Ancelotti's Wobbling Madrid Face Stern Athletic Test

Real Madrid's Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti holds a press conference at the Ciudad Real Madrid training complex in Valdebebas, outskirts of Madrid, on December 29, 2022, on the eve of their Spanish League football match against Real Valladolid FC. (AFP)
Real Madrid's Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti holds a press conference at the Ciudad Real Madrid training complex in Valdebebas, outskirts of Madrid, on December 29, 2022, on the eve of their Spanish League football match against Real Valladolid FC. (AFP)
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Ancelotti's Wobbling Madrid Face Stern Athletic Test

Real Madrid's Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti holds a press conference at the Ciudad Real Madrid training complex in Valdebebas, outskirts of Madrid, on December 29, 2022, on the eve of their Spanish League football match against Real Valladolid FC. (AFP)
Real Madrid's Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti holds a press conference at the Ciudad Real Madrid training complex in Valdebebas, outskirts of Madrid, on December 29, 2022, on the eve of their Spanish League football match against Real Valladolid FC. (AFP)

Carlo Ancelotti is hoping Real Madrid's post-World Cup slump is over ahead of the clash with Athletic Bilbao on Sunday in La Liga.

The champions trail Barcelona by three points at the top of the table and were soundly beaten by their rivals in the Spanish Super Cup final last week, AFP said.

However they produced a sensational comeback from two goals down to beat Villarreal in the Spanish Cup on Thursday night, which should boost their morale.

Madrid's defense has been leaky, conceding eight goals in their last four games.

In La Liga, Madrid have let in 16 goals, 10 more than leaders Barcelona.

"We have conceded six goals (in three games) and five of them could have been avoided with a little more defensive caution," Ancelotti told reporters on Wednesday, before the Villarreal cup clash.

German international center-back Antonio Rudiger has endured a rough ride since joining from Chelsea in the summer, and the defense has not looked close to its best all season.

Only goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has been playing well, despite being able to keep just three clean sheets in La Liga from 16 matches.

Madrid have been hamstrung recently by David Alaba and Aurelien Tchouameni's injuries, meaning Toni Kroos has been forced to play as the deepest midfielder.

Ancelotti said January was proving tough for his team and they had to survive it before picking themselves up later on.

"We've had injuries that affected us a bit more and it was not foreseeable," said Ancelotti.

"Not being at our best is normal, we have to bear out this month."

Despite Madrid's form, Ancelotti was positive about the club's direction, saying they are starting a new era, rather than ending an old one.

"We've got a young team," said the Italian coach.

"They all talk about (Luka) Modric, Kroos, (Karim) Benzema, but we must also talk about the youngsters. Vinicius, (Eduardo) Camavinga, Rodrygo, (Fede) Valverde, (Eder) Militao, Tchouameni and players who are going to join in the future.

"I think this is the beginning of a new era. The players who have defined an era at this club are coming to the end of their careers, but there are others coming in."

Former Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde will be looking to do his old side a favor at the San Mames, just as Villarreal's Quique Setien did earlier in January.

Athletic lost at local rivals Real Sociedad in the Basque derby last weekend so bouncing back against Madrid would be the perfect response.

Despite a dip in form which has seen Los Leones win just one of their last five league games, Athletic sit eighth and just two points behind fourth-place Atletico Madrid.

With Ancelotti's side looking defensively vulnerable, Athletic will view this match as an opportunity -- although Madrid's cup comeback is a warning they can never be counted out.

Player to watch: Izi Palazon

Rayo Vallecano's strong campaign to date is partly down to the spectacular form of winger Izi Palazon. With three goals and two assists in his last seven league matches, the Spanish forward has been key for the Madrid side, and if they are to get a result against high-flying Real Sociedad, Palazon will be crucial.

