The Australian Open: Embarrassing, Stupid, and Unfair

By now I’m sure you know the situation in Australia due to COVID: If you don’t live there you can’t visit unless you have citizenship; if your parents or kids are there and you haven’t seen them for God knows how long you still can’t enter. Even if you have citizenship and are re-entering the country, you’re stuck having to quarantine for 14 days in a designated hotel.
But here’s the thing. With the 2021 Australian Open taking place, albeit a few weeks after it was originally planned, tennis players are getting somewhat of an exception to enter the country and play the event. On paper that’s great for staff, players, and fans. Staff will have jobs as some may currently be unemployed, players will be able to compete in one of tennis’ biggest events and earn prize money, and fans will have a Grand Slam to watch.
Unfortunately, for all the good the event can bring, there’s simply so much bad that it’s honestly laughable and embarrassing that the event is going ahead. One of these biggest cases is the quarantining required of certain players, which is simply unfair.
As expected, due to Australia being closed to the general public, special flights from all over the world were scheduled for players and their teams to arrive–all 1200+ of them. Whilst everyone was tested pre-flight, that doesn’t mean they can’t test positive a few days later after the flight.
Earlier we found out a few people on these flights entering Australia tested positive upon arrival. Due to this, everyone on these flights will now have to quarantine for 14 days, among them 47 players–including the likes of Grand Slam champions Victoria Azarenka, Sloane Stephens, Angelique Kerber, and Japanese superstar Kei Nishikori.
This is when things get pathetic–during quarantine these players won’t be allowed to practice and train. Sorana Cirstea voiced her frustration on Twitter about the situation, claiming she doesn’t mind quarantining for 14 days–making a joke about spending it watching Netflix–but the issue coming in competing at the Australian Open with no practice and training after. How can we expect these players to compete with others who’ve been training for five hours (and more in some cases) a day for the two weeks they’re locked away?

People complaining we are entitled. I have no issues to stay 14 days in the room watching netflix. Believe me this is a dream come true, holiday even. What we cant do is COMPETE after we have stayed 14 days on a couch. This is the issue,not the quarantine rule.
— Sorana Cirstea (@sorana_cirstea) January 16, 2021

Which is ironic in itself given tournament director Craig Tiley said: “If a player has to quarantine and be stuck in a hotel for two weeks just before their season, that won’t happen… You can’t ask players to quarantine for two weeks and then step out and be ready to play a Grand Slam” back in October. How can you say something like that then have it play out in reality just three months later?
Now given the extreme nature of the situation, you would have thought all the players arriving in Australia would have been informed regarding the protocol if someone tests positive on the plane, but somehow that’s not the case.
Kazakh player Yulia Putinseva went on Twitter to share that no one had told her or her team that she would have to quarantine if someone tested positive. If she had known, she would have potentially not made the effort to enter the country and event. She also said later on that they were told if the player or someone in her team positive then everyone in that group would have to quarantine.

What i don’t understand is that, why no one ever told us, if one person on board is positive the whole plane need to be isolated I would think twice before coming here
— Yulia Putintseva (@PutintsevaYulia) January 16, 2021

Just to add to the mixed messages and awful communication of the tournament to players, Alize Cornet shared that she was told the plane would be separated into sections of ten people, and if someone tested positive that whole section would have to quarantine. She followed this up saying the risk of injury playing tennis at a high level after such a prolonged break is very high, and quite honestly it’s hard not to see her point.

