Tsitsipas Crashes Out of Indian Wells in Second Round

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece plays a backhand in a three set loss to Jordan Thompson of Australia during the BNP Parisbas at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 10, 2023 in Indian Wells, California. (Getty Images/AFP)
Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece plays a backhand in a three set loss to Jordan Thompson of Australia during the BNP Parisbas at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 10, 2023 in Indian Wells, California. (Getty Images/AFP)
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Tsitsipas Crashes Out of Indian Wells in Second Round

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece plays a backhand in a three set loss to Jordan Thompson of Australia during the BNP Parisbas at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 10, 2023 in Indian Wells, California. (Getty Images/AFP)
Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece plays a backhand in a three set loss to Jordan Thompson of Australia during the BNP Parisbas at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 10, 2023 in Indian Wells, California. (Getty Images/AFP)

Stefanos Tsitsipas's hopes of taking over the world number one ranking with an Indian Wells title ended in a 7-6(0) 4-6 7-6(5) second-round loss to Australian Jordan Thompson on Friday.

Second seed Tsitsipas told reporters on Wednesday that he did not expect to make a deep run at the tournament due to his ailing shoulder and it was unclear how much he had left in the tank after he was blanked in the first set tie-breaker.

But the Greek battled back in the second and pumped up the crowd ahead of the third set tie-break.

But overly aggressive play in it, including a forehand on match point that missed the line by the slimmest of margins, was his undoing.

A beaming Thompson fired a ball high into the air in celebration after he notched his first win over Tsitsipas in three career meetings and second over a top 10 player.

"Tricky match point," Thompson told reporters.

"The ball was only just out and it was a relief that it was. It was a great feeling. You could see it on my face at the end of the match. I was overcome with joy."

Norrie advances

Earlier, Briton Cameron Norrie cruised past Taiwan's Tung-lin Wu 6-2 6-4.

Norrie, the 2021 champion, broke Wu four times en route to the win

"Lots of good memories at Indian Wells," Norrie said. "It's nice to be through to the third round."

The 10th seed is off to a terrific start this year having beaten world number two Carlos Alcaraz in the Rio Open final last month to claim his fifth singles title.

Norrie's win comes a day after unseeded Britons Andy Murray and Emma Raducanu reached the second round at the ATP and WTA 1000 event in the Southern California desert with gutsy wins.

Norrie will face qualifier Taro Daniel after the Japanese player rallied to upset 20th seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy 7-6(5) 0-6 6-3 in the evening session.

Norwegian Casper Ruud's serve-forehand one-two punch proved too much for Diego Schwartzman as the third seed advanced 6-2 6-3 over a player who has given him trouble in the past.

"Everything sort of went my way," said Ruud, who now has four wins and five losses against the Argentine.

"Early on there were a couple of line shots and net cords that went my way, so I kind of felt that maybe today is my day."

Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev as well as American Frances Tiafoe all breezed into the third round with comprehensive straight sets wins in the evening session.

Sabalenka slays

On the women's side, second seed Aryna Sabalenka needed just over an hour to dispatch Russia's Evgeniya Rodina 6-2 6-0 as the Australian Open champion improved to 14-1 on the year.

"Happy to win this match in two sets without struggling too much," Sabalenka told reporters.

The Belarusian next faces Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko. Players from Belarus and Russia are once again playing under neutral flags at the tournament due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"It's going to be interesting match," Sabalenka said.

"She's a great player and it's going to be a great battle."

Swiss Jil Teichmann upset her doubles partner and countrywoman Belinda Bencic 3-6 6-3 6-3 on the Tokyo Olympic champion's 26th birthday to reach the third round for the first time.

Third seeded American Jessica Pegula roared back to beat Italy's Camila Giorgi 3-6 6-1 6-2 under the lights on center court to set up a third round showdown with Russia's Anastasia Potapova.

