NBA: Knicks All-Star Julius Randle has surgery on left ankle

AP, Saturday 3 Jun 2023

Julius Randle has undergone arthroscopic surgery on the left ankle that the All-Star forward injured late in the regular season and then again in the playoffs.

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle grimaces as he leaves the court after being injured in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Wednesday, March 29, 2023, at Madison Square Garden in New York. Photo: AP

The New York Knicks said Randle had the procedure Friday and that he would resume basketball activities later this summer.

Randle had started the first 77 games of the season before spraining the ankle on March 29 in a victory over Miami. He sat out the remainder of the regular season, then returned for the Knicks’ playoff opener against Cleveland.

Randle was struggling in that series before limping off after spraining the ankle again in the Knicks’ Game 5 victory in Cleveland to win the series. He sat out Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Heat before returning to play the final five games. Randle shot just 3 for 14 when the Knicks were eliminated in Game 6 at Miami, though wouldn’t say during the postseason if the ankle was still bothering him.

An All-Star for the second time in three seasons, Randle finished with 25.1 points, 10 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.

This article was originally published by The Associated Press (AP).


French Open 2023: Gauff plays Andreeva in all-teen showdown; Nadal has hip surgery

AP , Saturday 3 Jun 2023

Much of this French Open can best be viewed through the prism of Rafael Nadal’s absence

File Photo: Rafael Nadal, of Spain, plays a backhand return to Mackenzie McDonald, of the U.S., during their second-round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 18, 2023. AP

Much of this French Open can best be viewed through the prism of Rafael Nadal’s absence.

For so many years, the goings on at Roland Garros were defined by Nadal and his unprecedented success at the place: 14 championships, a 112-3 record. And this year, what happens in Paris is significantly altered because he is not in the field — something that last happened in 2004.

Nadal has not competed anywhere since injuring his left hip flexor at the Australian Open in January, and he had arthroscopic surgery on Friday night in Barcelona. Saturday, as it happens, is his 37th birthday.

Nadal announced on May 18 he wouldn’t be able to return to competition at the French Open because his body wouldn’t let him. He said he needed to stop practicing and wasn’t sure when he could be back in action; he figures 2024 will be the final season of his superlative career.


No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz and No. 3 Novak Djokovic picked up straight-set victories that weren’t always that straightforward to reach the fourth round and stay on course for a showdown in the semifinals. Alcaraz is the reigning U.S. Open champion; Djokovic owns 22 Grand Slam titles, tied with Nadal for the most by a man. Yet another highly seeded woman, No. 3 Jessica Pegula, bowed out, as did the No. 7 man, Andrey Rublev.


No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka, the Australian Open champion, was allowed to avoid the traditional postmatch news conference open to all accredited journalists and instead speak with what was described as a “pool” of selected questioners.

After each of her previous two wins this week, Sabalenka was asked about her stance on the war in Ukraine, which began in February 2022, when Russia invaded that country with help from Belarus. Sabalenka said she “did not feel safe” at her news conference Wednesday and wanted to protect her “mental health and well-being” on Friday.


The most intriguing third-round match involves two teenagers who have practiced with each other: American Coco Gauff, who is 19, and Russian Mirra Andreeva, who is 16. There’s no doubt Gauff has a significant advantage in experience: She’s been participating in majors since 2019, was the runner-up at Roland Garros in 2022 and is seeded No. 6 this time.

Andreeva is ranked 143rd and is making her debut at a Grand Slam tournament. They’ll play in Court Suzanne Lenglen. Across the way, Court Philippe Chatrier will host matches featuring two of the top women: No. 1 Iga Swiatek, the defending champion, and No. 4 Elena Rybakina, last year’s winner at Wimbledon. Both face unseeded opponents. Men in action include No. 6 Holger Rune, No. 9 Taylor Fritz and No. 12 Frances Tiafoe.