But we are not asking the Victorian residents to play a professionnal sport afterward. The risks of injury after a two weeks break is huge. Maybe I'm too focused on my side of the story, but that's also why we are here for
— Alize Cornet (@alizecornet) January 16, 2021

Just to make matters even worse, there’s been reports of rats in the hotel rooms of quarantined players and it not being rectified for hours. 18-year-old Marta Kostyuk further reported that the Wi-Fi wasn’t very good and that some fellow players had no Wi-Fi altogether, while others weren’t even able to make calls with their own coaches.
Honestly, when I decided to write this article, I wanted to give several different reasons why this year’s Australian Open was a joke. These varied from Andy Murray being forced to withdraw from the event despite likely testing negative closer to the event, top players such as Rafael Nadal being allowed bigger teams, better accommodation, and facilities and the country letting in 1200+ plus when at least a good 70,000 Australian citizens in Melbourne aren’t allowed to leave to return home elsewhere in the country. Even from a tennis point of view, if it were the likes of Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic on these flights, would they really quarantine them for 14 days without access to training? You tell me.
Keeping all those other points in mind and players being quarantined in awful conditions, lied to, and simply disrespected, this whole Australian Open is a disgrace. I am ashamed as a tennis fan that this event is going ahead in Australia, one of the most locked down countries in the world while “regular” people can’t even visit their own family.
It also seems a major unnecessary risk. Australia effectively has no current COVID outbreaks due to its geographic isolation and strict lockdowns. Is hosting a tennis tournament really worth bringing in over 1,200 people and risking exposing so many people?
Simply put, this whole mess of a situation could have been avoided by having the event moved to a country which didn’t have such extreme measures in place–just look at how well last year’s US Open and Roland Garros tournaments were run despite the situation. Or if that wasn’t possible given it’s a Grand Slam, it should have been cancelled, no two ways around it. I’m not too sure what Tennis Australia were thinking when they green-lit the event, but I’m pretty sure they were thinking with their pockets more than their heads.
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Francesca Jones Defying the Odds

Francesca Jones qualified for the 2021 Australian Open in the United Arab Emirates, where the qualifying was held due to COVID-19.
The young Brit had been one of the lowest ranked players in qualifying. She only made the event due to other players withdrawing. Jones defeated Lu Jiajing in the final round to book her place in her first ever Grand Slam main draw.
Who is Francesca Jones?
Francesca Jones was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire and will celebrate her 21st birthday in September. Jones is the current British No.5. Born with the rare genetic condition Ectrodactyly-Ectodermal Dysplasia, the Brit has three fingers and a thumb on both hands, four toes on her left foot and three toes on her right foot.
This resulted in balance problems and difficulty gripping tennis racquets. Doctors advised her to give up on her dreams, as she would never play professional tennis in their mind.
Jones left Britain at the age of nine, training at the Sanchez Casale Academy until the age of 16. The young Brit has featured on the ITF circuit. During the interrupted 2020 season, Jones played many events. Her best placing were semifinals, the last being in Istanbul at the end of October.
Qualifying Run
Heading to Abu Dhabi for Australian Open qualifying, the young Brit could not even be sure she would participate. Her ranking of 241 meant she was on the alternate list. Fortunately, for Jones withdrawals meant that she landed a place in the draw.
When the draw was made, however, it did not look good for Jones. Her first round opponent was Romanian Monica Niculescu, who was also the 28th seed. The Brit was not intimidated and took out the seed in straight sets, barely losing a game. Jones won the first round of qualifying 6-2 6-3.
The second round saw the Brit against Jana Fett. The Croatian pushed Jones hard in the first set, taking it to a tiebreak. In the breaker Fett kept the pressure on, but Jones showed the determination that is referred to in her county of birth as “Yorkshire grit” to edge the breaker.
Fett managed to regroup, as Jones’ level dropped and the Croatian strolled through the second set. Jones though fought back in the final set, and once again proved the Yorkshire grit to move into the final round of qualifying 7-6(9) 2-6 6-1.
The final qualifying round saw the Brit against Lu Jiajing. The Chinese player barely got any time on the court as in just over an hour the Brit had dominated the match. Jones lost only one game, and she appeared annoyed to have done that. She took the match 6-0 6-1 to qualify for a Grand Slam main draw for the first time.
Seeing condition as a positive
Jones spoke to the press after qualifying and was asked if she had ever reached a low point due to her condition. She responded “I wouldn’t say I’ve ever reached a low point due to my syndrome. I stand by what I’ve said previously which is I try and use it as a positive and I see it as an advantage in many ways.”
The Brit had also doubted if she would be able to take to the court leading up to the first match, stating that “Before the first few days before my match, I was speaking to my coach and I was saying that my fingers had actually split from the cold in the UK and I couldn’t hold the racket too well on my forehand side.
“The forehand is my best shot so I had a wee mental breakdown before the match to be honest. It was a few days before the match and my fingers were still cut and I wasn’t sure how I’d be able to take advantage of my weapon.”
Jones has now flown to Australia and should be taking part in the first Grand Slam of the year. What is not clear, however, is if the event will still go ahead having been thrown into turmoil with news that 47 players are self-isolating after passengers on the charter flights from USA and Dubai tested positive for the virus.
Main Photo:
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NHL Bad Beats: Thoughts And Prayers To Bettors Who Had Kings, Under