Elsewhere, Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko upset Croatian Donna Vekic 2-6 6-2 6-2, Latvian Jelena Ostapenko defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich 7-5 3-6 6-2 and Czech Barbora Krejcikova breezed past Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska 6-1 6-2.



Mikel Arteta’s Focus on Defensive Solidity Could Pay Dividends for Arsenal

This season, Arsenal have conceded the fewest goals, and scored the most, and are top with seven games to play - Reuters
This season, Arsenal have conceded the fewest goals, and scored the most, and are top with seven games to play - Reuters
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Mikel Arteta’s Focus on Defensive Solidity Could Pay Dividends for Arsenal

This season, Arsenal have conceded the fewest goals, and scored the most, and are top with seven games to play - Reuters
This season, Arsenal have conceded the fewest goals, and scored the most, and are top with seven games to play - Reuters

For the past four seasons the team with the best – or joint-best – defensive record have won the Premier League. This season, Arsenal have conceded the fewest goals, and scored the most, and are top with seven games to play. There has been a renewed focus on defence under Mikel Arteta and it could pay dividends in silverware.

Arsenal finished five points behind Manchester City last season, conceding 10 goals more than the champions. In this campaign they have let in six fewer goals than the side with the second-best defensive record, Liverpool. They are conceding 0.77 goals per game compared with 1.13 last season, helped by three clean sheets in a row. They welcome Aston Villa on Sunday, knowing another could put them one small step closer to glory.

I spoke to Bukayo Saka after Arsenal beat Brighton last Saturday and he alluded to the fact the team stay in games and possess a clean-sheet mentality. That was summed up by Gabriel Magalhães’s celebration of a blocked shot. Since the turn of the year their Opta xG against, in 11 matches, has been 4.98, while second-best are Manchester City with 12.28 in 12 matches, showing Arsenal are not giving up chances.

It helps that they signed Declan Rice and David Raya in the summer and that William Saliba has returned to fitness. But don’t overlook the importance of Kai Havertz, who is brilliant pressing from the front, initiating that with Martin Ødegaard.

At the heart of the success are Gabriel and Saliba, aged 26 and 23. They could play six or seven seasons together unless Arsenal sell one or both of them – which I cannot see happening – and become the best pairing in Europe. Against Brighton there were no qualms about leaving them one-v-one because the team know they are quick, strong, physical and always in a ready stance position so they can step in to win the ball or, if it goes in behind, have a foot race. They have great game understanding and are very loud.

I was with Theo Walcott at the Amex and he said the defences he played with were pretty quiet whereas the current crop are really vocal. We were on the pitch and got in the way of the back four’s warmup and they shouted at us to move. They were polite but it put the fear of God into me, so I cannot imagine what it is like being their teammate and being told off for not pressing from the front. Communication is imperative and they set the tone and have such a strong mentality.

Ben White is incredibly consistent and brings versatility within the structure; he can become a third centre-back or move into midfield to be an extra man, depending on whether it is Oleksandr Zinchenko or Jakub Kiwior at left-back. He has the stamina to get up and down as an attacking full-back, aided by a great understanding with Saka. He has scored twice and created four goals in the Premier League this season, while helping Arsenal secure nine clean sheets. Like Gabriel and Saliba, he is becoming better as he matures, helped by big-game experiences.

Rice can mop up anything, protect the backline and break forward to create space for fellow midfielders. He struggled at the start with Arsenal, trying to understand his role, and I do not think Arteta really knew how to get the best out of him, but now he knows his place.

When Jorginho plays, Rice can be a more attacking player but also support him defensively, completing a triangle with Ødegaard. Off the ball Rice is phenomenal and he is exceptional on it, making him the heartbeat of the team. The successful sides I played in always had a central midfielder who provided the legs and energy. That is Rice’s role at Arsenal

Arsenal do not press randomly; it is with a plan and pattern. They want to force opponents wide and into making long passes. The forwards put the effort in to block off passing lanes and make a cul-de-sac for the opposition so there is often nowhere to go other than long.

