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Update May 2018


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Update May 31, 2018

Tiger Woods hopes he's close to putting his game together

Tiger Woods follows through on his swing from the rough on the tenth hole during the pro-am for the the Memorial golf tournament Wednesday, May 30, in Dublin, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

Doug Ferguson

Dublin, Ohio (AP) — The two biggest figures at the Memorial, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, managed to carve out some private time at the back of the 10th tee amid a mass of people Wednesday at Muirfield Village.

Some of it was just catching up. The two most prolific winners of major championship had not seen each other since April at the Masters.

And the tournament host had some encouraging words.

Nicklaus complimented Woods on his swing, and then told him what Woods has felt for the last few months.

"He was saying that my swing is starting to look a little bit better," Woods said. "And I said, 'Yeah, I'm really not that far away,' and he totally agreed. He just kept urging me to be patient with it because he could see that I've made some pretty big strides this year, and not far away from putting it all together."

The Memorial presents such an opportunity.

Woods has won at the course Jack built a record five times. The most recent victory was in 2012, when he took command from behind the 16th green by turning a potential bogey into a chip-in birdie that Nicklaus still thinks is one of the best shots he ever saw.

The most recent appearance? That's different.

Woods last played the Memorial in 2015. In the last few months before a series of back surgeries, Woods shot 85 in the third round, the worst score of his career. Because an uneven number of players made the cut, Woods teed off Sunday morning as a single and shot 74.

"I tried, and unfortunately on this golf course, hitting it as bad as I did, it just wasn't good enough," Woods said.

As for playing as a single? Woods smiled.

"I didn't want to have anyone watch me play the way I was playing," he said.

Rory McIlroy was standing at the side of the room as Woods spoke, listening to a player with 90 victories worldwide talking about the time he signed his name to an 85 on his scorecard. McIlroy recalled his highest round at 83 in the South African Open in 2007, his seventh tournament as a pro.

McIlroy climbed the steps to the stage as Woods was leaving and said to him, "Aside from your 85, you have won here five times."

Those are the memories Woods hopes to draw from when the Memorial begins Thursday on a Muirfield Village course in its usual mint condition. The tournament is two weeks before the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, and it has the kind of field that makes it feel like a mini-major.

Only two players from the top 10 in the world are missing: Jon Rahm and U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka.

Justin Rose is coming off a victory at Colonial, his ninth consecutive year with a victory somewhere in the world. Justin Thomas is making his debut at No. 1 in the world, an achievement that doesn't come with a trophy but one that meant enough to him that he stayed up later than usual when he got home after The Players Championship to see the world ranking page with his name at the top. He took a screen shot.

"Seeing every golfer in the world behind my name is a pretty fun thing," Thomas said.

Dustin Johnson, who doesn't appear to be concerned with much in life, conceded he was eager to get back the No. 1 ranking he held for 15 months. This is his first tournament since he lost the No. 1 spot to Thomas.

Nicklaus was around the first and 10th tee boxes during the pro-am to greet them all, a list that includes Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler.

Woods has made strides since his return from a fourth back surgery, including a runner-up finish at the Valspar Championship in March, and an exciting charge at Bay Hill that ended with a tee shot out of bounds on the 16th hole.

Nicklaus suggested on Tuesday that Woods has to learn anew how to win because it has been five years since his last victory.

McIlroy understood what he meant, having gone 18 months between victories until he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational. McIlroy started this year with good chances at Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and then he broke through at Bay Hill.

"As long as you put yourself in contention more and more and keep knocking on the door, sooner or later you're going to step through," McIlroy said. "And then with that, experience will do great things for you going forward."

Woods hasn't been within five shots of the lead going into Sunday since Bay Hill. He never got going at the Masters or at Quail Hollow, and while he had a season-best 65 in the third round at The Players Championship, he still was 11 shots out of the lead. The idea this week is to get in range.

"The last few times that I've had a chance, I've felt very comfortable," he said. "Hopefully I can just shoot the low round when I need it."


Djokovic discusses lack of confidence after French Open win

Serbia's Novak Djokovic serves against Spain's Jaume Munar during their second round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France, Wednesday, May 30. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Howard Fendrich

Paris (AP) — Despite all of Novak Djokovic's success over the years — the 12 major championships, the career Grand Slam, the time ranked No. 1 — he still finds himself searching for self-confidence these days.

That's what an elbow injury and forced absence from the ATP tour can do to a player.

Djokovic was reflective and revealing Wednesday after moving into the third round at the French Open by virtue of a self-described up-and-down performance in a 7-6 (1), 6-4, 6-4 victory over 155th-ranked Jaume Antoni Munar Clar of Spain. Both of Djokovic's matches so far have been against qualifiers; neither win was particularly impressive.

"At the moment, I'm not playing at the level I wish to, but at the same time, I understand that it is the process that obviously takes time," said Djokovic, whose seeding of No. 20 is his lowest at a Slam in 12 years. "And I'm trying to not give up."

At least he got through in straight sets, saving energy for whatever might come next at Roland Garros. Other leading men were forced to work a lot harder in matches they would have been expected to breeze through: No. 2-seeded Alexander Zverev, No. 4 Grigor Dimitrov and No. 19 Kei Nishikori all faced two-sets-to-one deficits and all emerged to win Wednesday.

Zverev was down by a set and a break early — and down a racket he'd obliterated by then, too — before collecting himself and coming back to beat 60th-ranked Dusan Lajovic of Serbia 2-6, 7-5, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. Dimitrov was two points from defeat against 21-year-old American Jared Donaldson but won 6-7 (2), 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 10-8 in a marathon that lasted 4 hours, 19 minutes and featured a couple of underhand serves by the cramping Donaldson. Nishikori got past Benoit Paire of France 6-3, 2-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

A reporter asked Zverev about what he told himself while trailing in order to turn his match around.

The 21-year-old German scoffed at the premise.

"I mean, you guys make it sound like we think about it, really. We don't. We just try to play and win each point, each game. Being two sets to one down is like being a set (behind) in a three-set match. We're not going to overthink it: 'Oh, I'm two sets to one down. What am I going to do? How am I going to play the next point?'" he responded. "We try to play our best. We try to maybe change a few tactics and see how we can win the next point and the next game."

The lengths, if not quality, of those matches were what amounted to on-court intrigue on Day 4 at the clay-court major, because there really was little in the way of stunning outcomes. The only top-16-seeded man or woman who lost was No. 12 Sam Querrey of the U.S., and he's only once been as far as the third round in 12 appearances at Roland Garros.

Among the women, No. 1 Simona Halep shook off a slow start in a postponed first-round match to defeat Alison Riske of the U.S. 2-6, 6-1, 6-1, while second-round winners included reigning major champions Caroline Wozniacki and Sloane Stephens, along with No. 4 Elina Svitolina, No. 8 Petra Kvitova and No. 13 Madison Keys.

So perhaps the most meaningful moments around the grounds came inside the main interview room as Djokovic discussed his state of mind as he tries to regain his previous status in tennis.

He sat out the last half of 2017 because of a painful right elbow, tried to return in January, then decided to have an operation in February.

Djokovic arrived at Roland Garros with a 10-7 record this season. He was at .500 until showing signs of a resurgence by getting to the Italian Open semifinals on red clay before losing to 10-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal.

"Best practice that you can have is a match. I haven't had too many matches, and I really never thought that I'm going to be challenged in that way, mentally — that I need matches in order to get confidence. But obviously I'm learning something new, and, yeah, that's the case," said Djokovic, who hasn't won a Grand Slam title since claiming his fourth in a row at the 2016 French Open.

"At times, I do lose maybe a comfort level on the court and confidence, and that's something that I'm still building gradually, obviously," he continued. "The more matches I play, the better it is. The more I win, of course, the better it is. Hopefully that can keep going."


Salah won't be out longer than 3 weeks, Egypt's FA says

 

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah, 2nd right, leaves the pitch during the Champions League Final against Real Madrid at the Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, May 26. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Valencia, Spain (AP) — The Egyptian Football Federation says Mohamed Salah's shoulder injury will not keep him out for longer than three weeks, meaning he should be fit to play at least some part in the country's World Cup campaign.

The Liverpool forward was injured in the first half of Saturday's Champions League final against Real Madrid and left the field in tears. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said after the game that Salah's World Cup campaign was in jeopardy but the EFA gave an optimistic update on Wednesday after its president Hani Abu Reda, national team coach Hector Cuper and doctor Mohamed Abou El-Ela met with the forward in Valencia, where the 25-year-old is undergoing treatment and rehabilitation.

A post on the federation's Facebook page said that "the period of absence of Salah due to injury will not exceed three weeks."

That could still rule him out of Egypt's opening World Cup match on June 15 against Uruguay, with their second against hosts Russia coming four days later.

But if he misses those games, he could play in Egypt's final group match against Saudi Arabia on June 25.


Andre Iguodala out for Golden State in Game 1 of NBA Finals

 

Golden State Warriors' Andre Iguodala smiles as he answers questions after an NBA basketball practice, Wednesday, May 30, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Janie McCauley

Oakland, Calif. (AP) — Golden State forward Andre Iguodala will miss Game 1 of the NBA Finals as he recovers from a bone bruise in his left knee that cost him the last four games of the Western Conference finals.

Iguodala's absence is a huge blow to the Warriors' defense as it works to stop LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Golden State coach Steve Kerr said several players will be called upon Thursday to handle the load that is James, making his eighth straight finals appearance.

"He was MVP of the series in 2015, largely because he took that role on of guarding LeBron. But also because of what he did offensively," Kerr said. "He's doing a little bit better today. Some encouraging signs, but we have ruled him out for Game 1. We've got lots of guys who can take on that job. It's a group effort, anyway, guarding LeBron. So, KD (Kevin Durant), Draymond (Green), Klay (Thompson), Shaun Livingston, they'll all see time on him."

The Warriors said Iguodala, who was injured in Game 3 against the Rockets on May 20, was evaluated Tuesday and is making progress but still has the bruise and inflammation of the nerve surrounding his knee. Kerr has said Iguodala wouldn't play until he can run without pain. He will be re-evaluated ahead of Sunday's Game 2.

Iguodala said he doesn't have any doubts he will be able to return during the finals, though his patience is tested. He has sought multiple opinions for the injury.

"Just trying to figure out how to move in general," Iguodala said. "But making some progress. Slower than we expected but we're just being realistic."

Kevon Looney has been starting in Iguodala's place.

Looney planned to talk to Iguodala about the task of guarding James.

"I'll pick his brain about some things ... some tendencies of LeBron, the fact of the switches or small things like that to help me out," Looney said. "He's one of the best defenders in the league."

That's why everybody on the Warriors realizes it will be a joint effort guarding James.

"What he brings to us on the defensive end will definitely be missed," Green said. "But it just means other guys have got to step up. Other guys have done that thus far. The task gets even harder but I know guys will and it will be a collective effort in hopes that we keep trekking along until he's ready to come back."

Forward Kevin Love's status for Cleveland remained unclear as he continues to go through the NBA's concussion protocol. Love was injured in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals against Boston that the Cavs pulled out in seven. He wasn't scheduled to attend media day Wednesday at Oracle Arena, where the Warriors host the series opener in the fourth straight finals meeting between the rivals.

"He's going to go do some things today and see how he feels," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. "But he is in the protocol still, so we'll see how he feels."

Both teams practiced Wednesday on Golden State's home floor, where the defending champions have won 17 of their last 18 postseason games.

James certainly understands what the Warriors are missing without Iguodala's presence and athleticism.

"First of all he has very, very quick hands," James said. "That doesn't get talked about a lot, his ability to read and react to the ball either in flight or while you're dribbling or when you pick the ball up."


Update May 30, 2018

Serena Williams wins Slam return in Paris

Serena Williams of the U.S. clenches her fist after scoring a point against Krystina Pliskova of the Czech Republic during their first round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France, Tuesday, May 29. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Howard Fendrich

Paris (AP) — For all that has changed in the 16 months since Serena Williams last played in a Grand Slam tournament — she is now married and a mother — so much was familiar about her at the French Open on Tuesday.

The fashion statement, this time in the form of a black bodysuit with a red belt that she said made her feel like a "warrior princess." The cries of "Come on!" The big serves that provided 13 aces. The returns that eventually produced three consecutive breaks of serve.

And, yes, the victory. Competing as a mom for the first time at a major, and only about nine months since giving birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia, then dealing with postpartum complications, Williams edged 70th-ranked Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic 7-6 (4), 6-4 at Roland Garros.

Already a transcendent sports star and cultural icon, Williams now carries a new title: working mother.

"Well, my priority is Olympia. No matter what, that's my priority. I have given tennis so much, and tennis has actually given me a lot, and I couldn't be more grateful," Williams said. "She's my priority, and I work everything around her."

The 36-year-old American had not played in one of tennis's biggest tournaments since winning the Australian Open in January 2017 for her 23rd Grand Slam title, breaking a tie with Steffi Graf for the most in the professional era.

Williams, the world found out later, was pregnant at the time. Her baby was born Sept. 1; Williams married Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in November.

Williams eventually revealed that she had an emergency cesarean section, then encountered trouble breathing afterward because of a pulmonary embolism and needed a follow-up operation.

"Just literally not sure if I was going to make it or not at several different times," Williams said. "A lot of people have really reached out, because they have so many similar stories, too. I feel like a lot of people don't talk about it. They talk about the baby and how happy they are. But it's a lot that goes into it with the pregnancy and with giving birth, and it's called a 'miracle' for a reason."

The first match of her comeback was in doubles alongside her older sister, Venus, for the U.S. Fed Cup team in February. She entered two tournaments in singles the next month, going 2-2. An absence of more than two months followed, until Tuesday in Paris.

So a woman who has spent hundreds of weeks ranked No. 1 is currently No. 451 and unseeded at the French Open, a subject of some debate: Should her past success accord her the protection a seeding offers? Williams faces 17th-seeded Ash Barty of Australia next.

"She's a genuine champion," Barty said. "What she's done to be able to get back ... is a pretty amazing thing."

Tuesday's return was striking, from Williams' powerful shots to her outfit, which called to mind the "catsuit" she wore at the 2002 U.S. Open.

It was by far the most significant event of Day 3 at Roland Garros, even though there were so many other Grand Slam champions in action. Rafael Nadal finished off a rain-interrupted victory as he begins his try for a record-extending 11th French Open title. Maria Sharapova, a two-time champ in Paris, was pushed to three sets in a win. Garbine Muguruza, who beat Williams in the 2016 final at Roland Garros, beat another past champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova.

All eyes were on Williams, though. On the fifth point, she delivered an ace at 112 mph (181 kph). Moments later, the chair umpire intoned, "Jeu, Madame Williams," — French for "Game, Mrs. Williams," a change from the "Mademoiselle" used for unmarried female players.

Pliskova, a lefty whose twin sister upset Williams in the 2016 U.S. Open semifinals, actually hit more aces, 15. That's the most anyone has hit against Williams since at least 2008, according to the WTA.