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If you had tickets for either the Los Angeles Kings or the under, we’re sorry for your terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Marcus Johannson’s one-timer with 10 seconds remaining in overtime lifted the Minnesota Wild to a 4-3 victory over the Kings on Saturday.

And if you think that’s bad, well, we’re just getting started.

The only reason the game even went to overtime was because Minnesota teammate Ryan Suter tied the game with 0.3 left in regulation. The game-tying goal forced overtime at 3-all, losing it for all those who bet the under on the 5.5 total.

The Kings went into the game +110, as well.

Suter’s tally came after Minnesota carried the puck the length of the ice in the final 15 seconds. The Kings had just missed a long-range, empty-net chance off the post in the final minute. Had Los Angeles scored there, a two-goal lead would’ve sealed it for Kings bettors, but wouldn’t have helped those who took the under, either.

Check it out:

Horrible beat for Kings and Under 5.5 bettors Minnesota's Ryan Suter scores as time expires in regulation. Wild would go on to win it in OT(via @fsnorth)— br_betting (@br_betting) January 17, 2021

And here’s the overtime goal:

WELCOME TO THE WILD, MARCUS JOHANSSON!!!Another 4-3 OT win for the @mnwild— FOX Sports North (@fsnorth) January 17, 2021

That can’t ever happen again, right?

More Betting:
NHL Bad Beats: Thoughts And Prayers To Bettors Who Had Kings, Under

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Bills Advance To AFC Championship For First Time Since 1994

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No plastic table is safe in Buffalo this weekend.

The Buffalo Bills took care of business in the NFL’s Divisional Round on Saturday, defeating the Baltimore Ravens 17-3.

Now, Buffalo advances to the AFC Championship for the first time since 1994.

For the first time since 1994, we’re…— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) January 17, 2021

Additionally, the Bills are the first AFC East team that isn’t the New England Patriots to make the AFC Championship game in a decade.

Their fans were pretty excited, too.

All of #BillsMafia— Mackenzie Lozano (@mackenzielozano) January 17, 2021

#BillsMafia right now— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) January 17, 2021

Hey #BillsMafia hit me up. Letting these go for like $1,000 a piece. DM— 𝗟𝗮𝘄𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗧𝘆𝗻𝗲𝘀 (@lt4kicks) January 17, 2021

OMG THIS IS HAPPENING!! #GoBills #BillsMafia AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME!!— Shawn At The Game (@ShawnAtTheGame) January 17, 2021

#BillsMafia watching the two games on Sunday:— Buffal O'Bills (@BillsEire) January 17, 2021

One game away!!! May the Bills be with you! Go Bills!!!!! @BuffaloBills #BillsMafia— Bills Vader (@BillsVader) January 17, 2021

I don't even know how to feel right now. #BillsMafia— y-Tyrone Billums (@Buffwagon819) January 17, 2021

Cause we're the two best friends that anyone could have….#BillsMafia #Bills— Greg Vorse TV (@GregVorse) January 17, 2021

people in buffalo right now #billsmafia— Ryan Mura (@RyanMura) January 17, 2021

So. Proud. Of this team and this city. Finally showing the world about #Buffalo. #BillsMafia— Christy Kern (@christykern4) January 17, 2021

The Bills are one game away from the Super Bowl and you love to see it.