Left-back remains a problem for Arsenal and teams are targeting that side. Arteta selected Kiwior in the Champions League quarter-final first leg draw with Bayern Munich on Tuesday – when their defending was less impressive than it has been in the Premier League – but replaced him with Zinchenko at half-time. Brighton also targeted that position and would have had greater success if Simon Adingra had not been so wasteful. It was a warning sign.

In the run-in, Arsenal will come up against wingers who will cause them problems and defenders hate tricky wingers, regardless of form. Villa can choose from Leon Bailey, Morgan Rogers and Moussa Diaby; Chelsea have Cole Palmer and Noni Madueke; Tottenham possess Dejan Kulusevski and Brennan Johnson; and Alejandro Garnacho has proved a threat down the right since switching for Manchester United.

Opponents will think they have a chance to expose a weakness but Arsenal have plenty of evidence that they know how to stop that. They are the best at the back and although they are not perfect they appear to have the right mentality to make it through the difficult moments.

- The Guardian Sport


Three Stripes and Out…but Good Can Come from Germany Parting Ways With Adidas

Three Stripes and Out…but Good Can Come from Germany Parting Ways With Adidas
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Three Stripes and Out…but Good Can Come from Germany Parting Ways With Adidas

Three Stripes and Out…but Good Can Come from Germany Parting Ways With Adidas

The partnership between Adidas and German football has been a commercial and sporting success for both sides for decades. It is a shared history of advancement. In 1954, the country recognized itself in the national team, and in Adidas too. Back then, Adolf “Adi” Dassler was the equipment manager; his screw-in studs were innovative and gave Fritz Walter, Max Morlock and Helmut Rahn a foothold in the rain of Berne.

Later, Dassler built up a world-class company. Today, clubs such as Arsenal and Ajax regularly take up residence in a small town that doesn’t even have a railway station. The national team will also be preparing for the European Championship in Herzogenaurach. Dassler is the German version of rags to riches.

And the 3-2 victory over Hungary in the 1954 final was one of the first steps in Germany’s postwar reconstruction. Since then, three more World Cup titles have followed. Anyone who remembers 1974, 1990 and 2014 will have Adidas jerseys and balls in mind.

They thought this success story would never end. But now, after more than 70 years, the German football federation (DFB) is parting ways with Adidas. I understand the outcry about this in Germany; it’s not populism. For any German football fan over the age of 30, the DFB and Adidas are a single entity. It’s easy to imagine that it would have gone on wonderfully with the two of them.

I feel the same way. I played 113 times for Germany and for 20 years for Bayern Munich. I became a world champion in three stripes. At Bayern I was captain of a club in which Adidas owns shares. Adidas was my supplier; we were successful together.

When I was active, I was the representative of a product range that Adidas called Pure. It meant the original. These leather shoes were intended for traditionalists like me. Initially they were black, the successors were green, white or blue. I didn’t care about the color – I was uncomplicated. Pure was the successor to the Copa Mundial, the Adidas classic that a few footballers still wear today.

For 20 years now, the majority of football boots have no longer been made from leather but from synthetic materials. Their colors and shapes change frequently. And they are marketed with stars. Every country, every company, has its own representative. More often than not, they are strikers. This focus on scoring goals is not really what football as a team sport is all about. But this form of individualisation is the best way to optimise profits and achieve the greatest economies of scale. An image is sold. The shoes cost €200 (£170) or more and the production costs are estimated at 5%, at most 10%, of the price. The margins for jerseys are similarly fantastic and they are even cheaper to produce.

The rapid commercialisation of football is having an impact, especially on young players. Children covet these products. Today, unlike in my day, almost every girl and boy between the ages of five and 12 turns up for training in a football shirt of some kind. Millions of Mbappés, Ronaldos, Messis and Haalands play football on village pitches.

