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Sport | The Guardian



Sports news, scores, blogs and opinion on US and world sports from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice



Published: Fri, 26 May 2017 15:12:08 GMT2017-05-26T15:12:08Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2017
 



Does MLS have a Texas problem?

Fri, 26 May 2017 14:27:18 GMT2017-05-26T14:27:18Z

Houston and Dallas, who meet in Sunday’s Texas Derby, are two of MLS’ best clubs this season from two of its biggest cities. So why aren’t they more popular?

Whoever coined the phrase “demographics are not destiny” could have been referring to Major League Soccer in Texas just as easily as talking about politics.

Simple population figures would imply that two of the league’s biggest clubs are facing off in the Texas Derby on Sunday, with the right to fire a cannon awarded to the team with the season’s best head-to-head record - provided they have secured the appropriate paperwork from safety-conscious city authorities, that is.

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The Boston Celtics won respect, but will they ever win against LeBron?

Fri, 26 May 2017 14:54:31 GMT2017-05-26T14:54:31Z

The Celtics’ surprise run to the No1 seed and the Eastern Conference finals was more than any of their fans could realistically ask for. Now the real work begins

There’s a saying that sounds like an ancient bit of received wisdom but probably originates with the justly maligned Tom Cruise vehicle Cocktail that goes “everything ends badly, otherwise it wouldn’t end”. Like many clichés that only seem meaningful if you don’t think about them too hard, it doesn’t really apply it to real life but it works wonders when talking about sports. In sports, only one team or player is guaranteed a happy ending, while every other participant’s quest ends ends in a loss, usually a painful one that effectively invalidates all of the successes that brought them to that point.

There are exceptions though. Consider the 2016-17 Boston Celtics, whose season ended on Thursday with a 135-102 home loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. The Celtics never held a lead in the game, not even during its opening minutes, and were down by 20 points as early as the first quarter. Before half-time it became increasingly obvious that this would be their last game of the season. By any objective measure, it should have been a depressing, dispiriting end for the fans of the home team.

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Arsenal tiptoe into the Diego Zone: the ogre of Stamford Bridge awaits | Barney Ronay

Fri, 26 May 2017 12:21:00 GMT2017-05-26T12:21:00Z

If Wembley really is the end for Diego Costa after 57 goals, almost 400 fouls and a relentless concatenation of outrage, he could not have chosen better opponents

Arsenal fans riled by the Groundhog Day repetitions of the past few years have at least been treated to something more immediate before Saturday’s FA Cup final against Chelsea. Faced with the prospect of another tangle with Diego Costa, Arsenal’s centre-backs have been cutting straight to the chase. Shkodran Mustafi is concussed. Laurent Koscielny has been sent off and banned. Gabriel got in there early with his injured knee. Entering the Diego Zone? They are way ahead of you.

Arsenal have generally seen the best and the worst of Costa during three seasons of mischief and fury in the Premier League, a centre-forward who does not so much play on the edge as appear at times to be completely unaware the edge exists in the first place. Even at full strength, successive Wenger-issue centre-halves have been bruised and bullied through a head-to-head record of three kidney-punching defeats and a single, ultimately fruitless, victory last September, the 3-0 win at the Emirates that acted as a spark for Chelsea’s title charge.

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Oscar De La Hoya: boxing may not recover from a McGregor-Mayweather fight

Thu, 25 May 2017 20:03:28 GMT2017-05-25T20:03:28Z

  • UFC star McGregor says he has agreed a deal to fight boxing great
  • Mayweather, 40, has not fought since September 2015

Few people see the proposed Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather fight as anything other than a money-making sideshow. But just in case anyone is on the fence, Mayweather’s former rival in the ring, Oscar De La Hoya, has written an open letter attacking the putative bout as a “farce” that will hurt boxing.

“To my fellow boxing fans, I write in the hopes that together we can protect the sport of boxing,” De La Hoya, who is now a promoter, wrote. “With each passing day, it looks more and more likely that the circus known as Floyd Mayweather v Conor McGregor will be coming to town in the near future. As undercard fights start to take form, athletic commissions give their blessings in exchange for millions of dollars, and the fighters start counting even more cash, one group will eventually be left to make sure this farce doesn’t occur – we, the fans, who are the lifeblood of our sport ... Our sport might not ever recover.”

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LeBron James passes Michael Jordan's record as Cavaliers make NBA finals

Fri, 26 May 2017 03:56:41 GMT2017-05-26T03:56:41Z

  • Cleveland beat Boston Celtics to take Eastern Conference finals 4-1
  • James is now NBA playoffs’ all-time leading points scorer
  • NBA finals will be Golden State v Cleveland for third year in a row

LeBron James scored 35 points and passed Michael Jordan to become the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring leader as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics 135-102 on Thursday night to claim their third straight Eastern Conference title and a return trip to the NBA finals.

Kyrie Irving added 24 points and Kevin Love finished with 15 for the Cavs, who never trailed and led by as many as 39 points in one of their most dominating wins of the series. The Cavs set an NBA record by winning their 13th consecutive series closeout opportunity.

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French Open: Andy Murray faces Kuznetsov while Johanna Konta draws Su-wei

Fri, 26 May 2017 11:04:46 GMT2017-05-26T11:04:46Z

• Murray could be on course to play Juan Martín Del Potro in round three
• Konta faces world No109 in first round

Andy Murray will open his French Open campaign against Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov. The seventh seed Johanna Konta will play Chinese Taipei’s Hsieh Su-wei in the first round of the French Open. The world No1 has been struggling recently but will hope the best-of-five-sets format allows him to rediscover the form that carried him to the final at Roland Garros 12 months ago.