Key stats

2 - Rayo's Ivan Balliu has the unfortunate accolade of being the only player to score two own goals this season

6 - Barcelona's strong form has been built on their rearguard, which has only shipped six goals this season in La Liga

36 - Espanyol midfielder Vinicius Souza has won more tackles than any other player in the league

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Friday

Mallorca v Celta Vigo (2000)

Saturday

Rayo Vallecano v Real Sociedad (1300), Espanyol v Real Betis (1315), Atletico Madrid v Valladolid (1730), Sevilla v Cadiz (2000)

Sunday

Villarreal v Girona (1300), Elche v Osasuna (1515), Barcelona v Getafe (1730), Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid (2000)

Monday

Valencia v Almeria (2000)



Chris Evert Thinks Iga Swiatek Could Surpass Her Record of 7 French Open Titles 

French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - June 10, 2023 Poland's Iga Swiatek poses with her Suzanne Lenglen trophy after winning her final match against Czech Republic's Karolina Muchova. (Reuters)
French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - June 10, 2023 Poland's Iga Swiatek poses with her Suzanne Lenglen trophy after winning her final match against Czech Republic's Karolina Muchova. (Reuters)
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Chris Evert Thinks Iga Swiatek Could Surpass Her Record of 7 French Open Titles 

French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - June 10, 2023 Poland's Iga Swiatek poses with her Suzanne Lenglen trophy after winning her final match against Czech Republic's Karolina Muchova. (Reuters)
French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - June 10, 2023 Poland's Iga Swiatek poses with her Suzanne Lenglen trophy after winning her final match against Czech Republic's Karolina Muchova. (Reuters)

No less an authority on clay-court tennis than Chris Evert thinks her record of seven French Open championships could be surpassed by Iga Swiatek.

“Absolutely,” Evert, a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, said in a phone interview. “Iga is a player on a mission. She’s more focused. She doesn’t get upset at all when she’s losing. She just has all the ingredients to be a champion. She really does. She checks all the boxes — the intangibles and the tangibles.”

Swiatek has been No. 1 in the WTA rankings for most of the past two years and will seek her fourth championship at Roland Garros — and fifth Grand Slam trophy overall — when play begins at the clay-court major tournament Sunday.

The 22-year-old from Poland is trying to become the first woman to win three consecutive French Opens since Justine Henin collected a trio from 2005 to 2007. And Swiatek is coming off a rare feat: She won her past two tournaments on clay at Madrid and Rome, the first woman to pull off that clay double since Serena Williams did it 11 years ago.

Swiatek, whose first trophy in Paris came at age 19 in 2020, seems built for the surface the French call “terre battue.”

She slides so well. Changes direction so smoothly. Her big forehand can push a foe back. Her serving is as effective as her returning.

“I just think Iga is the most solid of all players out there. She doesn’t seem to have any big holes in her game,” said Evert, who collected her prizes at Roland Garros in the 1970s and 1980s and closed her career with 18 Grand Slam titles, the same number as her great on-court rival, Martina Navratilova. “She’s an excellent front-runner. Once she gets going, and she’s winning, she has that confidence.”

And, as Evert noted, Swiatek is as much a marvel mentally as she is talented physically. Some of the credit for that surely goes to Daria Abramowicz, the sports psychologist who travels the circuit with Swiatek and is a constant presence at matches and at news conferences.

“I’m always kind of trying to stay present and do the same work no matter what stage of the match I’m in,” Swiatek said. “So I think that’s the main thing.”

She is 38-4 with four titles in 2024.

That sort of consistent excellence is “incredible,” and Swiatek is “great for the sport,” said four-time major champion Naomi Osaka, who could face her in the second round of the French Open.

Osaka also praised Swiatek for playing well week in and week out, “something that I honestly can’t think of, or can’t fathom, back when I was No. 1 for like five seconds.”

There is no sense of complacency with Swiatek. Nor does she — outwardly, anyway — get too down after a poor match.

No victory — or loss, for that matter — seems to linger with her for too long. It's simply on to the next one.

“Even if I win, it doesn’t stick in my head,” Swiatek said. “I celebrate for one day, then I’m off to another tournament, in my head, even.”

