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Update July 2018


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Update July 21-22, 2018

Johnson and Kisner, housemates and British Open leaders

Zach Johnson of the US celebrates after holing out on the 18th green during the second round of the British Open Golf Championship in Carnoustie, Scotland, Friday July 20. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Doug Ferguson

Carnoustie, Scotland (AP) — A light rain in the morning that gave way to soft sunlight in the afternoon took some of the sting out of Carnoustie.

Just not all of it.

Kevin Kisner found that out with one swing that erased his two-shot lead Friday in the British Open and left him tied with housemate Zach Johnson. He hit an 8-iron that only needed to go 150 yards to clear the Barry Burn in front of the 18th green. Instead, it floated out of the yellow grass to the right, bounced off the base of the rock wall that frames the winding stream and led to a double bogey.

Disappointed but not down, Kisner removed his cap behind the green and scratched his head as if he wondered what hit him.

"They call it 'Car-nasty' for a reason," he said after signing for his 1-under 70. "Even when you think you've got it, it will jump up and bite you."

It took a chunk out of Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas, the Nos. 1 and 2 players in the world who won't be around for the weekend. Johnson finished with a double bogey to miss the cut by one. Thomas made three straight double bogeys on the front nine and missed by one.

And it left a wide-open weekend on a course with a history of crazy finishes.

Zach Johnson, whose name already is on the claret jug from his playoff victory at St. Andrews three years ago, played in the morning under an umbrella and finished with a 30-foot birdie putt for a 67.

Johnson and Kisner are staying in a house of seven players — five of them major champions — and share the lead at 6-under 136.

They played on different ends of a day that started gray and ended with shadows. Scotland's unusually dry summer finally got a reprieve. There wasn't enough rain to turn brown fairways green, though it at least kept shots from rolling endlessly.

They head into a weekend with endless possibilities.

One shot behind were Tommy Fleetwood (65), Pat Perez (68) and Xander Schauffele (66). Perez was tied for the lead until he hit into a bunker on the 18th hole and took bogey. Rory McIlroy, pledging to "go down swinging" to rid himself of a bad Masters memory this year, had another 69 and was part of a large group two shots behind.

Jordan Spieth also is in the mix in his bid to take the claret jug back home to Texas. Spieth hit 8-iron through a gap in the trees for a birdie-birdie start to the back nine, and he dropped only one shot — not four like he did on Thursday — over the four closing holes at Carnoustie for a 67. He goes into the weekend just three shots back.

"Very happy to be back in the tournament," Spieth said.

Tiger Woods still has work to do after a rugged start, good recovery and then a mix of birdies and bogeys that left him stuck in neutral on a better day for scoring. Woods had another 71 and was six shots behind, with 28 players between him and the lead.

"We've been fortunate with the conditions. It hasn't blown yet," Kisner said. "I think it will blow this weekend and make it even more difficult. Who knows what's going to happen? We're going to just keep trying to get after it."

Carnoustie was a far different test from the opening round, when sunshine baked the fairways crisp and it was difficult to figure out how far the ball was going when it hit the ground. The steady, light rain made them a little slower and a lot more predictable. The greens held shots a little better. Strategies changed. Slightly softer conditions meant power players who were driving beyond the trouble hit more irons off the tee, and shorter players hit more drivers and fairway metals.

Kisner hit 5-iron off the first tee Thursday. He hit 3-wood Friday.

"Hit the same club as the approach," Kisner said. "That's a pretty dramatic difference in distance."

Kisner is a newcomer to what amounts to an American fraternity house at golf's oldest championship the last three years. Four of them are among the top 11 on the leaderboard going into the weekend with Spieth and Rickie Fowler, who shot 69 and was at 3-under 139.

As for talking shop after work? Nothing is off limits.

"Everybody will tell their horror stories and good stories, and we'll laugh and eat a big old meal and sit around and watching something stupid," Kisner said.

Thomas will have one of the horror stories.

The PGA champion took three to get out of a pot bunker from the fairway on the par-5 sixth hole, making the first of three straight double bogeys. Johnson became the first No. 1 player to miss the cut since Luke Donald in 2011, and it was the second straight that the top two players in the world ranking missed the cut in a major.

The way golf has been going, it would be reasonable to see the name "Johnson" atop the leaderboard and assume it belonged to the top-ranked player.

But not necessarily at the British Open.

"I've been called Dustin many times," Zach Johnson said. "I doubt he's been called Zach that many times."

Johnson overcame a bogey on the opening hole with birdies on the third and fourth holes, and he never put himself under too much pressure the rest of the way.

Already a two-time major champion with titles at St. Andrews and Augusta National, the 42-year-old from Iowa now has made the cut 12 straight times in the British Open, a streak that began at Carnoustie in 2007. His low ball flight, grinding nature and good putting give him the right ingredients.

Kisner is no stranger to pressure at a major. He had at least a share of the lead after each of three rounds at the PGA Championship last summer until a bogey on the 70th hole ruined his chances.

"Hopefully, I'll have another chance to prove that I can do it here," Kisner said.


Sagan takes third win at Tour, Thomas keeps lead on Stage 13

Slovakia's Peter Sagan, wearing the best sprinter's green jersey, crosses the finish line to win the thirteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling in Valence, France, Friday July 20. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Joseph Wilson

Valence, France (AP) — After most of the other top sprinters at the Tour de France succumbed in the Alps, Peter Sagan was in prime position to dominate Friday's flat finish.

Cycling's world champion did not disappoint, timing his move to reach maximum speed as he swung past two challengers to claim Stage 13 by a wheel length and take his third win of this race.

Seconds after Sagan reasserted his status as the most feared finisher left on the Tour, overall leader Geraint Thomas safely crossed in the pack along with teammate — and nearest challenger — Chris Froome.

Behind about 20 riders with a kilometer to go, Sagan charged to overtake runner-up Alexander Kristoff and Arnaud Demare, who finished third, at the finish line.

Sagan's 11th career win at the world's biggest bike race came after he was the fastest to the line in bunch sprints on Stages 2 and 5.

This time, Sagan was racing against a field of sprinters greatly depleted by three grueling days in the mountains.

Fernando Gaviria and Dylan Groenewegen, who both won two stages on this Tour, along with Andre Greipel all abandoned the race on Thursday, while 30-stage winner Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel failed to make the time cut on Wednesday.

Sagan said their absence made sprinting "messy."

"It's changed," he said. "Everybody wants to do a sprint now. It's pretty messy."

Facing no attacks on the flat stage, Thomas had no trouble maintaining his advantage of 1 minute, 39 seconds over defending champion Froome.