Indeed, Williams appeared to have trouble reading Pliskova's serves early on. There were other blips, of the sort to be expected from someone who hasn't played lately. Williams double-faulted seven times. She had nearly as many unforced errors, 25, as winners, 29.

But she is not simply skilled. She is smart, too, and she figured things out.

After trailing 3-0 in the tiebreaker, she reeled off six points in a row. After falling behind 2-0 in the second set, Williams came up with a trio of service breaks.

All was not perfect, of course. In the final game, Williams' right foot gave way as she sprinted toward the net and she landed on her backside. At least she was able to laugh at that as she went to the sideline to towel off. A spectator yelled: "That's all right, Serena! You still look great!"

After months of worrying more about diapers than drop shots, of breastfeeding for what she called "a really, really, really long time," of organizing her practice schedule around her newborn's nap schedule, Williams was back to doing what she's most famous for, in an arena where she earned trophies in 2002, 2013 and 2015.

On Tuesday, she noted that she showed up at her news conference more promptly than she used to, so she could have more time to spend with Olympia.

"I don't want her to ever feel like I'm not around. I'm a super hands-on mom," Williams said. "Maybe too much."

A reporter wanted to know whether Williams believes she can win the title again.

"I'm definitely here to compete and do the best that I can do, obviously. I'm not putting any pressure on myself as I normally do," Williams began.

Then, perhaps questioning her own words as she heard them, she paused, before adding with a laugh: "I think deep down, we all know the answer to that."


Warriors back in NBA Finals again after test from Rockets

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) celebrates with teammate Draymond Green (23) during the second half in Game 7 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets, Monday, May 28, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Kristie Rieken

Houston (AP) — The Golden State Warriors, so used to making things look easy, overcame one of their toughest tests to return to the NBA Finals.

They climbed out of huge holes in the last two games of the Western Conference finals to beat Houston, but may have to play in the first half the way they have after halftime if they hope to knock off LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers and repeat as champions.

"They played a great series, they made us work for everything ... I'm just proud of the way we battled," Klay Thompson said. "We've been through a lot with this team, and believe it or not, it's not all success with the Warriors."

"We've got our bumps throughout the season," he continued. "But to get to this point again, we earned it."

Without Andre Iguodala again, the Warriors shook off another terrible first half in Game 7 on Monday night to rally for a 101-92 victory that made them the fifth team in NBA history to advance to the finals in four straight seasons.

Golden State trailed by 11 at halftime after being behind at the break by 10 points in Game 6, becoming the first team to win multiple elimination games in the same series when trailing by double digits after two quarters.

Coach Steve Kerr lamented that Golden State's first half on Monday night was "one of the most bizarre first halves" his team has played since he's been with the Warriors and joked that he thought of resigning at halftime before getting serious.

"Our talent took over," Kerr said. "It's as simple as that. We've got three of the best shot-makers in the league ... we stayed with it."

The trio — Thompson, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant — combined to score 47 points in the second half to pull away from a Rockets team that missed 27 straight 3-pointers from the second quarter to the halfway mark of the fourth quarter.

"I think it was just a level of experience and maturity from our group that helped us get to the finish line," Curry said.

The Warriors outlasted the Rockets despite missing Iguodala for the last four games with a bone bruise on his left leg. It's unclear if the 2015 NBA Finals MVP will return for Game 1 on Thursday, but if he does it will give Golden State a boost in trying to slow down James.

While Golden State certainly isn't happy the way it started the last two games, its ability to turn things around in the second half gives the Warriors confidence heading into the next challenge. The Warriors outscored Houston 122-63 in the second half of the final two games.

Houston gave them a much bigger test than the Warriors have had in quite some time and this series was their first with three losses since the Cavaliers won the 2016 finals 4-3.

"Just keeping our composure was big for us the entire series," Curry said. "Whether we figured it out, win or lose, we showed a lot of fight, a lot of grit and resiliency to stay positive as we went through the series no matter what the situation was."

Thompson was clear that the mistakes he made before halftime on Monday night won't happen again. After scoring 35 points in Game 6, he collected three fouls in less than four minutes to force him to sit out most of the first quarter.

"I cannot do that next series, and that's a big no-no," he said. "Learned my lesson. Those guys are great at drawing fouls but I've got to be smarter than that. That really hurt. I hated not being out there when I was supposed to."

Curry, before he could look forward to the finals, he took some time to reflect on what it took to get past the Rockets and appreciate the accomplishment of having another shot at the title.

"This was a part of our story that we hadn't been through before," he said. "Our backs against the wall, not having home-court advantage, needing to win two games to keep ourselves alive. This is a true testament to how hard it is to get to the finals, how hard it is to have a chance to play for a championship."


Russian hooligans in World Cup crackdown after 2016 rampage

In this photo taken on Wednesday, April 18, 2018, police officers stop to check Spartak Moscow's supporters before the a Russian Premier League Championship soccer match between Spartak Moscow and Tosno in Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

James Ellingworth

Moscow (AP) — At their peak, Russian hooligans felt like gods.

"We're on Mount Olympus right now and it had to be done," is how one veteran hooligan from Moscow recounts his part in brawls with English fans at the 2016 European Championship. "We went for the English, who were kings, to knock them off their throne."

But ahead of the World Cup, Russian authorities are cracking down on the hooligan culture in football. Groups which wreaked havoc two years ago report surveillance and threats from law enforcement.

Leading hooligans from each club face lengthy prison sentences on old or trumped-up charges if there's trouble at the World Cup, even if they aren't personally involved, the Moscow hooligan — a large, muscular man with scars on his knuckles — told The Associated Press. He likened their situation to that of "hostages" and said the hooligan scene in Russia "is finished."

"All the leaders get called in for chats," he said, imitating an officer: "'On behalf of our state security service, I'll explain that if there are problems, then those guys are in prison and you'll be joining them. We need everything to go quietly.' It's been done precisely so that everyone understands that even if there's no case against you, your guys will get it in your place."

Speaking on condition of anonymity to describe numerous illegal acts, he said he traveled to Marseille in 2016 specifically to take part in fights with the English at the European Championships. England's hooligans of the 1980s and 1990s inspired many Russian groups — most still bear English names — but in Marseille the Russians wanted to snuff out that reputation.

"For a long time the English were considered the strongest," he said, but they were no match for Russians with martial-arts training. "There were guys sitting there with a Birmingham banner and we went up to them. 'Either we're taking your banner or you stand up and fight for it.' The Birmingham guys decided they didn't need the banner that much."

The violence on Marseille's streets and in the stadium was greeted with jokes and even praise from some Russian lawmakers and officials. President Vladimir Putin called the fighting "sad," then questioned "how 200 Russian fans could beat up several thousand English," to laughter from his audience.

Other sources with knowledge of the fan scene described the Russian crackdown since Marseille.

Alexander Shprygin ran a fan group which worked with the government on World Cup planning, and had been photographed with Putin. He has rapidly fallen from grace.

Shprygin was twice deported from France during the 2016 tournament and two of his organization's board members were imprisoned in Marseille over the disorder. He denies any role. Three months later, Russian police arrested him in a toilet at the national football federation's conference, seeking to question him over an earlier brawl in Russia, and dragged him out past waiting media. His organization has been dormant since then.

Shprygin told the AP his friends in the hardcore fan scene have been summoned by Russia's Federal Security Service, the heir to the Soviet-era KGB, for "preventative conversations" and many want to go abroad during the World Cup.

"Many of them think like that because, God forbid, if anything happens, they won't face questions," he said. "They can just show their passport, that they weren't in Russia."

Russia has an official blacklist of fans banned from games by court orders for violent and non-violent offenses, but at 451 names it's much smaller than equivalents in other large European countries.

Many more fans are barred from games using processes which aren't publicly recorded and have little oversight.

World Cup tickets are worthless without a Russian government-issue "Fan ID".  Applicants are vetted by the Russian security services, who have denied several thousand Russian fans ID to see games at the World Cup and last year's Confederations Cup, according to Oleg Semyonov, formerly a leader of the Spartak Moscow fan scene, who now runs a legal advice hotline for supporters.

Semyonov says authorities are using "a big database" to exclude people accused of taking part in football-related disorder — including Shprygin, whose ID was canceled two hours before a Confederations Cup game — but also some with convictions dating back 20 years for minor offenses like jaywalking or public drunkenness.

Most top Russian clubs have so-called "curators" from the security services "who work with the fan organizations" and have warned them off disorder, Semyonov added.

Russian police and the Federal Security Service did not respond to requests for comment.

Semyonov also suspects that Russian authorities tipped off German police about two Spartak fans who were arrested in February when traveling to a Europa League game. They are being detained in Marseille, reportedly in connection with the 2016 violence.

If there's trouble at the World Cup, people with knowledge of the Russian fan scene said, it could involve visiting hooligans from Poland, Sweden or Croatia, or locals angered by what they see as foreigners' obnoxious behavior.

"My prognosis is that if there are brawls, because football is all about emotions, they will be local and quickly defused. They won't be on the same scale as Marseille," Shprygin said, adding the Russian police can deal with violent resistance. "Football fans obviously aren't opposition protests. Football fans are a bit more active. But the police have been training very hard for this for two years."

Amid the crackdown, the Russian fan scene is increasingly split.

So-called "ultras" focus on coordinated chants, lighting flares and staging elaborate displays at games, but can defend themselves if needed. The hardcore fighters mostly stick to pre-arranged brawls in forests because of tight stadium surveillance. Some fighters are drifting away from football to mixed martial arts events to make money from their hobby.

"The respected guy in the movement" is now an athlete, not a street-fighter, Semyonov said. "Most of (the forest fighters) can't even name five players from the club they've been fighting for," Shprygin said.

The Moscow hooligan lamented the end of hooliganism's golden era, when battles between rival clubs in Moscow came down to tactics as much as strength.

"You have to place young girls around by the entrances to buildings so they sit and wait for your enemies to leave the house and follow them to where they're meeting," he said. "You have to put people at different subway stations to find where they're going to be, where the enemy is gathering, get there first and beat them up. It's not just a matter of numbers. It's always a game and back then it was the best."

Hooliganism offers a brotherhood, even for those like the Moscow hooligan, who has a university education and a traditionally middle-class job. A world dominated by football's brawlers would have a simple, honorable way to solve disputes, he argued.

"It always goes by the rule of the fist. If you're stronger, you're right," he said. "If there were more people like that, maybe people wouldn't be building missiles."


England's test team in turmoil amid cricket's changing times

England's Don Bess, left, and Jos Butler walk from the pitch at the end of play on the third day of play of the first test cricket match between England and Pakistan at Lord's cricket ground in London, Saturday, May 26. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Steve Douglas

London (AP) - The sell-out crowds that packed Lord's for the first three days of England vs. Pakistan offered no hint of the decline of test cricket in the sport's birthplace.

The team's performance in the middle provided plenty of evidence, however.

England's humiliating nine-wicket loss — wrapped up 90 minutes into Day 4 — to one of the most inexperienced Pakistan teams of recent times further exposed the frailties of a side that seems to have forgotten the basics of test cricket and how to apply itself to the longer form of the game.

Yet is it any surprise?

When former test captain Andrew Strauss was appointed in 2015 as the chief overseer of English cricket, he made it clear "the area that most needs attention in English cricket right now is our white-ball cricket." Trevor Bayliss, a coach with a superb record in the limited-overs game, was hired to lead the national team.

Test cricket would not be ignored, Strauss was at pains to point out in an effort to appease the traditionalists, but it could not be seen "as being the only thing we're interested in."

It was, though, a pointer to the thoughts of those leading English cricket.

Fast forward three years and to Colin Graves, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, who this month gave his reasons why he was setting up a 100-ball competition — a version 20 balls shorter than the Twenty20 game that has revolutionized cricket over the past decade.

"The younger generation, whether you like it or not, are just not attracted to cricket," Graves told the BBC. "They want more excitement, they want it shorter and simpler to understand."

Worrying words for supporters of test cricket in England.

These are worrying times, too.

England are without a win in their last eight test matches, losing the last six of them. A failure to beat Pakistan in the second and final test at Leeds starting Friday would make it three straight series losses. They are 13 away tests without a win. And under Bayliss, England have lost 20 of 41 tests, having started the era under the Australian with a home Ashes series win and a series win in South Africa.

And where are the English in the ICC's one-day rankings? No. 1.

Bayliss was a breath of fresh air when he came in, encouraging aggressive and attacking play from his test batsmen. It has meant the art of patience, discipline and grinding out innings has gradually disappeared, only really practiced now by opener Alastair Cook.

In the domestic county season, white-ball competitions are given the bigger platform and PR, pushing the longer-form county championship to the margins. After the Pakistan loss, Bayliss even questioned whether the current framework of the county championship was helping.

"Is playing on wickets where you're not going to bat for too long, before you get one that does a heap, is that necessarily good in the long term for learning how to concentrate for long periods?" Bayliss asked.

Bayliss said he was "at a loss" to explain England's current test problems, saying his recent advice to show care and patience — instead of aggression — if conditions dictated wasn't getting through.

"In a way, you almost throw your hands up sometimes," he said.

The Australian has said he is stepping down as England coach after next year's home Ashes series, though the Daily Mail is reporting he could lose his job if England are defeated in Leeds.

Bayliss is under pressure. New captain Joe Root has lost eight of 15 tests and his decision-making is being scrutinized. There's a new selector in Ed Smith.

English test cricket is in flux at a time when the powers-at-be seem to be focusing on the shorter forms of the game.

The series is there for the taking for Pakistan at Headingley.


Update May 29, 2018

Unlike Djokovic, past French Open champ Wawrinka loses early

Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka reacts as he plays Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez during their first round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium, Monday, May 28, in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Howard Fendrich

Paris (AP) — Like Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka is a past French Open champion still working his way back into form after surgery.

Like Djokovic, Wawrinka is ranked lower than he has been in more than a decade. And like Djokovic, Wawrinka recently reunited with a coach who helped guide him to success earlier in his career.

Both men were in first-round action at Roland Garros on Monday, but unlike Djokovic, who won in straight sets, Wawrinka could not summon and sustain the sort of high-level play that has carried him to major titles in Paris and elsewhere. Returning to a place where he won the title in 2015 and made it back to the final a year ago, Wawrinka bowed out with a 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 loss to 67th-ranked Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain.

"I won three Grand Slams in my career, and I know what it takes to do it," said Wawrinka, who was seeded 23rd and is ranked only 30th, territory unfamiliar to him since April 2008. "And my goal is to get to my top. Sooner or later, I will."

Wawrinka only recently returned to the tour after missing three months to rest his left knee, which was operated on twice last August. He's played 11 matches in 2018, going 4-7.

As Monday's match stretched to 3 hours, Wawrinka was hindered by the physical strain of playing in a fifth set for the first time since his French Open semifinal victory over Andy Murray a year ago. But that wasn't the biggest impediment to success.

"It was more the difficulty of continuing to go for it mentally," he explained.

The owner of one of the prettiest one-handed backhands in the sport, Wawrinka — who is again working with coach Magnus Norman — only managed 12 winners, compared with 35 unforced errors, with that shot. He finished with 72 unforced errors in all, 32 more than Garcia-Lopez, who never has been past the fourth round at a major tournament.

