Belgium Have New Energy Says De Bruyne After World Cup Flop

Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne, right, celebrates after scoring the third goal against Germany during the international friendly soccer match between Germany and Belgium in Cologne, Germany, Tuesday March 28, 2023. (AP)
Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne, right, celebrates after scoring the third goal against Germany during the international friendly soccer match between Germany and Belgium in Cologne, Germany, Tuesday March 28, 2023. (AP)
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Belgium Have New Energy Says De Bruyne After World Cup Flop

Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne, right, celebrates after scoring the third goal against Germany during the international friendly soccer match between Germany and Belgium in Cologne, Germany, Tuesday March 28, 2023. (AP)
Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne, right, celebrates after scoring the third goal against Germany during the international friendly soccer match between Germany and Belgium in Cologne, Germany, Tuesday March 28, 2023. (AP)

Belgium captain Kevin De Bruyne says new players in the squad are injecting energy into the team after the failure of their "golden generation" to live up to their number one ranking over the last four years.

Belgium began a new era over the last week with two impressive wins - beginning their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign by beating Sweden 3-0 away and then triumphing 3-2 on Tuesday in a friendly against Germany in Cologne.

It was a positive start for new coach Domenico Tedesco, who replaced Roberto Martinez after Belgium's surprise early elimination at the World Cup in Qatar last year.

Belgium had spent some three years top of the FIFA rankings in the period between the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 finals but never came close to a major title, being eliminated in Euro 2000 quarter-finals and then the first round in Qatar.

"You can see that the young players give us new energy," said De Bruyne, who explained the difference with Tedesco's predecessor was that Martinez mainly relied on the older guard.

"They come here now with the feeling that they will have opportunities and they fight for the national team. If all the players are in the right place, the quality comes through," De Bruyne told reporters.

"I'm really satisfied with the two wins," Tedesco told Belgium's VTM television. "Not only with the results, but also the manner in which we played.

"It is crucial that the enthusiasm is back. I have a good feeling and am extremely motivated. However, we still have a lot of work to do. If you win, it's more fun, of course. But I do not agree that Belgian football was at a standstill after the World Cup. Losing matches at a World Cup, that can happen."

Tedesco, who was born in Italy but grew up in Germany and last worked at RB Leipzig, was particularly pleased with a rampant first-half showing on Tuesday.

"I wanted my players to show courage, to play forward and to claim the ball, even when Germany put pressure on us. We have the players for it. We have to believe in our own strengths, but we have to maintain the quality we bring for 90 minutes.

"And that's the problem. In the second half we fell too far back, that was not according to plan. We have to maintain the quality for longer."



Man City Beats Man United 2-1 in FA Cup Final to Complete Second Leg of Treble Bid

Football - FA Cup Final - Manchester City v Manchester United - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - June 3, 2023 Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan celebrates scoring their second goal with John Stones. (Reuters)
Football - FA Cup Final - Manchester City v Manchester United - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - June 3, 2023 Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan celebrates scoring their second goal with John Stones. (Reuters)
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Man City Beats Man United 2-1 in FA Cup Final to Complete Second Leg of Treble Bid

Football - FA Cup Final - Manchester City v Manchester United - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - June 3, 2023 Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan celebrates scoring their second goal with John Stones. (Reuters)
Football - FA Cup Final - Manchester City v Manchester United - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - June 3, 2023 Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan celebrates scoring their second goal with John Stones. (Reuters)

Manchester City’s mission to win a treble of major trophies stayed on track after beating Manchester United 2-1 in the FA Cup final on Saturday, with the first of Ilkay Gundogan’s two goals coming after a record 13 seconds.

With City having already retained the Premier League, now only a first-ever Champions League title stands between Pep Guardiola's team and immortality in English soccer.

Gundogan, City’s captain, scored the quickest goal in an FA Cup final — timed by British broadcaster BBC at 12.91 seconds — only for United midfielder Bruno Fernandes to convert a 33rd-minute penalty against the run of play after Jack Grealish was adjudged to have handled the ball.