Tom Dumoulin stayed third overall at 1:50 behind. Primoz Roglic was fourth at 2:46, and Romain Bardet was fifth at 3:07 back.

After overzealous fans marred Thomas' win on Thursday atop the Alpe d'Huez, the otherwise complete calm of Friday's leg was briefly disturbed by a man on the roadside who tossed a smoke bomb into the center of the peloton as it passed by with 16 kilometers left.

Thomas said he didn't see the smoke bomb which, besides spitting out yellow fumes, appeared to do no harm.

As for the jeers directed toward him and Froome by fans skeptical of Froome's clearance from doping allegations days before the start of the Tour, he said it was part of being in the spotlight.

"I would rather be on the podium and be booed than be on the bus and have everyone cheering me," Thomas said.

Thomas did ask for fans to not interfere in the race after Froome was slapped on the back going up Alpe d'Huez and contender Vincenzo Nibali was forced to quit after he broke a vertebra when knocked to the ground by a police motorbike tasked with keeping back the crowd.

The 169.5-kilometer (105-mile) leg starting from Bourg d'Oisans at the foot of the Alpe d'Huez delayed the resolution to the burning question of this race: Is Thomas really Sky's top option while Froome seeks a fifth Tour title?

Thomas has said that although he would work to support Froome, he is not going to intentionally lose time.

But with Thomas so far proving to be the stronger rider even in the mountains where Froome normally makes his mark, their team appears ready to let the road decide.

"We've got two cards to play and it's good for our strategy," Sky sports director Nicolas Portal said before Friday's stage.

"Who knows how long (Geraint) can hold this top level? Same for Froomey. The most important thing is the group is strong and we have the best position."

Saturday's Stage 14 is a hilly 188-kilometer trek from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Mende as the race makes its way to the Pyrenees Mountains.

And Froome seems eager for the action to return.

"Tomorrow we can see some good battles between the favorites," Froome said.


Verstappen sets new lap record in second German GP practice

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands gets a pit service during the first free practice at the Hockenheimring racetrack in Hockenheim, Germany, Friday, July 20. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

Jerome Pugmire

Hockenheim, Germany (AP) — Max Verstappen set a new lap record in leading the second practice for the German Grand Prix on Friday.

The 20-year-old Dutch driver clocked 1 minute, 13.085 seconds to eclipse veteran Kimi Raikkonen's time of 1:13.78 from 2004.

"We have a good balance in the car, short and long run (speed)," Verstappen said. "It was a nice surprise to start so competitively. The others will be quicker for qualifying, but certainly a better-than-expected start."

Verstappen also made it a Red Bull 1-2, after teammate Daniel Ricciardo was best in the first practice before drifting back in the afternoon.

"We seem to be in the ballpark and that's encouraging," said Ricciardo, who has won two races this season.

Lewis Hamilton was second quickest in both sessions. His Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas finished third in the second practice, with championship leader Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari in fourth.

After a rocky start to the season, Verstappen has hit a rich vein of form, securing four podium finishes in the past six races.

He briefly had cause for worry ahead of Saturday's third practice and qualifying.

"What's going on with the engine?" he said worriedly, before returning to the garage near the end of P2. "I'm hearing a lot of noise."

Verstappen explained it was a minor oil leak which was soon resolved.

Both sessions were bathed in hot sunshine at the Hockenheimring track in southwest Germany's Baden-Wuerttemberg region bordering France. The circuit has several fast straights on the 4.6-kilometer (2.8-mile) track, meaning fans can hope for an exciting race.

Ricciardo, however, is unlikely to be on the podium, let alone win. He starts from last on Sunday because of a grid penalty. He incurred it because his team made changes to the hybrid system, the energy store and the electronics unit for a combined total of 20 grid positions.

Still, Ricciardo plans to entertain the crowd with some trademark overtaking moves.

"I prepared myself knowing I would probably take the penalties here, and I'm pretty excited to come through the field," the Australian driver said. "I'll find the right perspective. For me it will be satisfying and for everyone watching it should be pretty fun as well."

Drivers are allowed to use two of each specific engine part during the season before penalties, but this is the third time Ricciardo is using each individual element. His team felt it necessary to make changes here, rather than incur penalties for doing so at the race in Hungary next weekend. Red Bull is expected to compete strongly at the Hungaroring, which is one of F1's toughest tracks to overtake on.

"We don't want to take this penalty in Budapest, for sure," Red Bull technical director Pierre Wache said. "It's part of the tactical aspect."

Earlier, Verstappen was third in P1 followed by Vettel, Bottas, and Raikkonen.

In another encouraging performance, Charles Leclerc placed ninth and eighth in his two runs with a considerably slower Sauber car.

Leclerc has greatly impressed in his debut season.

The 20-year-old from Monaco has taken points in five of 10 races, exceeding expectations, with a best finish of sixth at the Azerbaijan GP.

He has driven with such maturity and composure, that he is already being touted to replace Raikkonen at Ferrari next year.


Chepkoech smashes 3000m steeplechase world record by over 8s

Kenya's Beatrice Chepkoech poses below the indicating board after setting a new women's 3000m steeplechase World Record during the IAAF Diamond League Athletics meeting at the Louis II Stadium in Monaco, Friday, July 20. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

Monaco (AP) — Mission accomplished for Beatrice Chepkoech, who set out to break the 3,000-meter steeplechase world record and smashed it by more than eight seconds on Friday.

Chepkoech clocked 8 minutes, 44.32 seconds at the Herculis Diamond League meeting, becoming the first Kenyan woman to hold the 3,000 steeplechase world record.

The previous mark was 8:52.78 set by Ruth Jebet of Bahrain two years ago in Paris.

Chepkoech, who finished fourth at the 2016 Olympics and 2017 world championships, dropped all of her rivals with three laps left and won by more than 16 seconds.

"I wanted to break the world record, that was the plan from the beginning of the season," she said. "And I was aware the biggest chance would be at Monaco due to weather, crowds, and the whole environment. And this plan worked well."

In Chepkoech's slipstream, Courtney Frerichs was a distant runner-up but crossed in 9:00.85 to set the U.S. record.

Chepkoech's feat came just hours after the IAAF announced Jebet, the Olympic champion, was among 109 athletes and coaches facing disciplinary action for doping and other offences. Jebet was included in a list of athletes provisionally suspended after a positive test for EPO in February.

Earlier, Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas set a world-leading time of 48.97 seconds to win the 400 meters.

Miller-Uibo, who set the previous fastest time in the world this year of 49.52 in Eugene in May, came off the final turn with a small lead over 20-year-old Bahrain runner Salwa Eid Naser and held over the final section to set a new meet record in the Principality.

