Galaxy fall in Gerrard’s competitive debut

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Steven Gerrard made his competitive debut for the LA Galaxy on Wednesday night but the former Liverpool midfielder couldn’t stop his new side losing 1-0 to Real Salt Lake in the quarterfinal of the U.S. Open Cup.

[ MORE: Dos Santos to join LA ]

Aaron Maund, an unlikely hero, popped up to score the game-winner and although LA’s chances of winning the Open Cup were ended at Rio Tinto Stadium, Gerrard was pleased to continue his progress with the Galaxy and get more minutes under his belt.

Speaking to LA’s club website, here is what the 35-year-old English midfielder had to say.

“I walk away disappointed with the result. I move away with another 45 minutes out the locker room, so that will get me towards full fitness,” Gerrard said. “But I’m walking away with a cheeky smile, because I’m very happy with my feeling in the game I’m very confident moving forward.”

Gerrard came on at half time to play his second 45 minutes in an LA shirt following his debut against Club America last weekend. The former Liverpool man had two good looks at goal, as he sailed an effort over in the final 15 minutes which you would expect him to score.

[ VOTE: Should Gerrard, Lampard be in MLS All-Stat game? ]

That said, Gerrard is happy despite the defeat and feels as if he is acclimating to his new surroundings after 17 years at Liverpool as a professional.

“It’s been a whirlwind change over the last week or two. I’m two weeks into a brand new challenge and a very big change and I’m still searching for 100 percent fitness, but I can feel it coming,” Gerrard said. “I’d be very frustrated and disappointed if I wasn’t getting chances while the chances are there. I know and have full belief in myself that them chances will sooner rather than later go in the back of the net… I’m strangely very happy at the moment. It’s given me a flavor of the MLS standard tonight, and I’m very confident that the goals and the assists and the dangerous play will come from me in the future.”

Gerrard will make his MLS debut for LA on Friday against the San Jose Earthquakes at the StubHub Center, with the California Clasico next up for Bruce Arena’s side.

Djokovic to start 2023 in Adelaide ahead of Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic will open his 2023 campaign in Adelaide as he prepares for a shot at a 10th Australian Open crown a year after having his visa revoked on the eve of his title defense.

The 21-time major winner has been granted a visa by the Australian government and has been listed to play at the Adelaide International, which starts Jan. 1.

Serbia isn’t contesting the inaugural United Cup team competition, leaving Djokovic free to play regular warmup tournaments head of the Jan. 16-29 Australian Open.

He’ll be joined in the men’s draw at Adelaide by Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada and Andy Murray.

Ons Jabeur, Aryna Sabalenka will headline the women’s draw.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles last month confirmed Djokovic had been granted a visa to compete in Australia in January. The 35-year-old Serbian had been facing a possible three-year ban after being deported last January over his stance against COVID-19 vaccination.

Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times, including the last three times he played. Rafael Nadal won this year’s title in Djokovic’s absence.

Djokovic was not vaccinated against COVID-19 when he arrived in Melbourne ahead of the 2022 tournament, but Australia has since lifted strict rules for unvaccinated travelers.

Karolina Pliskova reuniting with Sascha Bajin

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Two-time Grand Slam finalist Karolina Pliskova is reuniting with coach Sascha Bajin ahead of the 2023 season.

Pliskova posted on her website and her Twitter account about the move, which comes about six months after she and Bajin stopped working together. The pair originally teamed up in November 2020.

While Bajin was her coach, Pliskova reached the final at Wimbledon in 2021 before losing to champion Ash Barty. Pliskova also was the runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open, where she defeated Serena Williams in the semifinals before being beat by Angelique Kerber for the trophy.

After splitting from Bajin in July, Pliskova was coached by Leos Friedl. Their results together included a quarterfinal run at the U.S. Open.

Bajin has worked as a coach or hitting partner with several top tennis players, including Grand Slam title winners Williams, Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

“Thank you for having me back,” Bajin wrote on Twitter. “Let’s go get it.”

Pliskova is a 30-year-old from the Czech Republic who reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings in 2017 and finished this season at No. 31 after going 21-21 with no titles.

Her team also includes fitness specialist Jez Green and physiotherapist Martin Salvador.

Next year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, begins Jan. 16.