"There is no frustration. It's just tough," said the 33-year-old Wawrinka, who's been as high as No. 3 in the rankings. "But I'm on the right way. It was very close today."

Djokovic — a former No. 1 now ranked 22nd, his worst spot since 2006 — beat 134th-ranked qualifier Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, quickly recovering after dropping the opening two games.

Since winning the 2016 French Open to complete a career Grand Slam and become the first man in nearly a half-century to collect four consecutive major trophies, Djokovic has taken a step back. He has not added another major championship since, and after dealing with right elbow trouble for more than a year, he finally opted for surgery in February.

"I had to dig deep," Djokovic said, discussing the work it took to try to rebuild his game.

"It has been difficult to face ... the most, say, challenging injury that I have ever had. It's been a long 12 months behind me, but I'm starting to play better, I feel like, in the past couple of weeks," said Djokovic, who is being coached at Roland Garros by his former long-time mentor Marian Vajda. "Not thinking about the elbow. Playing pain-free, which is the most important thing at the moment."

The third past men's champion on the schedule for Day 2, No. 1-seeded Rafael Nadal, did not complete his match, which was suspended along with several others because of rain in the evening.

Beginning his bid for a record-extending 11th French Open title, he never quite seemed to be at his absolute best against 129th-ranked Simone Bolelli of Italy, and while Nadal grabbed the first two sets 6-4, 6-3, he was trailing 3-0 in the third when action was halted. They'll resume Tuesday, when the most anticipated match of the tournament is scheduled for the main stadium: 23-time major champion Serena Williams, in her first Grand Slam match since January 2017, against 70th-ranked Kristyna Plyskova of the Czech Republic.

Bolelli got into the main draw as a "lucky loser," someone who was eliminated in qualifying but then got a reprieve when another player withdrew from the field. Another such entrant drew a lot more fanfare: 190th-ranked Marco Trungelliti of Argentina, who drove 10 hours from Barcelona to Paris — sharing a rental car with his 88-year-old grandmother, mother and brother — on Sunday to accept a berth, then went out and defeated Bernard Tomic 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.

"We were at home," Trungelliti recounted. "We were preparing to go to the beach."


Kolisi first black player to be appointed Springboks captain

In this Sept. 30, 2017 file photo South Africa's Siya Kolisi, left, is tackled by Australia's Tevita Kuridrani during a Rugby Championship at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, File)

Gerald Imray

Pretoria, South Africa (AP) - Siya Kolisi became the first black player to be appointed captain of the South African rugby team on Monday, a significant moment in the Springboks' 127-year history.

Kolisi was named captain for the three-test home series against England next month.

He had already become the first black player to temporarily captain South Africa in a test last year when Eben Etzebeth was injured during a game in Wales.

Another black player, Chiliboy Ralepelle, captained a South Africa team against a World XV in a 2006 game that didn't have test status.

Etzebeth and Warren Whiteley, who has been South Africa's regular captain for the past two years, are out injured and there is no timeframe on their return, so Kolisi was formally given the job by new coach Rassie Erasmus ahead of the start of the season.

Springboks captain is the biggest job in South African sport, and Kolisi's appointment is seen as a pivotal moment for a team and a country still trying to fully emerge from decades of white rule under the apartheid regime.

During apartheid, only whites were allowed to play for the Springboks, the team viewed as an extension of apartheid and which remains under scrutiny at home because of the predominance of white players.

Kolisi is among a new breed of black players to break through that barrier, though, 24 years after apartheid officially ended.

The 26-year-old Kolisi grew up in a poor township in South Africa's Eastern Cape province before being spotted by rugby scouts and earning a scholarship to one of the top schools in the region.

The flanker made his debut for the Springboks against Scotland in 2013 as a fifth-minute replacement and was named man of the match.

Kolisi's success has been embraced by many South Africans as an inspiring achievement in the face of adversity.

South African politicians, soccer teams, and even Olympic champion runner Wayde van Niekerk all posted messages congratulating Kolisi on social media.

Erasmus chose to rest Kolisi and other senior players for South Africa's first test of the season — against Wales in Washington D.C. on Saturday — so lock Pieter-Steph du Toit will captain the Boks in that game for the first time.

There were 13 non-white players in Erasmus' 26-man squad to travel to the United States for the one-off test against Wales next weekend, including Ralepelle. The squad is a largely experimental group, with 13 of them uncapped at test level and five of them with five test caps or less.

Most of the senior Springboks, including Kolisi, will stay at home to prepare for England.


LeBron's 35 help Cavs beat Celtics 87-79, reach NBA Finals

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, left, reacts in front of Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James during the second half in Game 7 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals, Sunday, May 27, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Jimmy Golen

Boston (AP) — With another Game 7 victory at stake, LeBron James would not sit out.

He would not say goodbye to Cleveland again — not yet, anyway.

And he would not be denied an eighth straight trip to the NBA Finals.

The four-time league MVP scored 35 points with 15 rebounds and nine assists on Sunday night, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to an 87-79 win over the Celtics and eliminating Boston from the Eastern Conference finals in the decisive seventh game.

"He's had a lot of gaudy games," Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. "But I just think Game 7, in Boston, all the circumstances that surround Boston, the history ... to come here in a hostile environment: (it's) right there."

In the first close game, the lowest-scoring and the first victory for a road team in the series, James played all 48 minutes, scoring 12 of his points in the fourth quarter for his sixth straight Game 7 win. Lue used his timeouts to get his star an extra few minutes of rest when he could, and James didn't warm up at halftime to conserve his energy.

"It was asked of me tonight to play the whole game," he said. "And I just tried to figure out how I can get through it."

James played all 82 regular-season games for the first time in his career and is already at 100 for the year with at least four more to come. He tired late in Game 5, when the Celtics won their 10th straight at home this postseason.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said the plan was to wear James out.

Nice try.

"Our goal going into the series was to make him exert as much energy as humanly possible and try to be as good as we can on everybody else," Stevens said. "For the most part, I thought we were pretty good at that ... but he still scored 35. It's a joke."

For James, a potential free agent, the victory postponed a decision about his future until next month.

Now, the only question is who the Cavaliers will play for a chance at their second title in three years: The Rockets host Game 7 of the Western Conference finals against Golden State on Monday night, and the winner will host the opener of the NBA Finals on Thursday.

The Cavaliers are expected to be underdogs against either.

"We have an opportunity to play for a championship," James said. "It doesn't matter what the story line is going to be, it doesn't matter if we're picked to win or not. I'm the wrong guy to ask. I just like to compete."

Jayson Tatum scored 24 points, Al Horford had 17 and Marcus Morris added 14 points with 12 rebounds for the Celtics, who were looking to return to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.

Tatum had a dunk over James with 6:41 left — staring down the Cavaliers star and bumping him with his chest — then followed it with a 3-pointer that gave the Celtics a 72-71 lead. But that would be Boston's last basket for more than five minutes while Cleveland went on a 15-2 run to put the game away.

James embraced Horford and Tatum after the buzzer, then the Cavaliers donned celebratory hats and T-shirts before shuffling off the court to receive the Eastern Conference championship trophy.

It's not the one they want.

James has been in the finals every year since 2011 — four with Miami, and now four straight with Cleveland.

This might be his weakest supporting cast.

He had to do it without Kevin Love — Cleveland's only other all-star — who sustained a concussion in Game 6 and was replaced in the lineup by Jeff Green. Making his first start since the first-round opener against Indiana, Green scored 19 points and added eight rebounds — the star of James' starless supporting cast.

"We said we want to do this for Kevin," Lue said. "Kevin wanted to play, to be in a Game 7 situation like this in the Eastern Conference Finals, being an All-Star, being our second-best player, and he just wasn't able to go. The guys picked him up, so now he has another chance when we get to the finals to be ready."

The Celtics have had more time to get used to their injuries: Gordon Hayward has been out since the first game of the season, and Kyrie Irving has been sidelined since March. With the rookie Tatum and second-year Jaylen Brown, Boston established itself as the team of the future in the East.

"It was pretty incredible run by an incredible group of guys, and an absolute pleasure and privilege to be around them every day," Stevens said. "We obviously have a good thing going."

But the present still belongs to James.

And, for now, that means Cleveland, too.

ADMIRING HIS WORK

The Celtics led by as many as 12 points in the first half, and they had a 51-47 lead midway through the third quarter when James hit a long 3-pointer and then Green made a 3 of his own. James hit Tristan Thompson for an alley-oop to give Cleveland a 55-51 lead, but then James threw the ball away and sent Terry Rozier off on a fast break.

James tracked the Celtics guard from the far sideline, timing his attack. When Rozier went up for the lay-in, James blocked it off the backboard and right to Green. James did not run back down the court, resting up while Green drew a foul at the other end and made one free throw to give the Cavaliers their biggest lead of the game.

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: Shot just 2 of 17 from 3-point range in the first half, making three of their first 22 shots from long range before James and Green connected on back-to-back attempts midway through the third quarter.

Celtics: Tatum is the first rookie to have 10 or more playoff games with at least 20 points since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1970. Tatum's 351 points this postseason was one short of Abdul-Jabbar's record of 352. ... Paul Pierce, whose number was retired by the Celtics this season, cheered the team on from courtside. ... Rapper 21 Savage was also at the game. ... Boston was 7 for 39 from 3-point range, with Rozier missing all 10 of his attempts.


'Danica Double' ends at Indy with another crash, no regrets

Danica Patrick is interviewed following her release from the infield hospital after being checked following a crash in the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis Sunday, May 27. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Mark Long

Indianapolis (AP) — Two prestigious, 500-mile races. Two hard crashes. Two back-of-the-pack finishes.

The "Danica Double" was mostly a dud.

Danica Patrick ended the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday much like she did the Daytona 500 in February: With a ride to the infield care center and feelings of frustration.

Patrick's farewell tour, dubbed the "Danica Double," was supposed to be a celebratory send-off in which she got final shots at winning the two most iconic American races. Her bid fell well short. Patrick completed 168 of a possible 407 laps at the two events, racing 420 miles instead of a little more than 1,000.

It was far from what she wanted when she committed to the two-race retirement party.

Still, it did little to weaken her racing resume that includes a few breakthrough performances and a seemingly secure place in history.

"Definitely not a great ending," Patrick said. "But I kind of said before I came here that I feel like if it's a complete disaster — complete like as if not in the ballpark at all, look silly — then people might remember that. If I win, people will remember that.

"But probably anything in between might just be a little part of a big story, so I kind of feel like that's how it is, you know."

The 36-year-old Patrick crashed on lap 68 of the Indy 500, the track that made her famous. She lost traction on a slippery surface, spun as she exited turn 2 and then slammed into two walls before coming to a stop. She finished 30th, her lowest spot in eight starts at "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." She was 35th at Daytona three months ago.

Both times, she trudged out of infield care centers and answered questions about early exits.

"Today was really disappointing for what we were hoping for and what you want for your last race," she said. "I'm grateful for all of it. I wish I could have finished stronger. I wouldn't want to end it any year that way. Being the last one makes it worse. I did have some good moments here this month and I won't forget that, either, and I won't forget the fans."

Patrick was a fan favorite all month at Indianapolis, still revered by those who remember her leading the 2009 race before finishing third. She was surrounded by autograph-seekers all month, and she got one of the loudest ovations during driver introductions Sunday.

Patrick weaved through gawkers to get to her No. 13 Chevrolet on the starting grid and soaked in all the pre-race pageantry with boyfriend and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, her parents and sister.

Just before the singing of the national anthem, with the crowd as quiet as it would be all day, one fan screamed from the grandstands, "Let's go Danica!" She smiled, turned and waved.

"I was definitely nervous," Patrick said. "I had all my people around me, so I was in good spirits."

After the anthem, she hugged her parents and sister and then got a long embrace from Rodgers. He whispered in her right ear, gave her a kiss and then smacked her on the butt as she maneuvered toward her cockpit. Rodgers headed upstairs to watch the race from a luxury suite.

Patrick dropped several spots shortly after the green flag, battling an ill-handling entry for Ed Carpenter Racing. She was the first driver to make a pit stop in hopes of making changes.

She was running in the middle of the field when she spun sideways, hit the outside wall and then caromed across the track and into an inside barrier. She was uninjured.

She reiterated that she had no regrets about her racing career, adding that she anticipates having an itch to come back. Instead, she plans to spend time with Rodgers and building her burgeoning business empire. The only woman to lead laps in both the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500 created a strong brand and became a role model for little girls everywhere.

"I'm very grateful for everybody and for being able to finish it up like I wanted to," she said. "It still was a lot of great memories this month, a lot of great moments this year."


Update May 28, 2018

Red Bull's Ricciardo overcomes power loss to win Monaco GP

Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia steers his car to win the Formula One race, at the Monaco racetrack, in Monaco, Sunday, May 27. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

Jerome Pugmire

Monaco (AP) — Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo overcame a mid-race power loss to win the Monaco Grand Prix from pole position on Sunday.

The Australian driver showed outstanding composure and defensive driving to fend off Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari.

Vettel shaved a few points off championship leader Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, who finished third.

Hamilton made an audacious move by pitting for new tires several laps before his rivals, but was worried they would wear out completely by the end.

The virtual safety car came out for the last few laps after Charles Leclerc lost his brakes and shunted his Sauber into the back of Brendon Hartley's Toro Rosso. Drivers are not allowed to overtake when the VSC is deployed and must maintain a steady speed.

The incident came too late and made no difference to the overall race picture.

Kimi Raikkonen was fourth for Ferrari ahead of Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas and Force India's Esteban Ocon.

It was Ricciardo's second win of the season after the Chinese GP last month and seventh of his career, pushing him up to third in the title race.

Ricciardo thought he'd won in Monaco two years ago, where he led from pole position only to be undone by a botched pit stop by his team which left him furious.

There was no denying him this time.

"Two years in the making and I finally feel redemption has arrived," Ricciardo said. "I lost power halfway and I thought the race was over. Thanks to the team we got it back. I'm stoked."

Ricciardo appeared emotional, even tearful, as he sat in his car moments after crossing the finish line after 78 laps on the winding 3.34-kilometer (2.1-mile) street circuit.

It was soon time for Ricciardo's typical showmanship.

He stood on his car, nodded slowly in recognition of his achievement and then thumped his chest.

"There were a few doubts that came in. But we won Monaco," he said, laughing. "It feels good."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner rushed over to him and they hugged.

As he usually does after a victory, Ricciardo took off his shoe, filled it with champagne and drank out of it.

He then offered the huge bottle — but not the shoe — to Prince Albert of Monaco, who took a small sip.

Vettel, too, will be in a good mood after reducing Hamilton's championship lead from 17 points to 14.

It is shaping up to be an intriguing season, with Ricciardo, Vettel and Hamilton winning two races each.

Ricciardo's Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen finished ninth after starting from 20th and last place having crashed prior to Saturday's qualifying.

Near the end, the Dutchman was on fresher tires and making them count as he zoomed past Renault's Carlos Sainz Jr. with a typically brazen overtaking move.


