Sport shorts: Roger Federer’s ski trip is delayed and LeBron James promises to continue Kobe Bryant’s legacy

1. Federer’s miracle in Melbourne 

Roger Federer produced a miracle performance this morning to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open – where he will meet great rival Novak Djokovic. 

Swiss tennis icon Federer, a 20-time grand slam champion, saved seven match points to beat unseeded American Tennys Sandgren 6-3, 2-6, 2-6, 7-6 (10-8), 6-3 in a five-set classic.

The 38-year-old, who also won in five sets against John Millman in round three, admits he should “already be skiing in Switzerland” and did not deserve the win against Sandgren.  

He said: “Got to get lucky sometimes I tell you that. Those seven match points, you’re not in control. I was just hoping he was not going to smash the winner, and if he missed one or two, who knows what he is thinking about. 

“I got very lucky. As the match went on I started to feel better again and the pressure eased off. I don’t deserve this one but I’m standing here and I’m very very happy.”

Federer added: “You do feel better in a couple of days and you just never know. With these lucky escapes maybe you play freely because you know you should already be skiing in Switzerland. Might as well make the most of it.”

Defending champion Djokovic secured his semi-final spot after a 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1) win over Milos Raonic. The semi-final between Djokovic and Federer will be played on Thursday.  

Tomorrow’s other men’s singles quarter-finals will see world No.1 Rafael Nadal face Dominic Thiem and Stan Wawrinka take on Alexander Zverev. 

2. Barty to play Kenin

Ashleigh Barty and Sofia Kenin will meet in the first women’s singles semi-final after winning their matches on Rod Laver Arena this morning. 

Australian Barty, the world No.1, beat Petra Kvitova 7-6 (8-6), 6-2 while American 14th seed Kenin won 6-4, 6-4 against Ons Jabeur.

Tomorrow it’s Simona Halep vs. Anett Kontaveit and Garbine Muguruza vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the remaining two women’s singles quarter-finals.

For analysis of the biggest sport stories – and a concise, balanced take on the week’s news – try The Week magazine. Start your trial today 

3. Root proud of England 

Captain Joe Root says the “sky is the limit” for the England cricket team after securing a 3-1 Test series win in South Africa. 

Yesterday England completed a 191-run victory in the final Test in Johannesburg and Root said: “We’ve made it very clear how we want to play moving forward and the guys have bought into that. 

“We know it won’t happen overnight, and won’t necessarily be straightforward all the time, but as long as it keeps going on an upward curve, as long as we take out chances when we get them, and are always looking to push each other forward and improve, then the sky is the limit for this group.”

4. Ferrari’s Leclerc has title in sight

There’s high hopes at Ferrari that Charles Leclerc can battle for the Formula 1 title this year. The 22-year-old Monégasque driver agrees that’s the aim, but he’s also prepared to wait until 2021.

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He said: “I hope in 2020 I can win the title, but I am happy to wait until 2021. It is going to be very difficult and I think 2020 will be a very important year when teams are going to invest a lot because the budget cap is coming in from 2021.” 

F1 2020 season guide: car launch dates and GP calendar

5. Spurs agree deal for Bergwijn

Sky Sports reports that Tottenham have agreed a deal with PSV Eindhoven for Dutch winger Steven Bergwijn. The 22-year-old missed PSV training this week to travel to London for a medical with the Premier League club.

6. LeBron promises Kobe: I’ll continue your legacy 

A heartbroken LeBron James has posted an emotional tribute to former NBA icon Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday. 

Los Angeles Lakers star James, who overtook Bryant as the NBA’s third-highest points scorer, wrote on Instagram: “I’m not ready but here I go. Man I sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had.

“Man I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids. I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man!

7. Townsend: door still open for Russell 

Scotland rugby head coach Gregor Townsend says the door remains open for Finn Russell to return to the squad but the fly-half must show he is a team player, The Guardian reports.  

Russell will miss the Six Nations opener against Ireland this weekend after a breach of team protocol. 

Townsend said: “The door is open for any player. Obviously he is unavailable not because of injury, he is not available because of what went on and there has got to be a link to where he would be in terms of: ‘Is he with the team?” 

Six Nations 2020 guide: squads, fixtures and predictions

8. Rodgers urges Foxes to reach Wembley

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers has urged his team to beat Aston Villa tonight and reach the final of the Carabao Cup. 

With the tie level at 1-1 and a Wembley place at stake, Rodgers said ahead of the semi-final second leg at Villa Park: “Players’ careers are short, so if they can get to finals and experience that, these are opportunities you want to take. 

“I think the older you get the more you can think about it and the opportunities may become less for you, and you’re aware of that, the older you get.”

For analysis of the biggest sport stories – and a concise, balanced take on the week’s news – try The Week magazine. Start your trial today 

9. FA Cup fifth-round draw

Arsenal will play Portsmouth in the FA Cup fifth round after winning 2-1 at Bournemouth last night. Goals from Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah secured the Gunners their place in the last 16. 

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Holders Manchester City travel to Sheffield Wednesday while Manchester United are also on the road, playing the winner of the replay between Northampton Town and Derby County. Victory for Derby will see Wayne Rooney go up against his former club.

Fifth-round draw 

The fifth round will be played across three midweek nights from 3-5 March with no replays

  • Sheffield Wednesday vs. Manchester City  
  • Reading or Cardiff City vs. Sheffield United  
  • Chelsea vs. Shrewsbury Town or Liverpool  
  • West Bromwich Albion vs. Newcastle United or Oxford United  
  • Leicester City vs. Coventry City or Birmingham City  
  • Northampton Town or Derby County vs. Manchester United  
  • Southampton or Tottenham Hotspur vs. Norwich City  
  • Portsmouth vs. Arsenal

10. Today’s back pages 

Independent claims that Manchester United won’t be able to make any new signings this month after failing in their attempt to land Sporting Lisbon’s Bruno Fernandes. 

However, the paper says there is better news down the line with United lining up summer moves for Leicester City’s James Maddison and Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish.

Today’s newspaper back pages

Man Utd to miss out on signings

For analysis of the biggest sport stories – and a concise, balanced take on the week’s news – try The Week magazine. Start your trial today 


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