Naser, who won the past four Diamond League meetings in Oslo, Stockholm, Paris, and Lausanne, finished second in 49.08, her new personal best.

Shakima Wimbley of the U.S. was third.

World and Olympic 800 champion Caster Semenya dominated and prevailed in 1:54.60, failing to better the personal best of 1:54.25 she set last month in Paris.

"It was a great race, unfortunately I did not hit the mark we wanted," Semenya said. "We just need to be a bit patient."

On the men's side, double Olympic and triple world champion Christian Taylor of the United States won the triple jump at 17.86 meters.

American sprinter Noah Lyles remained unbeaten in the Diamond League over 200 meters, winning in 19.65 seconds, his new personal best and the fastest time this year.

Lyles' time was also a meet record, and he celebrated his victory with a back flip at Stade Louis II.

"It was a great race, improving the meet record," Lyles said. "I did the same start as I did in Prefontaine and I could feel it, it gives me confidence in what I can do next. Now I'm going to the Birmingham Diamond League, and finally Zurich to hopefully get a win."


Update July 20, 2018

Rowdy Tour fans tarnish win for Thomas atop Alpe d'Huez

Colombia's Egan Arley Bernal Gomez, Britain's Geraint Thomas, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, and Britain's Chris Froome climb Alpe d'Huez during the twelfth stage of the Tour de France cycling race, Thursday, July 19. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Andrew Dampf

Alpe d'Hhuez, France (AP) — One of cycling's big attractions is that fans don't have to pay to watch — and they can get as close as they want to the riders.

The sport paid for that unlimited access Thursday when unruly spectators interrupted the most iconic climb of the Tour de France.

With fans pressing too close to an elite group of riders at the conclusion of the 21 hairpin bends up to Alpe d'Huez, top contender Vincenzo Nibali crashed into a police motorbike and later withdrew from the race, four-time champion Chris Froome received some undesired contact on his back, and yellow jersey holder Geraint Thomas was booed on the podium.

"If people don't like Sky and want to boo, that's fine. Boo all you like, but don't affect the race," Thomas said. "Don't touch the riders. Don't spit at us. Voice your opinions all you want but let us do the racing."

Attitudes toward Sky soured when Froome was involved in an asthma drug case stemming from last year's Spanish Vuelta — even though he was cleared of wrongdoing just days before the Tour started.

Froome is attempting to match the record of five Tour victories shared by Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

Thomas sprinted away from Sky teammate Froome and a couple of other riders to win Stage 12, becoming the first rider in Tour history to win atop Huez in the yellow jersey.

Lance Armstrong won an individual time trial up Huez in 2004 while wearing yellow but that victory was later stripped for doping.

"Unbelievable. Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would win up here," Thomas said. "It's one of those things that's going to stay with me for the rest of my life."

But Thomas acknowledged that Nibali's crash took some of the luster away from his victory.

Thomas rode over Nibali's rear wheel — when the Italian went down — but managed to stay upright. Nibali, the 2014 champion got back up but finished seventh in the stage, then was taken to the local hospital for medical tests for a suspected back injury.

"He should have been fighting for victory," Thomas said of Nibali. "It's a bit of a downer on the day."

Nibali said: "The road became narrower and there were no barriers. There were two police motorbikes. When Froome accelerated, I followed him, I was feeling good. Then we slowed down and I hit the ground."

Nibali was diagnosed with a fractured vertebra and the Bahrain-Merida rider later tweeted that he was withdrawing from the Tour.

Tom Dumoulin crossed second, two seconds behind Thomas, and Romain Bardet came third, three seconds back.

Froome, who finished fourth, four seconds behind, refused to talk to reporters afterward. A fan who allegedly hit him during the stage was put in handcuffs by French police.

"You expect professional athletes to play sport and entertain without being touched or impacted on by the crowd," Sky general manager Dave Brailsford said. "Part of the joy of our sport is how close the crowd gets. But we have to bear in mind that if it impacts on the race, as it did with Nibali today, then that's too much."

Thomas extended his lead over Froome in the overall standings to 1 minute, 39 seconds. He'll likely hold on to the yellow jersey for at least several more days as the Tour returns to flatter roads for Stages 13 and 14 before the climbs resume in the Massif Central and the Pyrenees.

With questions over which rider Sky is backing for victory, it was a bold demonstration of strength by Thomas, who has been Froome's loyal lieutenant for years.

"In my eyes Froomey is still our leader," Thomas said. "I'm just going to enjoy it now."

Dumoulin is third overall, 1:50 behind, while Nibali recovered to hold on to fourth, 2:37 back, before withdrawing.

The last and most feared of the three stages in the Alps this year, the 175.5-kilometer (109-mile) leg began in Bourg-Saint-Maurice and took the peloton over three grueling, beyond-category climbs.

Fans lined every corner of the climb to Huez, many of them amateur cyclists who tested their legs on the ascent a few hours before the professionals, while others had camped out for days.

As usual there were many rowdy fans on the "Dutch corner" located two-thirds of the way up.

Riders had to navigate their way through smoke in a variety of colors — red, blue and orange.

Before Huez, riders had already scaled the lengthy ascents to Col de la Madeleine and Col de la Croix-de-Fer (Pass of the Iron Cross) plus the shorter but spectacular Lacets de Montvernier — a miniature Huez featuring a photogenic series of 18 switchbacks.

Part of an early breakaway group, Dutch rider Steven Kruijswijk launched a solo attack up the Col de la Croix-de-Fer and crossed the summit above the tree-line with a six-minute lead over the peloton. But he was caught by Froome on the way up to Huez with 3.5 kilometers remaining.

"We didn't expect Kruijswijk to attack so hard," Thomas said. "They really took the race to us."

Froome had attacked with four kilometers to go but couldn't quite drop Thomas, Dumoulin and Bardet.

Rigoberto Uran, last year's runner-up, withdrew before the stage began, having failed to recover from a crash on the cobblestones in Stage 9.

The mountainous route was a nightmare for muscular sprinters. Fernando Gaviria and Dylan Groenewegen, who each won two stages each in this year's race, withdrew midway through, as did Andre Greipel.

The three-week race ends July 29 in Paris.


Kisner takes lead, Carnoustie holds its own at British Open

Kevin Kisner of the US putts on the 18th green during the first round of the British Open Golf Championship in Carnoustie, Scotland, Thursday July 19. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Doug Ferguson

Carnoustie, Scotland (AP) — The silver claret jug was on the first tee Thursday morning at Carnoustie, a trophy that Kevin Kisner knows all too well.

Kisner flew home from the British Open last year with Jordan Spieth, a flight that was delayed while waiting on Spieth to finish up his duties as the champion golfer of the year. Just last week, Kisner was on the plane with Spieth to Paris to see the Ryder Cup course, and Spieth had to bring the jug along to return it to the R&A when they arrived at this links along the North Sea.

