Chans exit in France
Taiwanese sisters Latisha Chan and Chan Hao-ching yesterday crashed out at the Internationaux de Strasbourg in France, beaten 6-7 (5/7), 6-0, 10-6 by Xu Yifan and Yang Zhaoxuan of China in the semi-finals of the women’s doubles. The Chans fell behind early in the first set to trail 0-3, but fought back, converting all three of their break-point opportunities. However, they were dominated in the second set and again fell behind early in the tiebreaker. The Chans defeated Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and partner Wang Xinyu of China 6-4, 5-7, 10-8 in the quarter-finals on Wednesday. The other semi-final was yet to be scheduled as of press time last night.
Iniesta to depart Kobe
Andres Iniesta, who won the FIFA World Cup with Spain in 2010, and four Champions League titles and nine La Liga championships with Barcelona, is leaving Japanese club Vissel Kobe. Iniesta brushed back tears yesterday as he announced he was leaving and indicated he planned to keep playing, but did not say where. Asked where he might play, he replied in Spanish: “I have to tell you the truth, I don’t know. I want to keep playing football. I feel like I am capable of still playing, but as this chapter closes, we’ll see what’s possible. I want to finish my career on the pitch playing, and this is what I’m hoping to do.” News reports suggested a stint in the Middle East, but with no details about clubs. After finishing his long tenure at Barcelona, Iniesta joined the Japanese club in 2018 on a three-year deal, and prolonged his stay with a two-year extension. News reports indicate his reason for leaving is because he wants more playing time. Iniesta just turned 39 and made the announcement at a club news conference in Kobe. His last game for the club is expected to be at home on July 1, a farewell to fans. Vissel Kobe are leading the J-League standings after 14 rounds.
Alvarez seeks Bivol rematch
After his victory over Britain’s John Ryder earlier this month, undisputed super middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on Wednesday said that he wants another fight with Dmitry Bivol, who handed him a rare loss last year. The win over Ryder brought Alvarez’s record up to 59-2-2 in front of a home crowd in Guadalajara, Mexico. “That’s the idea, a rematch with Bivol,” Alvarez said on the sidelines of a real-estate conference. One of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, Alvarez said that he wanted the rematch to be at light heavyweight again. Russian Bivol, the WBA light heavyweight champion, told ESPN earlier this month he was more interested in moving down to super middleweight in a bid for Alvarez’s championship. Should Bivol refuse to meet the terms, Alvarez said “there are other fights out there,” mentioning twins Jermell and Jermall Charlo, and Mexican-American David Benavidez as potential challengers. Benavidez — whom Alvarez called “a great fighter” — has publicly called for a fight between the two. Talks for Alvarez’s next fight, set to take place in September to coincide with Mexico’s Independence Day, would begin next week. “Right now I’m resting, more than anything,” Alvarez said.
Taiwan’s Lin Chun-yi yesterday bowed out at the Malaysia Masters, defeated in the semi-finals a day after an epic quarter-final against the highest-ranked player left in the men’s singles draw. Lin lost to Weng Hongyang of China 21-13, 21-19 after a draining match against Japan’s Kodai Naraoka a day earlier in which the second game had 59 points. The 23-year-old left-hander had won his only previous BWF match against his Chinese opponent. However, Weng booked a place in today’s final after easing past the Taiwanese battler. He faces India’s H.S. Prannoy, who advanced when Indonesia’s Christian Adinata retired while trailing 19-17 in the
Kosovo Olympic authorities have asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to open disciplinary proceedings against Novak Djokovic, accusing the Serb of stirring up political tension by saying “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia” at the French Open. Djokovic wrote the message on a camera lens following his first-round win on Monday, the same day that 30 NATO peacekeeping troops were hurt in clashes with Serb protesters in the Kosovo town of Zvecan where Djokovic’s father grew up. “Kosovo is our cradle, our stronghold, center of the most important things for our country,” 36-year-old told Serbian media. Serbian authorities said 52 protesters were wounded
Unable to sleep the night before her first-round match at the French Open against second seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine checked her phone at 5am on Sunday and saw disturbing news back home in Kyiv. At least one person was killed when the capital of Kostyuk’s nation was subjected to the largest drone attack by Russia since the start of the war, launched with an invasion assisted by Belarus in February last year. “It’s something I cannot describe, probably. I try to put my emotions aside any time I go out on court. I think I’m better than
China has long been the sleeping giant of men’s tennis, but on Monday the giant stirred as Shanghai trailblazer Zhang Zhizhen advanced to the second round of Roland Garros. One of three Chinese men in the draw, Zhang became the first from the nation to win a main draw match at Roland Garros in 86 years after Serbian opponent Dusan Lajovic retired due to illness when trailing 6-1, 4-1. Compatriots Shang Juncheng and Wu Yibing bowed out in defeat, but 26-year-old Zhang has a big chance to go further when he takes on Argentine qualifier Thiago Agustin Tirante for a place in