PSG coach Pochettino in the dark over Mbappe future

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe fights for the ball against Monaco’s Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas during their French L1 match in 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 20 May 2022

PSG coach Pochettino in the dark over Mbappe future

  • Mbappe is expected to reveal in the coming days whether he will join Real Madrid or accept a lucrative offer to stay at PSG
  • "I don't know what his decision is. I think it's a personal matter for Kylian and for the club," Pochettino said

PARIS: Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino insisted Friday he has no idea where Kylian Mbappe will play his club football next season as the striker’s contract in the French capital comes to an end.
Mbappe is expected to reveal in the coming days whether he will join Real Madrid or accept a lucrative offer to stay at PSG, with an announcement potentially being made in the hours after the French champions play their final game of the Ligue 1 season at home to Metz on Saturday.
“I don’t know what his decision is. I think it’s a personal matter for Kylian and for the club,” Pochettino said at a press conference ahead of the Metz match.
“There are lots of rumors going around but the player is the one who will have to talk about this.
“If I knew what his decision was I wouldn’t be the one to talk about it.”
Mbappe, who joined PSG from Monaco in 2017, last week won the Ligue 1 Player of the Year prize and comes into the final weekend of the season as the division’s top scorer with 25 goals.
Rumours are swirling in France and in Spain about when he will confirm where his next contract will be.
“Mbappe, end of the suspense on Sunday,” claimed the headline in French sports daily L’Equipe on Friday.
Pochettino said he hoped the 23-year-old would remain at PSG even if uncertainty surrounds the coach’s own future despite the Argentine and his staff having a year left on their own deals.
“I hope Kylian is still here for many years to come but I also can’t lie. I don’t know what is going to happen,” he said.
“We have a year left on our contracts so we will potentially be here next season. I just hope tomorrow (Saturday) we can enjoy celebrating the club’s 10th league title.”
One player who is definitely expected to move on is Angel di Maria, with the 34-year-old Argentine winger’s own contract expiring and PSG understood to be happy for him to leave.
PSG have cantered to the Ligue 1 title, equalling Saint-Etienne’s French record for most league championships, but their season has been soured by defeat against Real Madrid in the Champions League last 16 in early March.
The Parisians were 1-0 up away to Madrid an hour into the second leg thanks to a Mbappe goal, and led 2-0 on aggregate, only to implode and go out to a Karim Benzema hat-trick.
“I hope the best is still to come. I think everyone at Paris Saint-Germain wants to win the Champions League. That has become an obsession for this club and I hope we can win it,” Pochettino added.
“That spell in the second half in Madrid saw us not get the result we wanted and created lots of questions and emotions that we have not been able to control in recent months.
“Despite that the players deserve to be congratulated because they have shown the ability to lift themselves and finish the season.”


Korda sisters set for sun-drenched showdown at the $1m Aramco Team Series Sotogrande

Updated 05 July 2022

Korda sisters set for sun-drenched showdown at the $1m Aramco Team Series Sotogrande

  • Nelly and Jessica Korda to compete at La Reserva Club, Aug. 18-20
  • First time the pair will have played in Spain; their second Aramco Team Series event

JEDDAH: American sisters Nelly and Jessica Korda are heading to Spain for the first time, with both confirmed for next month’s $1 million Aramco Team Series Sotogrande.

The siblings will tee off in front of their maiden Spanish crowd at La Reserva Club, Aug. 18-20, in what will be their second Aramco Team Series event presented by the Public Investment Fund.

Both Nelly and Jessica were part of history when they played in last year’s debut Aramco Team Series New York, the first-ever Ladies European Tour event to be played on US soil.

For older sister Jessica — a six-time LPGA-winner — that was just the start of a history-making week, as she captained her team to victory in the event’s unique four-ball format.

Former world No. 1 and US Olympic gold medalist Nelly was one shot shy of bagging the same tournament’s concurrent solo contest. 

Nelly Korda at the Aramco Team Series New York. (Supplied)

Now, both will return to battle it out against the biggest and best names on the Ladies European Tour under the Sotogrande sun this summer.

“I’m so excited to be heading to play in Spain for the first time,” said major-winner Nelly, currently ranked world No. 3.

“It’ll actually be my first ever time visiting Spain, so I’m really looking forward to getting there and seeing and experiencing what I’ve always imagined to be this amazing culture. The golf course at La Reserva looks incredible too so it should be a great week.

“Jess and I both played in the Aramco Team Series event in New York last year and loved the format. It’s something different having the separate team-individual formats going on at the same time which is fun,” she continued. “With the Solheim Cup taking place just round the corner from Sotogrande next year, this will also be the perfect opportunity for me and some of the other Americans in the field to get a bit of a lay of the land and a feel for playing in Spain, with the hope of being back there 12 months later. I’m excited to get out there and can’t wait to see what Sotogrande has in store for us.”

Jessica — who has finished in the top 10 in all five women’s majors — said: “New York’s Aramco Team Series was a great event. Having won the team side of it was a lot of fun. I am looking forward to getting a chance to play that same format again.