Opponents talk about the difficulty of trying to find a weakness on court against her. And they uniformly describe a constant sense of feeling as though Swiatek puts them under pressure, never allowing a moment to find a way out.

“She’s incredible. Her consistency and her focus is quite impressive. The way she’s been kind of handling her career, to go from one tournament and keep the focus, for her, works really well,” said Victoria Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open champion and former top-ranked player.

As for what sort of success Swiatek might have as the years go by?

“On the long term, it’s hard to predict. The tour is long. Players have injuries, etc., etc., so I don’t want to guess what is going to happen,” Azarenka said. “But at the moment, she definitely fully deserves to be No. 1, with the way she’s playing.”


France’s All-Time Leading Scorer Olivier Giroud Plans to End International Career After Euro 

AC Milan's French forward #09 Olivier Giroud waves to fans after winning 3-0 the Italian Serie A football match between AC Milan and Lecce at San Siro Stadium, in Milan on April 6, 2024. (AFP)
AC Milan's French forward #09 Olivier Giroud waves to fans after winning 3-0 the Italian Serie A football match between AC Milan and Lecce at San Siro Stadium, in Milan on April 6, 2024. (AFP)
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France’s All-Time Leading Scorer Olivier Giroud Plans to End International Career After Euro 

AC Milan's French forward #09 Olivier Giroud waves to fans after winning 3-0 the Italian Serie A football match between AC Milan and Lecce at San Siro Stadium, in Milan on April 6, 2024. (AFP)
AC Milan's French forward #09 Olivier Giroud waves to fans after winning 3-0 the Italian Serie A football match between AC Milan and Lecce at San Siro Stadium, in Milan on April 6, 2024. (AFP)

France's all-time leading scorer Olivier Giroud says he plans to end his international career after the European Championship next month.

The 37-year-old forward has scored 57 goals in 131 matches for France. He was part of the France squad that won the 2018 World Cup and has been selected to play at the Euros.

“To be honest, this will be my last competition with Les Bleus. Obviously, I’m going to miss it a lot,” Giroud told L’Equipe in an interview published late Thursday. “We need to make way for the youngsters.”

Giroud recently signed a deal to play in the MLS with Los Angeles FC, leaving Europe after 18 years in the top professional leagues in France, England and Italy. Giroud joined LAFC from AC Milan with a contract through 2025. The deal includes an option for 2026.

“I’m also feeling physical and mental fatigue,” Giroud told L'Equipe. “I’ve always said I was going to stop when my body asked me to. I think I’ve got two good years left. But as far as the French team is concerned, I think that’ll be the end of it.”

Giroud is best known for his six prolific seasons at Arsenal from 2012-18, followed by three years apiece at Chelsea and Milan. He has scored 285 goals in 716 matches during his club career while winning a wealth of trophies, including a Champions League triumph with Chelsea three years ago. He also won the French league title with Montpellier back in 2012, and the Italian league with Milan 10 years later.

The European Championship begins next month in Germany. France, which has won the tournament twice, is in a group with Austria, the Netherlands and Poland.

“It’s really the desire to go as far as possible in the competition with this generation that drives me,” Giroud said when asked about his objective at the Euro. “If I win, apart from the Premier League, which is very difficult to win, I could say I’ve won everything... I’m also hearing a lot about reaching the 60-goal mark for the national team. But it’s not an obsession.”


Report: Carlos Sainz in Talks with Williams 

Carlos Sainz of Spain and Ferrari SF-24 arrives for the Qualifying of the Formula One Grand Prix of the Emilia Romagna in Imola, Italy, 18 May 2024. (EPA)
Carlos Sainz of Spain and Ferrari SF-24 arrives for the Qualifying of the Formula One Grand Prix of the Emilia Romagna in Imola, Italy, 18 May 2024. (EPA)
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Report: Carlos Sainz in Talks with Williams 

Carlos Sainz of Spain and Ferrari SF-24 arrives for the Qualifying of the Formula One Grand Prix of the Emilia Romagna in Imola, Italy, 18 May 2024. (EPA)
Carlos Sainz of Spain and Ferrari SF-24 arrives for the Qualifying of the Formula One Grand Prix of the Emilia Romagna in Imola, Italy, 18 May 2024. (EPA)

Williams has emerged as a surprise contender to sign Carlos Sainz, who will depart Ferrari's Formula 1 team after this season.