A defining moment: Froome wins Giro in extraordinary fashion

Britain's Chris Froome smiles as he crosses the finish line to win the Giro d'Italia cycling race in Rome, Sunday, May 27. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Andrew Dampf

Rome (AP) — Winning three Grand Tours consecutively was already enough to cement Chris Froome's place in cycling history.

The way in which he won this Giro d'Italia, though, adds an extra dimension to the achievement.

The Kenyan-born British rider bounced back from two early crashes to storm into the lead two days from the end with an 80-kilometer (50-mile) solo attack in the three-week race's toughest stage.

"I think the manner of the victory is the thing that impresses everybody. That's the thing that will stay in everybody's mind. This is going to be such a signature victory of his career," Team Sky director Dave Brailsford told The Associated Press as Froome wrapped up the title Sunday.

"The manner that he won this race was absolutely incredible. It's what bike racing is all about — it's exciting, it's spectacular," Brailsford added. "I'm sure it will define his career over time."

For a rider who had hitherto been known for his calculating, mechanical style, the attack up a gravel road so far from the finish on Stage 19 was "crazy," as he himself described it.

"It just felt so raw," Froome said. "This is for me what bike racing is about."

Froome has now won the Tour de France, Spanish Vuelta and Giro in succession, becoming only the third cyclist to hold all three Grand Tour titles at the same time and the first to achieve the feat since the Vuelta was moved to the end of the season in 1995.

Eddy Merckx won four straight between 1972 and 1973 and Bernard Hinault took three in a row in 1982 and 1983.

"This was always going to be the biggest challenge of my career," Froome said, alluding to the "unpredictable" nature of the Giro. "But now I've done the triple and there's no greater award for a professional cyclist."

Froome, a four-time Tour de France champion, had no trouble in maintaining his 46-second lead over defending champion Tom Dumoulin in the mostly ceremonial final stage through historic Rome. He rode a special pink-colored bike for the final stage, while his Team Sky teammates had pink handlebars.

Afterward, Froome announced that his wife is pregnant and due in August. He dedicated the victory to his daughter to be.

Froome arrived at the Giro with big hopes but was not a threat early on after crashing in training before the opening time trial, losing time in a split on stage four, and injuring himself again in a second crash four days later.

But he started to climb back up the standings by winning Stage 14 up Monte Zoncolan — one of the toughest climbs in Europe — then erased more than a three-minute deficit and claimed the pink jersey with his attack on the Colle delle Finestre.

"This one is quite special," Sky sports director Nicolas Portal said. "It was a totally different race than we're used to."

Froome is racing under the cloud of a potential ban after a urine sample he provided at the Spanish Vuelta in September showed a concentration of the asthma drug salbutamol that was twice the permitted level. It remains unclear when the International Cycling Union will rule on the case.

"I had every right to be here and as I've said before I know I've done nothing wrong," Froome said.

It was Froome's sixth Grand Tour win overall and he becomes the seventh rider to win all three Grand Tours over their careers. He's also the first Briton to win the Giro.

Irish rider Sam Bennett won the final stage, a 115-kilometer (71-mile) leg of 10 laps around a circuit over the capital's cobblestones, in a mass sprint alongside the Roman Forum. It was Bennett's third victory in this year's race.

With riders concerned about treacherous road conditions due to the uneven cobblestones, the stage was neutralized after three laps, meaning the final overall times were recorded after a third of the way through the stage.

The route took cyclists past the Colosseum, Spanish Steps, Circus Maximus and Baths of Caracalla.

Froome finished more than 15 minutes behind Bennett, crossing the line arm in arm with six teammates.

Up next for Froome: an attempt at a record-tying fifth Tour title in July.

"That's my next objective," he said.


Will Power wins Indy 500, No. 17 for car owner Roger Penske

Will Power, of Australia, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in Indianapolis Sunday, May 27. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Jenna Fryer

Indianapolis (AP) — Will Power hated racing on ovals. He wasn't a fan of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and figured he would never win the Indianapolis 500.

That kind of attitude doesn't fly when you drive for Roger Penske.

Power had to change his thinking and his performance on oval tracks. He learned to respect the speedway. And the 37-year-old Power is now a winner of one of the biggest races in the world.

"I've slowly changed to be a more positive person. It's hard when you're very negative," said Power, who pulled away in the final moments to win the 102nd running of the Indy 500. "You've got to have determination. That's what I had. You work hard at something, it comes to you. It eventually comes to you. (Indy) was the last box to tick, to be considered as a very successful driver."

The different approach landed Power in the most storied winner's circle in history Sunday when he gave Penske a 17th victory in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." Power actually swept the month of May at Indy after winning on the road course two weeks ago and his 34 wins tied him with Al Unser Jr. for eighth on IndyCar's all-time list.

Power is also the winningest IndyCar driver in Penske history (31). He is the first Australian victor in 102 editions of the race, and joined countryman Daniel Ricciardo as winners on the biggest day of the year in motorsports. Ricciardo won Formula One's Monaco Grand Prix earlier Sunday.

Power celebrated the checkered flag by screaming into his radio: "Show me respect, (expletive)!" When he got to the winner's circle, he screamed some more. Some two hours after the race, he was exhausted.

"I just screamed like I've never screamed before. It was just amazing. The last two laps, the last lap, seeing the white flag, the checkered, I mean, you can't explain it," Power said. "It's what I needed so badly, what I wanted so badly, and it came true. Anyone here knows how that would feel. You want something so much, it comes through to you through hard work and determination."

Penske arrived in Indy with four fast Chevrolets, and the engine builder was determined to snap Honda's two-race Indy 500 winning streak. The Chevys were the fastest cars in the field and Team Penske had four equal chances to win.

As Power held off pole winner Ed Carpenter to win his first Indy 500, the 81-year-old Penske pumped his fist in the air and clapped. Penske was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame earlier this month, and had a shot at closing Sunday with a victory in the Coca-Cola 600 in North Carolina.

"To be able to race on Memorial Day in the biggest sporting event in the world, have America the way it is, that's what I'm going to take away from this race," Penske said. "I'm just so thrilled, 17 wins. Now I have to worry about 18. I'm not going to look back, I'll look forward. We have to be back next year."

Penske also credited his strong lineup of 2014 series champion Power, 2016 champion Simon Pagenaud, reigning champion Josef Newgarden and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves.

"We had four great cars. That's what you have to have here. You have to have four bullets, whatever it takes," Penske said.

In the winner's circle, Power could not contain his glee.

He screamed to wife, Liz, took a sip of the traditional milk, then dumped the rest over his head and around his crew. Liz Power reached for the empty milk bottle, then pointed out to her husband that he'd sprayed milk all over one of the Indy 500 princesses. He apologized, then started screaming again.

Splashing the princess was the only wrong move Power made all day during an event that saw many top drivers make costly mistakes. James Hinchcliffe, a championship contender, failed to make the race at all. Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Sebastien Bourdais and Danica Patrick were among those who crashed in single-car spins. Defending race winner Takuma Sato was also knocked out when he ran into the back of a slower car.

Power led 59 laps but his final pit stop dropped him to fourth, behind three cars that were trying to win on fuel mileage. Kanaan's crash with 12 laps remaining set up a final restart with Oriol Servia out front. He didn't get a great restart and was passed by Stefan Wilson and Jack Harvey. But all three needed enough gas to get to the finish line, and it was Power who was frantically chasing them down.

Wilson and Harvey both ducked onto pit lane for gas, giving Power the lead with four laps remaining. He knew he had it won when he took the white flag all alone, and spent the final lap yelling to himself in joy as he drove away from the field.

"I was wondering if I would ever win it and thoughts when through my mind during the month, my career," he said. "I've had so many wins, so many poles. Everyone talks about the 500 and I just couldn't imagine winning a race in front of a crowd like this, this many people. It's just amazing."

Carpenter was second in a Chevy and noted just how much Power used to hate the speedway.

"He hated ovals and now he loves them," he said. "He and I love racing together. Maybe someday he'll race for me. I don't know if we have a tampering rule in IndyCar, but congrats Will."

Scott Dixon stretched his fuel to finish third and was followed by Alexander Rossi, who drove from 32nd to fourth and made some of the most spectacular moves in the race.  Rossi had no choice: It was difficult to pass in the 2018 car on a day that fell just 2 degrees short — it was 91 — of being the hottest 500 in history.

The conditions created a slick, 2 -mile track, and new cars with less downforce proved to be a handful for even the most experienced of drivers.

Castroneves' bid to win a record-tying fourth 500 ended when he spun exiting Turn 4. The popular Brazilian has been chasing Rick Mears, A.J. Foyt and Al Unser Sr. in the record books and even though Penske moved him to sports cars this year, Castroneves was given a seat for Indy.

Penske said if Castroneves won a fourth, he'd get a chance at a fifth and the team confirmed that after the race. Still, Castroneves savored his final moments on the track Sunday and instead of taking an ambulance ride to the care center, he made the long walk down pit lane, waving to fans on the way.

Patrick was completing the "Danica Double" after wrecking out at the Daytona 500. She decided long ago that the race that made her famous would be her last, and while she called the outcome disappointing, she also expressed appreciation for all that Indianapolis had given her.

"Yeah, it's an entire career," she said, "but what really launched it was this. It's both of them. I had a lot of good fortune here and did still have some this month. It just didn't come today."

Bourdais crashed a year after missing the race because of a harrowing, high-speed accident during qualifying. Bourdais had led at least one lap in every race this season, and led for the first time in his career at Indianapolis.

Honda didn't win the race but did manage to put six of its cars in the top 10. Kanaan led at least one lap in his 14th Indy 500 to break a record he had shared with four-time race winner A.J. Foyt.


Pakistan ease to 9-wicket win over England in 1st test

Pakistan's Mohammad Abbas, right, celebrates after taking the wicket of England's Stuart Broad during the fourth day of play of the first test between England and Pakistan at Lord's cricket ground in London, Sunday, May 27. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

London (AP) — Pakistan cruised to a nine-wicket win over England in the first test on Sunday, needing just one session on Day 4 to take four wickets and then chase down a victory target of 64 at Lord's.

England resumed on 235-6 and with a lead of 56 runs, but lost their last four wickets for seven runs in 25 balls.

Pakistan lost Azhar Ali (4) early in their chase but Imam-ul-Haq (18 not out) and Haris Sohail (39 not out) saw the tourists home on 66-1, 30 minutes before lunch.

The second and final test begins Friday at Leeds, with England potentially already needing to rejig their team after rolling over meekly at the home of cricket to extend their winless run in tests to eight matches.

It started going wrong for England at the toss, when captain Joe Root chose to bat first in what proved to be good conditions to bowl. His team were dismissed for 184 and left chasing the game thereafter.

Pakistan played the better, more disciplined cricket in almost every session, taking a 179-run lead after the first innings and then reducing England to 110-6 — opening up the possibility of a humiliating innings defeat.

Jos Buttler and Dom Bess survived to the close on Day 3, and needed to stick around at least until after lunch to give England a glimmer of hope.

Buttler lasted eight balls.

He had added one run to his overnight 66 when he was trapped lbw by Mohammad Abbas. Ten balls later, Mark Wood feathered a catch behind to wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed off Mohammad Amir for 4, and Stuart Broad (0) did the same the next over off Abbas.

Amir also took the final wicket, removing the off stump of overnight batsman Dom Bess for 57. James Anderson was 0 not out.

Amir and Abbas finished the innings with four wickets apiece.

Anderson bowled Azhar in the third over but Sohail didn't hang around, hitting six fours and a six in a 32-ball knock.

England are in turmoil in the longer format, having lost the Ashes series 4-0 in the past year and then 1-0 to New Zealand in a two-test series.

"We were outperformed in all three departments (batting, bowling and fielding)," Root said of the loss to Pakistan. "It's a difficult pill to swallow. We have to be better."

Root said he had no regrets about opting to bat first.

"If we bat well and get something near 250 or 300," he said, "it would be a closer game on that surface."


Update May 26-27, 2018

Froome pulls off audacious attack to take Giro lead

Britain's Chris Froome celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the the 19th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race in Bardonecchia, Italy, Friday, May 25. (Daniel dal Zennaro/ANSA via AP)

Bardonecchia, Italy (AP) — Chris Froome produced one of the great performances of his career, attacking alone on a gravel road up a grueling climb to win the 19th stage of the Giro d'Italia on Friday and claim the overall leader's pink jersey.

The four-time Tour de France champion launched his solo attack up the three-week race's highest climb with 80 kilometers (50 miles) to go and rode clear amid banks of snow above the tree line.

Pedaling furiously, Froome continuously increased his advantage over two more Alpine ascents to finish three minutes ahead of his closest challenger.

The victory put Froome in position to win his third consecutive Grand Tour and match the achievements of the great Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault. There are two stages of the Giro left.

"I don't think I've ever attacked 80 kilometers from the finish, riding on my own and going all the way to the finish," Froome said. "I knew there was a long way to go but to win this Giro d'Italia I had to do something extraordinary. I couldn't wait for the last climb. I had to do something crazy.

"Colle delle Finestre was the perfect place to do it. Gravel roads remind me of Africa," added Froome, who races for Britain with Team Sky but was born and raised in Kenya.

Froome leads defending champion Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands by 40 seconds in the overall standings. Frenchman Thibaut Pinot is third overall, 4:17 behind.

There is one more mountainous stage on Saturday, a 214-kilometer leg from Susa to Cervinia, before Sunday's mostly ceremonial finish in Rome.

Froome had started the day fourth overall, more than three minutes behind previous leader Simon Yates.

Yates fell far behind up the grueling climb on Colle delle Finestre as Froome launched his audacious attack, and finished nearly 40 minutes behind.

It was Yates' 13th day wearing the pink jersey.

Richard Carapaz of Ecuador crossed second in the stage, exactly three minutes behind, and French challenger Thibaut Pinot finished third, 3:07 back.

Dumoulin came fifth, 3:23 behind Froome.

Froome arrived at the Giro with big hopes but had not really been a threat after crashing in training before the opening time trial, losing time in a split on stage four, and injuring himself again in a second crash four days later. His only previous highlight in the race was winning Stage 14 up Monte Zoncolan, one of the toughest climbs in Europe.

"It was a very, very tough start for me after the fall," Froome said. "But I kept up my morale for the finish and I knew that if I did everything right the time to attack would come. That moment came today."

Only two riders have ever won three or more consecutive Grand Tours. Merckx won four straight between 1972 and 1973 and Hinault took three in a row in 1982 and 1983.

However, Froome is racing under the cloud of a potential ban after a urine sample he provided at the Spanish Vuelta in September showed a concentration of the asthma drug salbutamol that was twice the permitted level. It remains unclear when the International Cycling Union will rule on the case.

Froome denies any wrongdoing.

The 185-kilometer (115-mile) leg from Venaria Reale to Bardonecchia in the Piedmont region was considered the race's toughest.

Passing through the region where the 2006 Turin Olympics were held, the route contained more than 4,000 meters of climbing and traversed the highest point of the race — the Cima Coppi (Coppi peak) — at an altitude of 2,178 meters (more than 7,000 feet) atop the Colle delle Finestre.