Should Murray make it past 85th-ranked Kuznetsov in round one, he would face either Slovakia’s Martin Klizan or French wild card Laurent Lokoli.

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Monaco’s Bernardo Silva set to join Manchester City for £60m

Fri, 26 May 2017 12:01:18 GMT2017-05-26T12:01:18Z

• Midfielder to become Pep Guardiola’s first summer signing
• Silva, 22, part of Monaco squad who reached Champions League semi-finals

Pep Guardiola is to break Manchester City’s transfer record by signing Monaco’s Bernardo Silva for £60m. The midfielder is expected to sign a five-year contract with the Premier League club on Friday.

Guardiola is determined to move swiftly in the transfer market this summer after failing to win a trophy in his first season at the Etihad and had earmarked the 22-year-old Monaco midfielder as one of his top targets.

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Ivanka's own goal: first daughter mistakes Lazio star Chinaglia for a saint

Thu, 25 May 2017 19:13:13 GMT2017-05-25T19:13:13Z

Trump was dining at Rome restaurant and asked ‘Which saint is that?’ when she spotted photo of Italian striker between crucifix and picture of Padre Pio

Ivanka Trump, the former model and presidential adviser, mistook a picture of a revered Italian footballer for a saint during a recent night out in Rome.

The first daughter was dining with her husband, Jared Kushner, at Le Cave di Sant’Ignazio on Tuesday night when she spotted a picture of former Lazio star Giorgio Chinaglia – standing on a pitch, his arms stretched out to the heavens – and asked: “Which saint is that?”

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Hanshin Tigers' Takashi Toritani plays day after 90mph pitch breaks nose

Thu, 25 May 2017 20:23:14 GMT2017-05-25T20:23:14Z

  • Toritani, 35, pinch hits one day after breaking nose on pitch to face
  • Third baseman extends streak of consecutive games played to 1,795

Takashi Toritani’s iron-man reputation is intact after the Hanshin Tigers third baseman played one day after breaking his nose on a fastball to the face.

Toritani wore a black face guard when he came to the plate as a pinch hitter during the sixth inning of Thursday’s game against the Yomiuri Giants, buoyed by swells of applause from the home crowd at Koshien Stadium.

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Former England rugby sevens international Alex Gray joins Atlanta Falcons

Thu, 25 May 2017 18:32:42 GMT2017-05-25T18:32:42Z

  • Sevens players is one of three British players to join NFC South teams
  • Players are part of practice squads and will use season to improve skills

Three British players have been given the chance to carve out careers in the NFL as the league extends its plans to make move into new markets.

The move is part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway scheme. Under the program, the players will be added to practice squads in the NFC South to develop their skills but will not be eligible to be activated to the main roster during the 2017 season.

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How MLS clubs are undervaluing prospects from the US lower divisions

Thu, 25 May 2017 09:30:25 GMT2017-05-25T09:30:25Z

Could homegrown imports like Minnesota United’s Christian Ramirez help MLS get over its reluctance to mine talent from the NASL and USL?

Every season, Major League Soccer has a crop of breakout players who are new to the league – this year we have Atlanta’s Josef Martínez (the Venezuelan who scored five goals in his first three matches – after netting just seven in three years with Turin). The best of these players often come from Europe or South America and immediately become key starters.

This year, there have been more examples of domestic players moving from the US lower divisions and succeeding in MLS than any year in recent memory. New York Red Bulls center back Aaron Long made his MLS debut in March and has started 13 matches for a potential MLS Cup contender. Meanwhile, expansion side Minnesota United has gotten crucial minutes from NASL domestic holdovers Christian Ramirez and Brent Kallman. Impressively, Ramirez has seven goals in his first 12 MLS matches, three off the Golden Boot pace.

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Wayne Rooney: ‘I’ve made my mind up on my future and have lots of offers’

Thu, 25 May 2017 11:06:17 GMT2017-05-25T11:06:17Z

• Forward out of England squad and may not play for national team again
• Southgate: ‘Other players are in good form and deserve to keep their place’

Wayne Rooney says he has made up his mind about whether to leave Manchester United and has “lots of offers” to consider after becoming such a peripheral figure at Old Trafford. He has been excluded from Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad and is facing the end of his international career, comprising 119 caps and 53 goals.

Rooney was a late substitute in the 2-0 win against Ajax in the Europa League final, enabling United’s all-time leading scorer to lift the trophy, but that could conceivably have been his last appearance if, as expected, the striker now tries to find a team where he can play more regularly.

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French Open 2017 men’s form guide: the players to watch at Roland Garros | Jacob Steinberg

Thu, 25 May 2017 18:15:12 GMT2017-05-25T18:15:12Z

What to expect from the favourites and dark horses in the men’s singles at Roland Garros – will anyone stop the resurgent Rafael Nadal?
• French Open women’s form guide will go online on Friday morning

1) Andy Murray

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José Mourinho delivers Manchester United glory but pragmatism has limits | Jonathan Wilson

Thu, 25 May 2017 10:03:12 GMT2017-05-25T10:03:12Z

Victory over Ajax showed again Mourinho’s knack for thwarting gifted opponents but fans of a club of United’s means are entitled to pine for more poetry

As Manchester United’s players celebrated with the Europa League trophy, José Mourinho brandished a red flag. He walked in front of his squad and tried to plant it into the pitch. The pole, though, was too flimsy and bent, leaving Mourinho to prop the flag awkwardly against a hoarding reading “Stockholm Final 2017”. As a metaphor for his first season at United it could hardy have been bettered: grand gestures thwarted but the job eventually, just about, done.