Sainz has reportedly received an offer from Sauber-Audi while also holding out hope that an opportunity might arise with Mercedes or Red Bull. However, Motorsport.com reported Thursday that the Spaniard has been in discussions with Williams, which recently re-signed Alex Albon to a multi-year deal.

Sainz has been evaluating his options since the bombshell announcement in February that seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is leaving Mercedes for Ferrari, where he will join Charles Leclerc.

Red Bull is widely expected to re-sign Sergio Perez for 2025 alongside Max Verstappen, while Mercedes is believed to be leaning toward elevating junior driver Andrea Kimi Antonelli to replace Hamilton.

Sauber has reportedly offered Sainz a multi-year deal that would keep him with the team through its transition to the Audi works team in 2026. But Motorsport.com reported that Williams team principal James Vowles has also been outlining his vision for improving its place on the grid.

A major part of that vision is its customer engine deal with Mercedes for 2026, with Vowles recently acknowledging that his focus is more on 2027 and beyond than on the next few years.

"I'm going to just put all the options on the table and make the right decision," Sainz said ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix. "I can just tell you that, once I open my mind up, everything will happen very quickly. It's all about putting everything together that I feel like I need on my next new contract."

The Motorsport.com report also came on the heels of Sky Sports reporter Craig Slater saying that the Mercedes door is all but closed for Sainz.

"Why isn't Carlos Sainz going to Mercedes? That conversation has already been had as I understand it and the timescale Mercedes are working towards in terms of making their decision doesn't fit with what Carlos Sainz wants himself," Slater said, per F1i.com.

"He wants his contract situation sorted in the next few weeks rather than months."

Verstappen has been the subject of constant rumors tied to Mercedes' second seat, but Red Bull repeatedly has dismissed them while Verstappen has said he intends to honor his contract that runs through 2028.

Several veteran drivers also have been mentioned as possible options to race alongside George Russell if Mercedes team principal and CEO Toto Wolff looks for a one-year stopgap in 2025. Meanwhile, the 17-year-old Antonelli is going through a rigorous private testing program to get him familiarized with F1 speed and machinery.

"If Mercedes cannot get Verstappen, my understanding is Kimi Antonelli will have that seat next year," Slater said. "That means you can discount some of the other names mentioned.

"Sebastian Vettel, Esteban Ocon, even Valtteri Bottas. Kimi Antonelli only turns 18 in August but might he even be in F1 this year? There's that potential.

"However, he is in a position if Mercedes cannot get Verstappen to be driving alongside George Russell in 2025. That one probably not decided until August or September."


Man Utd Not Afraid of City’s Dominance, Says Dalot 

Football - Premier League - Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester United - The American Express Community Stadium, Brighton, Britain - May 19, 2024 Manchester United's Diogo Dalot celebrates after the match. (Reuters)
Football - Premier League - Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester United - The American Express Community Stadium, Brighton, Britain - May 19, 2024 Manchester United's Diogo Dalot celebrates after the match. (Reuters)
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Man Utd Not Afraid of City’s Dominance, Says Dalot 

Football - Premier League - Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester United - The American Express Community Stadium, Brighton, Britain - May 19, 2024 Manchester United's Diogo Dalot celebrates after the match. (Reuters)
Football - Premier League - Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester United - The American Express Community Stadium, Brighton, Britain - May 19, 2024 Manchester United's Diogo Dalot celebrates after the match. (Reuters)

Manchester United are not afraid of Manchester City's dominance and will leverage their underdog status in their bid to lift the FA Cup, defender Diogo Dalot said ahead of Saturday's final at Wembley.