Play begins at 11 a.m. local time in Paris, which is 5 a.m. EDT, everywhere except the main stadium, Court Philippe Chatrier, where the first match — No. 4 Elena Rybakina vs. Sara Sorribes Tormo — is scheduled to start at 11:45 a.m. local time, which is 5:45 a.m. EDT. Coco Gauff vs. Mirra Andreeva is second on Court Suzanne Lenglen so it might begin at around 3 p.m. local time, which is 9 a.m. EDT. Frances Tiafoe goes up against 2021 U.S. Open finalist Alexander Zverev in the night session, which starts at 8:15 p.m. local time, 2:15 p.m. EDT.


What you need to know about the year’s second Grand Slam tennis tournament:

– Rafael Nadal is not here

– Can AI help prevent cyberbullying of tennis players?

– French players bid a quick adieu to French Open

– Novak Djokovic can break a tie with Nadal by winning Slam No. 23

– Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina split past four major titles

– Facts and figures about the French Open, including a look back at 2022


Gauff is listed at minus-126 to beat Andreeva, who is at plus-106, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Just as she has been since before the tournament began, Swiatek is an overwhelming pick for the women’s title at minus-120. Alcaraz remains the favorite to win the men’s championship at plus-130, followed by Djokovic at plus-175. They could meet in the semifinals.


3 hours, 36 minutes — The time it took for Novak Djokovic’s 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-2 victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, the longest three-set Grand Slam match of Djokovic’s career.


“The results are not good.” — Nicolas Escudé, the French Tennis Federation’s technical director, after all 29 singles players from the host country were eliminated by the end of the second round.


-In the U.S.: Tennis Channel, NBC, Peacock.

-In France: France TV, Amazon Prime.

-Other countries listed here.


-Friday-Saturday: Third Round (Women and Men)

-Sunday-Monday: Fourth Round (Women and Men)

-June 6-7: Quarterfinals (Women and Men)

-June 8: Women’s Semifinals

-June 9: Men’s Semifinals

-June 10: Women’s Final

-June 11: Men’s Final

This article was originally published by The Associated Press (AP).

Formula One: Verstappen takes pole for Spanish Grand Prix

AFP , Saturday 3 Jun 2023

World champion Max Verstappen claimed his maiden pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix after leading qualifying Saturday on the Montmelo circuit outside Barcelona.

First placed Red Bull s Dutch driver Max Verstappen waves at the end of the qualifying session for the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya on June 3, 2023 in Montmelo, on the outskirts of Barcelona. Photo: AFP

The championship leader took his fifth pole of a season already dominated by Red Bull to start ahead of Ferrari’s Spanish driver Carlos Sainz with Britain’s Lando Norris of McLaren in third.

“Not bad,” said Verstappen, with his customary understatement. “It’s very nice to come here and get my first pole. I like the circuit and I have a lot of good memories here.”

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton took fifth place on the grid, ahead of Canadian Lance Stroll of Aston Martin.

Local hero Fernando Alonso could only set the ninth fastest time after damaging his car when going off the track in the second qualifying period.

Frenchman Esteban Ocon of Alpine, who took third place in Monaco last weekend, will start in seventh, ahead of German Nico Huelkenberg of Haas, while Australian Oscar Piastri will complete the top 10 in a McLaren.

Qualifying was contested on a slippery track at the start of the session and it featured several big surprises.

First it was Monaco’s Charles Leclerc who was eliminated in Q1 and he will only start in 19th and penultimate place.

Then Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate, Mexican Sergio Pérez, who made a mistake and took a lap in the gravel, was taken out in Q2 and will start in 11th, ahead of Briton George Russell, who also disappointed with the other Mercedes.

This article was originally published by Agence France-Presse.

Tennis: Gauff ends 16-year-old Andreeva run at French Open

AFP , Saturday 3 Jun 2023

Coco Gauff came back from a set down to end 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva’s magical French Open debut on Saturday to reach the last 16.

US Coco Gauff plays a backhand return to Russia s Mirra Andreeva during their women s singles match on day seven of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Suzanne-Lenglen in Paris on June 3, 2023. Photo: AFP

World number six Gauff, the runner-up to Iga Swiatek in 2022, won 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-1 against her 143rd-ranked opponent who came through qualifying and was the youngest player to make the third round since 2005.

