Spain takes top 2 rankings
No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz and No. 2 Rafael Nadal are the first countrymen to top the ATP rankings in 22 years. The two players from Spain are also the first men from somewhere other than the US to sit at one-two since the tour introduced computerized rankings in 1973. Alcaraz, 19, rose to the top spot by winning the US Open last month, becoming the youngest man ever to be No. 1. Nadal rose from No. 3 to No. 2 on Monday, swapping places with US Open runner-up Casper Ruud. Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras were the last two compatriots to hold the top spots in August 2000. “Proud to share this historic moment with @RafaelNadal, the best player of all-time,” Alcaraz wrote on Twitter in Spanish.
Albert Pujols tops Babe Ruth
Move over, Babe Ruth, Prince Albert is the new No. 2 on a big baseball list. Albert Pujols on Monday night hit his 703rd home run, breaking a tie with Ruth for second place in career RBIs. The 42-year-old slugger connected for the St Louis Cardinals off Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Mitch Keller, pulling a two-run shot into the left field stands to snap a scoreless tie in the sixth inning. It was Pujols’ 35th home run at PNC Park, his most at any visiting ballpark. The drive pushed Pujols’ total to 2,216 RBIs, surpassing Ruth on the all-time chart. Hank Aaron holds the record with 2,297. “Passing Babe Ruth is a big deal,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said after his team’s 3-2 loss. “Seeing him hit a home run in that situation was fun to watch. You feel pretty good about where you’re at whenever he swings, and his home runs have been very meaningful.” Pujols plans to retire after the season.
Ukraine plans World Cup bid
Ukraine is set to join Spain and Portugal in their bid to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup, the Times reported on Monday. Ukraine would host one of the groups in the tournament under the plan which is understood to have been sanctioned by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the governments of Spain and Portugal, the Times said. The new partnership is due to be announced by the Spainish and Portuguese soccer chiefs during a news conference at UEFA’s headquarters today, the report added. Meanwhile, several major French cities including Lille, Strasbourg and Bordeaux said they would not organize fan zones or put up giant outdoor screens to show this year’s Qatar World Cup soccer matches in protest against the loss of immigrant workers’ lives during construction of the stadia in Qatar and the energy that would be wasted to cool the sports arenas.
Indonesia probe begins
An Indonesian police chief and nine elite officers were on Monday removed from their posts and 18 others were being investigated for responsibility in the firing of tear gas inside a soccer stadium that set off a stampede, killing 131 people including dozens of children in one of the deadliest disasters in soccer history. Witnesses say the crush in the city of Malang started when officers fired tear gas into packed stands to quell a pitch invasion. The death toll jumped again yesterday, with local health official Wiyanto Wijoyo saying that six more victims had succumbed to their injuries.
SIGNS OF CALM: After his third explanation for his absence, which has drawn the ire of fans and politicians, some critics said his latest apology seemed sincere Lionel Messi denied his absence from a match in Hong Kong two weeks ago that angered China was a political snub, but was caused by an injury. The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner is idolized by fans in China, but stayed on the bench during Inter Miami’s 4-1 win in a pre-season tour match against a Hong Kong select XI on Feb. 4. A near 40,000 sellout crowd, who had paid upwards of HK$1,000 (US$128) to see the 36-year-old superstar in action, chanted “refund,” gave thumbs-down signs and booed Messi and the team’s co-owner David Beckham after the final whistle. Some nationalist politicians interpreted
Taiwanese infielder Yu Chang (張育成) has signed a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays and is invited to the team’s spring training camp, the team announced Tuesday. The 28-year-old, who reported to the club’s spring training facility on Tuesday, told MLB.com he had received minor league offers from 10 teams, but signed with the Rays because of the positive experience he had on the team in 2022. “I feel like people make me comfortable here -- not only like coaches, [but the] teammates and everyone here,” he told the site. Chang, who made his MLB debut in 2019, played with the
Coco Gauff on Wednesday said that a heated exchange with the chair umpire midway through her match with Karolina Pliskova had spurred her on to complete a 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory and advance to the quarter-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championships. The US Open champion lost the first set, but was leading 4-2 in the second when her first serve at deuce, which Pliskova returned into the net, was called out. The American challenged the call and her review was successful, but instead of awarding Gauff the point French chair umpire Pierre Bacchi told the 19-year-old to replay it. That sparked a lengthy
MLB’s new uniform reveal has not gone very well and some of the rampant criticism has moved below the belt. MLB Players’ Association deputy executive director Bruce Meyer on Thursday said that the organization is relaying concerns from players to the league about the new pants, which are somewhat see-through. The complaints — first reported by ESPN — are part of broader scorn for the new uniforms, which are designed by Nike and manufactured by Fanatics. “I know everyone hates them,” Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Trea Turner said last week. “We all liked what we had. We understand business, but I think everyone wanted