If Gundogan’s opener was probably his best goal for City, his 51st-minute winning goal might be one of his scrappiest as he met a cross from Kevin De Bruyne from a free kick with a left-foot volley that bobbled between two United defenders and past goalkeeper David De Gea.

United was looking to protect its proud status as the only team to win the league-FA Cup-European Cup treble, in 1999, but now needs a favor from Inter Milan in the Champions League final in Istanbul on June 10.

It was the 142nd FA Cup final and the first between the two Manchester clubs, with Prince William and United great David Beckham among those in attendance at England’s national stadium.


Verstappen Takes Pole at Spanish GP Ahead of Sainz; Alonso 9th

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands, center who clocked the fastest time, poses with Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz of Spain, right, 2nd fastest and McLaren driver Lando Norris of Britain, 3rd fastest after the Formula One qualifying session at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, just outside of Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, June 3, 2023. (AP)
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands, center who clocked the fastest time, poses with Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz of Spain, right, 2nd fastest and McLaren driver Lando Norris of Britain, 3rd fastest after the Formula One qualifying session at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, just outside of Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, June 3, 2023. (AP)
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Verstappen Takes Pole at Spanish GP Ahead of Sainz; Alonso 9th

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands, center who clocked the fastest time, poses with Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz of Spain, right, 2nd fastest and McLaren driver Lando Norris of Britain, 3rd fastest after the Formula One qualifying session at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, just outside of Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, June 3, 2023. (AP)
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands, center who clocked the fastest time, poses with Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz of Spain, right, 2nd fastest and McLaren driver Lando Norris of Britain, 3rd fastest after the Formula One qualifying session at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, just outside of Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, June 3, 2023. (AP)

Max Verstappen breezed his way to pole position at the Spanish Grand Prix on Saturday while his top rivals struggled on the damp track and will start well behind the two-time defending champion.

Verstappen didn’t even need to use all of his time in qualifying after he set an untouchable flying lap. Red Bull brought him back to the garage while his rivals fought for the rest of the spots.

He has four pole positions on the season and 24 in his career. He is also poised for another race win given the history of pole-sitters winning 23 of 32 races at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Red Bull teammate — and Verstappen’s top challenger — Sergio Pérez will start Sunday’s race from 11th place on the grid. Last weekend, Pérez crashed in qualifying for Monaco and had to start from the back of the grid.

Verstappen and Pérez have swept all six races this season. Verstappen leads Pérez by 39 points.

Fernando Alonso, third in the standings at 51 points behind Verstappen, could do no better than ninth. So it looks like his legions of Spanish fans may have to keep waiting for him to end his decade-long drought in grands prix.

Carlos Sainz of Ferrari gave the home crowd something to cheer about though by producing the second-best time right ahead of a surprising Lando Norris in third in his McLaren.

“The car was really good today,” Verstappen said. “The conditions were a little tricky early on with the weather, but it was a really enjoyable drive. I have a lot of great memories here and hopefully we can have another one tomorrow.”

Verstappen showed in 2016 that he would one day become a force in F1 when he became the youngest race winner ever at age 18 in his debut for Red Bull at the Spanish GP. The Dutchman also won here last year.

Charles Leclerc took pole last year but this time he will start from 19th after his Ferrari was perplexingly slow.

Rain during the third practice earlier Saturday left some wet patches that caused several cars to spin into the gravel early in qualifying.

Alonso's Aston Martin took some damage to the bottom after running through the gravel. Pérez also bounced off course into the gravel.

George Russell also had trouble and will start 12th right behind Pérez after complaining that his Mercedes was bouncing and he “had no confidence with tires.” He and teammate Lewis Hamilton, who was fifth, even touched at one point while trying to launch flying laps, causing bits of one of their cars to fly off.


Elena Rybakina, Reigning Wimbledon Champion, Pulls Out of French Open Due to Sickness

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - June 1, 2023 Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina during her second round match against Czech Republic's Linda Noskova. (Reuters)
Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - June 1, 2023 Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina during her second round match against Czech Republic's Linda Noskova. (Reuters)
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Elena Rybakina, Reigning Wimbledon Champion, Pulls Out of French Open Due to Sickness

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - June 1, 2023 Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina during her second round match against Czech Republic's Linda Noskova. (Reuters)
Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - June 1, 2023 Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina during her second round match against Czech Republic's Linda Noskova. (Reuters)

Reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina pulled out of the French Open before her third-round match on Saturday because she is sick.