It was a night replete with symbolism. Deep into injury-time at the Friends Arena on Wednesday night, the Ajax winger Amin Younes picked up the ball on the left. He glanced up and had just made as though to jink inside when he was clattered by the horizontal form of Wayne Rooney making an effective if clunking challenge that put the ball out for a throw-in. That it could be his last ever touch in a United shirt felt hugely appropriate; he has throughout most of his career had a pleasing commitment to the necessary but unglamorous work.

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Giro d’Italia: emotional Tejay van Garderen claims stage 18 in sprint finish

Thu, 25 May 2017 15:19:59 GMT2017-05-25T15:19:59Z

• American BMC rider wins 137km stage from Moena to Ortisei
• Tom Dumoulin keeps 31sec lead to close in on GC victory

After plenty of close calls, Tejay van Garderen finally won his first grand tour stage in a sprint finish on the streets of Ortisei in the Dolomites.

The 28-year-old American was visibly emotional after holding off Team Sky’s Mikel Landa in a charge to the line following a breakaway to claim the Giro d’Italia’s stage 18 for BMC. “It’s my first Grand Tour stage win and it feels incredible,” Van Garderen said afterwards.

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The Alavés miracle: ‘We know what lies behind it: the work, sacrifice and effort’

Fri, 26 May 2017 15:00:01 GMT2017-05-26T15:00:01Z

Six years after escaping administration, Alavés take on mighty Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final. Captain and local boy Manu García describes the fairytale

Manu García runs his finger carefully down the long list of names, squinting slightly as he searches for his own. Sixteen years on, he knows where to look but there are 13,200 of them written in tiny white print on a blue and yellow background, covering every millimetre from top to bottom and left to right, so it is not easy to find. Eventually, he sees his father, hidden among hundreds of Garcías. And then, on the line below, he stops. “Here,” he says. “This is me.” MANUEL ALEJANDRO GARCÍA.

Related: Alavés return from the abyss and rebel against reality to tame Barcelona | Sid Lowe

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Antonio Conte: ‘I am happy at Chelsea and hope to stay here for many years’

Fri, 26 May 2017 14:46:08 GMT2017-05-26T14:46:08Z

• Italian keen to extend his contract with Premier League winners
• ‘It’s the best thing for a coach, to stay for a long time and build something’

Antonio Conte is eager to extend his Chelsea contract and insists he would love to stay at the club for many years to come. The Italian has already led Chelsea to the Premier League title in his first season in England and will secure the double if his side beat Arsenal in Saturday’s FA Cup final.

Internazionale have been credited with an interest in Conte this summer, but he has two years left on his current deal. “If the club give me the possibility to stay here and to extend my contract, for sure I am available to do this,” Conte said. “But we have the same idea about the future. The way we have to do things together, to improve the squad and the team. But, I repeat, I’m happy for this season and am happy to stay here. I hope to stay here for many years.”

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How the era of wealthy English superclubs has devalued the Double | Paul Wilson

Fri, 26 May 2017 13:43:00 GMT2017-05-26T13:43:00Z

It used to be seen as domestic football’s Everest but the modern domination of a handful of clubs has made winning the Premier League and FA Cup a much less remarkable feat

Antonio Conte is on the verge of winning the Double in his first season in England. That sounds a remarkable feat and actually it will be as Chelsea will have disposed of Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal in the FA Cup should they be found running round Wembley with the trophy on Saturday evening, though there can be little doubt the Double is a somewhat devalued currency these days.

Related: It was Arsenal’s day in 2002 – but it has mostly been Chelsea’s ever since | Amy Lawrence

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West Ham sign Pablo Zabaleta after defender’s release by Manchester City

Fri, 26 May 2017 14:15:14 GMT2017-05-26T14:15:14Z

• Full-back signs two-year deal with east London club
• Alvaro Arbeloa, Jonathan Calleri and Gokhan Tore all exit

West Ham have signed the former Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta. The Argentina full-back will join the London club on a two-year deal from 1 July, when his contract with City expires having been released at the Etihad Stadium.

“This is an absolute pleasure to be part of West Ham,” Zabaleta told West Ham TV. “I hope I can give you good moments. Of course, I come to the club to enjoy myself and hopefully we can have a very successful time.”

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How England paid the penalty again for an attack of the sporting yips | Richard Williams

Fri, 26 May 2017 12:49:52 GMT2017-05-26T12:49:52Z

When the Under-17s lost a final they had all but won with a couple of misses from 12 yards it again underlined that English football’s version of the yips needs a long-overdue cure

The yips can take more than one form. Usually we think of the phenomenon in terms of an individual submitting to a technical meltdown: a golfer seizing up at the sight of a six-inch putt, a tennis player suddenly incapable of tossing the ball up for a serve accurately, or a bowler losing the ability to land the ball anywhere near the cut strip.

