Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  15 / 20 Next Page
Information
Show Menu
Previous Page 15 / 20 Next Page
Page Background

SPORTS

WEDNESDAY 23 MAY 2018,

SAUDI GAZETTE

15

I don’t know him personally, I’ve never

spoken with him, but I’ve seen his work

and it’s formidable. He has shown it over the years,

not only at Dortmund but also now with Liverpool,

too. I respect him a lot for what he’s doing in the

Champions League and Premier League.

Zinedine Zidane

Real Madrid coach

I’m glad we’re not playing against each other.

Me against him, marking him or whatever...

I’m very glad I can send my players onto the pitch.

He’s one of the top 10... top five players of all time.

And now he’s the coach of Real Madrid, a hugely

experienced team. That’ll be a nice challenge.

Juergen Klopp

Liverpool manager

P. O. Box 5576 Jeddah – 21432 Saudi Arabia

EMAIL

PHONE: 12-6760000 FAX: 12-6727621, 12-6764111 WEBSITE:

http://saudigazette.com.sa advertising@okaz.com.sa

Tel: +966 12 6760000 Ext: 2308

sports@saudigazette.com.sa

Serena could get Wimbledon seeding, despite French snub

Real as hungry as ever — Zidane

Kane named England’s

World Cup captain

Liverpool can beat

Real — Alonso

LONDON —

Serena Williams

could still be seeded at this year’s

Wimbledon championships de-

spite being snubbed by French

Open organizers, the All England

Club said Tuesday.

The American is expected to

play at Roland Garros next week,

where she has won the title three

times, but without being seed-

ed she could conceivably meet

champion Jelena Ostapenko in

the first round.

The French Tennis Federa-

tion (FFT) confirmed Tuesday

that its seedings would be based

on the latest WTA rankings.

Williams, who has won 23

Grand Slam singles titles, is

ranked a lowly 453rd after return-

ing to action this year following

the birth of her daughter last

September.

She has not played a tourna-

ment since Miami in March and

pulled out of the claycourt events

in Madrid and Rome.

While the French Open sticks

rigidly to rankings, Wimbledon’s

tennis sub-committee allows it-

self some wiggle room.

The men’s seedings is usually

based on ATP rankings in con-

junction with a formula based on

grasscourt results over the pre-

vious two years. In contrast, the

women’s seedings usually follow

the WTA rankings list but can be

tweaked by the All England Club

in special circumstances.

“The seeding order follows

the WTA ranking list, except

where in the opinion of the com-

mittee, a change is necessary to

produce a balanced draw,” is the

All England Club’s official line on

its website.

Williams has already ben-

efited from this rule in the past

as in 2011 she was ranked 25th

before the start of Wimbledon

but seeded seventh for the cham-

pionships.

The Wimbledon seedings

committee will meet to discuss

the order of the 32 seeds on June

26.

The tournament begins on

July 2.

Williams has won Wimble-

don seven times but missed last

year’s tournament while she was

on maternity leave.

Despite her lowly ranking

she will be able to compete at

Roland Garros under the WTA’s

protected ranking rule, which al-

lows athletes returning from long

absences to gain entry into tour-

naments using the ranking they

had when they stopped playing.

Del Potro waits

Juan Martin del Potro is wait-

ing anxiously to see if a groin

strain will force him out of the

French Open, with the Argentine

hoping the injury does not derail

what has been one of his best

starts to a season in years.

Del Potro, whose early sea-

son form has lifted him to No. 6

in the world, retired during his

third round match at last week’s

Italian Open after picking up the

injury.

The setback, just days before

the start of the May 27-June 10

French Open, was particularly

upsetting as Del Potro had spent

the early part of the year devel-

oping a new routine to help him

overcome the injuries that have

beset his career.

Del Potro put together a team

in the close season that includes

a trainer, doctor, psychologist

and kinesiologist who studies

muscle movement.

With the support the team

of specialists who travel with

him on the road, Del Potro

reached three finals in 2018,

winning two of them. The

back-to-back victories in Aca-

pulco and California included a

win over Wimbledon and Aus-

tralian Open champion Roger

Federer in Indian Wells.

The expanded team “has not

only made a difference to my

tennis but also in helping rid me

of non-tennis problems so I can

focus on getting out on the court

and winning,” the 29-year-old

told reporters in Buenos Aires

earlier this month.

The new approach also lifted

him to his highest ranking since

2010.

His 2018 form proved he was

reaping the benefits of the new

regime, while off court the psy-

chologist helped him to “resolve

questions I didn’t know how to

handle,” he said.

One member of his team said

Del Potro was giving too much

respect to fellow players, particu-

larly his friend Federer, and they

gave him tips to become more ag-

gressive on court.