"And I'm staying with him this week, and he no longer has it," Kisner said. "He gave it back Monday. It would be cool to return the favor."

Kisner played like he was serious about that.

He made a long eagle putt on the par-5 sixth. He ran off three straight birdies on the back nine. Kisner finished with a 5-under 66 before some 60 players had even started the opening round, and nobody could catch him.

In what might be the easiest conditions of the week, Kisner kept the ball in play and made just about everything. He took only 22 putts and had a one-shot lead, giving him little more than bragging rights in the house of stars where he is staying, with roommates that include five major champions and Rickie Fowler.

"The golf course is great for me," Kisner said. "The conditions have been fine. Going forward, you never know what you're going to have in Scotland. I know the rain is coming in tomorrow. I don't think the rain is going to affect how the golf course is playing in one day, but I have to just keep doing what I'm doing. If I have 22 puts the next three days, I bet I'll have a pretty good shot."

Carnoustie still managed to hold its own.

One shot behind was a collection of players with little history in golf's biggest events, including Erik Van Rooyen and Zander Lombard of South Africa. Tony Finau had eight birdies to offset his share of mistakes to join them at 67.

Of the top seven on the leaderboard, none has won a major.

Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm powered their way to 69s, going for the green on short par 4s. Tiger Woods took out his driver one time and shot 71, a round slowed by a short putt he missed and a pot bunker he couldn't avoid.

"I played better than what the score indicates," Woods said. "I had two 8-irons into both par 5s today, and I end up with par on both of those. If I just clean up those two holes and play them the way I'm supposed to play them with 8-iron in my hand, I think I'd probably have the best round in the afternoon wave."

Almost. Eleven of the 31 players who broke par were in the afternoon side of the draw.

Even so, no one could really low. And those 31 players who broke par were separated by just four shots.

Three of Kisner's housemates also were under par — PGA champion Justin Thomas (69), two-time major champion Zach Johnson (70) and Fowler (70). Another is Spieth, who was in range of the lead until he made one mental error and two bad swings while dropping four shots over the last four holes for a 72 that didn't do too much damage.

Even in gentle weather by Scottish standards, Carnoustie served up its usual dose of craziness.

Padraig Harrington holed a short putt for par on the opening hole and turned to leave when he saw a golf ball trundle onto the green. It was the tee shot of U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka, who hit driver off the tee to set up an easy birdie.

That was as easy as it got for Koepka for the next two hours. He shot 41 on the front nine. And then he shot 31 on the back nine.

"The scores probably weren't as low as we anticipated, but 1 over is not the worst," Koepka said. "Definitely didn't shoot myself out of it, which very easily could have happened."

Sergio Garcia hit a drive that never stopped rolling on No. 10 until it dropped over the edge of Barry Burn. The water was shallow enough for the former Masters champion to smash through a ball rock and water to get the club on the ball and escape without further damage.

Carnoustie was not kind to everyone.

Dustin Johnson, the world's No. 1 player, managed only one birdie in his round of 76, his highest start in the Open since his debut at Turnberry in 2009. Masters champion Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama, Bubba Watson and Garcia were all at 75 and now have to worry about just getting to the weekend.

On the longest day — from Sandy Lyle hitting the opening tee shot at 6:35 a.m. and the group including newcomer Bronson Burgoon finishing off the first round nearly 13 hours later — everyone had their own style of getting around the course reputed to be the toughest links in golf.

"Different players are going to have a different way to see how they're going to play this golf course," McIlroy said. "I know Tiger is out there hitting a lot of irons off tees and doing it his own way. No one's going to argue with him — he did it like at Hoylake, and he was able to win there."

There's one difference, Woods said.

"Hoylake is flat. This is not," Woods said. "And when Hideki hits a 3-wood 400 yards into a burn, you know it's kind of quick. A couple of my 6-irons went about 240. It's hard for people to understand it, but it's just the nature of this golf course."


F1 champion Lewis Hamilton signs new contract with Mercedes

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during free practice at the Silverstone racetrack, Silverstone, England, Saturday, July 7. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Jerome Pugmire

Hockenheim, Germany (AP) — Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has finally signed a new contract with Mercedes.

After months of deliberation and stalling, the four-time F1 champion penned a new deal with Mercedes until 2020. No figures were given in a Mercedes statement on Thursday, but it is reportedly estimated at 40 million pounds per year.

Mercedes has won the past four drivers' and constructors' championships — with Hamilton clinching three of them — but this season has been testing for the Silver Arrows team.

Hamilton trails Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel by eight points, and Mercedes are 20 points behind Ferrari in the constructors' championship.

The 33-year-old Hamilton has won 65 Grand Prix races — 44 of those with Mercedes — and secured 124 career podiums. He is the F1 record holder with 76 pole positions.


FIBA bans players, coaches for basketball brawl in Manila

 In this July 2, 2018, file photo, Philippines and Australian basketball players react during their FIBA World Cup qualifying basketball game in Bocaue township, Bulacan province, north of Manila, Philippines. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Melbourne, Australia (AP) — Thirteen basketball players and two coaches were suspended and fined Thursday, and sanctions were imposed on the national federations of the Philippines and Australia after a brawl during an Asian qualifier for the sport's World Cup.

Video of the brawl on July 2 was widely played around the world, with punches thrown, chairs tossed at players from the crowd, and security needed to restore order.

Ten Philippines players were suspended: Japeth Aguilar and Matthew Wright (one game each); Terence Romeo, Jayson Castro William, Andray Blatche and Jeth Rosario (three games each); Roger Pogoy, Carl Cruz and Jio Jalalon (five games each); Calvin Abueva (six games, because of prior unsportsmanlike behavior in a FIBA competition).

FIBA, the sport's governing body, said Philippines assistant coach Joseph Uichico was suspended for three games for unsportsmanlike behavior. Head coach Vincent "Chot" Reyes was suspended for one game and fined for unsportsmanlike behavior, as was the national federation.

Philippines federation president Al Panlilio said later Thursday in Manila that "it could have been worse."

"FIBA was quite fair in the process," he said, adding he wasn't sure if the federation would appeal.

Australian player Daniel Kickert was given a five-match ban for unsportsmanlike behavior. Basketball Australia said Milwaukee Bucks forward Thom Maker received a three-game ban and Chris Goulding a one-game suspension. Basketball Australia was also fined $110,000 for removing floor decals a day before the game.

Kickert was seen elbowing a Philippines player in response to a foul on Goulding before the brawl erupted.

Basketball Australia chief executive Anthony Moore said it was unlikely the organization would appeal the bans.