Gauff, 19, will face either fellow American Kayla Day or Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia for a place in the quarter-finals.

“Mirra is super young and has a big future,” said Gauff.

“I remember I played here when I was 16 so she has a lot to look forward to. I’m sure you’ll see a lot more matches between us.”

Gauff said that despite her first set problems, she was confident she could pull through.

“I was a little undisciplined in the tiebreak but I knew what the game plan was so I just tried to execute that in the second and third sets.

“But Mirra proved she belongs where she is and deserves to go further.”

Andreeva led 3-1 and 4-2 in the opener but was twice pinned back by her American opponent.

Gauff then served for the set in the 10th game but her fifth double fault allowed the Russian to level.

Andreeva took the set on a tiebreak after an hour with a sweeping, running forehand but collected a code violation on the way for petulantly swiping a ball into the Court Suzanne Lenglen crowd.

Gauff was comfortably the more aggressive and composed player in the second set, stretching out to a 5-1 lead on the back of a double break on her way to levelling the tie.

The American secured it in style with her first ace of the contest.

She also slashed her unforced error count to just three in the set compared to Andreeva’s 11.

Gauff maintained her dominance in the decider as Andreeva finally ran out of steam after a sixth match in Paris.

This article was originally published by Agence France-Presse.

Hazard ends frustrating stint at Real Madrid, Asensio also leaving

AP , Saturday 3 Jun 2023

Eden Hazard’s frustrating stint at Real Madrid has officially ended after the Spanish club announced on Saturday it will be parting ways with him and fellow forward Marco Asensio.

Marco Asensio won 17 titles at Real Madrid. Photo: AFP

While the 32-year-old Hazard barely played for Madrid in recent years, Asensio was a useful backup and scorer off the bench.

Hazard had one more year on the five-year contract he signed when he arrived on a blockbuster 100-million-euro transfer from Chelsea in 2019. The Belgium forward was plagued by nagging injuries from the start and fell out of contention for playing time.

Madrid said in a statement it “reached a deal” with Hazard “whereby the player will leave the club as of 30 June 2023.”

Madrid did not mention if Hazard will move to another club.

Asensio, 27, had a contract that expired this month.

The club added that little-used striker Mariano was also leaving.

Madrid stars Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos all have contacts that expire at the end of the month.

This article was originally published by The Associated Press (AP).

Ibrahimovic to leave Milan at season’s end: club

AFP , Saturday 3 Jun 2023

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will leave AC Milan after their final match of the season against Verona, the Serie A club said on Saturday.

AC Milan s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Photo: AFP

“Tomorrow (Sunday) evening after the final game of the season… AC Milan will say goodbye to Zlatan Ibrahimovic with a brief ceremony,” Milan said in a statement.

“AC Milan would like to thank Zlatan for the magnificent time that we have spent together.”

Ibrahimovic was a key figure in Milan’s resurgence to the top of Italian football after his return to the club as a free agent in late 2019, helping to bring them back from the doldrums and eventually win Serie A last season.

However he has hardly featured for Stefano Pioli’s side this term after being plagued with injuries, returning in February following surgery on his left knee in May.

The 41-year-old has only started one match for Milan this term, in a 3-1 win at Udinese in March in which he became the oldest goal scorer in Serie A history.

He then picked up a calf injury in a pre-match warm up in April and will end his Milan career sidelined due to the knock.

Ibrahimovic also won the Scudetto with Milan in 2011, which had been their most recent league title until pipping local rivals Inter Milan on the final day of last season.

This article was originally published by Agence France-Presse.

Man Utd have made ‘big steps’ despite FA Cup pain: Fernandes

AFP , Saturday 3 Jun 2023

Bruno Fernandes said Manchester United had made “big steps for next season” despite their bitter 2-1 defeat at the hands of Manchester City in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

Manchester United s Bruno Fernandes reacts after Manchester City scored their side s second goal during the English FA Cup final soccer match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium in London, Saturday, June 3, 2023. Photo: AP

Ilkay Gundogan scored the fastest goal in an FA Cup final, with just 12 seconds on the clock at Wembley.