The new-found belief helped

him to edge out the Swiss in a

tight third-set tiebreak in the Indi-

anWells final and he now believes

he can at long last win a second

Grand Slam title.

—Reuters

MADRID —

Zinedine Zidane

has told Liverpool his Real Ma-

drid team is hungrier than ever to

win the Champions League, de-

spite clinching the title in three of

the last four years.

Real is gunning for an unprec-

edented third consecutive success

in the competition Saturday while

Liverpool has reached the final for

the first time since 2007.

“No one can tell us we are

less hungry,” Zidane said. “I can’t

speak for our opponents but we

want to stress we will always have

the same motivation, the same as

always, no one can tell us we are

less hungry than the rest.

“We are Madrid and despite

what we have, we always want

more, and we will give everything

to get even better.”

Real’s experience at the deep

end of the Champions League

dwarfs that of this Liverpool team,

which does not have a single play-

er to have made it this far before.

Zidane also has his own per-

sonal achievements to draw upon,

having won the most coveted

prize in club football three times

as a player and manager com-

bined.

“It’s true I lived 18 years as a

player inside the changing room,

with many coaches, with many

players, with just as much ego as

me,” Zidane said.

“I know the changing room

and I know the mind of a player

and that is an important thing for

me, but it is not the only thing.

“I am not the best tactician,

but I have other things — passion,

motivation — and those are worth

much more.”

Some have billed this week-

end’s showdown as a contest

between Cristiano Ronaldo and

Mohamed Salah but when asked

if he would swap Ronaldo for the

Liverpool forward, Zidane simply

replied: “No.”

On Ronaldo’s influence on the

final, Zidane said: “The most pos-

sible. He is the best so it will be

the maximum.”

Zidane would offer no clues

as to his starting line-up in Kiev

but he did acknowledge the excel-

lent form of Gareth Bale, who has

scored five goals in his last four

starts.

“He is playing very well, he

has scored many goals recently,”

Zidane said. “Not only that but he

has been very consistent. He has

not played so much, but the last

three games he has played he has

played well.”

Bale can make difference

Wales manager Ryan Giggs

has warned Liverpool that Real

Madrid forward Gareth Bale can

make the difference in the Cham-

pions League final.

Bale is not certain to start

Saturday’s showdown in Kiev, de-

spite scoring five goals in four La

Liga games for the reigning Euro-

pean champion.

But Wales manager Giggs

said the 28-year-old has the right

mindset to make a decisive con-

tribution from the bench, if that is

the role given to him by manager

Zinedine Zidane.

“Every time Gareth plays he

makes an impact,” said Giggs. “It

just shows the professional he is

that he’s not sulking (when he’s a

substitute) as he always seems to

come on and score.

“He’s one of the best players

in the world and every time he

comes on to that pitch he makes

a difference. Again that’s a credit

to his professionalism, his hunger

and desire to get in the team for

that final.”

A 13th European title for Real

on Saturday would see Bale equal

the record of Champions League

wins, or its European Cup prede-

cessor, by a British player.

Former Liverpool defender

Phil Neal currently holds the

record outright with four vic-

tories and Bale would match

that tally after five seasons in

Madrid.

And despite having his critics

in Spain, Bale has still managed

to score 19 goals this season in an

injury-hit campaign.

“Gareth always had potential,

but he’s gone on to pass that po-

tential,” Giggs said. “He’s been

playing at a top club for a long

time where brilliant players have

notoriously not lasted very long.

“He has been a huge success

for club and country and one of

the best British players to have

gone abroad because of what he’s

achieved.”

—Agencies

LONDON —

Tottenham striker

Harry Kane will be England’s

captain at the World Cup in Rus-

sia, the Football Association an-

nounced Tuesday.

Manager Gareth Southgate has

shared the leadership role around

since taking over as manager in

2016 but has now settled on Kane

for the tournament, which begins

next month.

The 24-year-old, who has

scored 12 goals in 23 international

appearances, was first handed the

armband for the qualifier against

Scotland last June and has skip-

pered the side on three further oc-

casions.

Southgate, who announced his

decision during a team meeting at

England’s training base Monday,

said: “Harry has some outstanding

personal qualities. He is a meticu-

lous professional and one of the

most important things for a cap-

tain is that they set the standard

every day.

“He has belief and high stan-

dards and it is a great message for

the team to have a captain who has

shown that it is possible to be one

of the best in the world over a con-

sistent period of time.”

Southgate and Kane, who burst

onto the senior international scene

with a goal 79 seconds into his 2015

debut against Lithuania, appeared

in a live video posted on England’s

Twitter account soon after the of-

ficial announcement.

“It’s an amazing honor,” said

Kane. “Obviously you always

dream of playing for England,

growing up. To be the captain is

that little bit more.