For a long time, Nike and Adidas fought a duel in this global market; a decade ago, they were still neck and neck. Since then, Nike has overtaken Adidas and sales are now more than twice as high. Focusing on individual testimonials can sometimes go wrong, as the case of Kanye West shows. This head start enables Nike to continue to attack boldly. It is rumored that Nike has offered the DFB at least €100m, more than twice as much as Adidas.

There is still a lot of money in circulation in football; it is instantly available everywhere on mobile devices and can be used for excellent advertising. Now, for the first time on this scale, a non-profit organisation, the DFB, is benefiting. Its mission is set out in its statutes: it represents the interests of the 24,000 or so clubs and more than seven million members.

So if the DFB uses the fresh money to support amateur clubs, children’s football, referee training and women’s football, then the decision in favor of Nike would be a good one. This would create a circular economy. After all, the whole thing is primarily financed by the fans who buy the goods. The task is to channel the money back to where it comes from: the grassroots.

The men’s national team players and coach must also internalize this mission of their association. The coach’s salary should not be increased any further. He is not employed by Manchester City but by a non-profit organisation that serves the general public and now has the opportunity to strengthen civil society.

As a World Cup captain and Ehrenspielführer (German captain of honor), I know the doors at Adidas are still open to me today. When I call, the latest model is delivered to me free of charge. I am very grateful for that, but I have to ask myself whether I have earned this privilege.

And then there are other questions concerning my son. He is 11 and plays football. He knows the prices of jerseys and shoes. He doesn’t know all the background. When do I explain them to him? How do I teach him what pure, original values are really important in sport?

- The Guardian Sport


Saudi Assistant Minister of Sport Inaugurates Junior, Cadet Fencing World Championships in Riyadh

The 2024 Junior and Cadet Fencing World Championships at King Saud University's Arena Hall in Riyadh. SPA
The 2024 Junior and Cadet Fencing World Championships at King Saud University's Arena Hall in Riyadh. SPA
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Saudi Assistant Minister of Sport Inaugurates Junior, Cadet Fencing World Championships in Riyadh

The 2024 Junior and Cadet Fencing World Championships at King Saud University's Arena Hall in Riyadh. SPA
The 2024 Junior and Cadet Fencing World Championships at King Saud University's Arena Hall in Riyadh. SPA

Assistant Minister of Sport Abdul Ilah bin Saad Al-Dallak has inaugurated the 2024 Junior and Cadet Fencing World Championships at King Saud University's Arena Hall in Riyadh on behalf of the Minister of Sport and Chairman of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee (SOPC), Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki bin Faisal.

The event was held on Friday in the presence of Saudi Fencing Federation President and Chairman of the Supreme Organizing Committee of the Championships Ahmed Alsabban, International Fencing Federation (FIE) Vice President Abdelmoneim El-Husseiny, and SOPC Board Member and Saudi Equestrian Federation President (SAEF) Prince Abdullah bin Fahd bin Abdullah.


Australia to Hold 2025 F1 Season Opener Instead of Bahrain Due to Ramadan

 Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen drives during the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix race at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka, Mie prefecture on April 7, 2024. (AFP)
Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen drives during the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix race at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka, Mie prefecture on April 7, 2024. (AFP)
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Australia to Hold 2025 F1 Season Opener Instead of Bahrain Due to Ramadan

 Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen drives during the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix race at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka, Mie prefecture on April 7, 2024. (AFP)
Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen drives during the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix race at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka, Mie prefecture on April 7, 2024. (AFP)

The 2025 Australian Grand Prix will be the Formula One season-opener for the first time in six years instead of Bahrain after the sport's governing body (FIA) released next year's calendar on Friday.

The 24-race season will commence on March 16 in Melbourne and end on Dec. 7 in Abu Dhabi as Formula One celebrates the 75th anniversary of its world championship.

The Bahrain Grand Prix has been the opening race of the season since 2021 while the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix has been the second race on the calendar since 2022.

Formula One did not race at Melbourne's Albert Park Circuit in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but will now host the opening race instead of the Middle Eastern kingdom due to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan falling in March next year.

