I knew I had a chance,” he said. “That’s always a goal of mine, and today I wanted to get it because I was getting such great defensive plays.”

In the third, the Astros managed to add a run on an inning-ending double play. With the bases loaded, Kyle Tucker hit a grounder to shortstop Javy Baez, who was shifted to the right side. Bregman froze between first and second, preventing Baez from tagging him. Detroit turned the 6-3-4 double play, but Pena scored from third before the Tigers could retire Bregman.

Tucker made it 4-0 with an RBI groundout in the fifth and Yuli Gurriel followed with a run-scoring double.

Tucker added a two-run single in the ninth.

As usual, Valdez picked the team’s navy blue jerseys for his start, but said it wasn’t for superstitious reasons.

“I don’t know why, but they feel lighter to me,” he said. “We’re going to keep wearing them when I pitch.”