Local rivals City and United have had contrasting seasons, with City being crowned Premier League champions for the fourth time in a row and United ending their campaign in eighth place, their worst-ever finish of the Premier League era.

"City dominated so much the last few years, they created this fear factor," Dalot told the Mirror in an interview published on Thursday.

"But when you're playing United against City, I don't believe they come in with the idea that we fear them. They know that we're going to want to win that game, so they're going to be at their best level - and we have to be at our best level."

United have one victory in their last five FA Cup final appearances, a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace in extra time in 2016. They were beaten 2-1 by City in last year's final.

Asked about City being the favorites in the final, Dalot said: "For me personally, it gives me more energy. You shouldn't be the underdog when you're at Manchester United.

"We want to be the team in the future that everyone thinks is going to win automatically."


Navas Announces Retirement from Costa Rica National Team After 16 Years and 3 World Cups 

Paris Saint-Germain's Costa Rican Goalkeeper #01 Keylor Navas (L) holds the ball during the French L1 football match between FC Metz and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at the Saint-Symphorien Stadium in Longeville-les-Metz, eastern France, on May 19, 2024. (AFP)
Paris Saint-Germain's Costa Rican Goalkeeper #01 Keylor Navas (L) holds the ball during the French L1 football match between FC Metz and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at the Saint-Symphorien Stadium in Longeville-les-Metz, eastern France, on May 19, 2024. (AFP)
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Navas Announces Retirement from Costa Rica National Team After 16 Years and 3 World Cups 

Paris Saint-Germain's Costa Rican Goalkeeper #01 Keylor Navas (L) holds the ball during the French L1 football match between FC Metz and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at the Saint-Symphorien Stadium in Longeville-les-Metz, eastern France, on May 19, 2024. (AFP)
Paris Saint-Germain's Costa Rican Goalkeeper #01 Keylor Navas (L) holds the ball during the French L1 football match between FC Metz and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at the Saint-Symphorien Stadium in Longeville-les-Metz, eastern France, on May 19, 2024. (AFP)

Veteran goalkeeper Keylor Navas announced on Thursday he plans to retire from the Costa Rica national team after 16 years and over 100 international matches, including appearances in three World Cup tournaments.

The 37-year-old Navas made the announcement through his official social media accounts with a video where he described his career highlights.

“I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the memories we have made. Together we have made history, facing the best players in the world, raising the name of Costa Rica to the highest level,” Navas said.

Navas, considered the best goalkeeper in Costa Rican history, led his national team to the quarterfinals in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He also played in Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.

Navas played with Real Madrid where he won the Champions League three times in a row. With Real Madrid, Navas also won one Spanish league title and one Copa del Rey.

After playing for five seasons in Spain he signed with Paris Saint-Germain in France, where he played four seasons.

Navas was expected to play with Costa Rica in the next Copa America but it was not clear if he plans to play in the tournament and then retire from the team. The Associated Press has contacted the Costa Rican Soccer Federation in an attempt to clarify the situation.

“I leave with a heartful of gratitude and my eyes looking forward, always carrying the name of our beloved Costa Rica,” Navas said. “A small country in territory but big in heart. It’s a difficult feeling to assimilate. This stage of my life with the national team has come to an end.”


Nadal is in French Open Field, Will Face Zverev in 1st Round

Spain's Rafael Nadal takes part in a practice session ahead of The French Open tennis tournament on Court Philippe-Chatrier at The Roland Garros Complex in Paris on May 22, 2024. (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP)
Spain's Rafael Nadal takes part in a practice session ahead of The French Open tennis tournament on Court Philippe-Chatrier at The Roland Garros Complex in Paris on May 22, 2024. (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP)
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Nadal is in French Open Field, Will Face Zverev in 1st Round

Spain's Rafael Nadal takes part in a practice session ahead of The French Open tennis tournament on Court Philippe-Chatrier at The Roland Garros Complex in Paris on May 22, 2024. (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP)
Spain's Rafael Nadal takes part in a practice session ahead of The French Open tennis tournament on Court Philippe-Chatrier at The Roland Garros Complex in Paris on May 22, 2024. (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP)

Rafael Nadal is in the French Open field, after all, and Thursday's draw set up the 14-time champion for a challenging first-round matchup against No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev.