The first European race will take place in Imola in May as part of a triple header which also includes Monaco and Spain in back-to-back weekends.

"We're grateful to the FIA, our promoters, host city partners, and all the related ASNs for their commitment and support in delivering this schedule and securing what promises to be another fantastic year for Formula 1," Stefano Domenicali, President and CEO of Formula 1, said in a statement.

"I would also like to pay tribute to our F1 teams and drivers, the heroes of our sport, and our fans around the world for continuing to follow Formula 1 with such incredible enthusiasm."

The testing schedule and the sprint calendar are set to be announced at a later date.

The current season has sprints at six Grands Prix -- China, Miami, Austria, United States (Austin), Brazil and Qatar.


Athletics’ Olympic Prize Money Plan Unfair to Other Sports, Redgrave Says

 This photograph taken on April 10, 2024, shows a detail of the headquarters of the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics Organizing Committee (Cojo), in the Saint-Denis suburb of Paris. (AFP)
This photograph taken on April 10, 2024, shows a detail of the headquarters of the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics Organizing Committee (Cojo), in the Saint-Denis suburb of Paris. (AFP)
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Athletics’ Olympic Prize Money Plan Unfair to Other Sports, Redgrave Says

 This photograph taken on April 10, 2024, shows a detail of the headquarters of the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics Organizing Committee (Cojo), in the Saint-Denis suburb of Paris. (AFP)
This photograph taken on April 10, 2024, shows a detail of the headquarters of the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics Organizing Committee (Cojo), in the Saint-Denis suburb of Paris. (AFP)

World Athletics' (WA) decision to give prize money to Olympic gold medalists is unfair to other sports that cannot afford to do the same, Britain's five-times Olympic rowing champion Steve Redgrave said.

Athletics became the first sport to offer prize money to Olympic champions when WA President Sebastian Coe announced on Wednesday that gold medalists in Paris this year will each earn $50,000.

The announcement was met with a positive reaction from the world's leading athletes, with the $2.4 million prize pot to be split among the 48 gold medalists in Paris.

A total of $540 million was allocated to the 28 sports at the Tokyo Games with World Athletics receiving the most at $40 million.

Redgrave, who won five successive Olympic gold medals between 1984 and 2000, said the prize money plan would turn the Olympics into a "two-tier" system.

"If you win an Olympic gold medal in any athletics event, you are able to earn substantial financial gains from those results," the 62-year-old told the Daily Mail in an interview published on Thursday.

"It smacks a bit hard for the sports that can't afford to do this. Rowing is in that situation. We struggle bringing sponsorship and finance into it. This separates the elite sports to the others like rowing, canoeing and most combat sports.

"They just don't have the same funding that there is in World Athletics. I would prefer that the money they're putting in to be helping more of the grassroots of their own sports - or helping other Olympic sports to be able to be at the same level on the same footprint."


Liverpool Lost the Plot in Atalanta Defeat, Says Klopp

 Soccer Football - Europa League - Quarter Final - First Leg - Liverpool v Atalanta - Anfield, Liverpool, Britain - April 11, 2024 Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp looks dejected after the match. (Reuters)
Soccer Football - Europa League - Quarter Final - First Leg - Liverpool v Atalanta - Anfield, Liverpool, Britain - April 11, 2024 Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp looks dejected after the match. (Reuters)
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Liverpool Lost the Plot in Atalanta Defeat, Says Klopp

 Soccer Football - Europa League - Quarter Final - First Leg - Liverpool v Atalanta - Anfield, Liverpool, Britain - April 11, 2024 Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp looks dejected after the match. (Reuters)
Soccer Football - Europa League - Quarter Final - First Leg - Liverpool v Atalanta - Anfield, Liverpool, Britain - April 11, 2024 Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp looks dejected after the match. (Reuters)

Liverpool lacked tactical discipline against Atalanta on Thursday and fully deserved their 3-0 defeat in the Europa League quarter-final first leg match, manager Juergen Klopp said.

