Ammon News, Sports

Marseille coach Garcia to leave at end of season

[5/22/2019 7:17:16 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Olympique de Marseille coach Rudi Garcia said on Wednesday he had decided to leave the Ligue 1 club at the end of the season. Frenchman Garcia, 55, who took Marseille to a Europa League final last term, has struggled to deliver results this season and they stand sixth in Ligue 1 after missing a European spot. “I’ve decided to leave. I proposed this solution to my president (Jacques-Henri Eyraud), who accepted it,” Garcia, who joined the club in Oct. 2016 from AS Roma, told a news conference. “If I only listened to my determination and my ego, I would stay but if I listen to my common sense and my reason, I have to stop. Why? Because I believe enormously in this project. “In two and a half years, I was part of this project and, for the sake of it, I think it’s better that I leave now. It has been a great pleasure to coach OM.” After a lukewarm start to the season, Marseille’s form got worse and they finished bottom of their Europa League group. Marseille’s nightmare run continued on the domestic front as were knocked out of the French Cup by fourth division Andrezieux in January, with Garcia attracting widespread criticism. A 3-0 home league defeat by Olympique Lyonnais earlier this month ended Marseille’s hopes of playing in European competition next season as they could no longer finish in the top four. “There are few jobs as difficult as coaching. It is a job that requires an exceptional character,” Eyraud said. “I have a lot of respect for Rudi. He will remain forever as the coach who brought Marseille to the European final.” Garcia’s final game in charge of Marseille will be a league encounter at home to Montpellier on Friday. *Reuters

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Aguero recalled to Argentina squad for Copa America

[5/22/2019 7:15:20 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni has recalled Sergio Aguero to his squad for the Copa America after having frozen out the Manchester City striker since taking over from Jorge Sampaoli after the World Cup. Scaloni also retained Paulo Dybala in his 23-man squad named on Tuesday, despite the Juventus forward’s lean season with the Italian giants. There was no spot for Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi, who was again passed over after his season was interrupted for nearly two months due to a bitter contract dispute with the Serie A club. The 30-year-old Aguero, who scored 21 goals as City completed an unprecedented English treble by winning the Premier League and two domestic cups, rejoins talisman Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria in an Argentina team eager for silverware after crashing out of the World Cup’s last 16. The three veterans are among nine players retained from Sampaoli’s squad at Russia. Messi returned to the Argentina fold in March to play in the 3-1 defeat to Venezuela. He will be keen to make amends at the Copa America after firing wide during the penalty shootout loss to Chile in the last final in 2016. That defeat, which prompted Messi to retire from international football only to return later, was a carbon copy of the 2015 decider, when Argentina lost to hosts Chile in another penalty shootout. Argentina, who will meet Colombia, Paraguay and Qatar in Group B, have reached the final in four of the past five tournaments dating back to 2004 but lost them all. Their last success in the continental competition was in 1993, when they beat Mexico 2-1 in the final, which was also their last piece of major international silverware. Argentina play a farewell friendly on June 7 against Nicaragua in the western province of San Juan before heading to the June 14-July 7 Copa America in Brazil. They open the tournament against Colombia on June 15 in Salvador. Squad: Goalkeepers - Franco Armani, Agustin Marchesin, Esteban Andrada Defenders - Juan Foyth, Nicolas Otamendi, German Pezzella, Nicolas Tagliafico, Ramiro Funes Mori, Renzo Saravia, Marcos Acuna, Milton Casco Midfielders - Leandro Paredes, Guido Rodriguez, Giovani Lo Celso, Exequiel Palacios, Roberto Pereyra, Rodrigo De Paul, Angel Di Maria Forwards - Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Lautaro Martinez, Paulo Dybala, Matias Suarez *Reuters

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Djokovic concedes he has mountain to climb at French Open

[5/22/2019 7:12:35 PM]