“That’s going to be hard, but he is a warrior," tournament director Amélie Mauresmo said. "Anything is possible with Rafa.”

This is expected to be Nadal's last appearance at Roland Garros, and he had been coy about whether he would compete this time after two seasons of off-and-on action because of injuries, including a surgically repaired hip that forced him to miss his favorite tournament a year ago, The Associated Press reported.

After a loss at the Italian Open this month, Nadal said he needed to think about whether to play in Paris. But the Spaniard, who turns 38 on June 3, has been practicing on the red clay at Roland Garros this week and his name was officially in the bracket.

The French Open begins on Sunday.

The Nadal-Zverev winner could be on a path toward a potential semifinal meeting against No. 1 seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic, whose opening opponent is French wild-card entry Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

The potential men's quarterfinals are Djokovic against No. 7 Casper Ruud — who lost to Nadal in the 2022 final and 24-time major champion Djokovic in the 2023 final — and Zverev or Nadal against No. 5 Daniil Medvedev in the top half of the bracket, and No. 2 Jannik Sinner against No. 8 Hubert Hurkacz, and No. 3 Carlos Alcaraz versus No. 6 Andrey Rublev in the bottom half.

In the women's draw, one intriguing semifinal could be No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who seeks a third consecutive French Open title, against No. 3 Coco Gauff, the reigning US Open champion who lost to Swiatek in the Paris final two years ago.

“I’m starting to really feel at home here,” Swiatek said at the draw ceremony.
She will start off against someone who was in the qualifying rounds, and then could face four-time major champion and former No. 1 Naomi Osaka.

The possible women's quarterfinals are Swiatek vs. No. 5 Marketa Vondrousova, and Gauff vs. No. 8 Ons Jabeur on the top half, and No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka vs. No. 6 Maria Sakkari, and No. 4 Elena Rybakina vs. No. 7 Zheng Qinwen on the bottom half.

Despite all of the success Nadal has enjoyed at the event — his career record there is 112-3 — the French tennis federation decided not to go against its usual rules that follow the ATP and WTA rankings to determine seedings.

So the 22-time major champion's inactivity-affected ranking of No. 276 left him unseeded — which meant Nadal could be selected in the computerized, random draw to face any opponent to start. His matchup against Zverev, the 2020 US Open runner-up and Tokyo Olympic gold medalist, is a rematch of their 2022 French Open semifinal that ended when Zverev tore ligaments in his right ankle.

Zverev, a 27-year-old from Germany, enters Roland Garros as a serious contender for what would be his first major title, coming off a trophy at the Italian Open on clay.

He's drawn attention lately for a serious matter away from tennis: A court proceeding is scheduled to begin next week in Germany related to accusations of physical abuse made by an ex-girlfriend of his. Zverev does not need to attend and has said he won't.

Another high-profile first-round matchup pits a pair of three-time Grand Slam champions against each other: Andy Murray, who just turned 37, versus Stan Wawrinka, who is 39. First-rounders to keep an eye on also include Australian Open runner-up Zheng against popular French veteran Alizé Cornet, who has said she will retire after the French Open, and two-time major finalist Karolina Pliskova against No. 15 seed Elina Svitolina, a three-time Grand Slam semifinalist.

One expected withdrawal was announced Thursday: fifth-ranked Jessica Pegula, an American who has reached six major quarterfinals.


Soccer-West Ham Appoint Former Spain Manager Lopetegui as Head Coach

Former Spain national coach Julen Lopetegui. (AFP)
Former Spain national coach Julen Lopetegui. (AFP)
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Soccer-West Ham Appoint Former Spain Manager Lopetegui as Head Coach

Former Spain national coach Julen Lopetegui. (AFP)
Former Spain national coach Julen Lopetegui. (AFP)

West Ham United have appointed former Spain and Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui as their new head coach, the Premier League club said on Thursday.

