With batteries 'recharged,' Zidane back as Real Madrid coach
Newly appointed Real Madrid head coach Zinedine
Zidane smiles during a press conference in Madrid, Monday March 11. (AP
Madrid (AP) — Real Madrid
picked one of its most successful figures to try to end one of its worst
Zinedine Zidane is returning to
coach Madrid, the club he led to three straight Champions League titles
before quitting while on top nine months ago.
Madrid announced Monday that Zidane
accepted an offer to replace Santiago Solari and signed a contract until
June 2022 to try to get the club back on track after a disastrous
The coaching change came less than
a week after two losses to Barcelona and another to Ajax — results that
eliminated the club from the Champions League and the Copa del Rey and
virtually ended its hopes of winning the Spanish league.
"I'm very happy to be back home.
I've recharged my batteries and now I'm ready again for the experience
of being Real Madrid's coach. I'm motivated to be coaching again,"
Zidane said. "What I want to do now is return to work and put the club
back where it belongs."
Spanish television channel La Sexta
was the first to report Zidane's return. The announcement came after the
board of directors met Monday in Madrid.
"You have an incredible history
with the club, both as a player and as a coach," Madrid president
Florentino Perez told Zidane. "We are proud to have you with us again.
You represent the grandiosity of this club. Thank you for your loyalty."
Zidane, who won the 2002 Champions
League while playing for Madrid, said he was never in doubt after
receiving the offer from Perez.
"I love this club, and when the
president called me, I couldn't say no," Zidane said. "I'll give
everything I have to make this club better."
Zidane quit not long after Madrid
won the Champions League title last season, saying that he and the club
needed a change in command to keep succeeding. He won nine titles in his
first stint with Madrid.
Zidane will be in charge of
Tuesday's practice session, and his first game back will be on Saturday
at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium against Celta Vigo. Madrid trails
leader Barcelona by 12 points with 11 matches left and is five points
behind second-place Atletico Madrid.
"I've been watching the season
closely and I'm also not happy with how things have gone," Zidane said.
"We have to see what we can (do) to improve and make sure things can be
different going forward."
Solari led the team to a 4-1 win at
Valladolid on Sunday and was in charge of practice on Monday. The club
said it offered him an opportunity to remain in a different position.
The former Argentina and Madrid player had been the "B'' team's coach
before taking over the main squad in October.
Solari led Madrid to 22 wins, eight
losses and two draws in all competitions, and helped the team win the
Club World Cup in December.
Zidane's name was a unanimous
choice within the club but few thought he would accept returning so soon
after deciding to take a break.
The level-headed coach took over in
January 2016 and immediately won over the squad with his calm manner and
easygoing attitude. In addition to the three Champions League titles, he
also led Madrid to the 2017 Spanish league title, the club's first since
2012. His other titles in his first coaching stint included two Club
World Cups, two UEFA Super Cups and one Spanish Super Cup.
Shortly after Zidane left,
Cristiano Ronaldo left to join Juventus, and Madrid has endured an
up-and-down season that led to the humiliating losses to Barcelona and
Ajax at the Bernabeu.
Zidane was replaced by Julen
Lopetegui, the former Spain coach who was fired before the World Cup for
taking the Madrid job. He lasted only a few months at the helm.
Solari took over from Lopetegui as
an interim coach and eventually was given a full-time job — with a
contract until 2021 — after putting the team back on track. Unlike
Zidane, though, he struggled to manage the squad and was at odds with
some of its key players, including Marcelo and Francisco "Isco" Alarcon.
Jose Mourinho, fired by Manchester
United last year, was another strong candidate to replace Solari after
succeeding with Madrid in the early 2010s. Other names mentioned
included Juergen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino, Joachim Loew and Antonio
Conte, who was highly touted to take over from the fired Lopetegui.
Some even wanted the club to
consider former star Raul Gonzalez, who has just started coaching one of
Madrid's youth squads.
But it will be the great Zidane at
the helm again.
"We'll get back to work and try to
do the right things," Zidane said. "We have 11 matches left in the
league, then we will start thinking about next year and beyond."
Valtteri Bottas: "I'm going to beat everyone this year"
In this file photo dated Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, Mechanics
prepare Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland car during a Formula
One pre-season testing session at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in
Montmelo, outside Barcelona, Spain. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
Turin, Italy (AP) — Last
season's Formula One campaign was so demoralizing for Valtteri Bottas
that he got drunk to forget all about it.