AMMONNEWS - World number one Novak Djokovic has enjoyed two good weeks on red clay but admitted that winning a second French Open title would be a tall order after a crushing defeat by Rafael Nadal in last week’s Italian Open final. Djokovic clinched the Madrid Open without dropping a set and then won a pair of epic battles against Argentines Juan Martin Del Potro and Diego Schwartzman in Rome before succumbing to the imperious Nadal 6-0 4-6 6-1 in Sunday’s final. That defeat aside, the Serb’s form seems to have peaked in time for the May 26-June 9 tournament. However, the 32-year-old from Belgrade, who has won 15 Grand Slam titles, made it clear Nadal, who is the same age, was the favorite at Roland Garros. He also named Austrian Dominic Thiem, the 25-year-old world number four, and 11th-ranked Italian Fabio Fognini, who is 31, as strong contenders. “Nadal (is) the number one favorite without a doubt, and then everyone else,” a serene Djokovic told reporters after he was beaten by the Spaniard at the Foro Italico. “I think it’s going to be a really good tournament. Dominic Thiem has been playing some good tennis and he can beat anybody, especially on clay. “Fognini is also playing quality tennis, he showed against Nadal in Monte Carlo what he is capable of,” he added referring to the Italian’s 6-4 6-2 semi-final victory. “On a given day, best of five (sets), with one day between matches, players will have enough time to really be at their best. “Everybody is trying to peak for Roland Garros and I am really looking forward to it.” Patchy form Djokovic’s exploits on clay came after several months of patchy form following his January triumph at the Australian Open in Melbourne where he beat Nadal in straight sets. A quarter-final loss in Monte Carlo came on the back of early exits at Indian Wells and Miami, prompting speculation by pundits that Djokovic was heading for a dip in form similar to the one in 2016 after he won his maiden French Open title. But the Serb silenced his critics with a vintage run in Rome, including a rip-roaring victory over Del Potro when he saved two match points in the second set before dismantling his close friend in the third. He then held his nerve against the battling Schwarzman before running out of steam versus, leaving doubts as to whether he will have enough in the tank to match world number two Nadal for energy during the grueling two-week event in Paris. Djokovic has already achieved the rare feat of holding all four major honors at the same time, having won the 2015 Wimbledon and US Open titles before clinching the Australian Open and French Open crowns the following year. After two difficult years dogged by an injury which required elbow surgery and a dramatic loss of form, Djokovic bounced back spectacularly to clinch the Wimbledon and the US Open titles again in 2018 as well as this year’s Australian Open. He is certainly buoyed by the prospect of emulating his achievement of holding all four majors but knows that nothing less than perfection will be required for what would amount to a carbon copy of his most successful 12 months on tour. *Reuters

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Casillas released from hospital after heart attack

[5/7/2019 11:17:13 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas was released from hospital on Monday after suffering a heart attack in training last week. The Spaniard, 37, thanked medics at the hospital in Porto, Portugal, as well as the thousands of people who wished him well. “I have to be grateful because I had a lot of luck,” Casillas told reporters. “I want to say thanks to many people, they made me feel loved.” Casillas, who played 725 times for Real Madrid, winning three Champions Leagues and five La Liga titles, as well as the World Cup with Spain in 2010, joined Porto in 2015. The goalkeeper is not sure if he will continue his playing career. “I will have to wait a couple of weeks or a couple of months, the truth is I don’t care (how long),” added Casillas. “I don’t know what will happen in the future but the most important thing is to be here and to be able to speak with calm.” *Reuters

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Deja vu for Mercedes as Hamilton, Bottas battle for title