Gianluca Scamacca struck either side of halftime before Mario Pasalic capped an impressive win for the Italians at Anfield as Liverpool slumped to their joint-heaviest home defeat in European competition.

"It just was a really bad game, oh my God. We started well, really well, and then didn't continue. I think even before they scored, we just lost the plot a little bit, we were everywhere and nowhere," Klopp told reporters.

"(The) midfield was spread like that, right midfielder left side, left midfielder, striker. I didn't recognize that, that was really strange. In football terms that's tactical discipline.

"We played a bad game, we deserved to lose and we must feel that now."

Liverpool will seek to overturn the deficit in the second leg in Italy next week, but before that they host Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Sunday.

With the Merseyside club involved in a tight title race with Arsenal and Manchester City, Klopp said the players had to move on from Thursday's defeat quickly.

"The boys have exactly this night to feel bad about it and then we have to build up again for the Crystal Palace game, that's how it is," he added.

"This was a low point for us performance-wise tonight, I would say, for a long time."


Fencing World Championship to Kick Off Today in Riyadh

Spectators will be able to attend for free at the Arena Hall - SPA
Spectators will be able to attend for free at the Arena Hall - SPA
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Fencing World Championship to Kick Off Today in Riyadh

Spectators will be able to attend for free at the Arena Hall - SPA
Spectators will be able to attend for free at the Arena Hall - SPA

The 2024 Junior and Cadet Fencing World Championship for men and women is set to begin today at King Saud University's Arena Hall in Riyadh.

The event will run until April 20, featuring over 1,700 fencers from over 100 countries worldwide.
The International Fencing Federation (FIE) supervised an international training camp for 21 fencers from 21 countries, according to SPA.

The camp was held in preparation for the championship and was organized in cooperation with the championship committee. The camp concluded today.


Harry Kane Draws on Spurs 2019 Example as Pointer for Bayern

Harry Kane celebrates his goal at Arsenal. The striker has no regrets over his move to Bayern – ‘I’m really enjoying it,’ he said. Photograph: David Klein/Reuters
Harry Kane celebrates his goal at Arsenal. The striker has no regrets over his move to Bayern – ‘I’m really enjoying it,’ he said. Photograph: David Klein/Reuters
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Harry Kane Draws on Spurs 2019 Example as Pointer for Bayern

Harry Kane celebrates his goal at Arsenal. The striker has no regrets over his move to Bayern – ‘I’m really enjoying it,’ he said. Photograph: David Klein/Reuters
Harry Kane celebrates his goal at Arsenal. The striker has no regrets over his move to Bayern – ‘I’m really enjoying it,’ he said. Photograph: David Klein/Reuters

Harry Kane emerged from the Emirates with the look of a man who had enjoyed himself. “I think they have a soft respect for me, the Arsenal fans,” he laughed, a glimmer of mischief crossing the striker’s face as he remembered the cacophony that had accompanied his every move upon returning to enemy territory. The jeers were never louder than when he stepped up to the penalty spot, blocking out the noise to roll calmly past David Raya and give Bayern Munich the upper hand.

Bayern felt they had just about departed with it, even though Leandro Trossard’s equaliser set up a titanic rematch in Munich next Wednesday. Kane’s demeanour could be explained by the fact Bayern, a soft touch domestically of late, had shown a resilience that has deserted their Bundesliga campaign. It had clearly encouraged him, suggesting that well-documented dream of a Wembley final for the England captain may not quite be a thing of fantasy after all.

“This was a chance to show some togetherness and sometimes that’s defending as a team,” he said. “We worked, we blocked, we tackled, caught them on the transition. We have to find that team ethic where we grind out games because we haven’t done it enough this year.”

Bayern had hardly survived the Alamo but they showed the smarts needed to douse the fire of an Arsenal side that, after Bukayo Saka’s opener, looked capable of blowing them away. They stayed in the game, punished mistakes with an old-fashioned ruthlessness and thought they could have pulled clear before Trossard ensured the final score was a fair reflection. The DNA of champions still lies in there somewhere; Kane, though, was keen to draw upon a different history lesson from his Tottenham days.