“I’ve never actually played in Spain — this will be my first time. Spain has had such a massive influence on golf, from big name players like Seve (Ballesteros), Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm to Carlota Ciganda and the many Spanish girls making an impact on both the LPGA and LET.

“The Spanish fans are known to have some fiery passion too, so I can’t wait to tee it up in front of them for what should be a pretty special atmosphere in Sotogrande.”

The pair will be joined by a host of big-name Spanish golfers, including Solheim Cup hero Ciganda, rising talent Ana Pelaez Trivino, Nuria Iturrioz and Carmen Alonso, as part of a field packed with global stars, more of whom will be announced in due course.

To secure tickets — which start at just €5 ($5.14) — or to find out more, visit aramcoteamseries.com or follow the event on social media @aramco_series.

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Jabeur makes history as 1st Arab woman to qualify to Grand Slam’s last four

Updated 05 July 2022

Jabeur makes history as 1st Arab woman to qualify to Grand Slam’s last four

  • Jabeur will next face close friend and mother-of-two Tatjana Maria
  • Djokovic said he had to give himself a talking to after going two sets down

LONDON: Ons Jabeur has become the first Arab woman to book a place in the last-four of a Grand Slam after the world number two, of Tunisia, defeated Marie Bouzkova on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, defending champion Novak Djokovic battled back from two sets down to reach an 11th Wimbledon semifinal.
Djokovic triumphed 5-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 over Italian 10th seed Jannik Sinner, recovering from a two-set deficit for the seventh time in his career.
The Serb will face Britain’s Cameron Norrie, who also needed five sets to get past David Goffin of Belgium, 3-6, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5.
As for Jabeur, she defeated Bouzkova 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.
She will next face close friend and mother-of-two Tatjana Maria, who defeated fellow unseeded German Jule Niemeier, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.
Djokovic, a 20-time major winner, said he had to give himself a talking to after going two sets down.
“The first two sets compared to the next three were like two different matches,” he said.
“But at the end of the second set I took a toilet break, gave myself a little pep talk, tried to gather my thoughts.
“I broke early in the third set. I saw a little bit of doubt start to come into his movement. I have many years’ experience of playing on these courts and coping with the pressure.”
Djokovic is no stranger to Grand Slam adversity, having twice come back from two sets down as recently as last year’s French Open.
The second of those stunning recoveries was in the final against Stefanos Tsitsipas.
After Tuesday’s bathroom break, he returned to court and grabbed a break in the fourth game of the third set as he trimmed his quarter-final deficit.
In control, the 35-year-old levelled the tie with a double break in the fourth set as Sinner took a worrying tumble on his ankle scrambling to the Center Court net.
Djokovic carved out two more breaks in the decider, the second off the back of a stunning, cross-court backhand on the stretch to go to 5-2 before calmly serving it out.
“I played well but he raised his level,” said Sinner, who had never won a grass-court match before Wimbledon.
Ninth seed Norrie got the better of 58th-ranked Goffin to make the last four of a Slam for the first time.
Left-hander Norrie said he was struggling at the start of the match, admitting he was forced to dig deep.
“It was all just adrenaline, using my legs and trying to put the ball in the court, and it’s great to get over the line,” he said.
Norrie, the first British man to reach the Wimbledon semifinals since Andy Murray in 2016, said he was going to “take it” to top seed Djokovic.
The result was tough on Goffin, who made the quarter-finals on his last appearance at Wimbledon in 2019.
The Belgian hit more winners, 49 to 38, and won more points, with his 151 trumping Norrie’s 145.
Jabeur, the only top 15 seed to make the last-eight in the women’s tournament, battled back to see off 66th-ranked Bouzkova of the Czech Republic.
The Tunisian was broken twice as she lost the first set but lost only two games after that to power to a 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 win.
Jabeur described semifinal opponent Maria as her “barbecue buddy.”
“It’s going to be tough to play her, she is a great friend,” she said.
“I am really happy she is in a semifinal — look at her now, she is in a semifinal after having two babies. It is an amazing story.”
Maria, 34, who saved two match points in the previous round against Jelena Ostapenko, made her Grand Slam debut in 2007 and had never progressed beyond the third round at a major before this year’s Wimbledon.
“I have goosebumps everywhere,” said the world number 103, who returned from maternity leave just under a year ago.
“My two little girls, it’s a dream to live this with my family, to live this with my two girls. Almost one year ago I gave birth, it’s crazy.”
The remaining quarter-finals take place on Wednesday.
In the men’s event, Rafael Nadal faces Taylor Fritz of the United States while Nick Kyrgios takes on Chile’s Cristian Garin.
Simona Halep, the 2019 women’s champion, tackles Amanda Anisimova of the United States while Ajla Tomljanovic takes on big-serving Elena Rybakina.