Fernandes levelled from the penalty spot but Gundogan struck the winner early in the second half.

United broke their six-year trophy drought in February, beating Newcastle in the League Cup final, and finished third in the Premier League in Erik ten Hag’s first season at the helm.

But they were second best in the London sunshine as Premier League champions City remained on course for a treble.

“Everyone is down and it’s really difficult,” United captain Fernandes told the BBC. “We wanted to end the season in a different way but it wasn’t possible.

“We’ve made big steps for next season. It wasn’t a successful season overall but it was a good one. We have to come back next season and try to win bigger trophies.”

Fernandes said City deserved the win.

“We were too soft and gave up too much space for the first goal but it’s an amazing strike,” he said of Gundogan’s stunning early opener.

“If players are tighter then maybe they can stop it but it’s an amazing strike.”

The Portuguese midfielder said United’s supporters deserved more.

“Our fans have been great all season and they deserved a different result today,” he said. “We’re disappointed that we couldn’t give the fans the joy they deserve.

“We are grateful for everything they have done this season. I promise we will come and try again next season.”

This article was originally published by Agence France-Presse.

Inter warm up for Champions League final by beating Torino

AFP , Saturday 3 Jun 2023

Inter warmed up for the Champions League final with Saturday’s 1-0 win at Torino which provisionally pushed them up to second in Serie A on the final weekend of the season.

Inter Milan s Bosnian forward Edin Dzeko (C) outruns Torino s Serbian midfielder Ivan Ilic (R) during the Italian Serie A football match between Torino and Inter on June 3, 2023 at the Olympic stadium in Turin. Photo: AFP

Marcelo Brozovic struck the only goal of the game in the 37th minute in Turin when he turned on the edge of the area and lashed in his third of the season.

Simone Inzaghi’s side, who face Manchester City in Istanbul next weekend, are a single point above Lazio who are at Empoli in one of the day’s two late games.

Inter are already sure of competing in next season’s edition of Europe’s top club competition as they are 11 points above fifth-placed Atalanta.

They would have won more convincingly had Edin Dzeko’s late effort not clipped the wrong side of the post.

With a full week to go until their showdown with English champions City in Turkey, Inzaghi picked a strong side to take on Torino, a tough team who were hoping for European football.

Ivan Juric’s Torino sit ninth and three points behind Fiorentina who will finish eighth, which could offer a spot in Europe if seventh-placed Juventus are barred from continental competition by UEFA for financial irregularities.

This article was originally published by Agence France-Presse.

PSG announce Messi leaving club after final match of the season

AFP , Saturday 3 Jun 2023

Lionel Messi is leaving Paris Saint-Germain after their final match of the season on Saturday, the Ligue 1 champions said on social media.

(FILES) Despite some fine goals and inspired passes, Lionel Messi s time at Paris Saint-Germain did not leave the lasting impression he had hoped for, ending his two seasons with whistles and an unauthorised outing. Photo: AFP

“After two seasons in the capital, Leo Messi’s adventure with Paris Saint-Germain will come to a conclusion at the end of the 2022-23 season,” the club said in a widely expected announcement.

The club said the 35-year-old would play some role in the Ligue 1 match against Clermont at the Parc des Princes on Saturday.

The Argentinian was signed two seasons ago from Barcelona to help PSG win an elusive Champions League, but he failed in that aim.

The French club were beaten in the Champions League last 16 by Real Madrid last season and suffered the same fate this year at Bayern Munich’s hands.

Messi, who has won the Ballon d’Or seven times, has earned an estimated annual salary of 30 million euros ($32.1 million) after tax at Qatar-backed PSG.

He led Argentina to victory against France in the World Cup final in Qatar in December.

But having poured his efforts into that long-awaited triumph for his country, his was unable to lead PSG past Bayern in the Champions League.

Messi was even jeered by some supporters at the Parc des Princes despite scoring 32 goals in 74 games for PSG before Saturday’s final match.