Froome attacked shortly after the road turned to gravel halfway up the Finestre.

Fabio Aru, a pre-race favorite, retired midway through the stage.

Saturday's stage features three category 1 climbs, including an uphill finish.


Rose has 2nd-round Colonial lead; up-and-down Grillo 1 back

 

Justin Rose tees off on No. 7 during the second day of the Fort Worth Invitational golf tournament at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, Friday, May 25. (Brad Loper/Star-Telegram via AP)/Star-Telegram via AP)

Stephen Hawkins

Fort Worth, Texas (AP) — Justin Rose considered his first 15 holes in the second round at Colonial pretty flawless. The last three worked out OK, too, even with the only bogey for the leader of the Fort Worth Invitational.

"Last three holes got a bit scrappy," Rose said after a 6-under 64 that got him to 10 under Friday at Hogan's Alley.

After missing the green at the 422-yard seventh hole, the Englishman chipped in from 16 feet for a birdie. He missed the green again at the par-3 eighth for a bogey. Then after his tee shot into the rough and an approach that just cleared the water fronting his final hole, the world's fifth-ranked player two-putted for a closing par.

That was good enough for one-stroke lead over Argentina's Emiliano Grillo , whose 67 included six consecutive holes without a par. Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka (63) and Satoshi Kodaira (67) were 7 under.

Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champ who won the HSBC Champions in Shanghai in his season debut last October and has four top-10 finishes, said he played "about as good as" he has overall in a long time. Things really got going after caddie Mark Fulcher offered a few words when Rose was a bit frustrated about a couple of missed putts while starting the round with four consecutive pars.

"Fulch kind of said, 'Come on, mate. Stay with me. Stay patient.' I got rewarded with the very next hole making a 10-footer for birdie," Rose said. "I made enough good putts on the back nine today where I have some confidence going into the weekend."

The birdie at the 457-yard 14th hole was the first of three consecutive birdies for the 37-year-old South African, who has eight PGA Tour wins.

Grillo was at 10 under when he rolled in a 28-footer at No. 17, his fourth birdie in his first eight holes. But his ensuing tee shot went way right into a concrete ditch, and his ball floated with the flowing water before being snagged by a fan just before it dropped into a drainage area. After the penalty stroke and drop, Grillo hit into a greenside bunker and bogeyed.

"It's a little bit on the downslope and it's all concrete, so the ball was rolling," Grillo said. "I was able to make some birdies in there. I got very unlucky on the first hole and No. 3 there."

The second nine for Grillo started bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie.

Defending Colonial champion Kevin Kisner was even after a 68 on Friday. Jordan Spieth, one of the locals and No. 3 in the world, also shot 68 and is 3 under.

Aaron Wise, the 21-year-old rookie coming off his first PGA Tour victory a week ago at the Byron Nelson, missed the cut after a 73 left him 3 over — the same as Webb Simpson, who won The Players Championship this month.

After a 62 to take the first-round, Kevin Na struggled on the back nine for a 73. He went into weekend 5 under and in a logjam of nine players tied for sixth place. Tyrone Van Aswegen was alone in fifth after consecutive 67s.

Na was 10 under after a 5-foot putt at the ninth hole, a more traditional birdie than the 92-foot chip-in from the rough he had to end the first round. But Na then had bogey at the 631-yard 11th hole, and double bogey at the 440-yard 12th hole before a three-putt bogey on the par-3 13th.

Koepka, who said he has dislocated his left wrist twice in the last two months, was 7 under through 11 holes Friday — and that is how he finished.

"I probably could have snuck about two, three more," he said. "But you know what, I'm pleased. If you had told me I was going to shoot 7 under before I teed off, I would've taken it."

On his first two holes Thursday, his return to the PGA Tour after a course record-tying 9-under 63 on the final day at The Players Championship, Koepka had a bogey and then double bogey at a par 5. But he has 12 birdies and two bogeys in his last 32 holes, three weeks before the U.S. Open.

"I feel like I've been playing well. I just haven't put four days together," Koepka said. "But I feel like it's trending in the right direction. I actually feel like exactly where I was last year at the same time. ... Hopefully in a couple weeks' time, it'll be the same result."


Pakistan take charge of 1st test against England

Pakistan's Asad Shafiq plays a shot off the bowling of England's Don Bess during the second day of play of the first test cricket match between England and Pakistan at Lord's cricket ground in London, Friday, May 25. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

London (AP) — Pakistan strengthened their grip on the first test against England on Friday by reaching 350-8 to take a 166-run lead after the second day at Lord's.

Babar Azam was the top scorer with 68 before retiring hurt after being struck on the arm by a rising delivery by Ben Stokes, while Azhar Ali (50), Asad Shafiq (59) and Shadab Khan (52) also made half-centuries on a day when England dropped five catches.

Mohammad Amir (19) and Mohammad Abbas (0) were there at the close, and it wasn't clear if Babar would be returning to bat on Saturday for the final wicket.

James Anderson (3-82) and Stokes (3-73) were the pick of the bowlers as England toiled for a second straight day at the home of cricket.

"Good two days, we will enjoy them," Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur said, "but the reality is we've got plenty to do."

After England collapsed to 184 all out soon after tea on Thursday, Pakistan resumed on 50-1 and resisted for an hour before losing two wickets — Haris Sohail (39) and Azhar — in the morning session to reach 136-3 at lunch.

Pakistan were limited to 91 in the afternoon session with Stokes removing Sarfraz Ahmed (9), who top-edged a hook to Mark Wood on the deep square leg boundary, and Shafiq, who edged to slip.

Babar struck 10 fours before going off injured after tea, leaving England to attack Pakistan's tail. Still, Faheem Ashraf (37) and Amir have managed to add crucial runs to allow the tourists to take charge.


Gordon leads Rockets over Warriors 98-94 to take series lead

Houston Rockets guard James Harden, top, battles Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green for a loose ball during the first half in Game 5 of the NBA basketball playoffs Western Conference finals in Houston, Thursday, May 24. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Kristie Rieken

Houston (AP) — Chris Paul's grit and veteran leadership have pushed the Golden State Warriors to the brink of elimination.

Now the Houston Rockets must wait to see if his injured leg is strong enough to help them take one last step to the NBA Finals.

Eric Gordon came off the bench to score 24 points and his steal on Golden State's last possession secured a 98-94 victory Thursday night that gave the Rockets a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals. But the victory came with a cost, as Paul had to leave the game in the final minute with a right hamstring injury that could keep him out of Game 6.

"His spirits aren't great," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "He wanted to be out there, and for sure he's worried ... we'll see tomorrow how it goes."

Paul was receiving treatment after the game and did not speak to reporters.

The Rockets head to Oakland for Game 6 on Saturday night a win away from knocking off the defending champions and advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time since winning back-to-back titles in 1994-95.

Kevin Durant scored 29 points for the Warriors, who lost in Game 5 of a playoff series for just the second time since 2015. Just like Cleveland in the East, a run of three straight trips to the championship round is on the verge of ending.

"We haven't been in this position before ... so it's a chapter we need to figure out and finish the story," Stephen Curry said.

The Rockets won a second straight defensive struggle between the two potent offenses, leaving the Warriors a loss from missing the NBA Finals for the first time since 2014.

Draymond Green made a 3-pointer with just over minute left to get Golden State within one. Harden, who was 0 for 11 on 3s, missed his last one with less than 30 seconds left, giving the Warriors the ball back.

Curry missed a floater and Trevor Ariza grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 10 seconds left. But he made just one of two free throws to give the Warriors another chance.

But Gordon came up with his steal when Green lost control in the lane and added two free throws with 2.4 seconds left to put it away.

Green was asked what was supposed to happen on the play.

"We was supposed to score," he said. "I lost the ball ... not much more to it than that."

Harden scoffed at a reporter who questioned him about his struggles from long range in the last two games, where he's gone a combined 3 for 22.

"Who cares," he said. "I'm just missing shots, but we're winning."

Klay Thompson shook off a knee injury that had his status for this game in question to score 23 points and Curry added 22. A bruised left knee kept Andre Iguodala out for the second straight game, and Kevon Looney started in his place.

After losing Game 1 of the series, the Rockets made the best of home-court advantage this time, thrilling a sellout crowd that included Justin Timberlake, Houston Texans star J.J. Watt and rapper Travis Scott.

It's Houston's second straight win in the series after snapping Golden State's NBA playoff-record, 16-game home winning streak with a 95-92 victory on Tuesday night.

Golden State led by one to start the fourth before Paul got going, scoring seven points to power a 10-5 run that gave the Rockets an 81-77 lead with about 9 1/2 minutes left.

Thompson made a 3-pointer after that and then officials reviewed Paul's first basket of the quarter and ruled he got it off after the shot clock expired, leaving the Warriors ahead 80-79.

The Rockets were clinging to a one-point lead with about seven minutes left when Durant fouled Gordon on a 3-point attempt, losing one of his shoes in the process. Gordon made all three free throws to start a 7-2 spurt that extended the lead to 88-82 midway through the quarter.

TIP-INS

Warriors: Coach Steve Kerr was unsure Thursday if Iguodala would be able to return for Game 6. "He's dying to play, but he's not healthy enough," Kerr said. "We'll just continue to take it day to day."... Curry made four free throws to tie Rick Barry for most free throws made in the playoffs in franchise history with 378. ... Golden State had 18 turnovers.

Rockets: Clint Capela had 12 points and 14 rebounds for his seventh double-double this postseason. ... Houston made 13 of 43 3-pointers, led by four from Gordon.

SANTA FE STRONG

The Rockets honored the 10 people killed in last week's school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, before the game, with the school's choir singing the national anthem and team owner Tilman Fertitta wearing a "Santa Fe Strong" T-shirt, before Houston scored the game's first six points in a first half where the team led by as many as 11.

Houston also wore rectangular patches on its jerseys that read: "Santa Fe HS," to remember those affected by the tragedy.

"We wanted to come out and give them light, put smiles on their faces (and) clear their minds a little bit," Harden said.

UP NEXT

After Game 6 on Saturday, the Rockets would host Game 7 on Monday if necessary.


Update May 25, 2018

Pakistan bowl England out for 184, reach 50-1 in reply

England's Alastair Cook walks from the pitch after being bowled out by Pakistan's Mohammad Amir during the first day of play of the first test at Lord's cricket ground in London, Thursday, May 24. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

London (AP) — Pakistan provoked England's latest batting collapse by combining disciplined bowling with superb catching before showing resistance in their reply to dominate the opening day of the first test at Lord's on Thursday.

A new international season started with some familiar problems for England, who stumbled to 43-3 after winning the toss and then lost their last five wickets for 16 runs in 4.4 overs to be dismissed for 184 soon after tea.

Opener Alastair Cook was the only batsman to stand out, making 70 in his record-leveling 153rd consecutive test.

Pakistan were 50-1 at stumps, trailing by 134 runs.

Pakistan seamers bowled a good line and length on a day when the ball swung around and moved off the seam. Mohammad Abbas and Hasan Ali each took four wickets. Cook and Jonny Bairstow (27) were both bowled from deliveries that shaped in and seamed away to hit off stump.

Allied to that were some surprisingly good catches by a team often criticized for its fielding, with Asad Shafiq taking two sharp catches at second slip to remove the recalled Jos Buttler and 20-year-old debutant Dom Bess, while Mohammad Amir dived to his right to snaffle Mark Wood for the final wicket.

England's total was their lowest in the first innings at Lord's since 2005 and the spotlight invariably fell on England captain Joe Root and his decision to bat first in what proved to be difficult conditions. Moments after Root made his choice, Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed said he would have wanted to bowl if given the choice.

"It was an interesting one," Cook said. "We'll only know at the end of the game if it was the right or wrong decision. ... We were probably 60-70 (runs) short on that wicket, and it's probably going to be a first innings vs. fourth innings game. Chasing 250 on that last day could be hard work."

Pakistan lost Imam-ul-Haq, trapped lbw to Stuart Broad for 4, early in their reply but Azhar Ali (18) and Haris Sohail (21) held out in the face of some probing seam bowling by Broad, Jimmy Anderson and Mark Wood.

Sohail was dropped on 16 by Ben Stokes, who dived to his right from third slip in front of Dawid Malam at second slip.

Pakistan won by 75 runs at Lord's in the first test of the series in 2016.

Cook's run of successive test matches, which stretches from 2006, tied the record held by former Australian captain Allan Border.

"It would be a nice one to knock off," Cook said.

"You need a little bit of luck, don't you, not to break a finger or anything?" the former test captain added. "The only time I've broken a finger has been away from a test match. The mental side is harder than the physical side — I just stand in the slips so it's all right."


Red Bull's hopes of Monaco pole boosted by strong practice

Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia is all smiles after posting the fastest time in the first practice session for the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at the Monaco racetrack, in Monaco, Thursday, May 24. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

Jerome Pugmire

Monaco (AP) — With its slow straights and tight corners, the Monaco Grand Prix offers Red Bull a strong chance to secure pole position for the first time this season.

That impression was reinforced on Thursday, as Daniel Ricciardo topped the first two practice sessions ahead of his teammate Max Verstappen. In sunny conditions, the Australian driver finished a fraction ahead of Verstappen in both runs on the tight 3.4-kilometer (2.1-mile) street circuit.

"I feel we set as much of a benchmark as we could," said Ricciardo, who won the Chinese GP last month. "Our long run looked decent. It is not everything around here, but we seem to be good in all conditions at the moment."

Sebastian Vettel was third quickest for Ferrari, and Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes was fourth in the second practice, reversing their positions from the opening session. Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari was fifth, and Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes sixth in P2.

There is a third and final practice on Saturday ahead of qualifying.

"I'm sure Ferrari and Mercedes will start to put some more pressure on us. They'll definitely close that gap (in qualifying)," Ricciardo said. "I still feel if we can put together a really good lap we have a very good chance."

Neither Red Bull driver has qualified higher than fourth in qualifying so far.

"We've always had a strong race car, but (qualifying) is where we've tended to struggle," team principal Christian Horner said. "Hopefully with the shorter straights here and with this circuit layout, it offers us our best qualifying chance of the season."

Gaining pole position in Monaco is more crucial than most races because the track is notoriously difficult to overtake on. This suits Red Bull because it neutralizes the superior speed of Mercedes and Ferrari.

"I said the Red Bulls were going to be quick," Hamilton said. "As expected, we struggled a little bit. The car felt good in some places, in others it felt bad."

Vettel won the Monaco GP last year and the German driver needs another strong performance after dropping points in the title race. Vettel is second overall and 17 points behind Hamilton, who has won the past two races with Vettel placing fourth in both.

A red flag came out during the second session, briefly halting it as repair work was carried out on a drain cover near the famed Casino.

Verstappen was summoned to stewards for reversing onto the track in an unsafe manner during first practice, but no further action was taken against the Dutch driver. He locked up his front left tire on the approach to Turn 1 and went off into an escape road. Rather than spin the car round, he reversed back onto the track and Vettel had to cut a corner to avoid him.

Verstappen has been involved in two high-profile incidents this season. Ricciardo crashed into the back of him in Azerbaijan as they fought for position with a podium in sight, and both went out of that race. He also clipped Vettel during the Chinese GP and Vettel finished eighth.

