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Lleyton Hewitt Not Backing Off Davis Cup Criticism

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Austalia captain Lleyton Hewitt is not going to back off his criticism of the new-look Davis Cup, standing by his belief that the format should have never been changed in the first place.

“I still feel the same way,” Hewitt said (h/t ESPN).

“In terms of the Davis Cup and how we all knew it … two of the biggest differences and what the competition was all about was home and away ties and matches played over five sets.

“You couldn’t do that in any kind of form in our great game and if you look at the pinnacle of our game, which are the Grand Slams, they are played over five sets.

“But this is a new format and as I said at the start of the year, our boys get to wear the green and gold and play for their country.

“It doesn’t matter if we are playing marbles out there, we’re going to lay everything on the line and do what we can to represent our country and make everyone back home proud.

“In terms of that, nothing changes and we have to go out there and do our best.”

The 18-team, world cup-style Davis Cup event officially kicks off in Madrid on Monday, and the winners from each of the six groups will move on to the quarter-finals on Thursday, along with the two best runners-up.

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Golf

Phil Mickelson to play the Saudi International tournament on the European Tour

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Phil Mickelson has decided to play the Saudi International tournament on the European Tour, according to ESPN’s Bob Harig.

Mickelson will play the event the same week as the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the PGA event that Mickelson has won three times during his career.

The European Tour added the Saudi International, which is supported by the government of Saudi Arabia, to it’s schedule last year, amidst a ton of criticism.

“I am really looking forward to playing in Saudi Arabia in January,” Mickelson said in a statement. “I watched Dustin [Johnson] win the title last year and thought the course looked like an interesting challenge. Having so many talented players on show also made it look like a much more established tournament than one in its inaugural year. I have enjoyed my previous visits to the Middle East and am looking forward to playing in a new country and doing my bit to grow the game in the Kingdom.”

Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia and Tony Finau also have committed to play the event which takes place from January 30th through February 3rd.

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CFL

Tiger-Cats’ Chris Van Zeyl Planning to Be Vocal Leading Up to Grey Cup

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As the Hamilton Tiger-Cats prepare for their clash with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this Sunday in the Grey Cup Tiger-Cats offensive lineman Chris Van Zeyl is looking to take on a vocal role leading up to the game.

“I don’t care who’s listening I’m going to tell every guy all week,” Van Zeyl said following Hamilton’s East Division win over the Edmonton Eskimos. “(Grey Cup week) is going to be a marathon week . . . for guys new the league or who haven’t experienced Grey Cup week, there are distractions everywhere.

“The team that stays focused the best is the team that usually wins the Grey Cup. If we can lock in for one more week and treat it like it’s going to be our last week together as a family and team, I’m pretty confident in our ability to win the game.”

Van Zeyl has stepped into the starting lineup for the offensive line and has been a big part of the TiCats success this season despite the loss of Jeremiah Masoli to a season-ending knee injury forcing to the team to turn to backup Dane Evans.

“There was no weight of expectation put on me,” Van Zeyl said. “This team embraced me and let me do what I had to do.

“I can’t speak highly enough about the quality of people in this locker room and leading this team in terms of coaches and front office and what they’ve done for me and this organization.”

“I’ve never really been one for personal accolades,” Van Zeyl said. “To be honest, it would mean a lot but if we don’t win the Grey Cup it will be all for nothing.

“I’m going to give that one night, and really that’s all it is — one night — everything but I want to make sure I put my best foot forward so when we’re in the Grey Cup my teammates know they can count on me.”

“I still feel like I’m playing pretty dominant football and I’m going to play until I’m not having fun anymore,” he said. “Honestly, this has been a heck of a fun year for me.

“But that’s a credit to the guys around me and the coaches and preparation that goes into every game. It’s fun to come to work every day, it’s fun to play with these guys and I look forward to many more years with this team.”

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Wings’ Skylar Diggins-Smith Vows to Continue to Fight for Moms

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Dallas Wings’ Skylar Diggins-Smith has no plans to leave the organization and is instead vowing to continue her fight for moms, striving to improve conditions for working moms in the WNBA.

Diggins-Smith, 29, gave birth to her son earlier this year and did not play for the Wings this WNBA season, but was able to collect her full salary. It is worth noting because the WNBA and the players’ union are currently in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement, negotiations that Diggins-Smith believes is a time to give the league’s mothers more priority.

“I usually don’t use Twitter as a journal about what I’m thinking; I try not to emotional-tweet,” Diggins-Smith said, according to ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel. “But I think that day I had just … I got it off my chest. I’m ready to put some action towards the conditions for working moms in the league and every industry.”

“Sometimes when you’re not being heard, you’ve got to shout,” she said. “I’ve never told the Wings that I didn’t want to play for them next year. I said the conditions of our organization need to be improved. I was very transparent. We haven’t had a conversation about free agency or about coring, because we don’t really know [with the CBA still being negotiated].

Diggins-Smith is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent but says that her recent remarks were not intended to give the impression she wanted to leave the team.

“I’ve been with the organization the longest. I’ve always felt like I’ve shown loyalty to Dallas, so when I’m asking for things, that stuff should be reciprocated. I’m going to continue to fight for this.”

For now, Diggins-Smith is working on a much greater cause.

“I’ve already reached out to a few moms. As we negotiate with the CBA, how can we improve things?” Diggins-Smith said. “It’s about prioritization; we can’t have everything. But I’m going to bring that portion to the table because I’m a mom.”

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