"As we stated at the outset, Basketball Australia sincerely regrets the incident," Moore said.

"We acknowledge the sanctions handed down against Australian players and acknowledge the sanctions imposed against Philippines players and officials involved in the incident. We are seeking further clarification from FIBA about possible sanctions against other officials and fans involved in the incident."


Update July 19, 2018

Woods says British Open becomes best shot at a major

Tiger Woods of the United States walks the 3rd hole during a practice round for the 147th British Open Golf championships in Carnoustie, Scotland, Tuesday, July 17. The Open golf championship starts Thursday. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

 Doug Ferguson

Carnoustie, Scotland (AP) — Tiger Woods doesn't feel as old at the oldest championship in golf.

Back at the British Open for the first time in three years, Woods broke from his tradition on Tuesday morning. Instead of being among the first on the tee for practice, he didn't show up at Carnoustie until his news conference just before lunch. Then, he played nine holes with Masters champion Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau.

This was not a case of a 42-year-old needing his rest.

Entering the year having not played any major since the end of 2015 and the start of three back surgeries, Woods has been feeling better as 2018 has gone on. And there's something about links golf that inspires him.

"It's my favorite type of golf to play," Woods said. "I love playing here, this type of links golf, or a style of links golf down on the Aussie sand belt ... because it is creative. We're not going to get the most perfect bounces. And I think that's the fun challenge of it."

He made his links debut at Carnoustie in 1995 as an amateur at the Scottish Open, a week before his British Open debut at St. Andrews. He hasn't contended on the back nine in the previous Opens at Carnoustie, in 1999 and 2007, though he wasn't far from a playoff.

Might this be his best shot at winning another major?

"Not to be smart, but it is the next major I'm playing," Woods said with a laugh.

But over time, he thinks it might be his best chance because of history. Woods recalls 53-year-old Greg Norman playing in the final group at Royal Birkdale in 2008, a major Woods missed because of knee surgery. The following year, Woods missed the cut for the first time at the British Open when 59-year-old Tom Watson was one putt away from winning at Turnberry.

"You don't have to be long to play on a links-style golf course," Woods said. "You get to places like Augusta National, where it's just a big ballpark, and the golf course outgrows you, unfortunately. That's just the way it goes. But a links-style golf course, you can roll the ball. Distance becomes a moot point."

That said, distance is everything at Carnoustie this year, which Woods discovered when he arrived Sunday.

How far the ball travels in the warm, dry air is not the issue. It's how far it travels once it gets on the baked turf.

Dustin Johnson discovered that when he arrived on Saturday and reached the 499-yard 18th hole, with a stiff breeze at his back and fairways running only slightly slower than they did on the weekend at Shinnecock Hills.

He hit driver into the burn. The next day, his drive was a few yards short of the burn.

"I hit some irons, and depending on the wind, I'll probably hit anywhere from ... I've hit 3-wood, 3-iron and 4-iron off the tee," Johnson said. "I like all of them."

With the wind at his back on the 513-yard 14th hole, Johnson hit 3-iron and wedge.

One thing hasn't changed about links golf — it's best to keep the ball out of the pot bunkers, which effectively are a one-shot penalty. The question for so many players is whether that means going down to as little as a 7-iron off the tee (such as the 350-yard third hole) or smashing driver over all the trouble.

Johnson figures he'll hit driver on half of the holes. U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka might hit as many as nine drivers.

The conditions are as brittle as Muirfield in 2013, though most comparisons are with Hoylake in 2006, when Woods won the Open for the second straight time by hitting driver only one time all week.

"There's not a lot of opportunities to hit the driver just because the ball is going to be rolling 80 yards," Woods said. "It's just hard to keep the ball in play. Even hitting sometimes 4- and 5-irons, they've been running 50, 60 yards. It's going to be an interesting test to see which clubs we're going to be using off the tees, and a lot of it is dependent on which way the wind blows."

Woods had a 2-iron built for him specifically for the British Open, and he wonders how much he'll even use it. That has been too much club off the tee. Instead, most of his shots are with a 3-iron or 4-iron.

Patrick Reed was familiar with conditions the year Woods won at Hoylake, even though he was only 15. Reed won the Junior British Open that summer at Heswall, not far from Royal Liverpool. It was not only dry but extremely hot, and Reed was in rain pants because he didn't like wearing shorts.

"I'll never forget hitting the first tee shot and being as young as I was, getting up there, and it was 308," Reed said. "And I was just like, 'Wow, I just hit a drive over 300 yards.' And now I'm hitting 2-irons over 360."


Constant action but same result at Tour: Sky domination

Britain's Chris Froome, left, and Britain's Geraint Thomas, right, of Team Sky climb during the tenth stage of the Tour de France cycling in Le Grand-Bornand, France, Tuesday, July 17. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Andrew Dampf

La Rosiere, France (AP) — If the idea behind a short but almost entirely mountainous stage in the Tour de France was to create constant action, Stage 11 on Wednesday went according to plan.

The end result, however, was the same as most recent Tours — domination from Team Sky.

British rider Geraint Thomas won the first summit finish of the race and claimed the yellow jersey on Wednesday while four-time champion Chris Froome moved up to second overall as Sky controlled numerous attacks.

"Amazing position for us," said Froome, who trails Thomas, his teammate, by 1 minute, 25 seconds.

Thomas attacked on the last of four grueling climbs, powered past longtime breakaway leader Mikel Nieve in the final kilometer, and finished 20 seconds ahead of Tom Dumoulin.

Froome crossed third, just behind Dumoulin, who moved up to third overall, 1:44 behind.

The major question now may concern the dynamics between Thomas and Froome within Sky. Thomas has been one of Froome's most loyal lieutenants for years and Sky labeled him a co-leader with Froome entering this year's Tour.

"Obviously, Froomey is the leader," Thomas said. "He has won six Grand Tours. For me it's an unknown. Froomey knows how to win a three-week race. For me, whatever happens now it is a super successful Tour. Froomey still has our best chance now — there's still more than half the race to go.

"It is an ideal scenario at the moment," Thomas added.

Froome is attempting to match the record of five Tour victories shared by Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

So will Thomas, wearing the yellow jersey, sacrifice himself for Froome on Thursday's climb up legendary Alpe d'Huez?

"It depends on the situation and what is going on in the race. If I have to pull towards the end, then I will," Thomas said. "We will see."

The top five in the overall classification is rounded out by 2014 champion Vincenzo Nibali in fourth, 2:14 behind Thomas, and Primoz Roglic in fifth, 2:23 back.

Dumoulin, the time trial world champion, is Sky's closest challenger.