French driver Romain Grosjean, who has failed to finish three of five races so far, twice clipped the barriers in P1. He is the only driver yet to score a point along with Russian driver Sergey Sirotkin from the Williams team.

The nervy Grosjean has a three-place grid penalty for Sunday's race after causing a first-lap crash at the Spanish GP two weeks ago.


Yates' Giro lead cut in half, Schachmann wins 18th stage

Germany's Maximilian Schachmann approaches the finish line to win the 18th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race, from Abbiategrasso to Prato Nevoso, Italy, Thursday, May 24. (Daniel Dal Zennaro/ANSA via AP)

Prato Nevoso, Italy (AP) — Simon Yates remained in the lead of the Giro d'Italia but the British rider's advantage over closest rival Tom Dumoulin was slashed in half after the tough 18th stage on Thursday.

Yates was dropped by his rivals on the steep Category 1 climb to Prato Nevoso and he finished 28 seconds behind defending champion Dumoulin, who crossed the line with Domenico Pozzovivo and Chris Froome.

"I was just tired, that's it. Still a few days to go. I can bounce back, no worries," Yates said.

Maximilian Schachmann of Germany won from a breakaway to claim his first victory in a Grand Tour.

Schachmann attacked heading into the final section of the climb, finishing 10 seconds ahead of Ruben Plaza and 16 ahead of Mattia Cattaneo.

The rest of the breakaway, which escaped 16 kilometers into the mainly flat 196-kilometer (122-mile) route from Abbiategrasso finished more than a minute off the pace.

"The final kilometers were really, really hard," said Schachmann, who rides for Quick-Step Floors. "I knew I had a good chance from the breakaway. I tried to play it safe, to not attack too early. It was really hard, we are already on stage 18 so no one has fresh legs anymore."

Yates had talked about defending his lead rather than attacking, as he had done previously in the race and the Mitchelton-Scott cyclist stuck to his script. He followed Dumoulin when the Dutch rider made a move but had no response when Froome powered away shortly after, with two kilometers remaining.

Yates' lead was cut to 28 seconds heading into the final three days of the Giro, which includes two brutal days in the Alps before the procession to Rome.

"I always said if I have the legs then I will keep on trying," Dumoulin said. "I had the legs today and I tried and it worked. Finally, after two and a half weeks."

Pozzovivo remained third but was 2:43 behind Yates, with Froome a further 39 seconds behind.

Froome arrived at the Giro bidding to become the third person to win three Grand Tours in a row but the four-time Tour de France champion crashed in training before the opening time trial, lost time in a split on stage four, and injured himself again in a second crash four days later.

"It was quite a good day today," Froome said in Italian. "This is the first of three consecutive stages which will be very hard. We saw for the first time Simon not at 100 percent. That surprised me as until now he has been fantastic. I think now we're all thinking of attacking him.

"After the fall at the start I didn't feel 100 percent but each day I felt better and now I'm quite good."

There are four mountain passes on the 189-kilometer route from Venaria Reale up to Bardonecchia on Friday, followed by Saturday's "queen stage" up to Cervinia.

"I'm not worried," Yates said. "I'm still in front.

"Tomorrow is much better for me than today. Today was one big continuous effort at the end. Tomorrow we're climbing all day and that's more suited to me."


Celtics beat Cavs 96-83 in Game 5, lead East finals 3-2

Boston Celtics center Aron Baynes (46) competes for a rebound against Cleveland Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson during the second quarter of Game 5 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals Wednesday, May 23, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Jimmy Golen

Boston (AP) — LeBron James is tired. The young Boston Celtics seem to be getting stronger.

Rookie Jayson Tatum scored 24 points — his ninth 20-point game of the postseason — and Boston beat Cleveland 96-83 on Wednesday night to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.

The Celtics held James to two fourth-quarter points, earning their 10th straight victory in Boston to remain perfect at home this postseason and move within one win of their first trip to the NBA Finals since 2010.

"I just enjoy playing in the big moments, in the big games. That's when I have the most fun," said Tatum, who needs one more 20-point game to tie Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's rookie record of 10 in a postseason.

"I can't say it enough: We're one win away from being in the finals," Tatum said. "The playoffs bring the best out of people."

Game 6 is in Cleveland on Friday night, with the decisive seventh game back in Boston on Sunday if necessary. The home team has won every game so far in the series, and none has been closer than nine points.

"We're looking forward to having an opportunity to force a Game 7," said James, who had 26 points and 10 rebounds but also had six turnovers. "It's up to us to see if we can come back here for one more."

Al Horford had 15 points and 12 rebounds, and 21-year-old Jaylen Brown had 17 points for Boston. Tatum added seven rebounds, four assists and four steals one day after finishing a single vote shy of a unanimous selection to the NBA's All-Rookie team.

"The sky's the limit" for Tatum , Brown said. "He's going to continue to get better. He's my workout partner. I expect it in myself and I expect it in him."

Kevin Love scored 14 points for the Cavaliers, who are trying to reach the finals for the fourth consecutive season. James has played to the end in seven straight seasons.

To extend that streak, he'll need to win two in a row.

One of them will be in Boston.

"Our focus — LeBron's focus — is to win," Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. "That's the only thing that matters."

The Celtics opened a double-digit lead in the first quarter and nursed it the rest of the way, holding on through a four-minute scoring drought that saw Cleveland score nine straight points to cut the deficit to 83-71. But Terry Rozier hit Horford with an alley-oop to snap the skid, and that was as close as the Cavs would get.

Reserves Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart each scored 13.

FADING STAR

James had one basket on four shots in the fourth quarter, and afterward conceded that he was worn down. He finished 1 for 6 from 3-point range in the game; the Cavaliers made just 9 of 34 attempts from beyond the arc and shot just 42 percent overall.

"I had my moments, but I think everybody at this point is tired, worn down whatever the case may be," he said. "I was still trying to make plays, put our team in position to win."

GOONING IT UP

Boston went on a 15-3 run in the first quarter to turn a three-point deficit into a nine-point lead. The Celtics scored nine in a row at the end of the first quarter and into the second to take a 36-19 lead, their biggest of the game.

That's when the Cavaliers fought back .

After a hard defensive play by Morris sent Larry Nance Jr. into the first row of seats, Morris appeared to wander over and say something. Nance to jump up and body checked him; Morris responded with a one-handed shove to the face.

Aron Baynes and Brown came in to break it up, and Terry Rozier put a body on Nance. After a review, the referees called technicals on Rozier, Nance and Morris. Kyle Korver made the foul shot to make it 36-20 and Cleveland went on a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to eight points, 36-28.

But Morris made a long 3-pointer to stop the scoring drought, and soon hit another to cap an 8-2 run that made it a double-digit lead.

Smart said the Celtics wanted to more aggressive at home.

"At their place, they were the aggressor," he said. "That showed and they came up with the victory. We just wanted to be that team tonight."

TIP-INS

Teams that win Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series win 83 percent of the time. ... James had 16 points, four rebounds and three assists at the half. Tatum had 13 points, and Horford had 10 points and seven boards at the break. ... Baynes made his first start of the series, subbing for Morris. ... It took until midway through the third quarter for a Cavs starter other than James or Love to make a basket. J.R. Smith sank a floater to make it 63-50, and George Hill followed with a jumper of his own. ... The Celtics were 10-0 in the playoffs at home in 1986. ... Horford had his 7th double-double of the postseason, matching a career high he set in 2015.


Update May 24, 2018

Jutanugarn sisters shoot for same goal differently in LPGA

In this April 20, 2018, file photo, Moriya Jutanugarn, of Thailand, watches her shot from the seventh tee during the second round of the LPGA Tour's HUGEL-JTBC LA Open golf tournament at Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Larry Lage

Ann Arbor, Mich. (AP) — Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn play golf and live life differently.

The sisters from Thailand do have the same goal on the LPGA Tour, hoping their shot-to-shot focus leads to titles.

The Jutanugarns are two of six women with a shot at the Volvik Championship to become the circuit's first two-time winner this year. The first round begins Thursday at Travis Pointe Country Club, a course six winners are skipping to prepare elsewhere for next week's U.S. Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

"Everybody has a chance to win every weekend," Moriya said. "That's how hard it is on tour right now."

Ariya competes with a grip-it-and-rip-it approach, usually hammering a 3-wood off the tee.

Moriya takes a more calculated approach, analyzing each shot patiently.

That's perhaps fitting because she's 16 months older than her sister.

"It's funny because when we think about something, it's always the different," she said. "But we pretty much end up with the same idea."

Off the course, they're also different.

The 22-year-old Ariya appears careful and guarded when having conversations with people she doesn't know well. The 23-year-old Moriya, meanwhile, enjoys engaging in interesting discussions with those who cross her path.

Their mother, Narumon, was with her daughters Wednesday and the three of them always stay together as a family. They don't cook during tournament weeks and opt to eat out, searching for good places like the sushi restaurant they've discovered near Travis Pointe.

Their father, Somboon, does not watch them play in person. The sisters say he has retired from owning a golf shop in Thailand.

"He doesn't travel anymore," Moriya Jutanugarn said.

Even if he is relegated to watching from the other side of the world, Somboon Jutanugarn must be proud of the way his daughters are playing.

Ariya became the first Thai winner in LPGA Tour history in 2016, the same year she went on to win the inaugural Volvik Championship. She earned her eighth career victory last week in Virginia and is one of two players, along with Brooke Henderson, to have LPGA victories this year and the previous two years.

Moriya won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles, joining Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam as the two pairs of sisters to have LPGA Tour victories.

On the money list, Ariya is No. 1 and her sister is third.

In terms of playing regularly, no one is ahead of them.

Ariya is the only LPGA player to start and make the cut in all 12 events this year. Moriya Jutanugarn has also appeared in each tournament this year and failed to make the cut only once.

Instead of working in breaks to practice without competing or simply relax, they have entered every tournament so far and shrug their shoulders at the feat.

"It's not that bad, like 10 week in a row," Moriya said.

The LPGA is hosting an event about five miles from Michigan Stadium for a third straight year and hopes to keep coming back even though it doesn't have a title sponsor secured for 2019. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan told reporters he's confident Ann Arbor will be a long-term home for the circuit.

"I can't tell you the specifics about how we're going to do that," Whan acknowledged.

LPGA Tour and tournament officials are hosting some prospective sponsors this week, trying to convince them to put their name on the tournament.

Volvik, which makes golf balls, is preparing to scale back its support of the tournament.

"We're coming back," said Don Shin, president of Volvik USA. "We just don't know in what capacity."


'Tired' de Villiers retires while still at top of his game

In this Thursday, May 17, 2018 file photo, Bangalore's Royal Challengers batsman AB de Villiers bats during the VIVO IPL Twenty20 cricket match against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Bangalore, India. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi, File)

Gerald Imray

Pretoria, South Africa (AP) - Many talk about it, yet few do it.

AB de Villiers retired from international cricket on Wednesday while still at the top of his game as one of the best batsmen in the world.

Although de Villiers' batting, which dazzled audiences across the world over a 14-year international career, was still as good as it ever was, the demands of international cricket were too much.

"It is time for others to take over. I've had my turn and, to be honest, I'm tired," de Villiers said in a video posted on his official Twitter account announcing his retirement.

The 34-year-old de Villiers made the announcement from his home town of Pretoria, where he has spent his domestic career playing for the Titans. He said he would still play for the Titans, but there would be no more international cricket or Indian Premier League.

"It's not about earning more somewhere else, it's about running out of gas and feeling like it's time to move on," he said. "Everything comes to an end." De Villiers said he had no plans to play overseas.

South Africans were expecting de Villiers to end his test career any time now, especially after back-to-back series wins over top-ranked India and fierce rival Australia in the last four months. He had been expected to play one-day internationals and have one more go at winning a World Cup title next year.

"This is a tough decision," de Villiers said. "I've thought long and hard about it and I'd like to retire while still playing decent cricket. And after the fantastic series wins against India and Australia, now feels like the right time to step aside."

De Villiers was in masterful form in the recent four-test series against Australia, finishing with the highest batting average in the series and almost single-handedly turning the contest in South Africa's favor with 126 not out in the second test. That gave South Africa the impetus to come from behind and win its first series at home over Australia since 1970.

De Villiers had only just returned to tests for the India and Australia series following a near two-year break from the five-day game. The sabbatical was the first sign that cricket was starting to become a burden.

He was also South Africa's captain, wicketkeeper and best fielder at various stages of his career. He could leave spectators gasping with his batting, but also with his fielding, as with the leaping one-handed catch he took on the boundary a few days ago in the IPL.

He had to give up wicket-keeping because of a bad back and the captaincy because of the mental strain.

De Villiers played 114 tests and 228 ODIs, and averaged over 50 in both. He is fourth on the list of South Africa's all-time top run-scorers in test cricket with 8,765 runs. He made 22 centuries and 46 half-centuries. In ODIs, he finished with 9,427 runs, the second-most by a South African, and 25 centuries and 52 half-centuries.

De Villiers was equally comfortable hitting cover drives or going down on one knee and scooping the ball over his head for six. He could thrill fans — and even the great India batsman Sachin Tendulkar — with his invention. The ability to improvise and play outrageous shots gave him world records for the fastest ODI 50 (off 16 balls), 100 (31 balls) and 150 (64 balls).

Cricket South Africa President Chris Nenzani said de Villiers' batting was "sheer brilliance".


Ferrari looking to get back on track in F1 at Monaco GP

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany smiles as he walks in the paddock prior to a news conference at the Monaco racetrack, in Monaco, Wednesday, May 23. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Jerome Pugmire

Monaco (AP) — For Ferrari to win in Formula One, it needs to stop gifting points to Mercedes.

Things could start to change at this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix. Ferrari dominated the race last year, securing a 1-2 finish as Sebastian Vettel beat Kimi Raikkonen.

Defending champion Lewis Hamilton has won the last two races with Mercedes this season to move 17 points ahead of Vettel in their title battle despite trailing by the same amount after Vettel won the first two. With both drivers chasing a fifth F1 title to move level with Argentine great Juan Manuel Fangio.

Hamilton and Vettel sat next to each other at a pre-race new conference on Wednesday.

Because of the glare of the cameras, they slipped on sunglasses. Hamilton put his on first, and Vettel quickly followed suit.

Rivals, it seems, in everything they do.

But it's Ferrari that needs to stops conceding points like an unplugged oil leak.

Vettel took pole position in Azerbaijan two races ago. But in that race he found himself second after a botched pit stop. Then, he made a rash error of judgment late on and dropped down to fourth, rather than consolidating a position of strength against Hamilton.

Vettel struggles to contain his composure at times. Late last season, the German driver threw away the chance to regain the championship lead from Hamilton with a similarly brash move during the Singapore GP. It set the tone for the remaining races, as his title bid spiraled out of control.

The lost points are not all down to Vettel, however. At the Spanish GP two weeks ago, he lost track position after Ferrari called him in for an extra stop for tires and finished fourth again. The decision seemed overly risky and revealed a tendency to make panicky calls within the Ferrari team.