Jon Lester is one of the stranger variations. A recent issue of Sports Illustrated carried a long and absorbing feature on the 33-year-old left-handed pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, who mysteriously lost the ability several years ago to throw the ball to first base. Facing a batter, he was as effective as ever. Turn him 90 degrees left, and he was like a man trying to find a target while blindfolded.

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Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka fired by his father’s struggle for freedom

Fri, 26 May 2017 11:11:00 GMT2017-05-26T11:11:00Z

Swiss midfielder’s combative reputation has overshadowed his passing qualities which will be on display in the FA Cup final against Chelsea at Wembley

Granit Xhaka’s father, Ragip, heard the knock at his front door. The year was 1986, the setting Kosovo – then an autonomous province in Yugoslavia – and he was about to live an ordeal most people could barely comprehend.

When Xhaka Sr opened up, he came face to face with police officers. They arrested him and he was taken to jail, where he would spend the next three and a half years. He shared a cell with four other men and he would be let out once each day – for 10 minutes.

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Christian Pulisic: 'It was scary – you’re not thinking about football that night or the next day'

Fri, 26 May 2017 09:00:07 GMT2017-05-26T09:00:07Z

After a season in which his team’s bus was targeted in a bomb attack the US international is now looking forward to the German Cup final and thinks he could not have found a club better prepared to make the most of his talent

“It hit me on the night, right after the game – you’re there in that stadium and you think ‘Wow, yeah, I really just did that’.” Christian Pulisic is talking about the evening in early December when he started a Champions League game at the Bernabeu. He had already shown he could handle Real Madrid: 10 weeks previously he had replaced Ousmane Dembele late in the home fixture and created an equaliser for Andre Schürrle. Playing at the European champions’ home, gazed down upon by those steep stands that suck in the night sky, was something different again. The experience lasted an hour but crystalised everything Pulisic had achieved in a lifetime.

There has been little time for extensive reflection since. Pulisic comes into Signal Iduna Park on his day off, a Tuesday, for this interview and that is not the kind of luxury his first full season as a professional has often afforded. “It’s been tough with those English Weeks,” he admits, using the term deployed knowingly in Germany for the kind of weekend-midweek-weekend slog more familiar to their European neighbours. His comfort with local football idioms has been mirrored on the pitch: Pulisic has appeared in 42 of Dortmund’s 50 matches this season, a record only three of his team-mates can improve upon, and it is no accident that Thomas Tuchel has put such faith in a player who does not turn 19 until September.

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain avoids FA Cup final hat-trick of misfortune

Fri, 26 May 2017 05:00:02 GMT2017-05-26T05:00:02Z

Sidelined from a starting role in Arsenal’s previous two FA Cup finals, this year Oxlade-Chamberlain has beaten a hamstring injury to be fit to face Chelsea

When Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain felt his hamstring tighten in Arsenal’s victory at Southampton a little over two weeks ago, there could be no prizes for guessing what flashed through his mind. “I thought: ‘Oh no, here we go again,’” he said. “It’s a bit of a trend, isn’t it?”

Related: Arsenal would suffer ‘big damage’ if Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain left

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Petra Kvitova confirms French Open comeback after knife attack

Fri, 26 May 2017 13:06:18 GMT2017-05-26T13:06:18Z

• Two-time Wimbledon champion suffered serious hand injuries in attack
• Kvitova has recovered quicker than expected from incident in December

Petra Kvitova will make her comeback at the French Open, her representative has confirmed.

The two-time Wimbledon champion suffered serious hand injuries when she was stabbed by an intruder at her home in the Czech Republic on 20 December.

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Ding Liren advances China’s move on men’s chess through Fide Grand Prix

Fri, 26 May 2017 12:35:47 GMT2017-05-26T12:35:47Z

• China’s No1 wins Moscow leg and well-placed for 2018 candidates spot
• Israel’s Boris Gelfand gives Ding helping hand in final round

The Chinese are coming. Western chess is highly valued in Beijing, where sports officials long ago set up a national plan to establish their players at the pinnacle of the game. Already China has for decades dominated women’s events, where Hou Yifan is the all-time No2 while Tan Zhongyi is the latest in a long line of Chinese world champions.

Related: Leonard Barden on Chess

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Ben Stokes fit to play for England in second ODI against South Africa

Fri, 26 May 2017 08:52:44 GMT2017-05-26T08:52:44Z

• All-rounder passed fit after England training session
• Ben Stokes had restricted role in Headingley win over South Africa

The England all-rounder Ben Stokes has been passed fit to play in the second one-day international against South Africa in Southampton on Saturday, the England and Wales Cricket Board has announced.

Stokes had scans on his injured left knee on Thursday night - and although they were inconclusive, after his partial involvement in net practice at the Ageas Bowl on Friday morning, an ECB spokesman reported the key all-rounder will be fit to both bat and bowl as England seek an unassailable 2-0 series lead.

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ABC defends Sydney FC v Liverpool coverage described by host as 'train wreck'

Fri, 26 May 2017 03:04:51 GMT2017-05-26T03:04:51Z

Jules Schiller says technical issues partly to blame after Football Federation Australia expresses ‘disappointment’

The ABC has defended its decision to use Sydney FC’s friendly with Liverpool to broadcast “a different offering” to football fans after its coverage of the match was roundly criticised by fans and fellow broadcasters.

The show on ABC2 on Wednesday night was described by some viewers as cringeworthy and embarrassing on social media, and even as “a train wreck” by one of its hosts, Jules Schiller.