Wimbledon quarterfinalist Kyrgios due in court in Australia

Updated 05 July 2022

Wimbledon quarterfinalist Kyrgios due in court in Australia

  • Attorney Pierre Johannessen wrote that “the allegations are not considered as fact” by the court
  • The Canberra Times reported that Kyrgios is supposed to appear in court on Aug. 2

WIMBLEDON, England: Wimbledon quarterfinalist Nick Kyrgios is due in court back home in Australia next month.
A lawyer representing him said Tuesday the “precise nature of” the allegations “is neither certain at this moment nor confirmed by either the prosecution or” the 27-year-old professional tennis player.
“While Mr. Kyrgios is committed to addressing any and all allegations once clear, taking the matter seriously does not warrant any misreading of the process Mr. Kyrgios is required to follow,” attorney Pierre Johannessen wrote in a statement emailed to the media.
Johannessen wrote that “the allegations are not considered as fact” by the court, and Kyrgios is not “considered charged” with an offense until a first appearance in court.
The Canberra Times reported that Kyrgios is supposed to appear in court on Aug. 2. The newspaper cited local police as saying that a 27-year-old Australian man is involved in a case about “common assault following an incident in December 2021.”
Canberra police did not immediately respond to an after-hours request for comment emailed by The Associated Press.
Kyrgios is scheduled to play Cristian Garin at Wimbledon on Wednesday. It’s the third Grand Slam quarterfinal of the Australian’s career — he is 0-2 in the others — and first in 7 1/2 years.
An ATP spokesperson said: “The ATP is aware of the Australian case involving Nick Kyrgios but as legal proceedings are ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”


Police probe racism claims after fan abuse at England-India Test

Updated 05 July 2022

Police probe racism claims after fan abuse at England-India Test

  • The Bharat Army said "many" of its members at the Edgbaston ground had been targeted by "a very small minority" in Monday's fourth day of play
  • Inquiries are being made to identify an alleged offender whose image was circulated on social media

BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom: Police have launched an investigation after India fans claimed they were racially abused during England’s fifth Test victory in Birmingham.
The Bharat Army, the official India supporters’ club, said “many” of its members at the Edgbaston ground had been targeted by “a very small minority” in Monday’s fourth day of play.
A post on the group’s Twitter account read: “Sad to say many of our members experienced racist abuse from a very small minority of individuals. We will work with @Edgbaston to share all your feedback.
“Thank you to those England fans who stood by us.”
West Midlands Police on Tuesday said they were liaising with officials at Edgbaston to understand what happened.
Inquiries are being made to identify an alleged offender whose image was circulated on social media.
The England and Wales Cricket Board said: “We are very concerned to hear reports of racist abuse at today’s Test match. We are in contact with colleagues at Edgbaston, who will investigate. There is no place for racism in cricket.”
Stuart Cain, chief executive at Edgbaston, added: “I’m gutted by these reports as we’re working hard to make Edgbaston a safe, welcoming environment for all.
“Having seen the initial tweets, I’ve spoken personally to the gentleman who raised them and we’re now speaking to the stewards in this area to establish what happened.
“Nobody should be subject to any form of abuse at Edgbaston. So, once we’ve got all the facts, we will make sure this issue is addressed swiftly.”
Former Yorkshire spinner Azeem Rafiq retweeted a thread detailing some of the alleged incidents along with the comment: “Disappointing to read.”
His evidence to a parliamentary select committee last year sparked an investigation into his claims of institutional racism at Yorkshire which resulted in ECB charges and major reforms.
England won the fifth Test on Tuesday’s final day after centuries from Yorkshire pair Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow.


Poulter, 2 others win court stay to play in Scottish Open

Updated 05 July 2022

Poulter, 2 others win court stay to play in Scottish Open

  • The PGA Tour suspended its members who signed up for the Saudi-backed series run by Greg Norman

VIRGINIA WATER, England: Ian Poulter and two other players who signed up for the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series won a stay Monday from a British court that allows them to play in the Scottish Open.

Poulter, Adrian Otaegui of Spain and Justin Harding of South Africa challenged their suspension from the Scottish Open and two other tournaments, the penalty for playing a LIV Golf event outside London without a release from the European tour.

They will be added to the field this week at The Renaissance Club for the Scottish Open, the first European Tour event co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.

The PGA Tour suspended its members who signed up for the Saudi-backed series run by Greg Norman. Poulter is also a PGA Tour member.

Poulter was among 16 players who hinted at legal action over European tour penalties, though the temporary stay after a hearing before Judge Phillip Sycamore, who was appointed by Sports Resolutions (UK), applied only to the three players.

“I will simply say we are disappointed by the outcome of today’s hearing, but will abide by the decision,” European Tour CEO Keith Pelley said in a statement. “It is important to remember, however, this is only a stay of the sanctions imposed, pending the hearing of the players’ appeal as to whether those sanctions were appropriate.”

Pelley was at the JP McManus Pro-Am in Ireland and said he would withhold a more detailed response until the charity event was over, out of respect to the hosts. McManus has attracted a world-class field that includes Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Scottie Scheffler and a host of other major champions.

Poulter also is playing the two-day event in Ireland.

Earlier in the day, he told BBC Sports he was fighting for his right to play golf.

“My commitment to the European Tour has been there since day one,” he said. “And it’s still there today. I’m proud of playing so often, when it was to the detriment of world ranking points and FedEx Cup points I could have earned playing more in America.”

Along with the suspension, players who competed in LIV Golf without permission were fined £100,000 ($121,000), roughly the amount of last-place money in the $20 million LIV events.