[4/29/2019 4:04:16 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Mercedes may feel a sense of deja vu with Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton locked in an increasingly exclusive battle for the Formula One title but team boss Toto Wolff says it is different to what went before. A full-blown, gloves-off, intra-team rivalry -- such as Mercedes had to manage with Hamilton and retired champion Nico Rosberg -- remains a long way off. “I think we are lucky that they have a very good relationship, they get on with each other, there is not a lot of games in the background and I’m very happy about that,” said Wolff after Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix. “But ... we have seen relationships deteriorate. We want them to be feisty, lions in the car. But, equally, the respect needs to stay in there.” Bottas and Hamilton are separated by just one point at the top of the standings after two wins and two-second places each, with the Finn ahead because he set the fastest lap in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, third in the standings, is already 35 points adrift of Bottas after four races. Hamilton and Rosberg engaged in a tense rivalry for the title from 2014 to 2016, at the height of Mercedes’ dominance when the Brackley-based team had no challengers. Boyhood friends who shared hotel rooms and traveled to races together as team-mates in karting, what started out as a friendly rivalry between them swiftly disintegrated into all-out acrimony, including on-track contact on more than one occasion. That prompted Mercedes to impose ‘rules of engagement’ to rein them in but Bottas and Hamilton have enjoyed a far more harmonious relationship. The 29-year-old Bottas, who replaced Rosberg at the start of the 2017 season, has not posed a serious threat to Hamilton in his two seasons with the team. The respect between the Briton and the Finn, a very different personality to Rosberg, seems intact with the pair racing each other firmly but fairly in Baku. Hamilton expects that to remain the case so long as both drivers obey the rules set out by the team. “I think Valtteri and I have always had a lot of respect for each other, and we continue to do so,” said the 34-year-old. “Drivers in the past didn’t stick to the rules of engagement that we have as a team, and Valtteri does.” Wolff made clear he is prepared to deal with the situation if it gets out of hand. “We are very strong as a team and we wouldn’t allow the relationship between drivers to deteriorate to a point that it has a negative effect on the team,” said the Austrian. “If that would ever be the case again after Nico and Lewis, we will issue yellow and red cards. But we are far away (from that).” *Reuters

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Thiem beats Medvedev in straight sets to win Barcelona Open

[4/29/2019 4:02:15 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Dominic Thiem capped an impressive week to win the Barcelona Open on Sunday, securing his second title of the year. The fifth-ranked Austrian beat Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-0 on Sunday, a day after he was dominant against Rafael Nadal in the semifinals to become the first player other than Novak Djokovic to defeat the Spaniard on clay four times. Thiem, who didn’t lose a set all week in Barcelona, had beaten Roger Federer in the Indian Wells final last month. Thiem is the first Austrian winner in Barcelona since Thomas Muster, who won in 1995 and 1996. “Winning this means a lot to me because it’s such a traditional and special tournament,” Thiem said. “Only great players have won here. Rafa has won it 11 times and it means a lot that Muster won it twice. It’s a big moment for me.” Thiem had lost to Nadal in the Barcelona final two years ago. It was his first final on clay since last year’s French Open, when he also lost to the Spaniard. The 14th-ranked Medvedev, coming off a semifinal appearance in Monte Carlo, was playing in his first clay court final. He has reached at least the semifinals in five of his nine tournaments this season and has a tour-best 25 wins in 2019. The 23-year-old Russian started well by taking a 3-0 lead with an early break in the first set, but he was never in contention again after Thiem took control of a match that lasted just more than an hour. Thiem dropped only five points in the second set, winning 14 in a row at one stage. He won 12 of the last 13 games. “I tried my best, but Dominic was too good today,” Medvedev said. “At one point, even just getting a point off him was a great achievement.” It was the 13th career singles title for the 25-year-old Thiem, the ninth on clay. He next plays in Madrid, where he has been runner-up the last two seasons. “A title like this always gives you a lot of confidence, so I’ll be in a good mood going into Madrid,” Thiem said. “But the special thing about tennis is that I’ll start from zero in Madrid. All the guys there are really strong, so I’ll need to be ready from the first point.” *AP

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Mertens matches Maradona’s 81 Serie A goals in Napoli win

[4/29/2019 4:01:16 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Dries Mertens matched Diego Maradona with his 81st Serie A goal for Napoli and Carlo Ancelotti's squad bounced back from a run of poor results for a 2-0 win at relegation-threatened Frosinone on Sunday. Mertens scored the opener with a perfectly executed free kick around Frosinone's wall into the near top corner. Mertens and Maradona are tied for third on the club list of Serie A scorers behind 1930s star Antonio Vojak (102 goals) and recently departed captain Marek Hamsik (100). “The great thing about Mertens is that he always gives his all, even if he plays poorly,” Ancelotti said. “I really like his attitude. ... He deserves to match Maradona.” Amin Younes doubled the lead after the break, dribbling by two defenders before sending an angled shot into the far corner. *AP

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