“I just wanted to give 100%, and obviously I’m far from being 100%,” Rybakina said. “If I cannot breathe, there is no chance I can even run and try to compete.”

The No. 4-seeded Rybakina was supposed to face 132nd-ranked Sara Sorribes Tormo in the day's opening contest on Court Philippe Chatrier.

They were scheduled to begin playing at 11:45 a.m. local time, but instead, at that very moment, Rybakina sat down behind the microphone at a news conference to explain why she was withdrawing from the year's second Grand Slam tournament.

Sounding stuffed up, Rybakina explained that she has been running a fever, didn't sleep well the past two nights and had difficulty breathing during a warmup session Saturday ahead of her match. She said a doctor told her there is a virus going around “here in Paris.”

Rybakina, who won each of her first two matches this week in straight sets, was considered among the top contenders for the championship at Roland Garros. She has won her past 10 matches, including a tuneup title on red clay at the Italian Open last month.

She plays a power-built game based in part on one of the best serves on the WTA Tour, which she leads in aces this season.

Last July, Rybakina won her first major trophy, defeating Ons Jabeur in the final at Wimbledon.

Rybakina is a 23-year-old who was born in Moscow and has represented Kazakhstan since 2018, when that country offered her funding to support her tennis career. The switch was a topic of conversation during Wimbledon, because the All England Club barred athletes who represent Russia or Belarus from entering the tournament in 2022 due to the war in Ukraine.

The walkover allows the 26-year-old Sorribes Tormo to advance to the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in her career.


‘Nothing Matters’: Attitude Adjustment Helps Tsitsipas Rediscover His Rhythm

Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates his victory over Argentina's Diego Schwartzman during their men's singles match on day six of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Suzanne-Lenglen in Paris on June 2, 2023. (AFP)
Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates his victory over Argentina's Diego Schwartzman during their men's singles match on day six of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Suzanne-Lenglen in Paris on June 2, 2023. (AFP)
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‘Nothing Matters’: Attitude Adjustment Helps Tsitsipas Rediscover His Rhythm

Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates his victory over Argentina's Diego Schwartzman during their men's singles match on day six of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Suzanne-Lenglen in Paris on June 2, 2023. (AFP)
Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates his victory over Argentina's Diego Schwartzman during their men's singles match on day six of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Suzanne-Lenglen in Paris on June 2, 2023. (AFP)

Stefanos Tsitsipas said he is getting back to his best by easing the burden on his shoulders and playing without any expectations as he cruised into the fourth round of the French Open with a 6-2 6-2 6-3 victory over Diego Schwartzman on Friday.

Once considered the rising star to take on the mantle as the "Big Three" - Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic - give way to a new generation, 24-year-old Tsitsipas has yet to win a Grand Slam.

The Greek lost two major finals to Djokovic, including this year's Australian Open title clash, and has seen younger players like Carlos Alcaraz emerge and rise to world number one.

But Tsitsipas said he has changed his mindset to play with a carefree attitude and not focus on the result, which helped him beat claycourt specialist Schwartzman in straight sets.

"I've produced some really good tennis when I'm at a psychological state of 'nothing matters and I don't care anymore'. And I just want to play it, I don't care what the outcome will be," Tsitsipas told reporters.

"And (in) moments like this, I have broken back. I've suddenly found my rhythm back into the game. I guess there is lack of expectation, lack of thought... when you're out there because you're constantly analyzing every decision.

"When you let go of that, when you - I don't like using that word because I've never really done it in a tennis match - when you kind of 'tank', for some players it can be very beneficial and help them play better in a way."

Tsitsipas was at his sublime best against Schwartzman, firing 34 winners past the Argentine, including one of the shots of the tournament - a sliding backhand winner around the post that drew a roar from the crowd.