Bottas didn't win a single race in
2018 despite driving for the dominant Mercedes team. But having pressed
the reset button over the winter break, the Finnish driver believes he
can be a genuine challenger for the F1 title this season.
"I got to Finland, got properly
smashed a few times, did anything I wanted to do basically," Bottas said
during an event for Mercedes' sponsors in Turin. "Then I got a camera, I
started photographing, it's like a new hobby now so sometimes went for a
walk somewhere and took pictures.
"I also travelled with my wife and
some friends to South America, just for a proper holiday, didn't think
about Formula One. When I came back I decided that I'm going to beat
everyone this year."
That means going up against
Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, who is chasing a sixth world title and
a fifth since joining Mercedes in 2013.
"Yes, that is my aim and I feel I
can do it," Bottas said when asked if he could be a genuine challenger.
"That's the goal but how to get there, that's going to be hard work."
Bottas competed with Hamilton on
occasions last season but a mixture of bad luck, tentativeness and team
orders saw him finish the year with seven second-place finishes and no
In Baku, a puncture at the end cost
him victory , while he failed to launch an attack on Sebastian Vettel
for victory in the closing stages of the Bahrain GP. In Germany and
Russia, Bottas was forced to follow Hamilton home because his chances of
challenging for the title were over.
A somewhat clumsy comment from team
boss Toto Wolff describing Bottas as a "sensational wingman " affirmed
the widely held view Bottas was effectively No. 2 at Mercedes. It stung
Bottas' pride, but he still didn't win.
However, the newly bearded Bottas
looks leaner, meaner and keener as he bids to turn his fortunes around.
Last season "was tough, quite
tough, but it's over it's done," Bottas said. "It's made me tougher. I
feel it's a nice fresh start."
He needs to make a strong start and
maintain it, regardless of the pressure that comes with it.
"I've learned that the first half
of the season is always very important," said Bottas, who will be 30 in
August. "I started the year pretty well, just sometimes lost some points
because of different things. I'm ready to go for it and try to be a
The new season starts next Sunday
at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. The pressure will be on
Bottas and on Mercedes, with Ferrari quicker than Mercedes in pre-season
Bottas needs to perform in order to
get a new contract for 2020, or risk losing his seat to Frenchman
"It's not the moment at the
beginning of the season to talk about that. He knows that he has our
support," Wolff said of the 2020 contracts. "His seat is super safe for
2019 and he knows what he has to do."
Still, it noticeably took Wolff
until July of last year to give Bottas a new contract for 2019 .
Hardly an overwhelming show of
Bottas probably needs to win at
least three races, the same number he managed in 2017 after replacing
world champion Nico Rosberg.
Osaka advances in straight sets at Indian Wells
Osaka, of Japan, returns a shot to Danielle Collins at the BNP Paribas
Open tennis tournament Monday, March 11, in Indian Wells, Calif. (AP
Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Indian Wells, Calif. (AP) — Naomi Osaka
rolled past Danielle Collins 6-4, 6-2 in the third round of the BNP
Paribas Open on Monday night, keeping the world's No. 1 player on track
to defend her title.
Collins struggled with her serve throughout the
match, committing seven double faults and connecting on just 47 percent
of her first serves.
Osaka's first serve percentage was 66 and she won
70 percent of her first-serve points.
Osaka won her first career title at Indian Wells a
year ago, propelling her to a career-best year in which she defeated
Serena Williams for the U.S. Open title. She began this year winning the
Australian Open and moving to the top of the rankings.
Novak Djokovic, the world's top-ranked men's
player, had a night match.
Venus Williams is turning back her own clock,
moving into the fourth round with a 6-2, 7-5 victory over qualifier
Williams is seeking her 50th career WTA Tour title
in the desert, where she has never won the event. And at 38, she's
showing vintage form.
"I don't really play that often, so when I do, I
need to play well," she said. "It's extra motivation for me to play just
a little bit better out there."
Serena, a two-time champion at Indian Wells,
retired from her match on Sunday because of a viral illness.
Ranked 36th in the world, Williams endured three
sets in her first two matches. She rallied past Andrea Petkovic in the
opening round and followed up by outlasting No. 3 seed Petra Kvitova in
a third-set tiebreaker.