His relationship with the club soured further earlier this season when he skipped training for an unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia to fulfil his commitments as a tourism ambassador for the Gulf state.

A one-week suspension followed, and there was no prospect of Messi signing a new deal in Paris after that.

Barcelona, the club where he has played most of his career, would love him to return but the possibility has appeared to be fading in recent weeks.

Instead, Saudi Arabia might be his next destination.

A source with knowledge of the Saudi negotiations told AFP last month that it was a “done deal” for him to play in the Saudi Arabian league, although Messi’s father Jorge denied then that his son had decided his next destination.

Inter Miami have also reportedly made an offer to take him to Major League Soccer.

‘Best player in history’

After all he won at Barcelona, and his World Cup triumph with Argentina, the French league may not mean that much to Messi when he looks back on his career.

As journalist Vincent Deluc noted in France’s leading sports daily L’Equipe: “PSG have not been better than they were before because of him… and he seemed to have as much desire to play in Ligue 1 as he did to go to the dentist.”

Nevertheless, Messi has still left his mark on those who have worked with him and come up against him.

He was nominated for this season’s French player of the year prize, even if he missed out on the award to PSG forward Kylian Mbappe.

“I have had the privilege to coach the best player in the history of football,” said PSG boss Christophe Galtier this week.

“This year he has been an important part of the team. I have never thought that the criticism of him was justified at all, when he is 35 and there is a World Cup in the middle of the season and yet I think he has scored or set up more than 40 goals in all competitions.

“It has been a great privilege not to coach him but to accompany him throughout the season.”

This article was originally published by Agence France-Presse.

UNRWA raises only one-third of $300 million needed to help Palestinian refugees

AP , Saturday 3 Jun 2023

Despite a dire warning from the U.N. chief that the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees “is on the verge of financial collapse,” donors at a pledging conference on Friday provided just $107 million in new funds — significantly less than the $300 million it needs to keep helping millions of people.

Mounting uncertainties. A Palestinian man and children carry bags of cereal outside an aid distribution centre run by UNRWA in the central Gaza Strip refugee camp of Bureij, July 31. AFP

Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner general of the agency known as UNRWA, said he was grateful for the new pledges but they are below the funds needed to keep over 700 schools and 140 clinics open from September through December.

“We will continue to work tirelessly with our partners, including host countries — the refugees’ top supporters — to raise the funds needed,” he said in a statement.

At the beginning of the year, UNRWA appealed for $1.6 billion for its programs, operations and emergency response across Syria, Lebanon, the Israeli-occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and Jordan. That includes nearly $850 million for its core budget, which includes running schools and health clinics.

According to UNRWA, donors on Friday announced $812.3 million in pledges, but just $107.2 million were new contributions. The countries pledging new funds were not announced.

Lazzarini told a press conference Thursday that UNRWA needs $150 million to keep all services running until the end of the year, and an additional $50 million to start 2024 without liabilities. In addition, he said, the agency needs $75 million to keep the food pipeline in Gaza operating and about $30 million for its cash distribution program in Syria and Lebanon.

UNRWA was founded in the wake of the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 to provide hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled or were forced from their homes with education, health care, social services and in some cases jobs. Today, their numbers — with descendants — have grown to some 5.9 million people, most in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, as well as neighboring countries in the Middle East.

UNRWA has faced a financial crisis for 10 years, but Lazzarini said the current crisis is “massive,” calling it “our main existential threat.”

“It is deepening, and our ability to muddle through is slowly but surely coming to an end,” he said. “The situation is even more critical now that some of our committed donors have indicated that the will substantially decrease their contribution to the agency.”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a speech read by his chief of staff at the start of the pledging conference that “when UNRWA’s future hangs in the balance so do the lives of millions of Palestine refugees relying on essential services.”

Those services include education for over half a million girls and boys, health care for around 2 million people, job opportunities for young people in Gaza and elsewhere, psycho-social support for hundreds of thousands of children, and a social safety net for nearly half a million of the poorest Palestinians, he said. More than 1.2 million Palestinians also receive humanitarian assistance.

This article was originally published by The Associated Press (AP).