Next up, they face the winner of Sunday’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns.

More NFL:
Bills Advance To AFC Championship For First Time Since 1994

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How Aaron Rodgers Feels About Facing Tom Brady, Drew Brees In NFC Championship

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Aaron Rodgers is moving on to the NFC Championship, but which longtime quarterback will be joining him?

Rodgers and the top-seeded Green Bay Packers earned a convincing 32-18 win over the Los Angeles Rams during the NFC Divisional Round on Saturday. Rodgers and the Packers will now host the winner of Tom Brady’s Buccaneers against Drew Brees’ Saints, which is scheduled for Sunday night.

Rodgers, while admitting he was still in celebration mode from Saturday’s win, shared excitement about the next challenge.

“To be honest, I’m still reveling in this one. There’s a lot of time to think about those things. My initial reaction is those guys are great, great players. Have been for a long time,” Rodgers told reporters postgame.

“It’ll be, I don’t know if it will be the oldest, but combined age of the starting quarterbacks will definitely be up there, competing for the championship,” Rodgers continued. “I’m sure you guys will figure that out at some point and write something about it, but I’m just so happy for our guys, definitely a little emotional thinking about what we’ve been through. I’m just still really happy about everything that happened tonight.”

Rodgers was 23-for-36 passing for 296 yards with three touchdowns (two passing) in the victory. It will be the first time the Packers are hosting the NFC title game since 2007.

More NFL:
Bills Advance To AFC Championship For First Time Since 1994

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James Harden Makes NBA History In Nets Debut

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James Harden went his last four games as a Houston Rocket failing to record more than 20 points.

His first performance for the Brooklyn Nets? Quite the opposite.

The eight-time NBA All-Star on Saturday made his debut with Brooklyn against the Orlando Magic at the Barclays Center, and made it quite memorable.

Seriously, though. With his 32 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds, Harden made league history as the first player to record a 30-point triple-double in their first game with a new team, per ESPN sports & Info.

James Harden is the first player in NBA history with a 30-point triple-double in their debut with a team.Kevin Durant and James Harden have combined for 70 points, their most ever in a game as teammates (including playoffs).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 17, 2021

Oh, and Kevin Durant finished with 42 points in the 122-115 win. Sheesh.

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Caris LeVert ‘Out Indefinitely’ After Trade To Pacers

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Caris LeVert ‘Out Indefinitely’ After Trade To Pacers

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It looks like we know what was holding up the blockbuster NBA trade that transpired last week.

The Indiana Pacers on Saturday announced that Caris LeVert, whom the team just acquired from the Brooklyn Nets as part of the four-team deal that also involved James Harden and Victor Oladipo, will be out indefinitely.

According to the team, an MRI in his team physical revealed a small mass on his left kidney that requires further medical tests.

Caris LeVert will be out indefinitely after an MRI revealed a small mass on his left kidney during a physical prior to finalizing the four-team trade. LeVert will undergo further medical tests and more details will follow as needed.— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) January 16, 2021

In the original reported details of the trade, the Pacers made out great getting LeVert and a second-round pick while moving Oladipo, who was on an expiring contract.

It looks like to get the deal done, a 2024 second-round pick Brooklyn received in the deal from Cleveland is now headed to Indiana.

“On behalf of my family and myself, we want to thank the Indiana Pacers for their support and guidance,” LeVert said in the team-issued statement. “We are grateful for their extreme thoroughness during the physical process and I am looking forward to joining the team and being part of this great organization as soon as possible.”

Hopefully the mass is nothing serious.

More NBA:
James Harden Available For Nets Debut With Trade Reportedly Complete

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Tom Brady Gave Chase Young Memorable Gift After Playoff Matchup

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Chase Young asked, Tom Brady delivered.