Kvitova had made the finals in two of her first
three tournaments this year.
Williams, who made the semifinals in the desert
last year, was playing McHale for the first time. Williams rallied from
early breaks down in both sets to win.
"I never played her, so it's also you're out there
learning," Williams said.
Karolina Pliskova eased past qualifier Ysaline
Bonaventure 6-3, 6-2. No. 8 Angelique Kerber outlasted qualifier Natalia
Vikhlyantseva 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 and No. 9 Aryna Sabalenka defeated
24th-seeded Lesia Tsurenko 6-2, 7-5.
Two seeded women lost: No. 11 Anastasija Sevastova,
who retired trailing 5-0 in the first set against No. 21 Anett Kontaveit,
and No. 15 Julia Goerges, who lost to Mona Barthel 7-5, 1-6, 6-4.
On the men's side, No. 3 Alexander Zverev lost to
German countryman Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3, 6-1.
Playing just his third tournament of the year,
Zverev said he's been sick for a week.
"That hasn't changed, unfortunately," he said.
Dominic Thiem, seeded seventh, defeated No. 27
Gilles Simon 6-3, 6-1. No. 13 Milos Raonic got a challenge from American
qualifier Marcos Giron before winning 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Miomir Kecmanovic, a lucky loser from Serbia, got
past No. 30 Laslo Djere 6-2, 7-6 (3).
Rockets beat Hornets 118-106, run win streak to 9 games
Houston Rockets' James Harden (13) shoots after being fouled by Charlotte
Hornets' Malik Monk (1) as Frank Kaminsky (44) defends during the second
half of an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, in Houston. The Rockets won
118-106. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Houston (AP) — James Harden
scored 28 points and Eric Gordon added 22 as the Houston Rockets cruised to
their season-high ninth straight win, 118-106 over the Charlotte Hornets on
A night after Gordon ended a streak of
43 straight games where Harden led the team in scoring, the Beard was
Houston's top scorer again. But Gordon had another strong outing, making
five 3-pointers for the third straight game and the fourth in five games.
The Rockets won despite a big
performance by Kemba Walker, who finished with 40 points, 10 rebounds and
seven assists as the Hornets lost their second in a row.
NETS 103, PISTONS 75
NEW YORK (AP) — Spencer Dinwiddie
scored 19 points and Brooklyn routed Detroit to move into sixth place in the
Allen Crabbe finished with 14 points
and 10 rebounds, Rodions Kurucs scored 13 points, and Joe Harris and Caris
LeVert each added 12 as the Nets took control early in the game and never
The Nets (36-33) won their fourth
straight and leapfrogged Detroit (34-32) into the No. 6 spot in their final
game before leaving for a seven-game road trip.
Andre Drummond led the Pistons with 13
points and 20 rebounds. Blake Griffin finished with 10 points, but only shot
1 of 10 from the field as Detroit was held to its lowest point total of the
season. The Pistons had their five-game winning streak snapped.
CAVALIERS 126, RAPTORS 101
CLEVELAND (AP) — Collin Sexton scored
28 points, Kevin Love had 16 points and 18 rebounds, and Cleveland routed
Toronto's Serge Ibaka and Cleveland's
Marquese Chriss were ejected for fighting late in the third quarter. Ibaka
went to the floor after the two were battling for position under Cleveland's
basket as the Raptors attempted a full-court pass that sailed out of bounds.
Ibaka shoved Chriss from behind and
grabbed near his neck before throwing a punch. Chriss responded with a punch
before players from both teams separated the two. Ibaka immediately headed
for the locker room and both players were kicked out after the officials
Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points after
sitting out Sunday's victory in Miami, but his return didn't help the
Raptors, who have the league's second-best record.
WIZARDS 121, KINGS 15
WASHINGTON (AP) — Bradley Beal scored
21 of his 27 points after halftime, helping Washington beat Sacramento
despite twice giving back double-digit leads.
Beal added nine rebounds and nine
assists for the 11th-place Wizards, who moved within 3 1/2 games of the
eighth Eastern Conference playoff spot currently held by idle Miami.
Jabari Parker added 18 points off the
bench and Bobby Portis had 17 points and 13 rebounds as Washington began a
De'Aaron Fox scored 23 points for the
Kings, who started Monday four games back of three teams tied for the last
three Western Conference playoff spots.