“So excited, obviously excited

for the World Cup. I just can’t wait

to be there and experience it. To

be leading the lads out is going

to be special. But for me nothing

changes — I’m the same person,

the same player, and it’s just about

the team. We’ve just got to do what

we can and go as far as we can.”

Kane’s Spurs teammate Eric

Dier and Liverpool captain Jordan

Henderson were seen as the other

likeliest candidates for the role.

The standout star in England’s

inexperienced squad, Kane will

travel to his first World Cup full of

confidence after another outstand-

ing season in which he passed the

30-goal mark for club and country

for the fourth season in a row.

Kane has netted 45 goals in 52

appearances for Spurs and Eng-

land in 2017/18, missing out on a

third consecutive Premier League

Golden Boot title to Liverpool’s

Mohamed Salah.

Nainggolan ends Belgium

career afterWC snub

Radja Nainggolan ended his

international career Monday after

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez

left the AS Roma midfielder out of

his squad for next month’s World

Cup in Russia.

Despite past clashes over dis-

cipline, Martinez insisted he took

what he knew was an unpopular

decision for the good of the team.

“Very reluctantly my interna-

tional career comes to an end,”

the 29-year-old Nainggolan wrote

in English on Instagram an hour

after Martinez made public a de-

cision which he had broken to the

player in person the night before

in Rome.

Martinez said his offensive

strategy since he took over fol-

lowing the team’s Euro 2016 dis-

appointment no longer offered

a role to Nainggolan, despite his

huge part in Roma’s charge to the

Champions League semifinals this

year.

The player himself, who

also announced plans to retire

last year after Martinez left him

out, made clear he saw a clash

of personality as an issue.

“I’ve always done everything

I could to represent my country.

Being yourself can be bothering,”

he said.

In his native Dutch, he said;

“Unfortunately, being REAL is not

enough for SOME PEOPLE”, add-

ing that the decision to quit inter-

national soccer gave him “much

pain in my heart”.

Morata misses out on

SpainWorld Cup squad

Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata

was left out of Spain’s World Cup

squad, announced Monday.

Morata paid the price for a

disappointing debut season in the

Premier League as Spain coach

Julen Lopetegui picked Iago As-

pas and Rodrigo Moreno up front,

along with Atletico Madrid’s Di-

ego Costa.

—Agencies

MADRID —

Xabi Alonso be-

lieves Liverpool can beat Real Ma-

drid and be European champion

but only if it copes with the pres-

sure of playing in a Champions

League final.

Alonso won Europe’s premier

tournament with Liverpool in 2005

and Real in 2014, having spent five

years playing for both of this sea-

son’s finalists.

Real is no stranger to this stage

of the competition. It has reached

three of the last four Champions

League finals and won them all,

with Saturday’s showdown offer-

ing it the chance for a third con-

secutive triumph.

Liverpool, meanwhile, is with-

out a single player to have experi-

enced a match of this magnitude.

Only their coach Jurgen Klopp has

gone the distance in Europe, with

Borussia Dortmund, which was

beaten by Bayern Munich in 2013.

“They have to prepare for

the game very well because Real

Madrid have all the experience,”

Alonso said.

“For all the Liverpool players

it will be their first Champions

League final. They have to deal

with this emotional side which is

almost as important as the football

side.

“If they can get the right bal-

ance between the excitement and

the motivation, that will be the

right way to approach this final.”

Alonso thinks Liverpool will

need to play “the perfect game” to

cause an upset in Kiev but Klopp´s

men have arguably Europe’s most

dangerous attack in their favor.

Three of the four top scor-

ers in this season’s Champions

League belong to Liverpool, with

Mohamed Salah and Roberto Fir-

mino both on 10 and Sadio Mane

on nine. Real’s Cristiano Ronaldo

is out in front on 15.

“Whenever they have space,

Real needs to control them,” Alon-

so said. “They are able to attack

through the middle of the pitch,

they can connect with short passes

very well, they combine very well.

“They are definitely one of the

biggest strengths of Liverpool at

the moment.”

While Liverpool is gunning for

its sixth European success, Real is

chasing its 13th to move six clear

of AC Milan in the all-time list of

champions.

“They are making history, they

are big and getting bigger,” Alonso

said. “What they have achieved

in the last few years is not only a

big surprise, a few years back you

would think it was absolutely im-

possible.

“Zidane has done so well to

manage the team and make the

players have great belief in what

he does. He has my total respect

and admiration.”

—AFP

Serena Williams with Wimbledon Trophy

Real Madrid’s French head coach Zinedine Zidane (C) leads his team’s

training session in Madrid.

— EPA

England’s manager Gareth Southgate (R) talks with England’s captain

Harry Kane during a training session at St George’s Park in Burton-on-

Trent Tuesday.

— AFP