"It's fair to summarize Barcelona wasn't a good race for us. We fell a bit behind," Vettel said. "Time will tell if we've found a good direction."

Although Mercedes grabbed a 1-2 finish in Barcelona, it remains to be seen whether it was a one-off and Ferrari still has more pace.

Barcelona's track layout and surface suited Mercedes, whereas Monaco's is more awkward. Because of the tight and twisty nature of the 3.4-kilometer (2.1-mile) street circuit, whoever takes pole position on Saturday is favored for victory in the glittering jewel in the F1 calendar.

"I anticipate it's going to be a difficult weekend and we may not have the pace of the others," Hamilton said. "I think we're working the right direction. But it is up and down. The first five races (of the season) are always very difficult. It's a learning curve."

After a poor race last year — Valtteri Bottas finished fourth and Hamilton was seventh — Mercedes is understandably cautious.

"It's very intense, you have to be more intelligent here than anywhere else," Hamilton said. "It's the most technically and mentally challenging circuit of the season."

Red Bull has a good chance because the curvy track has less long straights, thus negating the superior speed of Mercedes and Ferrari. Both Red Bull drivers have shown good speed, although consistency remains elusive.

Daniel Ricciardo won in China , but teammate Max Verstappen is looking for his first win after an incident-packed season.

The Dutch driver has failed to finish twice and has been embroiled in typically controversial moments. Ricciardo crashed into the back of him in Azerbaijan as they fought for position with a podium in sight, and both went out. It earned both drivers a stern rebuke from team principal Christian Horner, but tensions have apparently appeased.

A strong third-place finish in Spain reassured Verstappen heading to Monaco.


Arsenal hire Unai Emery as Wenger's successor

Arsenal’s new head coach Unai Emery. (AP Photo/David Vincent)

Rob Harris

London (AP) — Arsenal hired Unai Emery as Arsene Wenger's successor on Wednesday in the Premier League club's first managerial appointment in 22 years.

The 46-year-old Spaniard will not enjoy the same authority as Wenger built up at Arsenal, being handed the title of head coach rather than manager.

Arsenal backed off from a gamble on former player Mikel Arteta, who is part of Pep Guardiola's coaching staff at Premier League champions Manchester City. Instead, Arsenal opted for an established coach — and one who has constantly delivered trophies at Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain.

"Several things stood out during his interview and the entire process; his football knowledge, energy, determination and love of the game," Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke said. "His familiarity with our club and our players, the Premier League and the game in Europe were all very impressive. He shares our vision to move forward, to build on the platform created by Arsene Wenger and help this club enjoy greater success."

Emery has the task of restoring Arsenal to the Champions League — and to ultimately deliver the club's first Premier League title since 2004. But he picks up a London team at a low after finishing sixth in the league — the lowest in Wenger's reign.

"I am thrilled to be joining one of the great clubs in the game," Emery said. "Arsenal is known and loved throughout the world for its style of play, its commitment to young players, the fantastic stadium, the way the club is run. I'm very excited to be given the responsibility to start this important new chapter in Arsenal's history."

Emery left PSG earlier this month after two years, a consequence of the failure to carry the dominance on the domestic stage into the Champions League. He has struggled to impose his authority on a talent-packed squad featuring Neymar.

A former midfielder with Real Sociedad, Emery coached Valencia from 2008-12 before taking charge of Sevilla in 2013, following a brief spell at Spartak Moscow.

Emery's reputation was elevated after guiding Sevilla to three straight Europa League titles, but he couldn't make an impact in the continent's more illustrious competition.

PSG became the first team in the Champions League to be eliminated from the knockout stage after winning the first match 4-0, losing 6-1 at Barcelona in the return leg of the last 16 in 2017.

PSG failed to reach the quarterfinals again in Emery's final season, beaten home and away by Real Madrid.

Arsenal, though, are sure they have a "serial winner."

"Unai has an outstanding track record of success throughout his career, has developed some of the best young talent in Europe and plays an exciting, progressive style of football that fits Arsenal perfectly," Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said. "His hard-working and passionate approach and his sense of values on and off the pitch make him the ideal person to take us forward."


Update May 23, 2018

Yates maintains Giro lead, Dennis wins 16th stage time trial

Britain's Simon Yates competes during the 16th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race, from from Trento to Rovereto, Italy, Tuesday, May 22. (Daniel Dal Zennaro/ANSA via AP)

Rovereto, Italy (AP) — Simon Yates is still in control of the Giro d'Italia after the British rider limited his losses to closest rival Tom Dumoulin in the individual time trial on Tuesday.

Dumoulin was more than two minutes behind Yates heading into the 16th stage and, as a time trial specialist, it was seen as his best chance of taking the pink jersey from the Mitchelton-Scott cyclist.

However, Yates still leads Dumoulin by 56 seconds heading into the final five stages.

"I'm really happy," Yates said shortly after crossing the line. "I really gave everything there. I was dying in the final 10 kilometers. I thought I would lose a lot more. I'm really happy. I'm really surprised I've kept the jersey, I'll be honest."

Domenico Pozzovivo remained third but slipped 3:11 behind Yates.

Rohan Dennis of Australia won the 34-kilometer (21-mile) time trial from Trento to Rovereto, beating Tony Martin by 14 seconds. Dumoulin was third, 22 seconds behind the BMC Racing Team cyclist.

"I had a good TT but Rohan Dennis and Tony Martin were better," said Dumoulin, who rides for Team Sunweb. "I wasn't strong enough. Yates also had a very good day so all in all it's disappointing for us but it is what it is. I gave everything today ... I'm keeping my head up and we'll fight until Rome."

Dennis had lost the opening time trial in Israel by two seconds to Dumoulin.

"It's pretty good to beat time-trialists like Tony Martin and Tom Dumoulin," Dennis said. "I came to the Giro to win a stage. I was hoping for Jerusalem to be that one. This stage was a big target for me as well. To win here and jump back in the top 10 is a big day for me."

Chris Froome finished fifth, 35 seconds behind Dennis, to move into fourth overall. The four-time Tour de France champion is 3:50 behind Yates but only 39 seconds behind Pozzovivo and a spot on the podium.

Froome arrived at the Giro bidding to become the third person to win three Grand Tours in a row but he crashed in training before the opening time trial, lost time in a split on stage four and injured himself again in a second crash four days later.

"I gave everything on the road today," Froome said in Italian. "I'm happy because I think I jumped a few places in the standings. For the (general classification), it will be difficult. I'm far from Yates and he's been very, very strong until now. I feel better every day. My legs are better especially after yesterday's rest day. It's not over yet. I'll give everything and we'll see whether I'll finish third or fifth or wherever."

The 17th stage on Wednesday is a hilly 155-kilometer ride from Riva del Garda to Iseo, through the wine region of Franciacorta, before three grueling days in the Alps.

Yates' three stage wins have come on uphill finishes after thrilling attacks.

"There are still some difficult stages to come, I'll look to defend now, unfortunately for the fans," said Yates. "I hope I don't have some bad days, something disastrous happens or anything and I hope to wear it into Rome."

The Giro ends in Rome on Sunday.


Du Plessis' unbeaten 67 anchors Chennai to IPL final

Chennai Super Kings' Faf du Plessis bats during the VIVO IPL cricket T20 match against the Sunrisers Hyderabad in Mumbai, India, Tuesday, May 22. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

Mumbai, India (AP) — Opening batsman Faf de Plessis smashed an unbeaten half century and anchored Chennai Super Kings to their seventh Indian Premier League final with a thrilling two-wicket victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Qualifier 1 on Tuesday.

Du Plessis' 67 off 42 balls took Chennai to 140-8 as the South African brought up the victory with a straight six off Bhuneshwar Kumar's first ball of the last over.

Hyderabad had the match in their grip until the 17th over with Chennai needing 43 runs and three wickets in hand.

But du Plessis caressed three fours and a six as seamer Carlos Brathwaite conceded 20 runs in the 18th over.

No. 10 batsman Shardul Thakur (15 not out) then managed to hit three boundaries off Sidharth Kaul's 19th over which went for 17 runs and put the game beyond Hyderabad's reach.

"Faf's innings is where experience counts," Chennai captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said.

"It's not easy to not play a lot of games, but I always say you need to train your mind as well. That's where the experience comes in. You visualize what your role is, how you can contribute and Faf has been brilliant."

Hyderabad get another chance to have a shot at the title on Sunday against Chennai as they meet the winners of Eliminator 1 between Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals on Friday.

Hyderabad lived up to their reputation of defending low totals after captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and restricted his opponents to 139-8.

Kumar had Shane Watson dismissed for zero with an impeccable away swinger in the first over and Kaul knocked back the stumps of in-form Suresh Raina (22) and Ambati Rayudu (0).

Afghanistan legspinner Rashid Khan (2-11) brilliantly mixed up his googlies and sharp leg breaks in his four overs as he dismissed Dhoni (9) and Dwayne Bravo (7).

Seamer Sandeep Sharma (2-30) had the wickets of Ravindra Jadeja and Deepak Chahar in successive overs of his return spell and reduced Chennai to 92-7 in 15 overs before du Plessis kept his cool and guided Chennai to victory.

Earlier, Hyderabad’s top order stuttered against seamers in the batting powerplay as Shikhar Dhawan dragged Chahar back onto his stumps off the first ball.

Captain Kane Williamson (24) also departed as he gloved Thakur's short pitched delivery to Dhoni behind the wickets in the fifth over.

Bravo then chipped in with 2-25 that included a smart return tumbling catch to dismiss Yusuf Pathan before Brathwaite smashed 43 off 29 balls and Hyderabad scored 51 runs off the last five overs.

"The game did swing our way, and bowlers were outstanding, but we didn't quite execute it like in the past," Williamson said. "Hopefully we can cross the line in Kolkata and come back here (for the final). Faf played a beautiful knock, and credit to the way they scrapped it."


NFL discussing possible steps to deal with anthem protests

David Tepper, left, speaks as NFL commissioner Roger Goodall looks on during a news conference where he was introduced as the new owner of the Carolina Panthers, Tuesday, May 22, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Paul Newberry

Atlanta (AP) — The NFL approved a new owner for the Carolina Panthers, passed a rule to eject players who hit with their helmets, and took steps to spice up the kickoff.

Still to be resolved: a much more contentious issue.

What to do, if anything, about players who kneel during the national anthem?

"We recognize with our visibility and the interest itself that it's taken a life of its own," Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Thursday.

"We ask the world, 'Don't turn your head. Look at us. Wait a minute. Look at the NFL. Look at everything we're doing.' And then when we have some issues we've got to work through, we realize we've asked you to look.

"Let's do as good as we can do."

At their annual spring meeting, league owners welcomed David Tepper to their ranks by signing off on his record $2.2 billion deal to purchase the Panthers from disgraced team founder Jerry Richardson, who abruptly decided to sell after the NFL began investigating alleged sexual and racial misconduct in the workplace.

During a brief news conference in which he took only a handful of questions, Tepper immediately made a bit of news by seeming to imply he would be willing to listen to offers for a new stadium from other cities in North and South Carolina. The team has made no secret of its desire to replace 22-year-old Bank of America Stadium, and its lease runs only through the upcoming season.

"What's the name of the team? Carolina Panthers. It's going to be the Carolina Panthers," Tepper said. "And that means this team has to have some kind of presence in the Carolinas and last time I saw, how many are there? That's right, there's two of them."

But Tepper, a hedge fund owner who is worth a reported $11 billion, also reiterated several times that the largest city in the Carolinas is the "logical place for this team."

"As far as a new stadium, you're asking me too much and the only thing I have a market on now is lack of knowledge," he said. "I'll learn a lot more in the future."

Tepper's purchase was the first order of business at the luxury hotel in Atlanta's tony Buckhead neighborhood.

That was the easy part.

As a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tepper was already familiar to the league's owners and his approval was a mere formality. The vote was unanimous.

Anthem protests are a much thornier issue.

"We certainly want to make and will make a thought-out, deliberate decision," said Jones, who has made it clear he opposes kneeling during the anthem and was one of the few people to speak with reporters in the hotel lobby after the meeting broke up. "Whatever we do, let's put the focus on what the NFL's about and that's playing football."

The owners began discussing the issue — which has reached all the way to the White House — and will talk more before wrapping up their meetings Wednesday.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016, a quiet but powerful protest against police brutality and racial inequities in the justice system.

Other players took up the cause, and the gesture carried on during the 2017 season even after Kaepernick left the 49ers and failed to land a job with another team.

President Trump turned the anthem protests into a campaign issue , saying the NFL should fire any player who takes a knee during "The Star-Spangled Banner." The NFL hasn't gone that far, but Kaepernick has yet to land another job and one of his former teammates and fellow protesters, safety Eric Reid, is also out of work.

Both have filed collusion grievances against the NFL .

"I think there's certainly resolve and I can assure the issue is getting the very best of every owner and the very best look at all our constituencies with an eye first and foremost to our fans. That's No. 1," Jones said.

"We know our fans want us to zero in on football, and they don't want to think about or think that we're thinking about anything other than football."

The NFL was reportedly considering whether to assess a 15-yard penalty against any player who takes a knee or conducts any other protest during the anthem.

Another possible option would be to change up the pregame routine, keeping teams in their respective locker rooms until after the anthem has played.

That is the protocol long followed by college football, preventing anthem protests from being carried out in its stadiums.

The new kickoff rules are aimed at making the high-speed play a bit safer and perhaps more exciting.

Players on the kickoff team can't get a running start, while eight of the return team's 11 players must start out in a 15-yard zone near midfield, forcing them to run down the field alongside the coverage players. That will make the play more like a punt and should improve safety.

Wedge blocks — two blockers teaming up on the same player — will also be banned. In addition, any kick that hits the ground in the end zone will be an automatic touchback.

The new rules will be re-evaluated in 2019 to determine their effectiveness, but the league doesn't want to eliminate kickoffs altogether.

"It's part of the game," said Atlanta Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay, head of the league's competition committee. "If we can make plays more competitive and safer, we should do it."

In another attempt to improve safety, any player who initiates contact with his helmet is subject to ejection after an in-game video review that will be decided in New York.

Al Riveron, the league's head of officiating, said a foul can be called regardless of where on the body — not just the head or neck area — that one player hits another with his helmet. The rule is not position-specific, so offensive players will be subject to the same criteria as defensive players.

"This is about eliminating unnecessary use of the helmet," Riveron said.

If a player is ejected, Riveron and his staff in New York will use network camera angles to determine if the ejection is necessary. He promised that games will not become "an ejection fest" every week.

"Immediately when I learn in New York that there's an ejection, I will ask the network to give me everything you've got," Riveron said. "I will take a look at it, I will rule on it and I will say yes, he's ejected, (or) no, leave him in the game.'"


Eden Park tests on hold as cricket seeks alternative venue

In this March 22, 2018 file photo, the lights begin to take effect in the first day/night match between New Zealand and England at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. (AP Photo/Ross Setford)

Steve McMorran

Wellington, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand Cricket says it favors developing a new test venue in Auckland because Eden Park, which has hosted test matches for 88 years, is no longer financially viable.