Lopetegui, who previously coached Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League and will take charge of West Ham on July 1, replaces David Moyes, who left the London club this month.

West Ham finished ninth in the standings with 52 points and missed out on qualification for European football next season.

"My ambition as a coach is always to be better and better, to achieve more and bigger aims and to encourage and improve the players, the team, and to compete because football is about this – to compete," Lopetegui, 57, said in a statement, Reuters reported.

"I am where I want to be. I am here because I want to be here and for us it was a fantastic day when we closed our agreement here because our commitment is 100 per cent to be here."

Lopetegui, who was at Barcelona and Real Madrid as a player but featured mostly for Logrones and Rayo Vallecano, began coaching in Spain's youth set-up before spells at Vallecano in the Spanish second tier and Portuguese club Porto.

His most successful stint in club management came at Sevilla, where he spent three years in charge, leading the LaLiga outfit to the Europa League title in 2020.


Djokovic Beats Hanfmann 6-3, 6-3 to Reach Geneva Open Quarterfinals on his 37th Birthday

Serbia's Novak Djokovic plays a forehand return against France's Alexandre Muller during the US Open tennis tournament men's singles first round match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City, on August 28, 2023. (Photo by COREY SIPKIN / AFP)
Serbia's Novak Djokovic plays a forehand return against France's Alexandre Muller during the US Open tennis tournament men's singles first round match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City, on August 28, 2023. (Photo by COREY SIPKIN / AFP)
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Djokovic Beats Hanfmann 6-3, 6-3 to Reach Geneva Open Quarterfinals on his 37th Birthday

Serbia's Novak Djokovic plays a forehand return against France's Alexandre Muller during the US Open tennis tournament men's singles first round match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City, on August 28, 2023. (Photo by COREY SIPKIN / AFP)
Serbia's Novak Djokovic plays a forehand return against France's Alexandre Muller during the US Open tennis tournament men's singles first round match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City, on August 28, 2023. (Photo by COREY SIPKIN / AFP)

Novak Djokovic celebrated his 37th birthday by beating unseeded Yannick Hanfmann 6-3, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals at the Geneva Open.

It was the 1,100th victory for the World No. 1 at ATP tournaments.

Djokovic rallied from 3-0 down in the final set by winning six straight games. He converted his second match point when Hanfmann's forehand hit the net, The AP reported.

The 32-year-old German broke Djokovic in the second game of the set when Djokovic struggled with his first serve.

The second-round match had earlier been suspended by rain with Djokovic trying to serve out the first set 5-3, deuce.

The record 24-time Grand Slam champion wasted a set point and had to save four break points before the match was interrupted by rainfall.

He had to save another break point after play resumed before serving out the set with an ace.

Hanfmann had eliminated Andy Murray in the first round 7-5, 6-2.

Djokovic received a wild card at the clay-court warmup event for the French Open.

Seeking his first title of the season, Djokovic will next face either Denis Shapovalov or Tallon Griekspoor.

The Geneva Open final is scheduled for Saturday, one day before main draw play starts at Roland Garros, where Djokovic is the defending champion.


American Star Pegula Pulls Out of French Open

Jessica Pegula will miss the French Open but 'will definitely be back for a full grass season'. Rich Storry / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP
Jessica Pegula will miss the French Open but 'will definitely be back for a full grass season'. Rich Storry / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP
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American Star Pegula Pulls Out of French Open

Jessica Pegula will miss the French Open but 'will definitely be back for a full grass season'. Rich Storry / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP
Jessica Pegula will miss the French Open but 'will definitely be back for a full grass season'. Rich Storry / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