He brought up the 2018-19 season, when Spurs staggered to fourth place with seven defeats in their final 12 Premier League games but blew any negativity away in Europe. Their performances, culminating in that barely believable semi-final at Ajax, brought a first Champions League final. Kane was a frustrated onlooker against the Dutch side, as well as for the quarter-final second leg against Manchester City, through injury, but Tottenham heaved themselves through the adversity.

“That campaign is similar because we weren’t having a great time in the league if I’m totally honest,” he said. “But we found some passion and togetherness in the Champions League and we managed to get to the final. That experience gives me hope that we can find that again. We know we can perform in the big games, perform in the big quarter-final at home next week and try to get back to the final.”

Even if Bayern enter this competition with a heavier weight of expectation, the comparison is valid in showing Champions League football can throw parochial toils out of the window. Bayern will have selection problems of their own when Arsenal visit: Alphonso Davies picked up a suspension for a daft early foul on Saka while, perhaps even more damagingly, Serge Gnabry looks certain to miss out after picking up a thigh injury after the break. For all the satisfaction of leaving north London with a draw, Bayern will have to do it the hard way, but Kane took heart from that fact that, with away fans banned, they still managed to dodge the brickbats on Tuesday.

“It was strange to have no one there for us but I thought we dealt with it well,” he said. “I think you’ll see [our fans] even more excited next week having not been to this game and maybe even louder than they usually are. Hopefully we can use that energy to our advantage and really try to put the pressure on.”

In reality the pressure will run both ways. Arsenal will have defending to do but Bayern need to salvage their season and show the empire has not fallen just yet. Kane, who could barely be doing anything more on the goalscoring front, will also know every leap or stumble in a Bayern shirt casts a different reflection on his decision to move last summer.

“Of course it’s not the season I wanted with the way the league’s gone and the way we got knocked out of the cup early in the season,” he said. “Now we have hopes in the Champions League, which would be an amazing achievement. I try to perform for my team, I’m always confident to score goals. I’ve been doing that this year and I’ve been looking at areas I can improve. I still think there are areas where I can get better.”

Did a one-night reunion with 60,000 old foes leave him pining for the league he had left behind? “No, I’m really enjoying my experience in Germany,” he replied. “It was a step that I needed in my career for a fresh stimulus, a fresh challenge and new surroundings, new stadiums, new teams and I’m really happy I made the move.

“Of course I know how big the Premier league is, I played there for so many years before [but] my future is at Bayern Munich. I have a four year contract, I’m really enjoying it, hopefully I will be able to make something special happen this season.”

Kane boarded the team bus knowing that, for the moment at least, Bayern’s chances of rising through the turmoil remain alive.

-The Guardian Sport


Al-Hilal Beats Al-Ittihad 4-1 in Final of the Saudi Super Cup

Neymar (C) of Al-Hilal poses with the trophy on the podium after winning the Saudi Super Cup final between Al-Ittihad and Al-Hilal in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 11 April 2024. (EPA)
Neymar (C) of Al-Hilal poses with the trophy on the podium after winning the Saudi Super Cup final between Al-Ittihad and Al-Hilal in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 11 April 2024. (EPA)
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Al-Hilal Beats Al-Ittihad 4-1 in Final of the Saudi Super Cup

Neymar (C) of Al-Hilal poses with the trophy on the podium after winning the Saudi Super Cup final between Al-Ittihad and Al-Hilal in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 11 April 2024. (EPA)
Neymar (C) of Al-Hilal poses with the trophy on the podium after winning the Saudi Super Cup final between Al-Ittihad and Al-Hilal in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 11 April 2024. (EPA)

Al-Hilal beat Al-Ittihad 4-1 in the final of the Saudi Super Cup on Thursday to stay on course for an unprecedented four football titles this year.