Chief executive David White said Eden Park will not host a test when Sri Lanka and Bangladesh tour next year and NZC hopes to see a former speedway track, Western Springs, become the new international cricket venue in New Zealand's biggest city.

Eden Park was a venue in New Zealand's first test series in 1930, hosted the match against the West Indies in which New Zealand claimed its first test win in 1956, hosted a semifinal of the 2015 Cricket World Cup and earlier this year was the venue for New Zealand's first day-night test.

But in a submission to the Auckland Council, as part of its venue development strategy, White said it was a "challenge financially" to stage test matches at Eden Park and it would likely not be awarded tests until an alternative venue in Auckland could be found.

"Auckland is currently missing out significantly on international cricket exposure due, primarily, to the lack of a cost-effective, financially-viable venue," White said. "Eden Park, the only ICC-sanctioned arena in New Zealand's most populous city, is unaffordable for all but the biggest and, by definition, the rarest of international cricket fixtures.

"Additionally, Eden Park's small size and rectangular, football-shaped playing field continually risks compromising the integrity of cricket matches hosted there."

White said those were the reasons the Auckland has hosted just three test matches since 2006, and the number of one-day internationals and T20 internationals played in the city "has been a mere fraction of what it would be were it to offer a fit-for-purpose, international-standard cricket ground."

New Zealand Cricket, he said, hopes to see Western Springs developed into "a full-sized, oval-shaped playing arena; able to cater for both small and large crowds in a relaxed, grass-banked, more cricket-centric surrounding."


Update May 22, 2018

LeBron's 44 helps Cavs even series with Celtics

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) drives past Boston Celtics' Al Horford (42) in the first half of Game 4 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals, Monday, May 21, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Tom Withers

Cleveland (AP) — LeBron James knows the path to the NBA Finals better than anyone in today's game.

And unless the Boston Celtics do something soon, he'll get there again.

James bullied his way to 44 points, surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar atop a postseason list and helped the Cleveland Cavaliers even the Eastern Conference finals at 2-2 on Monday night with a 111-102 victory over the Celtics, who are looking forward to getting home before their adoring fans.

Pushed by a raucous crowd that wasn't so confident a few days ago, the Cavs held off Boston's comeback in the fourth quarter and squared a tight series that is now a best-of-three.

Cleveland is trying to become the 20th team — out of 300 — to overcome a 2-0 deficit and James, who has already orchestrated two such rallies and is seeking his eighth straight finals, is a step closer to a third.

But to do it again the Cavs will have to win in Boston, where the Celtics are 9-0 this postseason.

"It's a hostile environment," James said. "We understand that, we know that there's no love in there. If you ain't got on green, if you don't play for that team, if you don't bleed green, they got no love for you. So we've got to come out with a bunker mentality and understand it's just us. It's going to be a great atmosphere."

Game 5 is Wednesday night at TD Center, and Celtics coach Brad Stevens is trying to stay positive with a team that has given up a 2-0 lead and fell to 1-6 on the road in these playoffs.

"It's the best two out of three to go to the NBA Finals. Doesn't get better than that," he said. "Ultimately, anybody that didn't think this was going to be tough, I mean, everything is tough. In this deal, it's a blast to have to grit your teeth, get up off the mat and go after it again."

Kyle Korver added 14 points and Cleveland's sharp-shooting 37-year-old added several hustle plays, outrunning three Celtics in one sequence and diving for a loose ball. Tristan Thompson had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavs. Kevin Love had just nine points on 3-of-12 shooting and was in foul trouble, but he made a big 3-pointer and follow shot in the fourth quarter.

Jaylen Brown scored 25 and Boston had all five scorers in double figures, but the Celtics fell behind by 19 in the first half and didn't have enough to catch Cleveland.

And, of course, they didn't have James, who moved past Abdul-Jabbar (2,356) for the most field goals in playoff history. James also recorded his 25th career postseason game with at least 40 points — his sixth in this postseason.

The Celtics hung around in the second half and pulled within 100-93 on Marcus Smart's basket with 4:29 left. But Thompson got free for a dunk, and after a miss by Boston, James recovered after making his seventh turnover by making a steal and layup.

Moments later, James drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing to finally put away the young Celtics, who will now feel the immense pressure of trying to hold off the three-time champion.

"He's the best in the game at evaluating the court and figuring out what he wants and where he wants it," Stevens said. "The thing about it is that you just have to battle. You just have to make it as hard as possible, because he's going to find a matchup that he ultimately wants."

Stevens considered changing his starting lineup, but decided to stick with the same first five — Brown, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris, Al Horford, and Terry Rozier — as the first three games.

Boston's starters held their own, but none of them was able to match James when it mattered most.

TIP-INS

Celtics: Stevens was evasive about his starting lineup during his pregame news conference, not wanting to give the Cavs any advance notice. "We will start five people. I promise," he said, drawing laughs from media members. ... Injured stars Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving are not traveling with the team so they can continue their respective rehabs. Both have been sitting on the bench with their teammates in Boston.

Cavaliers: Won their seventh straight playoff game at home. ... James also recorded his 106th 30-point game in the postseason. Only Michael Jordan (109) has more. ... Love threw one of his patented "touchdown" passes in the first quarter to James, who outmaneuvered Smart and Brown like a wide receiver to make the catch and score. ... Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 pick in last month's NFL draft, attended the game. ... Improved to 9-3 vs. Boston in the playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena.

BLOCK PARTY

The Cavs finished with eight blocks, including three by Korver.

SLOW START

For the second game in a row, the Celtics struggled in the first quarter.

Boston got some open looks, but shot just 27 percent (7 of 26) in the first 12 minutes with both Tatum and Brown missing dunks. Also, Morris picked up three quick fouls.

BLOWOUT CITY

Like most fans, Lue has been stunned — but not necessarily disappointed — by the number of lopsided wins in the playoffs, especially in the semifinals.

The first six games between Boston-Cleveland and Houston-Golden State were decided by an average of 24 points. The Warriors won Game 3 on Sunday night by 41, the largest margin of victory in franchise history.

"It does surprise me," he said. "All four teams are really good. But the home court has shown it's been a factor."

UP NEXT

Game 5 is Wednesday in Boston.


Stanley Cup-bound Vegas turning impossible into possible

Vegas Golden Knights' players celebrate after defeating the Winnipeg Jets during the NHL Western Conference Finals in Winnipeg, Sunday, May 20. (Trevor Hagan/The Canadian Press via AP)

W.G. Ramirez

Las Vegas (AP) — Welcome to Impossible.

Those words have been projected onto the ice in big, bold letters at T-Mobile Arena before each game during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Well, the Vegas Golden Knights are turning impossible into possible.

The stunningly successful expansion squad is headed to the Stanley Cup Final after beating the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Sunday to win the Western Conference final series in five games.

"I remember eight months ago, when we won against Dallas (in the season opener), we had that unbelievable feeling," Vegas center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said. "Doesn't feel like we're satisfied. It's a good feeling when you know the guys are excited for the next one."

The Golden Knights are the third franchise in NHL history to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Final in its inaugural season, joining the Toronto Arenas in 1918 and St. Louis Blues in 1968.

Vegas will play either Tampa Bay or Washington on hockey's biggest stage. The Lightning lead the Eastern Conference final 3-2, but the Capitals host Game 6 on Monday night.

"Either way, we're not going to be favorites," said Jonathan Marchessault, who leads Vegas with 18 points in the postseason. "That's been the case all year. Tampa has been the best team all year. Washington, (they're) playing great hockey right now. Either way, we're not going to be favorites, and that's fine with us. We went all year like that and we're going to keep going."

Hence, "The Golden Misfits" tag.

Nobody could have scripted Vegas, a 500-1 long shot at the start of the season, making the playoffs — let alone earning a shot at Lord Stanley's Cup.

But the Golden Knights, who finished fifth in the league during the regular season, just knocked off the No. 2 team in the regular season in Winnipeg, which in the conference semifinals knocked off the No. 1 team in the regular season, Nashville.

Vegas clinched all three of its Western Conference series on the road, becoming the seventh team in NHL history to accomplish such a feat.

"Everybody on this team has something to prove," said Winnipeg native Ryan Reaves, who scored the winning goal Sunday in his hometown. "We call ourselves 'The Golden Misfits' for a reason. We're doing a good job of proving everybody wrong."

Just as they have all season, they are living in the moment.

Vegas, which had just two players under contract at this time last year, heads into the final round with a 12-3 playoff record after outscoring its Western Conference opponents 42-27.

It's a credit to coach Gerard Gallant's philosophy of having a well-conditioned, confident group of forwards who work well together, focus on short effective shifts, and exude confidence on the ice - all while, as he reiterates it daily, playing 200 feet of hockey.

And while the Golden Knights haven't necessarily been a high-scoring threat, scoring just three or fewer goals in 12 of their 15 playoff games, their defensemen have played exceptional to this point. Vegas has allowed the least amount of goals in the playoffs, among teams that have played 10 games. It was a stifling and disruptive defense that helped propel the Golden Knights past the Jets on Sunday, with their sixth win in eight road games during the postseason.

"Everybody's stepping up at different times during the season," said goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who has 12 wins, four shutouts, a .947 save percentage and 1.68 goals against average. "That's a big reason why we've been playing consistently."

The key cog in Vegas' engine has been Fleury, whose remarkable play has translated into a career-best postseason. He has allowed two or fewer goals in 10 of 15 playoff games, and is heading to the Stanley Cup final for a third consecutive year. And whether he admits it or not, the 14-year veteran still bears the scars of being left exposed by Pittsburgh last summer after spending the first 13 years of his career with the Penguins.

Gallant, who remained coy about his team's aspirations during the regular season, made it clear the Golden Knights haven't reached their goal.

"It's been an awesome ride so far," said Gallant, who some might also consider a "misfit" after Florida fired him following a road game at Carolina last season, then left him and his luggage on the curb outside PNC Arena. "We're going to the Stanley Cup Final, but again, this isn't what we want. We want to win.

"It's great to win tonight and it's great to be the (conference) champions," Gallant added, "but that's not what we're here for."

Even as impossible as that all seemed just a few months ago.


French Open organizers won't give Serena Williams a seeding

In this Wednesday, March 21, 2018 file photo, Serena Williams returns to Naomi Osaka, of Japan, during the Miami Open tennis tournament, in Key Biscayne, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Andrew Dampf & Samuel Petrequin

Paris (AP) — Serena Williams' return to Grand Slam tennis from maternity leave just got even tougher.

French Open organizers announced on Monday they will not give Williams a seeding.

"This year again, tournament officials will establish the list and ranking of the women's seeds based on the WTA ranking," the French Tennis Federation said in a statement to The Associated Press. "Consequently, (the seeds) will reflect this week's world ranking."

Williams, a three-time French Open champion, is expected to play in her first major since giving birth to her daughter in September.

While Williams can enter Roland Garros under the WTA's protected or "special" ranking rule, it's up to Grand Slam organizers to give her a seed.

While she was No. 1 when she left the tour to give birth, Williams is currently ranked No. 453.

Without a seeding, the 23-time Grand Slam champion risks facing highly ranked players in the early rounds.

The WTA is considering a rule change to add protected seeding for highly ranked players returning from maternity leave but the earliest that could take effect is next year.

Several of Williams' biggest rivals believe she deserves a seeding.

"I would like to see that (rule) change," Maria Sharapova said at the Italian Open last week.

"It's such an incredible effort for a woman to come back from physically, emotionally. ... There's just another whole dimension to the travel, to the experiences, to the emotions to the physicality of every single day.

"Tennis is such a selfish sport but I think when there's a child in your life you lose a little bit of that, because there's something that's so much more important," added Sharapova, who has lost three Grand Slam finals to Williams. "So, yeah, I definitely think that would be a nice change."

The French Open draw will be made on Thursday, with the tournament starting on Sunday.

"It's normal to give birth. It's normal to have protected ranking. ... It's more than tennis," top-ranked Simona Halep said. "So the people will decide what seed she will get. But in my opinion it's good to protect the ranking when someone is giving birth."

Williams returned to the tour briefly in March after a 14-month absence. She was not seeded at tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami, and compiled two wins and two losses.

Williams has recounted the difficulties she faced in childbirth, and a pulmonary embolism made it hard for her to breathe shortly after her daughter was born. But after a period of training, coach Patrick Mouratoglou last week told the WTA tour website, "Serena will play the French Open to win it."

Current rules covering maternity leave and injuries allow a protected or "special" ranking to be utilized for entry into tournaments but not for seeding purposes regardless of the reason for a player's absence.

However, this past year the WTA adjusted the rule so that absences for maternity leave are treated the same as those for injury and illness by providing all players a two-year window to begin using a special ranking, plus an additional year from the date of return to utilize the special ranking.

"Historically, WTA players have not been supportive of the use of special rankings for seeding purposes," the WTA said in a statement to The AP. "The rule is currently under further review as part of our 2019 rules process. We remain committed to evolving with the needs of our players and are very supportive of those players returning from maternity leave to the tour."

Fourth-ranked Elina Svitolina, who retained her Italian Open title on Sunday, was also supportive of seeding Williams.

"If you're like finished or you stopped because you're going to have a child and you will be in top eight, I think you should have this kind of thing, to have protected seeding," Svitolina said. "She was No. 1 so she deserves seeding."

William has won the French Open more than any current player, and last year's champion, Jelena Ostapenko, is looking forward to her return.

"She's someone who the tour was missing, because she's a great champion," Ostapenko said. "She was my idol since I was growing up."


Russian billionaire Abramovich runs into UK visa issues

In this file photo dated Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich sits in his box before the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge stadium in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Nataliya Vasilyeva

Moscow (AP) — An associate of Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich confirmed Monday that the Russian billionaire's British visa has not been renewed. Abramovich was noticeably absent from the stands when Chelsea won England's FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday.

The associate told The Associated Press that Abramovich's visa renewal application is taking longer than usual to go through, saying the reason for the delay was unclear. He spoke on the condition of not being identified because he was not authorized to comment publicly.

Britain pledged to review the long-term visas of rich Russians in the aftermath of the March poisonings of Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury. Britain blames Russia for the pair's exposure to a nerve agent, an allegation Moscow strongly denies.

The poisonings sparked a Cold War-style diplomatic crisis between Russia and the West, including the expulsion of hundreds of diplomats from both sides.

Then-Home Secretary Amber Rudd said in March that the British government was reviewing Tier 1 investor visas granted to about 700 wealthy Russians.

Abramovich's visa troubles first were reported Sunday by the Russian media outlet The Bell. It quoted two unnamed sources as saying the soccer team owner's British visa expired last month.

The British government said it would not comment on individual cases. Prime Minister Theresa May's office said visa applications from Russia are dealt with "rigorously and properly."

Yenisei Krasnoyarsk, a little-known team that will debut in the Russian Premier League next season, recommended that Abramovich put his considerable resources elsewhere if he can't make it to Chelsea games.

"Roman Arkadyevich (Abramovich), a Siberian club with great potential just got promoted," the club wrote on Twitter late Sunday. "We aren't hinting at anything.".


 


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