"He's someone who can time-trial at the end of the Tour, too. We're going to have to keep a close eye on him," Froome said, looking ahead to the race's only individual time trial in the penultimate stage.

Greg Van Avermaet, who had worn the yellow jersey since his BMC squad won the team time trial in Stage 3, lost contact midway through the stage and finished far behind.

Sky calmly rode at its own pace and slowly caught a series of breakaway riders before Thomas kicked into action with 6 kilometers remaining.

"We were expecting attacks," Thomas said. "When they go, it is never nice to see them all riding away but we had confidence in each other and we rode really well."

Thomas, who is from Wales, required slightly less than 3 1/2 hours to complete the 108.5-kilometer route from 1992 Winter Olympics host city Albertville to La Rosiere Espace San Bernardo ski station.

It was his second career stage win at the Tour, having claimed the individual time trial that opened last year's race. He wore the yellow jersey for four days last year — before dropping to second behind Froome — then crashed out on a descent in Stage 9.

"To wear the yellow jersey is always a massive honor," Thomas said. "To do it two years in a row is really nice."

After going up the beyond-category ascents to Montee de Bisanne and Col du Pre, plus the second-category Cormet de Roselend, the stage concluded with the unprecedented and lengthy 17.6-kilometer climb to La Rosiere — a ski resort linked to La Thuile in the Italian region of Valle d'Aosta.

With views of Mont Blanc atop Montee de Bisanne, there was also a technical and tricky descent from Cormet de Roselend.

The first overall contender to attack was Alejandro Valverde up the Col du Pre. Dumoulin then escaped from the peloton with a downhill attack from Cormet de Roselend and joined up with Valverde on the final climb. While Valverde quickly dropped back, Dumoulin kept up his pace and was only surpassed by Thomas.

Sprinting standouts Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel, meanwhile, finished far behind and missed the time limit, ending their Tours.


Tokyo Olympic venues make progress with 2 years to go

Journalists take photos of New National Stadium under construction during a media tour to the venue of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Wednesday, July 18. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Jim Armstrong

Tokyo (AP) — The Japan Sports Council gave a progress report on the new National Stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday, saying the project is 40 percent complete with two years to go before the opening ceremony.

Located in central Tokyo, the Olympic Stadium will be the centerpiece of the 2020 Games. The JSC, the government-funded stadium operator, says the 68,000-seat stadium is on schedule to be finished in November 2019. It will host the opening ceremony on July 24, 2020 as well as athletics and the closing ceremony.

The construction was more than a year behind schedule when it started in December 2016, as an earlier stadium plan was scrapped because of spiraling costs and unpopular design.

The Japanese government approved the new 150 billion yen (US$1.5 billion) stadium which is a joint venture among Taisei Corporation, Azusa Sekkei Co. and the office of Kengo Kuma, the architect who designed the replacement.

The JSC says the construction site has about 2,000 workers on an average day but that will be increased to 3,000.

JSC officials say the biggest hurdle to overcome now is construction of the stadium roof, which will cover spectator seating and is considered to be the most difficult aspect of the construction.

"The most challenging part from now is installing the roof," said the JSC's Tadashi Mochizuki. "Of the whole 15 months of the work period for the roof, we still have nine more months to go. We are installing the roof, divided as four parts. We have to install the parts without an inch of mistake."

For the roof, Kuma chose a wooden lattice design which echoed traditional styles seen in Japanese shrines and pagodas.

It is intended to blend in with surrounding parkland and will be structured to minimize costs for heating and cooling.

Tokyo organizers said that all the newly-constructed venues for the games are 20 to 40 percent complete.

Here is an update on some of the other Olympic venues:

— The Olympic Village will have 21 flat-type buildings and provide 18,000 beds for the Olympics and 8,000 for the Paralympics. Organizers say its 40 percent completed and will be finished in December 2019. After the Olympics, two 50-story buildings will be developed and sold to the public as residential units.

— The Olympic Aquatics Center will host swimming, diving and artistic swimming. Located in the Tokyo Bay Zone, the newly-constructed four-story facility will have a seating capacity of 15,000. The facility is scheduled to be finished by February 2020.

— The Sea Forest Waterway will host canoe sprint and rowing events. Also located in the Tokyo Bay Zone area, the venue will be able to accommodate 24,000 spectators. A water gate and pumping facility will be set up at both ends of the 200 x 2,000-meter waterway to prevent waves and tide level from affecting the competition. It is expected to be completed in late 2019.

— The Musashino Forest Sports Plaza, which will host badminton and fencing, is the only completed venue and has already hosted several sports events.


More claims mean NFL concussion payout could jump by $400M

This Aug. 9, 2014 file photo shows an NFL logo on a goal post pad before a preseason NFL football game at Ford Field in Detroit. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

Claudia Lauer

Philadelphia (AP) — Lawyers representing former NFL players estimated Wednesday that payouts from the concussion settlement with the league will top $1.4 billion, a $400 million jump because of thousands more players filing claims.

The number of players who filed to be a part of the settlement is outpacing all previous estimates and could keep growing, the lawyers said in a federal court filing based on estimates from an actuary. The estimate accounts for players who have filed claims and those who have officially given notice that they intend to file claims.

The actuary said participation rates are 21 percent higher than estimated when the settlement was reached. As of July 16, 499 claims totaling more than $485 million had been approved, according to the filing.

The massive increase in estimated payout came the same day a judge denied a request from the league to appoint a special investigator to look into what the league said are extensive fraudulent claims against the settlement fund.

Judge Anita Brody wrote in her federal court ruling that the league's attorneys had demonstrated that there is "sufficient evidence of probable fraud to warrant serious concern." But Brody said a special master and a claims administrator have effectively ferreted out those claims for now.

"The audit process is working effectively," Brody wrote in her deferral ruling, saying if the claims administrator or special master notify the court an investigator is needed, "the Court will rule on the motion at that time."

The league requested an investigator and cited in its May argument an independent study it said found more than 400 claims recommended for denial based on evidence of fraud by attorneys, doctors and former players attempting to cheat the program. The league has said those attempts to scam the $1 billion settlement fund have slowed down the awarding of valid claims.

The settlement, which took effect January 2017, resolved thousands of lawsuits that accused the NFL of hiding what it knew about the risks of repeated concussions.

It covers retired players who develop Lou Gehrig's disease, dementia or other neurological problems believed to be caused by concussions suffered during their pro careers, with awards as high as $5 million for the most serious cases.

Attorneys for the league had cited practices such as doctors seeing players for evaluation not in clinical settings, but in hotel rooms, law offices or other places. They also cited a doctor who said she spent seven to 12 hours evaluating each patient, but approved sometimes as many as eight patients a day.

