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.



Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic Will Meet in the Wimbledon Men’s Final Again

Spain's Carlos Alcaraz celebrates winning against Russia's Daniil Medvedev during their men's singles semi-final tennis match on the twelfth day of the 2024 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 12, 2024. (AFP)
Spain's Carlos Alcaraz celebrates winning against Russia's Daniil Medvedev during their men's singles semi-final tennis match on the twelfth day of the 2024 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 12, 2024. (AFP)
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Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic Will Meet in the Wimbledon Men’s Final Again

Spain's Carlos Alcaraz celebrates winning against Russia's Daniil Medvedev during their men's singles semi-final tennis match on the twelfth day of the 2024 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 12, 2024. (AFP)
Spain's Carlos Alcaraz celebrates winning against Russia's Daniil Medvedev during their men's singles semi-final tennis match on the twelfth day of the 2024 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 12, 2024. (AFP)

Carlos Alcaraz is only a couple of months past his 21th birthday, and yet this whole Grand Slam success thing is already a bit been-there, done-that for him.

Moving a step closer to a second consecutive Wimbledon trophy and fourth major championship overall, Alcaraz overcame a shaky start Friday to beat Daniil Medvedev 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals at Centre Court.

"I feel like I’m not new anymore. I feel like I know how I’m going to feel before the final. I’ve been in this position before," Alcaraz said. "I will try to do the things that I did well last year and try to be better."

Like last year, his opponent in Sunday's title match will be Novak Djokovic, who advanced with a 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-4 victory against No. 25 seed Lorenzo Musetti. Djokovic won 15 of 16 points when he went to the net in the first set and finished 43 for 56 in that category.

It'll be the first time the same two men meet in consecutive Wimbledon finals since Djokovic beat Roger Federer in 2014 and 2015.

"He’s as complete a player as they come," Djokovic said about Alcaraz, who won the 2023 final in five sets. "It's going to take the best of my abilities on the court overall to beat him."

Djokovic, who hadn't reached a final at any tournament all season and needed surgery in June for a torn meniscus in his right knee, will be vying for his eighth championship at the All England Club. That would tie Federer’s mark for the most by a man — and put him one behind Martina Navratilova’s record of nine — while making the 37-year-old from Serbia the first player in tennis history with a career total of 25 Grand Slam titles.

"I know what I have to do," Alcaraz said. "I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me."

Late in Djokovic’s semifinal, as he let his first three match points slip away, fans hoping for a longer match began chanting "Lo-ren-zo!" One yelled out during a point, bothering Djokovic, who soon was wiping away fake tears mockingly after Musetti failed to convert a break chance in the last game.

The No. 2-seeded Djokovic — who got a walkover in the quarterfinals when his opponent, Alex de Minaur, withdrew with a hip injury — eventually worked his way into his 10th final at Wimbledon and 37th at a major.

"I don't want to stop here," Djokovic said. "Hopefully I'll get my hands on that trophy."

Musetti said it didn't look as if Djokovic was hampered at all by his knee, which was covered by a gray sleeve.

"He showed that he’s really in great shape, not only in tennis, but physically," said Musetti, who was appearing in a major semifinal for the first time.

After a so-so opening set against Medvedev, Alcaraz transformed back into the energetic, attacking, crowd-pleasing force who already was the first teenager to be No. 1 in the ATP rankings and is the youngest man to have won a major trophy on three surfaces: grass, clay and hard courts.

Now the Spaniard is one victory away from joining Boris Becker and Bjorn Borg as the only men in the Open era, which began in 1968, with multiple championships at the All England Club before turning 22.

Alcaraz also triumphed at the US Open in 2022 and the French Open last month and is 3-0 in major finals.

"We’re going to see a lot of him in the future, no doubt," Djokovic said. "He’s going to win many more Grand Slams."

On a cloudy afternoon, the No. 3-seeded Alcaraz went through some ups and downs against No. 5 Medvedev, a 28-year-old from Russia.

"I started really, really nervous," Alcaraz said. "He was dominating the match."

Indeed, Medvedev grabbed an early 5-2 lead, but then got into trouble with his play and his temper.

Alcaraz broke to get within 5-4 with a drop shot that chair umpire Eva Asderaki ruled — correctly, according to TV replays — bounced twice before Medvedev got his racket on the ball. He voiced his displeasure, and Asderaki, after climbing down from her seat to huddle with tournament referee Denise Parnell during the ensuing changeover, issued a warning to Medvedev for unsportsmanlike conduct.

"I said something in Russian. Not unpleasant, but not over the line," Medvedev said at his news conference.

He regrouped quickly and was just about perfect in that set’s tiebreaker.

Then it was Alcaraz’s turn to get headed in the right direction, which didn’t take long. He got the last break he would need for a 4-3 edge in the fourth when Medvedev sailed a backhand long, then sat in his sideline chair, locked eyes with his two coaches and started muttering and gesticulating.

"I was playing well," Medvedev said, "and just it was not enough."

Nearly every time Alcaraz emitted one of his "Uh-eh!" two-syllable grunts while unleashing a booming forehand, spectators audibly gasped, regardless of whether the point continued. Often enough, it didn’t: Alcaraz had 24 forehand winners, 20 more than Medvedev.

In addition to the Wimbledon men’s final, Sunday’s sports schedule features the final of the men’s soccer European Championship in Germany, where Spain will meet England.

When Alcaraz alluded to that in his on-court interview by saying, "It’s going to be a really good day for the Spanish people, as well," he drew boos from the locals — perhaps his biggest misstep all day.

Alcaraz smiled and added: "I didn’t say Spain is going to win. I just said that it’s going to be a really fun, fun day."