"We never practice that, it was a one-off," he said with a laugh. "It was the very last millisecond when I decided, 'You know what, forget the net, we don't need it on that particular occasion.'

"I saw there was a gap there I could utilize and it just went through. It was a very good, satisfying feeling getting that winner down the line... It felt like hitting a home run."


Alonso Riding Wave of Enthusiasm for Long-denied Win at Spanish GP

Aston Martin's Spanish Fernando Alonso attends a press conference at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, Spain, Thursday, June 1, 2023. The Formula One race will be held on Sunday, June 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
Aston Martin's Spanish Fernando Alonso attends a press conference at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, Spain, Thursday, June 1, 2023. The Formula One race will be held on Sunday, June 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
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Alonso Riding Wave of Enthusiasm for Long-denied Win at Spanish GP

Aston Martin's Spanish Fernando Alonso attends a press conference at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, Spain, Thursday, June 1, 2023. The Formula One race will be held on Sunday, June 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
Aston Martin's Spanish Fernando Alonso attends a press conference at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, Spain, Thursday, June 1, 2023. The Formula One race will be held on Sunday, June 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)

Back when Fernando Alonso was king of Formula One nearly two decades ago, Spaniards flocked to see their idol at their home race.

With Alonso now back near the top of the standings, his supporters are expected to cram the stands and grassy knolls of the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit this weekend with some 120,000 people estimated to turn out for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Alonso was greeted by several hundred fans chanting “33! 33! 33!” in reference to a long-denied 33rd race victory as he emerged from his team’s garage to soak up their adulation on Thursday following his arrival. Alonso’s fan club from his native Asturias region organized buses to make the 8-hour trip from his hometown of Oviedo and other cities in Spain’s north to come to the race, The Associated Press reported.

The 41-year-old Alonso took his 32nd victory right here in Montmeló a full decade ago back in May 2013 with Ferrari. After that came years of frustration and a stint away from F1 driving in other competitions, including the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. But after finishing on the podium in five of six races this season with the new Aston Martin team, hopes are high among his faithful that Alonso can end the long wait for a win.

After finishing second both in qualifying and the race to defending champion Max Verstappen at Monaco last weekend, Alonso knows it is impossible to curb the enthusiasm of his faithful.

“It would be like trying to build a wall in the sea: at the end you will be overwhelmed,” Alonso said about the euphoria he has unleashed.

Alonso, one of Spain’s top sports figures right up there with tennis great Rafael Nadal and its best soccer players, is more than used to handling the attention. Back in his winning days he happily picked up a full leg of cured Spanish ham that a supporter had hurled over a barbed-wire fence to celebrate a win.

“My fans are pushing this forward on their own and you can only embrace it,” he said.

“The number 33 is being talked about a lot, but I am keeping calm. We have a good car that will give us chances this year. Red Bull is dominating with an iron fist, but we have seen in previous seasons that even when there is a dominant car...there will be opportunities at some point.”

PREPARATIONS FOR ALONSO-MANIA

Track officials estimate the turnout to be as good as last year, when 121,000 sold out the first race to be free of coronavirus restrictions. That will still be below the all-time track record from 2007 when 140,000 people came following Alonso's titles in 2005 and 2006 with Renault. The track’s capacity has been reduced since that heyday of F1 in Spain.

Transport authorities have boosted the commuter train services for the entire three-day event after last year's higher-than-expected turnout led to lines of several hours at the Montmeló commuter rail station. In 2022, some 277,000 people filled the track over the three days.

Spain’s train authorities have boosted rail service to transport an extra 40,000 people, for a total of 180,000 seats, to help ease congestion at the track that is located 30 kilometers (18 miles) north of Barcelona.

SAINZ ALSO

Spain also has Carlos Sainz Jr. to cheer for. The Ferrari driver is seeking his first podium of the season after scoring a season-best fourth in the opening race in Bahrain.

“I am just in a better mood when I race at home,” he said. “You just know that the fans are there cheering for you. I don’t know how much that is worth, but being in Spain must mean something because it where I have gotten the most points in my career.”