A lawyer for several plaintiffs said Wednesday that he and others representing the players supported Brody's decision.

"Since the NFL filed its motion more than three months ago, the claims process has continued to accelerate and the current audit process is working effectively," said Chris Seeger, co-lead counsel for the retired players. "We will not allow a small number of potentially fraudulent claims to be used as an excuse by the NFL to deny payment to legitimately injured former players."

In their May arguments, Seeger and other attorneys noted that the instances of fraudulent claims would be cut dramatically after the most recent rules for claims went into effect, including a list of approved physicians to determine eligibility.

Brody warned in her ruling that she expects the process to ensure valid claims are promptly paid.


Update July 18, 2018

England coast to ODI series win over India

England's Joe Root sweeps during the third One Day international against India, at Headingley in Leeds, England, Tuesday July 17. (Danny Lawson/PA via AP)

Leeds, England (AP) — England won a one-day international cricket series against India for the first time since 2011 after coasting to an impressive eight-wicket win at Headingley on Tuesday.

After containing India to 256-8, England's Joe Root and captain Eoin Morgan combined for an unbeaten 186 runs to win with 33 balls to spare and clinch the three-match series 2-1.

Root reached 100 by hitting fast bowler Hardik Pandya through midwicket for his 10th boundary and the winning runs. It was his second successive hundred.

Morgan, dropped on 85, finished on 88 not out off 108 balls, including nine boundaries and a six.

"It feels fantastic," Root said of the series triumph.

"To come into a big series like this, it's a testament to the hard work the guys did when they set the tone early with the ball, kept taking wickets, and were ruthless at the end.

"The best thing about today is knowing it was a must-win game, the pressure of that, and being able to stand up to it."

They easily handled the threat of India wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, who combined for 20 overs, conceded 96 overs, and no wickets. Chahal would have had Root stumped on 69 but he committed a front-foot no ball.

New medium-pacer Shardul Thakur took the only bowler's wicket, taking out Jonny Bairstow in the fifth over after a rapid 30. When the other opener James Vince was run out for 27 in the 10th over, Morgan joined Root and the pair set about stripping confidence from the Indians.

After winning nine successive ODI series, India lost one for the first time in 2 1/2 years.

Having split the limited-overs series — India won the Twenty20s, England the ODIs — the first of five tests begins on Aug. 1 at Edgbaston.

Despite Root and Morgan guiding England home, spinner Adil Rashid was man of the match for three wickets, including a stunning dismissal of India captain and top-scorer Virat Kohli.

Kohli backed up to a delivery that turned from leg stump and knocked over his off stump. Kohli was out for 71 off 72 balls, including eight boundaries.

"The most satisfying wicket I've taken," Rashid said.

Suresh Raina departed in the same 31st over, edging to Root at leg slip on 1. India were 158-5.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni was given out in the next over but reprieved on video review. He tried to corral the tail and led India past 200, but another four overs passed without a boundary and Dhoni was out in the 46th, edging David Willey behind on 42 off 66 balls.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar was out on the last ball, giving Willey a third wicket.

"They suffocated us through the middle overs really well," Kohli said. He believed they were 30 runs short of a decent total.

Nobody cleared the boundaries until the 49th over, when Thakur, picked for his bowling, hit Ben Stokes twice over the deep square fence.

Opener Rohit Sharma reflected India's batting decline. After an unbeaten 137 in the first ODI win, he scratched 15 in the second and only 2 in the third, wasting 18 deliveries.


Alaphilippe wins Stage 10, Van Avermaet keeps Tour lead

France's Julian Alaphilippe celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the tenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race in Le Grand-Bornand, France, Tuesday, July 17. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Joseph Wilson

Le Grand-Bornand, France (AP) — Julian Alaphilippe claimed the first mountain leg of this Tour de France on Tuesday, while Greg Van Avermaet kept the overall lead for a seventh consecutive day.

Alaphilippe, a French rider for Quick-Step, won the 158.5-kilometer ride from Lake Annecy that included climbs over four major Alpine passes before a descent to Le Grand-Bornand in around 4 1/2 hours.

Olympic champion Van Avermaet got into an early breakaway and held on to increase his lead over Geraint Thomas, a Sky teammate of defending champion Chris Froome, to 2 minutes, 22 seconds.

Alejandro Valverde of Movistar moved into third overall at 3:10 off the pace. Jakob Fuglsang of Astana was next at 3:12.

Froome is 3:21 behind Van Avermaet after recovering from a punctured tire atop the second of the stage's ascents, finishing with Thomas and most of the top contenders.

Alaphilippe got his first Tour win after he attacked on the third ascent up the category-one Col de Romme and increased his lead over the Col de la Colombiere before the final downhill finish.

He crossed the line more than a minute ahead of Jon Izaguirre in second. That gave him extra time to soak up the applause from the French fans for the country's first winner in this race, two days after France won the World Cup.

"I have no words. To get a victory at the Tour de France was a dream for me," Alaphillipe said. "Everything went through my head, all the work, my family."

It was the third stage win for the Quick-Step team at this Tour.

Froome punctured a tire on a gravel path atop the second climb up the beyond-category Montee du Plateau des Glieres, the first use of a dirt road by the Tour since 1987.

Despite having Sky teammates at the front of the peloton, once Froome got a wheel from teammate Jonathan Castroviejo, he was left all alone for several minutes until Wout Poels eventually dropped back to help him get back.

Van Avermaet got out in an early breakaway that managed to open up a seven-minute gap over the pack midway through the stage.

That proved enough for the Belgian rider to extend his lead despite struggling near the end of the stage when he was dropped by other front-runners.

Van Avermaet's BMC team lost leader Richie Porte when he broke his collarbone on Sunday.

This stage was the first of three days in the Alps following the relatively flat legs of the first nine days.

Up next on Stage 11 is a 108.5-kilometer leg from Albertville to the top of the La Rosiere summit on Wednesday. That will be followed by Stage 12's ascent of the legendary Alpe d'Huez.

Earlier, Dutch rider Annemiek Van Vleuten won the women's La Course for a second year in a row. The single-day race was run on a route that included most of the men's 10th Stage.


Spieth returns claret jug, faces tough task getting it back

Jordan Speith hits out of a bunker during a practice round for The Open Championship golf tournament at Carnoustie Golf Links in Angus, Scotland, Monday July 16. (Richard Sellers/PA via AP)

Doug Ferguson

Carnoustie, Scotland (AP) — Jordan Spieth figured someone from the R&A would be waiting for him when he pulled into the parking lot at Carnoustie to take back the silver claret jug. Instead, he was part of a ceremony with enough pomp to drive home the point.

His reign as British Open champion was over.