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Wilfried Zaha signs new five-year contract with Crystal Palace

Thu, 25 May 2017 23:51:10 GMT2017-05-25T23:51:10Z

• Winger commits future to Eagles to end transfer speculation
• Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester City had shown interest

Wilfried Zaha has ended speculation over his future by signing a new five-year deal with Crystal Palace.

The Ivory Coast winger has committed to Palace despite interest from Tottenham Hotspur after helping the club win their relegation battle. After putting pen to paper on the new contract, the 24-year-old told the club’s website: “Palace is in my heart and I don’t think the story is over.”

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Andy Murray and Lendl are cutting it fine for the French Open, says Becker

Thu, 25 May 2017 21:31:03 GMT2017-05-25T21:31:03Z

• ‘Gap between Melbourne and the French was maybe too long’
• Agassi appointment ‘a good choice’ by Djokovic

Boris Becker has questioned whether Andy Murray will have enough time to strike up a winning rhythm with Ivan Lendl at the French Open, which starts on Sunday, but says reduced expectations at Roland Garros might help the Scot at Wimbledon, where he is champion.

Becker, who reached the semi-finals in Paris three times, said of Lendl’s late arrival before the second slam of the season: “That is their arrangement. That is what worked last year. That was part of the deal but I think, if both were honest, the gap between Melbourne and the French was maybe a little long.

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Nicky Hayden, the French Open, and Pathé News hovering over Wembley | Classic YouTube

Thu, 25 May 2017 09:31:24 GMT2017-05-25T09:31:24Z

This week’s roundup also features classic Championship play-off finals, an NBA nutmeg and a team talk for the ages from Germany

1) Nicky Hayden, former MotoGP world champion, tragically died on Monday. Here is one of many tributes to the Kentucky Kid, and here he is on a champions’ lap of the Isle of Man TT back in 2011. Nicky’s father Earl Hayden spoke late last year about his son’s lifelong passion for motorcycles. Also from last year, Hayden gives an in-depth interview to CNET’s Tim Stevens, who has paid a personal, emotional tribute. Finally, take a look back at his finest hour – his 2006 world title, where he pipped Valentino Rossi after a season of high drama.

Related: The Joy of Six: FA Cup final heroes | Jacob Steinberg and Michael Butler

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Tiger Woods: I 'unequivocally' want to play professional golf again

Wed, 24 May 2017 21:46:42 GMT2017-05-24T21:46:42Z

  • Woods details how fusion surgery will affect game moving forward
  • 14-times major champion says he’s feeling better than he has in years
  • Tiger tips Golden State Warriors to prevail in forthcoming NBA finals

Tiger Woods said he’s feels better than he’s felt in years and “unequivocally” wants to play professional golf again, but it won’t be happening any time soon.

The 14-times major champion said in a statement posted to his website on Wednesday that he underwent fusion surgery on 19 April as a last resort and outlined a long-term prognosis he described as “positive.”

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The gifs that keep on giving: laughter, face football and two big clearances

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 10:00:32 GMT2017-01-21T10:00:32Z

Featuring two UFC fighters trying to pretend, a new form of badminton, fast fists, a very short game of pool and an exceedingly chamring basketball player

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The forgotten story of ... Carlos Kaiser, football's greatest conman | Rob Smyth

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 10:00:34 GMT2017-04-26T10:00:34Z

For more than two decades, Carlos Kaiser was one of the most famous footballers in Brazil – even though he had no intention of ever kicking a ball

You might know the voiceover at the start of The Big Lebowski. As tumbleweed meanders through Los Angeles, Sam Elliott introduces us to the film’s main character: “Goes by the name of Jeff Lebowski. At least that was the handle his loving parents gave him, but he never had much use for it himself. See, this Lebowski, he called himself ‘The Dude’.”

The Stranger rambles on about this and that until he gets somewhere near the point. “Sometimes, there’s a man. And I’m talkin’ about the Dude here - the Dude from Los Angeles. Sometimes, there’s a man; well, he’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that’s the Dude.”

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The Fiver | The relative wastelands of the Chinese Super League, MLS, or Everton

Thu, 25 May 2017 14:56:32 GMT2017-05-25T14:56:32Z

In today’s Fiver: José Mourinho, Wayne Rooney, Nasty Leeds and more

José Mourinho is a busted flush. A spent force. Past it, jiggered, old hat. It’s an argument The Fiver heard all last season and for the best part of this one. To be fair, we fully bought into that analysis, having failed to be wholly convinced by the manner in which his Manchester United side somehow shipped three good goals to Claude Puel’s Southampton Nil in the Tin Pot final back in February. But upon waking after a prolonged period of non-rapid eye movement induced at 8.46pm CEST on Wednesday night, we discovered that United have added Big Cup Qualification (© BT Sport), the tournament formerly known as Big Vase, to their seasonal swag bag. And by winning Big Cup Qup, José has not only inspired United to a pretty darn successful season all told, which was his job, but he’s also seriously got under the skin of his doubters, which to him will be of much greater import. You know exactly what fuels him, you’ve got to admire his genius.