The Super Cup trophy, lifted in Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium, is the first of the season for the Riyadh side but is unlikely to be the last as the team is also 12 points clear of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr at the top of the Saudi Pro League with just seven games remaining.

Al-Hilal, also in the semifinals of the Asian Champions League and the Saudi King’s Cup, has extended its world record winning streak for top-tier teams to 34 consecutive games in all competitions.

Three days after defeating Al-Nassr in the semifinal, during which Ronaldo was sent off for elbowing Ali Al-Bulaihi, two goals from Brazilian winger Malcom did the damage for Al-Hilal. Salem Al-Dawsari and Nasser Al-Dawsari sealed the win with late goals.

“It was a difficult game and I am very happy to score two goals,” Malcom told Saudi television. “We are also happy to collect our first title of the season but we are chasing more trophies.”

Ittihad striker Karim Benzema, signed from Real Madrid last summer, was unable to find the net while colleague Abderrazak Hamdallah made up for missing a penalty by getting on the scoresheet.

In 2023, the Super Cup was expanded from a single game between the league champions and King’s Cup winners to include the runners-up from both competitions. It was also moved to Abu Dhabi.

Al-Hilal returns to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday to take on Al-Ain in the first leg of the Asian Champions League semifinals as it seeks a record fifth continental title.


Djokovic Takes Revenge over Musetti at Monte Carlo Masters

Serbia's Novak Djokovic plays a backhand return to Italy's Lorenzo Musetti during their Monte Carlo ATP Masters Series Tournament round of 16 tennis match on the Rainier III court at the Monte Carlo Country Club on April 11, 2024. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP)
Serbia's Novak Djokovic plays a backhand return to Italy's Lorenzo Musetti during their Monte Carlo ATP Masters Series Tournament round of 16 tennis match on the Rainier III court at the Monte Carlo Country Club on April 11, 2024. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP)
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Djokovic Takes Revenge over Musetti at Monte Carlo Masters

Serbia's Novak Djokovic plays a backhand return to Italy's Lorenzo Musetti during their Monte Carlo ATP Masters Series Tournament round of 16 tennis match on the Rainier III court at the Monte Carlo Country Club on April 11, 2024. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP)
Serbia's Novak Djokovic plays a backhand return to Italy's Lorenzo Musetti during their Monte Carlo ATP Masters Series Tournament round of 16 tennis match on the Rainier III court at the Monte Carlo Country Club on April 11, 2024. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP)

Novak Djokovic looked sluggish at times and hit several unforced errors but raised his game on important points to advance to the quarterfinals of the Monte Carlo Masters on Thursday.
The top-ranked Serb, a two-time Monte Carlo champion, gained revenge over Lorenzo Musetti, who beat him last year at the Country Club in the third round. Djokovic converted five of six break points and progressed with a confidence-boosting 7-5, 6-3 win.
“The challenge today was really tough. I lost against him last year at the same stage of the tournament, so I’m glad I really found some solidity,” said Djokovic, who is playing in his first tournament since parting ways with former coach Goran Ivanisevic.
Djokovic has not played much this year and is 10-3 with his best result a semifinal run at the Australian Open. He is using the Monte Carlo clay-court tournament to fine-tune his preparations for the French Open next month.
Djokovic dropped his serve immediately and struggled to adapt to Musetti's variety of shots, The Associated Press reported. The Italian produced some great drop shots, was solid from the baseline and his one-handed backhands put Djokovic on the back foot.
A turning point came in the eighth game when Djokovic broke after Musetti blew a 40-0 lead. The Serb broke again in the 12th game after Musetti hit a double-fault to drop the set.
Both players struggled to hold their serves in the second set but Djokovic came out on top in the decisive points.
Djokovic won the title in Monte Carlo in 2013 and 2015. He has not advanced past the quarterfinals since his last victory at the Country Club nine years ago.
His next opponent will be Alex de Minaur, who beat Alexei Popyrin 6-3, 6-4.