Sainz Jr. will have his fan club concentrated in the stands at Turn 2 as usual.

Verstappen also has fond memories of the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit where in 2016 he became F1’s youngest winner at age 18.

He also won here last season and is on course for a third straight title: Verstappen leads teammate Sergio Pérez by 39 points and Alonso by 51.


Fritz Gets a Taste of How Brutal French Open Crowd Can Be

US Taylor Fritz gestures after winning against France's Arthur Rinderknech at the end of their men's singles match on day five of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Suzanne-Lenglen in Paris on June 1, 2023. (AFP)
US Taylor Fritz gestures after winning against France's Arthur Rinderknech at the end of their men's singles match on day five of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Suzanne-Lenglen in Paris on June 1, 2023. (AFP)
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Fritz Gets a Taste of How Brutal French Open Crowd Can Be

US Taylor Fritz gestures after winning against France's Arthur Rinderknech at the end of their men's singles match on day five of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Suzanne-Lenglen in Paris on June 1, 2023. (AFP)
US Taylor Fritz gestures after winning against France's Arthur Rinderknech at the end of their men's singles match on day five of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Suzanne-Lenglen in Paris on June 1, 2023. (AFP)

Taylor Fritz got a reminder of how brutal the Roland Garros crowd can be when he was booed for minutes after ending the run of the last local man standing at the French Open on Thursday.

Sustained boos and whistles rained down from the Court Philippe Chatrier stands after the American shushed the fans repeatedly, having beaten Arthur Rinderknech in four sets under the lights.

As he was preparing to do his post-match interview, Fritz kept his cool as he came under fire, barely able to exchange words with court-side interviewer Marion Bartoli.

"I'm sorry I actually can't hear you," he told the former Wimbledon champion.

"The crowd was so great honestly ... that I had to let it fire me up. They cheered so well for me I wanted to make sure I won," he added, having ended the French presence in the singles draws at Roland Garros by beating the last home favorite.

The crowd is fickle, corporate seats are often empty at lunchtime but when a French player needs support spectators turn the usually quiet courts into a wild arena and the claycourt Grand Slam provides an atmosphere unmatched at other majors.

This is exactly what Fritz experienced in his match against Rinderknech, like others before him.

When the crowd pick on a player, it can become exceptionally unsettling, as Martina Hingis notoriously experienced in the 1999 final against Steffi Graf.

Booed and jeered by the fans after disputing a line call while 6-4 2-0 up, the Swiss lost her composure and the contest before being booed again after match point.


Ruud, Swiatek Gain Momentum at French Open as Sinner Punished 

Norway's Casper Ruud celebrates his victory over Italy's Giulio Zeppieri during their men's singles match on day five of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Philippe-Chatrier in Paris on June 1, 2023. (AFP)
Norway's Casper Ruud celebrates his victory over Italy's Giulio Zeppieri during their men's singles match on day five of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Philippe-Chatrier in Paris on June 1, 2023. (AFP)
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Ruud, Swiatek Gain Momentum at French Open as Sinner Punished 

Norway's Casper Ruud celebrates his victory over Italy's Giulio Zeppieri during their men's singles match on day five of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Philippe-Chatrier in Paris on June 1, 2023. (AFP)
Norway's Casper Ruud celebrates his victory over Italy's Giulio Zeppieri during their men's singles match on day five of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Philippe-Chatrier in Paris on June 1, 2023. (AFP)

Fourth seed Casper Ruud and holder Iga Swiatek stayed on course to reach consecutive finals at the French Open while a couple of unheralded names in the women's draw continued to show their immense potential on a sunny Thursday at Roland Garros.

Elena Rybakina also booked a third round spot with a 6-3 6-3 victory over rising Czech teenager Linda Noskova with the fourth seed and Wimbledon champion dazzling again on Parisian clay as one of the top contenders for the Grand Slam title.

Ruud, who lost to Rafa Nadal in last year's final, is aiming to capitalize on the 14-time champion's absence through injury this year and looked rock solid for much of his 6-3 6-2 4-6 7-5 victory over Italian qualifier Giulio Zeppieri.