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The Joy of Six: goalkeeper assists in football

Thu, 11 May 2017 11:05:27 GMT2017-05-11T11:05:27Z

From the Persia Gulf Pro League to England’s top flight, we pick out half a dozen goals that owe a good deal to the player whose job it is to prevent them

Alireza Beiranvand is no one-trick pony – his form for Naft Tehran was good enough for him to be named in the team of the season at the end of the 2014-15 Persia Gulf Pro League campaign – but he has one particularly potent weapon: he can throw the ball further than most humans can kick it. Though goalkeeper assists are a rarity, in the middle of the 2014-15 season he set up two winning goals in as many games, one with a giant kick and another with one of his ludicrously long throws. The second, booted downfield, took a hefty bounce, and with the Persepolis goalkeeper tempted towards the edge of his area in anticipation of an easy catch, Amir Arsalan Motahari headed over the stranded Brazilian and into the net. It was a classic of the genre even if the timing, in the last minute of a match heading towards a 1-1 draw, set it apart.

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It's time to introduce a two-legged MLS Cup - with a twist

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 09:00:10 GMT2016-10-24T09:00:10Z

The single final is insufficient, and the two-leg final doesn’t reward the higher-seeded team for their regular-season performance. So why not combine the two?

Do US soccer leagues need their own Super Bowl, a week-long festival of the sport at a neutral site? Or should they reward the best regular-season team with home-field advantage for the final game?

Related: Didier Drogba fined but not suspended for Montreal Impact tantrum

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The legacy of George Best - Football Weekly Meets Dan Gordon

Fri, 26 May 2017 09:55:40 GMT2017-05-26T09:55:40Z

Iain Macintosh speaks to filmmaker Dan Gordon about his documentary George Best: All By Himself, which charts the career of the Manchester United legend through his glory years on the field and the addictions off it that ultimately killed him

On this edition of our Football Weekly Meets interview series, Iain Macintosh speaks to filmmaker (and long-suffering Sheffield Wednesday fan) Dan Gordon about his documentary chronicling the life and death of George Best.

The film celebrates Best’s footballing legacy but is far from a hagiography and doesn’t shy away from the darker aspects of the Manchester United legend’s life: womanising, absent parenting, domestic violence and alcoholism.

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Jenson Button relaxed ahead of F1 return in Monaco – video

Thu, 25 May 2017 11:43:53 GMT2017-05-25T11:43:53Z

Formula One driver Jenson Button feels no pressure before making his return to the sport at the Monaco Grand Prix this weekend. ‘If I’m feeling totally out of my depth then I’ll just drive off into the sunset and not come back,’ he says. Button is returning for the showcase race as a replacement for McLaren driver Fernando Alonso who is participating in the Indianapolis 500 on the same day

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Lisbon Lions remembered: Celtic's historic victory, 50 years on – in pictures

Thu, 25 May 2017 09:57:22 GMT2017-05-25T09:57:22Z

On 25 May 1967 Celtic’s 2-1 win over Internazionale at the Estádio Nacional in Lisbon meant they became the first British side, and still the only Scottish team, to win the European Cup. We cast our eyes back 50 years to look at the celebrations of a legendary victory

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Paul Pogba dedicates Europa League win to Manchester attack victims – video

Thu, 25 May 2017 06:48:48 GMT2017-05-25T06:48:48Z

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba says the club won the Europa League final on Wednesday for the victims of the Manchester attack earlier this week. Speaking to BT Sport after the final whistle, Pogba said: ‘We won for Manchester, we worked for them, for the country. We play for England, for Manchester and for the people who died.’

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Pogba and Mourinho pleased with Manchester United's season after Europa League win – video

Thu, 25 May 2017 05:52:40 GMT2017-05-25T05:52:40Z

Paul Pogba says that Manchester United’s season can be regarded as a successful one after the club beat Ajax 2-0 on Wednesday to win the Europa League and secure qualification for next term’s Champions League. It is a view shared both by his manager José Mourinho and team-mate Juan Mata too. In addition to the Europa League, United also won the League Cup and Community Shield over the course of the campaign

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Manchester United and Ajax remember attack victims before Europa League final – video

Wed, 24 May 2017 19:17:18 GMT2017-05-24T19:17:18Z

Manchester United and Ajax players gather before the Europa League final on Wednesday to remember the victims of the Manchester bombing. 22 people were killed and another 59 were injured in the attack at the Manchester Arena on Monday night

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Who is Vinícius Júnior, Real Madrid's new £40m signing? – video

Wed, 24 May 2017 15:52:35 GMT2017-05-24T15:52:35Z

Real Madrid announced the signing of 16-year-old Vinícius Júnior from Flamengo for nearly £40m this week, but just who is the teenage forward? Vinícius, who many have likened to Neymar, may have just one senior appearance for his current club, but has been in impressive form for Brazil’s Under-17s, scoring 19 goals in 22 appearances so far in his career

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Europa League final overshadowed by Manchester bombing – video report

Wed, 24 May 2017 09:41:13 GMT2017-05-24T09:41:13Z

Manchester United will face Ajax in the final of the Europa League amid difficult circumstances following the bombing which took place at the Manchester Arena on Monday evening. United manager José Mourinho says his players will be thinking of the victims and those affected by the attack during the final in Stockholm on Wednesday. His Ajax counterpart Peter Bosz also admits the match has been overshadowed by the bombing which killed 22 people

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Manchester United holds a moment of silence for attack victims – video