Fulfilling a request from the standout rookie defensive end, Brady gifted Young a signed jersey after his Tampa Bay Buccaneers dispatched Young’s Washington Football Team in the wild-card round of the NFL playoffs.

“Chase, best of luck!,” Brady wrote on the red No. 12 jersey.

The quarterback also snuck in a reference to their alma maters’ storied rivalry, writing “Go Blue :)” beneath his signature. Brady is a Michigan alum. Young played at Ohio State.

Both players on Saturday shared a photo of the signed jersey on social media.

The Brady-Young battle became a major storyline after the latter called out the former following Washington’s Week 17 win. Brady decisively won that matchup, throwing for 381 yards and two touchdowns while Young, the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year favorite, was held without a sack, tackle for loss or QB hit.

The two exchanged compliments after the game, with Young also asking Brady for his jersey.

[email protected] @youngchase907— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) January 12, 2021

Brady’s Bucs will visit the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night in the divisional round.

Tom Brady Gave Chase Young Memorable Gift After Playoff Matchup

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Why Patriots Fans Should Recognize This Rams Two-Point Play Vs. Packers

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A bit of trickeration helped the Los Angeles Rams narrow their deficit in Saturday’s divisional-round matchup with the Green Bay Packers.

After a Cam Akers touchdown cut Green Bay’s lead to nine late in the third quarter, Rams coach Sean McVay dialed up a good ol’ hook-and-lateral on the ensuing two-point conversion.

Quarterback Jared Goff fired a screen pass to receiver Van Jefferson, who then flipped the ball to an uncovered Akers. Akers waltzed into the end zone, pulling LA to within seven.

The trickery on the 2pt [email protected] pull within 7. #NFLPlayoffs: #LARvsGB on FOX: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app:— NFL (@NFL) January 16, 2021

New England Patriots fans watching at home likely recognized that play design. The Miami Dolphins ran a nearly identical play against New England in Week 15.

Miami’s — which featured a throw from Tua Tagovailoa to Isaiah Ford followed by a pitch to Salvon Ahmed — also resulted in a successful two-pointer.

Hook & Ladder two-point conversion #FinsUp: #NEvsMIA on CBS: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app:— NFL (@NFL) December 20, 2020

Patriots offensive tackle Jermaine Eluemunor was quick to spot the similarity.

That Rams 2 Point Conversion looks hella familiar— Jermaine Eluemunor (@TheMainShow_) January 16, 2021

Future Patriots? Rams-Packers Playoff Game Could Feature Potential Additions

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NFL Odds: Aaron Jones’ Bettors Rejoice After Packers’ Star Shines To Start Second Half

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Those who placed bets on Packers running back Aaron Jones can breathe a little easier after Green Bay’s first possession of the second half against the Los Angeles Rams.

The Packers star running back hit not one, but two different prop bets on the six-play, 75-yard possession during the NFC Divisional Round game on Saturday.

Jones started the second half by taking a handoff 60 yards up the middle on the first play after the intermission. The fourth-year standout surpassed his rushing-yard prop (68.5) with the run, and nearly did it in just that one carry. Ultimately, Jones tallied 63 yards of the possession after a modest first half of 22 rushing yards, a start which may have made some over bettors nervous.

What a way to open the second half.Aaron Jones goes 60 YARDS. #GoPackGo #NFLPlayoffs: #LARvsGB on FOX: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app:— NFL (@NFL) January 16, 2021

Those who took the rushing prop weren’t the only to benefit, however.

Jones, who eclipsed 1,100 yards during the regular season, also capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run. It was his first score of the game, helping all those who bet him to score at anytime (-106), which was practically even money.

Jones was +650 to score the first touchdown of the game, but that honor went to All-Pro receiver Davante Adams, who was 5-to-1 entering the game.

Jones’ touchdown earned the Packers a 25-10 lead over the Rams merely three minutes into the second half.

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