"It was a tough match," Ruud said. "I started well, got a break early and served well myself. That's the beauty of best-of-five sets. In a normal match I would have won 6-3 6-2, but here you have the chance to fight like he did.

"He played much better in the third set and the fourth set, and it became very tough."

Ruud will next play Chinese trailblazer Zhang Zhizhen who beat Argentine qualifier Thiago Agustin Tirante 7-6(3) 6-3 6-4 to become the first man from his country since 1937 to reach round three.

Swiatek, who is looking to lift the Suzanne Lenglen Cup for the third time in four years, briefly struggled against American Claire Liu but returned to her rampant best with another bagel in her 6-4 6-0 victory.

Russian qualifier Mirra Andreeva continued to enjoy a dream Grand Slam debut as the 16-year-old stormed into the third round with a 6-1 6-2 win over Frenchwoman Diane Parry, though she admitted to having butterflies in her stomach.

"I'm happy that you don't see that I'm nervous," said the world number 143, who became the youngest player to reach the third round in Paris since a 15-year-old Sesil Karatantcheva stormed into the last eight in 2005.

"I hide it pretty well."

Up next for Andreeva is 19-year-old Coco Gauff - a player who knows all about negotiating instant stardom, with last year's runner-up having subdued Julia Grabher 6-2 6-3 to set up the third-round showdown.

American Kayla Day made no secret of her success after a stunning 6-2 4-6 6-4 win over compatriot Madison Keys, thanking her Czech roots for enhancing her tennis skills.

"My mum, she was born and raised in Prague, and I speak fluent Czech. That's the only reason why I'm good at tennis, because I'm half Czech."

Sinner falters

Jannik Sinner later squandered two match points in his 6-7(0) 7-6(7) 1-6 7-6(4) 7-5 loss to German Daniel Altmaier in an epic battle lasting more than five hours.

"Playing every point you can with the best effort, that's what keeps you in reality," Altmaier said about his escapes on match point.

"I was just thinking that and the competition says it all. We've had historic matches with so many match points ... I don't know if you can call this a 'historical' match, but I think it was one to remember."

Another German, Alexander Zverev, eased into round three by making light work of Slovakian Alex Molcan 6-4 6-2 6-1, looking increasingly closer to the form that took him to the semi-finals in Paris last year when he retired with a serious ankle injury.

Next for the 22nd seed is American 12th seed Frances Tiafoe, who beat Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev 3-6 6-3 7-5 6-2.

Croatian Borna Coric was made to work hard by Pedro Cachin before the 15th seed prevailed 6-3 4-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 but it was a day to forget for Australian 18th seed Alex de Minaur who fell to a 6-3 7-6(2) 6-3 defeat by Tomas Martin Etcheverry.

Tunisian world number seven Ons Jabeur came through a tricky test against risk-taking Oceane Dodin with a 6-2 6-3 victory to ensure that no French player will make the third round of the women's competition for the third time in five years.

French presence in the singles' draws was ended altogether in the last match of the day when Arthur Rinderknech was knocked out by American ninth seed Taylor Fritz 2-6 6-4 6-3 6-4.


Stuttgart Beat Hamburg 3-0 to Grab Advantage in Relegation Playoff

01 June 2023, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Stuttgart: Stuttgart's Josha Vagnoman (2nd R) celebrates scoring his side's second goal with teammates during the German Bundesliga Relegation first leg match between VfB Stuttgart and Hamburger SV at Mercedes-Benz Arena. (dpa)
01 June 2023, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Stuttgart: Stuttgart's Josha Vagnoman (2nd R) celebrates scoring his side's second goal with teammates during the German Bundesliga Relegation first leg match between VfB Stuttgart and Hamburger SV at Mercedes-Benz Arena. (dpa)
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Stuttgart Beat Hamburg 3-0 to Grab Advantage in Relegation Playoff

01 June 2023, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Stuttgart: Stuttgart's Josha Vagnoman (2nd R) celebrates scoring his side's second goal with teammates during the German Bundesliga Relegation first leg match between VfB Stuttgart and Hamburger SV at Mercedes-Benz Arena. (dpa)
01 June 2023, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Stuttgart: Stuttgart's Josha Vagnoman (2nd R) celebrates scoring his side's second goal with teammates during the German Bundesliga Relegation first leg match between VfB Stuttgart and Hamburger SV at Mercedes-Benz Arena. (dpa)

VfB Stuttgart boosted their chances of staying in the Bundesliga as they secured a 3-0 home victory against Hamburg SV in the first leg of the relegation playoff on Thursday.