Wed, 24 May 2017 06:42:42 GMT2017-05-24T06:42:42Z

Manchester United holds a minute’s silence for the victims of the Manchester Arena attack on Tuesday. Players and coaching staff bowed their heads
in the wake of the bomb attack that killed 22 people and injured many more.
The team held the silence as it prepares to face Ajax Amsterdam in the final of the Europa League on Wednesday

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The Dozen's dozen: our pick of this season's best Premier League photos

Tue, 23 May 2017 13:00:04 GMT2017-05-23T13:00:04Z

As the curtain comes down on the 2016-17 Premier League season, we’ve had a look through our weekly roundup of the best photography from England’s top flight and picked out our favourite 12 pictures

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Zidane sprayed by champagne during Real Madrid press conference – video

Mon, 22 May 2017 15:49:23 GMT2017-05-22T15:49:23Z

Real Madrid’s coach Zinedine Zidane is sprayed with champagne by several of his team’s players during a press conference to mark the side’s league title victory. Zidane goes on to tell the gathered media that the La Liga win has given him “the happiest day” of his career, saying: “I would like to dance on this table”

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French Open 2017 women’s form guide: the players to watch at Roland Garros

Fri, 26 May 2017 09:00:08 GMT2017-05-26T09:00:08Z

What to expect from the favourites and dark horses in the women’s singles at Roland Garros – with Serena Williams absent and top contenders nursing injuries the tournament looks wide open
• French Open 2017 men’s form guide

1) Angelique Kerber

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'I’m gonna punch you right in your face': Shaq and Barkley clash on TNT

Wed, 24 May 2017 12:00:38 GMT2017-05-24T12:00:38Z

  • Tense atmosphere on TNT’s NBA coverage as pundits bicker
  • O’Neal mocks Barkley for his failure to win an NBA championship

Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal are known for getting into light-hearted arguments during NBA on TNT but during coverage of Tuesday night’s Cavaliers v Celtics game the atmosphere became tense as the two exchanged insults over their careers.

It started when O’Neal, a four-time NBA champion, pointed out that Barkley had only reached one finals, despite a Hall of Fame career. Things didn’t climb out of the schoolyard from there on in.

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The sprinter factory – Champs, the tournament where girls compete to be Jamaica's next top athletes

Fri, 12 May 2017 11:00:16 GMT2017-05-12T11:00:16Z

These are the girls running as fast as they can to be Jamaica’s new sprint champions in a country obsessed with its athletes. This is the story of the Champs national youth athletics competition that could change their lives. Okhalia, Alesha and Shellece have their sights set on being the next Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the adored sprinting champion famous across Jamaica. Their coaches acknowledge the pressure weighing on these young women. With sponsorship money and public adulation potentially round the corner, can they cope?

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Exeter Chiefs ready for fairytale finish against Wasps in Premiership final | Robert Kitson

Fri, 26 May 2017 11:11:19 GMT2017-05-26T11:11:19Z

Victory at Twickenham would cap a remarkable rise and bring the south-west its first major national championship

The list of famous Devonians, from Scott of the Antarctic and Sir Walter Raleigh to Agatha Christie and Coldplay’s Chris Martin, is an eclectic one. Until now heroic athletes – apart from sailors and Argyle footballers – have been in shorter supply. Not since the Tavistock-born Sir Francis Drake played bowls on Plymouth Hoe before defeating the Spanish Armada in 1588 have there been many more evocative local sporting yarns than Exeter Chiefs’ buccaneering ride to Twickenham.

It is seven years this week that Exeter made it out of the Championship to the Premiership; there remains a decent Hollywood movie in their ascent from the old tumbledown County Ground to the top of the domestic game. One more push and for the first time in the history of England’s leading professional team sports – whether it be cricket’s county championship, Premier League football or elite rugby – a team from the south-west peninsula will be national champions.

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Nicky Hayden obituary

Tue, 23 May 2017 10:43:46 GMT2017-05-23T10:43:46Z

Former MotoGP champion considered one of the great motorcycle racers of the modern era

Nicky Hayden, who has died following a cycling accident aged 35, was one of the greatest motorcycle racers of the modern era. He came from humble beginnings in Owensboro, Kentucky, to win the 2006 MotoGP world championship, defeating the reigning champion Valentino Rossi in an unforgettable final-race showdown.

Like most riders from the US, Hayden started out in dirt track, wrestling bikes around loosely surfaced oval circuits and learning the art of throttle control. It is no coincidence that many European racers, including Rossi and the reigning MotoGP champion Marc Márquez, now include this discipline in their training regimes.

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Sports quiz of the week: Manchester United, FA Cup final and F1's Monaco GP