World number five Jessica Pegula announced her withdrawal from the French Open on Thursday, saying she had not yet sufficiently recovered from an injury.
"Unfortunately pulling out of @rolandgarros this year," the American posted on Instagram.
"I'm just about back to practicing normal (haven't had any issues for weeks) but played it super safe with recovery & return to play.
"If I had another 5-7 days I would have been there 100%."
Pegula, 30, has not played an official match since the Billie Jean King Cup in mid-April, said AFP.
She then withdrew from the Madrid Open after "hurting herself", without giving any further details on the nature of her injury.
She also missed the Rome Open, the last big clay-court tournament prior to Roland Garros.
Pegula, however, is confident she will soon return to competition.
"I will definitely be back for a full grass season and the rest of the summer and grinding out the rest of the year," she posted.
Last year, Pegula, 30, was eliminated in the third round of the French Open by Belgium's Elise Mertens.
Her best result at Roland Garros is a quarter-final appearance in 2022 when she lost to eventual winner Iga Swiatek.
The draw for the French Open, which begins at the weekend, takes place later on Thursday.


Departing Mbappé Chases a Last Trophy with PSG in French Cup Final against Resurgent Lyon

FILED - 07 May 2024, France, Paris: PSG's Kylian Mbappe reacts during the UEFA Champions League semi final between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Borussia Dortmund. Photo: Robert Michael/dpa
FILED - 07 May 2024, France, Paris: PSG's Kylian Mbappe reacts during the UEFA Champions League semi final between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Borussia Dortmund. Photo: Robert Michael/dpa
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Departing Mbappé Chases a Last Trophy with PSG in French Cup Final against Resurgent Lyon

FILED - 07 May 2024, France, Paris: PSG's Kylian Mbappe reacts during the UEFA Champions League semi final between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Borussia Dortmund. Photo: Robert Michael/dpa
FILED - 07 May 2024, France, Paris: PSG's Kylian Mbappe reacts during the UEFA Champions League semi final between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Borussia Dortmund. Photo: Robert Michael/dpa

This time, it's really the end.
After missing Paris Saint-Germain’s last two league games, Kylian Mbappé should start in the French Cup final against Lyon on Saturday for his final match in a PSG shirt, The Associated Press.
The forward, who is widely expected to join Real Madrid, was given some free time by coach Luis Enrique last weekend and was spotted enjoying himself at the Cannes film festival while PSG wrapped up a 12th victorious league campaign in less glamorous settings.
Mbappé told PSG in February he will leave at the end of the season — Saturday night — and confirmed it this month. Over the last three months, Enrique has tried to make PSG less reliant on his star striker, arguing that he needed to start thinking about the future knowing that Mbappé would not be around next season.
Although Enrique has yet to decide on his starting XI for Saturday's final at Lille's Stade Pierre-Mauroy, snubbing Mbappé, or even leaving him on the bench, would equate to a slap in his face.
Mbappé is the club’s all-time top scorer with 256 and has won six Ligue 1 titles and three French Cups with PSG. Although he didn't lead the club to a Champions League trophy in his seven seasons in Paris, he largely contributed to helping PSG reach a respected status on the continent.
Leaving him on the sidelines on the night he could cap his PSG journey with yet another title seems highly unlikely, although Enrique has warned his players he will select only those who deserve it.
“We’ll see who’s ready, who’s not ready (to play), who wants to, who doesn’t want to,” Enrique said.
Like Mbappé, Ousmane Dembélé did not play against Nice and Metz in the closing league rounds but should be back to face a resurgent Lyon side led by former Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette.
LYON MASTER OF COMEBACKS
Lyon has been in impressive form in recent months and Enrique can't afford to take the five-time Cup champion lightly.
Since Pierre Sage was appointed coach last November when Lyon was at the bottom of the league, the team has been transformed into a winning machine. After sealing European soccer next season, Lyon can cap a remarkable second half of the season with its first silverware since 2012.
One of Lyon's main assets has been its capacity to come from behind under Sage's guidance. According to French league statistics, Lyon has secured 27 points from a losing position, with only Liverpool and Girona doing better in the top five leagues. Lyon substitutes have contributed 18 goals since Sage's appointment.