The hosts got off to a flying start as Konstantinos Mavropanos headed the opener after 44 seconds.

Stuttgart could have doubled their lead just before the half-hour mark but Serhou Guirassy missed a penalty.

However, they scored again through Josha Vagnoman six minutes after the break and three minutes later Guirassy made amends for his earlier miss when he headed the third goal.

The night got worse for Hamburg, who host the second leg on Monday, when midfielder Anssi Suhonen got a red card for a dangerous tackle on Vagnoman in the 69th minute.

Stuttgart finished 16th in the Bundesliga table while Hamburg were third in the second tier standings.


Haaland Holds No Fear for Man Utd, Says Varane

Football - Premier League - Brentford v Manchester City - Brentford Community Stadium, London, Britain - May 28, 2023 Manchester City's Erling Haaland celebrates with the golden boot after the match. (Reuters)
Football - Premier League - Brentford v Manchester City - Brentford Community Stadium, London, Britain - May 28, 2023 Manchester City's Erling Haaland celebrates with the golden boot after the match. (Reuters)
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Haaland Holds No Fear for Man Utd, Says Varane

Football - Premier League - Brentford v Manchester City - Brentford Community Stadium, London, Britain - May 28, 2023 Manchester City's Erling Haaland celebrates with the golden boot after the match. (Reuters)
Football - Premier League - Brentford v Manchester City - Brentford Community Stadium, London, Britain - May 28, 2023 Manchester City's Erling Haaland celebrates with the golden boot after the match. (Reuters)

Manchester United defender Raphael Varane said they do not fear Erling Haaland ahead of their FA Cup final showdown against Manchester City but acknowledged that their rivals pose a threat from every area of the pitch.

United go into Saturday's final looking to end the Premier League champions' bid for a second trophy this season, with Pep Guardiola's side in the hunt for a rare treble with a Champions League final against Inter Milan to come on June 10.

The only team to have won the English tile, FA Cup and Champions League in the same season are United, who achieved the feat in 1999.

Haaland has scored 52 goals in his debut season in England, winning the Premier League Golden Boot with a record 36 strikes en route to multiple Player of the Year awards.

Varane said there was more to City than the Norwegian hitman.

"Fear? No way ... Why?" he told The Telegraph. "Yes, he is a very good player, we all know that. But the danger from City is everywhere, they are very complete."

Varane said nullifying playmaker Kevin De Bruyne would be key to stopping Haaland. De Bruyne finished the league season with 16 assists, half of which were for Haaland.

"They can score from set-plays, from a possession game and from a transition game. As a defender, the connection (Haaland has) especially with De Bruyne - that kind of pass is complicated to defend, so we try to cut that connection.

"We know we can beat them. We have to be consistent for 90 minutes because we know that everything can change in a few seconds."

Erik ten Hag's side are looking to end their season on a high note having won the League Cup and Varane - who spent 10 trophy-laden years at Real Madrid - said United are developing a winning mentality again.

"We have to be positive, we're in a good way. But the most important thing is to believe."


Saudi Arabia’s SFA Joins International Functional Fitness Federation

The Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) logo
The Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) logo
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Saudi Arabia’s SFA Joins International Functional Fitness Federation

The Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) logo
The Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) logo

The International Functional Fitness Federation (iF3) announced that the Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) has become an official member of iF3, representing fitness in the Kingdom.

This membership reflects the vital role played by SFA, which since its establishment in 2018 has aimed to build a healthy society by raising awareness of the importance of physical activities.

It will be the organizing body for community sports, entrusted with increasing the amount of physical activity among the population and achieving the goals of the Kingdom's Vision 2030.