Fri, 26 May 2017 11:16:23 GMT2017-05-26T11:16:23Z

Who lost in Lisbon? Who has won the double? And why is it the America’s Cup?Who scored the goals when Chelsea last met Arsenal in an FA Cup final?Didier Drogba and RamiresRay Parlour and Freddie LjungbergTheo Walcott, Juan Mata and Frank Lampard Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira Celtic played 3,420 minutes of football in the Scottish Premiership this season without losing a game. For how many of those minutes were they trailing?44 minutes 110 minutes242 minutes 303 minutes Manchester United's victory in the Europa League final ended a three-year run of Spanish clubs winning both the Champions League and the Europa League. Before United, who were the last team not from Spain to win one of the two major European trophies?Chelsea Bayern MunichJuventusLiverpool The FIA insists that every Grand Prix is at least 305km in length. How long is the Monaco Grand Prix?260km306km 366km 401km Fifty years ago this week, Celtic became the first British team to win the European Cup. Which team did they beat in the final?Sporting Lisbon InterReal MadridPortoHow did the America's Cup get its name?The race only takes part on the American continentsIt is named after the yacht "America", which won the first race in 1851The race was established by the American tourist board to attract new settlersThe Cup was renamed to honour Abraham Lincoln after his assassination in 1865Which of these league champions had the biggest average attendance at their ground this season?ChelseaJuventusMonacoFeyenoordVfB StuttgartManchester United became the second English to club win all three major European trophies (Uefa Cup/Europa League, Champions League/European Cup and Cup Winners' Cup) on Wednesday night. Who were the first?Tottenham HotspurLiverpool Nottingham Forest ChelseaChelsea will secure the second league and FA Cup double in their history if they beat Arsenal at Wembley on Saturday. Seven English clubs have won the double: Manchester United, Arsenal, Preston North End, Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and …Aston VillaEvertonSheffield WednesdayManchester CityWhy have Eintracht Frankfurt ended Guillermo Varela's loan spell and sent him back to Manchester United?He arrived at training in a new Mercedes even though Eintracht Frankfurt are sponsored by BMWHe was caught playing Angry Birds on the bench during a matchHe called in sick to work and went to Stockholm to watch the Europa League finalHe went against the club's medical advice and got a tattoo, which became infected and ruled him out of their German Cup final Continue reading...[...]


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County cricket: Essex v Surrey, Somerset v Hampshire and more – live!

Fri, 26 May 2017 15:05:01 GMT2017-05-26T15:05:01Z

147 for none in that session, were Surrey. Quite superb from Sanga and Scurran.

Stat:

Centuries in most consecutive County Championship innings:
5 CB Fry 1901
5 WR Hammond 1938
5 MEK Hussey 2003
5 KC Sangakkara 2017

Div One:

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Nicky Hayden, former MotoGP world champion, dies five days after bike crash

Mon, 22 May 2017 16:05:32 GMT2017-05-22T16:05:32Z

  • Italian hospital where American was being treated confirms news
  • 35-year-old suffered severe head injuries after being knocked off bicycle

Nicky Hayden, the former MotoGP world champion, has died five days after he was involved in a cycling accident.

The 35-year-old American was hit by a car during a training exercise in Italy last week and suffered severe head and chest injuries. On Monday, the Maurizio Bufalini Hospital, where he had been placed into a medically induced coma, confirmed that he had died.

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Lewis Hamilton struggles in Monte Carlo practice after sharp dip in speed

Thu, 25 May 2017 16:47:00 GMT2017-05-25T16:47:00Z

• Hamilton was fastest in first practice but eighth in second practice
• ‘We’ve got some work to do, that’s for sure,’ says British driver

There were testing times in Monaco for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes as the British driver and his team struggled to extract the maximum from their car, before what is shaping up to be a tight battle with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel on the streets of Monte Carlo. Hamilton was well out-paced by his rival in second practice and he and the team were at a loss to explain why.

Buoyed by his win at the last round in Spain, having come back after an indifferent weekend in Russia when he could not find the right set-up for his car, Hamilton had been optimistic that Mercedes had moved further forward and were well-prepared for Monaco. He was fastest in the morning session on a track that was still green, undergoing the first running of the week, but he remained only two-tenths better than Vettel over the session with the quick runs set on the ultrasoft tyres.

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The Joy of Six: terrible football penalties

Fri, 08 Jul 2016 10:46:58 GMT2016-07-08T10:46:58Z

From the heartbreak of Pasadena to outright hilarity at White Hart Lane, penalties can make fools of us all. Here are some of the most foolish

Everyone has different penalty customs. In the Joy of Six’s primary school, the defending side would stand behind the goalline to chorus “naked women, naked women” even though no one had the slightest notion of why that image might be distracting. But it’s the thought that counts, and when it comes to potential embarrassment of an opponent, anything’s worth trying, because actual embarrassment of an opponent is hilarious.

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Mayweather-McGregor would be mismatch, so why is everyone talking about it? | Sean Ingle

Sun, 21 May 2017 15:23:38 GMT2017-05-21T15:23:38Z

A massive cheque with plenty of noughts on end could lure Floyd Mayweather back to ring in what would surely be one of the most one-sided bouts of his career

Some scientists and Silicon Valley smarts increasingly believe that nothing we experience is real, and that life is just a giant computer game created by a far more sophisticated super‑intelligence. This theory even has a name: simulation hypothesis – although, disappointingly, it has nothing to say about whether Cristiano Ronaldo might stay on his feet more in a parallel universe.

If these folk are right, then perhaps we should also start asking whether our silicon overlords have got bored with Earth: The Game and decided to tweak the programme radically. And maybe having shown just how gullible we are when swallowing any old political nonsense, they want to do the same with sport.

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Talking Horses: Best Friday bets for Goodwood, Haydock Park and more

Fri, 26 May 2017 08:30:19 GMT2017-05-26T08:30:19Z

The Grand Visir, a son of Frankel, is a prospect worth following at Goodwood while Whitkirk could offer the most attractive bet of the day at Pontefract

The Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood no longer has much relevance as a Classic trial even in a normal year, and this year’s odd calendar, with most major meetings a week late but Epsom’s Classic meeting still opening on the first weekend in June, means that it falls only eight days before the Derby.

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