"The traditions of the Open are very special," Spieth said, "even if you're on the wrong end of that one."

This "tradition" is only a few years old, though typical of the august manner of this major, nothing was left to chance. Spieth was to arrive in a car provided by one of the R&A's sponsors, and as it drove slowly down a dirt path behind the grandstands on the first hole, cameras moved into position. The door opened and a woman slowly emerged from the back seat. That's where Spieth would be sitting. This was just a rehearsal to make sure the cameras had the right angle.

Moments later, an R&A employee asked people sitting in the right portion of the grandstands to move to the other side so it would appear fuller.

"It's the coolest trophy that our sport has to offer," Spieth said. "So having to return that was certainly difficult. Kind of hit me a little bit there on the tee box."

It's far more enjoyable to pose with golf's oldest trophy — it first was awarded in 1873 — at the 18th hole on Sunday, not the first hole on Monday. That's the task that awaits Spieth, and it figures to be a monumental one.

Only four players in the last 50 years have repeated as British Open champions, the most recent being Padraig Harrington in 2008.

More than history, it's the nature of Carnoustie that figures to be the stiffest challenge — or at least on Monday, the most mysterious one. A dry summer has turned the links into a combination of brown (fairways), yellow (wispy rough) and green on the tee boxes and putting surfaces.

That translates into the fastest conditions at an Open since Tiger Woods won at Hoylake in 2006. That was the year Woods hit only one driver — yes, he missed the fairway — and relied mainly on long irons off the tee because the golf ball was running forever.

Early samples indicate this might be just the opposite.

Because the rough isn't up, and because it's difficult to judge how far shots will roll out on the fairways, the answer might be to just smash driver over the trouble. Jon Rahm said he planned to hit driver every day on the 396-yard opening hole.

Tommy Fleetwood, who shot 63 at a much different Carnoustie last year during the Dunhill Links Championship, was most perplexed when he reached the 350-yard third hole. It usually is a mid-iron off the tee and a wedge to the green. Now it's more like a 6-iron off the tee. Or maybe a 7-iron. And even that's not safe, because the undulations in the fairway could send the ball rolling until a pot bunker gets in the way.

"You feel like on such a short hole, you should have a chance at birdie," he said. "When actually, you can hit a 6-iron or 7-iron and it ends up in a fairway bunker."

Spieth couldn't speak to that because he had yet to see Carnoustie except on television in 2007, and he doesn't remember much of that, anyway. He was in France over the weekend to see the Ryder Cup courses, and he went to St. Andrews on Sunday as part of the Junior Open.

He recalls Muirfield being fast on Sunday in 2013, his first Open, though that wasn't nearly as fiery as this course. And even a light rain overnight didn't change that.

"It doesn't matter what club you hit. There's so many holes where you're going to be taking fairway bunkers on," Fleetwood said. "You can't just ... 260 (yards) is just a completely irrelevant number because any amount of clubs can go that far just with it playing that firm."

The other challenge facing Spieth is this mini-slump he's in.

He would not have imagined when he left Royal Birkdale last year with that wild finish and his name on the jug that he wouldn't hoist another trophy. His only close call this year came in the Masters, where he started the final round nine shots behind Patrick Reed and nearly caught him until a bogey on the last hole for a 64. He finished third.

Since then, Spieth has not been closer than 12 shots off the lead in four of the seven tournaments in which he made it to the weekend.

He missed the cut at Shinnecock Hills in the U.S. Open, opened with a 63 at the Travelers Championship and still tied only for 42nd, and then took a break. He went to Seattle to watch his little sister be a cheerleader at the U.S. Special Olympics, and then headed to the Mexico beaches for relaxation and fun golf.

"I needed a break," he said. "I was kind of dragging along, cut-line golf for a whole, and playing a pretty heavy schedule. ... And coming to an Open Championship requires a lot of feel and imagination, and I think that's what I needed a bit of in my game."

And that's what he most likely needs this week to figure out Carnoustie, along with everyone else.


Anthony Joshua can't escape talk of Deontay Wilder

In this March 31, 2018, file photo, Britain's Anthony Joshua, rear, fights New Zealand's Joseph Parker during their heavyweight title bout in Cardiff, Wales. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Terrin Waack

New York (AP) — Anthony Joshua was welcomed by applause on the stage. He stood front and center, promoting his Sept. 22 bout against Alexander Povetkin.

Even there, he couldn't escape talk of the heavyweight he isn't fighting.

Someone in the crowd jumped at the opportunity and shouted, "AJ, we want Wilder!" 

"Let them train to be a fighter and fight (Deontay) Wilder," Joshua told AP. "It's easy talking about it. It's another thing doing." 

But with his hands on his hips, Joshua looked in the direction of the outburst and stoically mouthed, "Same."

Meanwhile, Povetkin was standing off to the side. Povetkin and Joshua were both in the West Village on Tuesday for the launch party of DAZN, a global sports streaming service. Its first event is their fight.

Povetkin is partially the reason why Joshua (21-0, 20 knockouts) isn't fighting Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) this year. 

In June, the World Boxing Association ordered Joshua to fight Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs) or have his title stripped away.

He signed, ending his chances of a Wilder-Joshua fight in 2018. Wilder said if Joshua wanted the fight to happen, it would be happening.

"Most definitely he could have gotten an exemption for this fight," Wilder said. "That was the least of the worries right there because everyone wants it. When everyone wants it, then there's nothing that could stand in the way of a fight of this magnitude. No possible way.

"Even when he's announcing Povetkin, they're talking about me. Everywhere we go, they're talking about this fight." 

But Joshua doesn't care what everyone wants. He said he's following protocol. 

"This career isn't determined by what people want," Joshua said. "It's my career. I've always pulled for and done what was right for myself, which has ultimately led me to becoming a champion."

Right now, Joshua holds three of the four major belts: WBA, IBF and WBO. Wilder has the other: WBC. If the two were to fight, which they still both believe they will, the winner would be named the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion. 

The most recent boxer to claim that honor was Lennox Lewis in 2000. 

"It's not about the big light," Joshua said. "It's not about taking from the industry. I don't want to drive a Rolls-Royce tomorrow. I don't want a one-hit fight wonder, then I'm a champion one week and few months later I've lost it because I'm living the life. I want to add to the industry, give back. I do it because I'm passionate about it." 

His passion is just different from Wilder, who said he tried everything possible to make this unification fight happen.

Wilder accepted a flat fee of $15 million and offered Joshua a guaranteed $50 million, plus 50 percent of the revenue if the fight took place in the U.S. Joshua wanted England. Wilder agreed. 

"We've done everything," Wilder said. "I can't express how much I mean by that when I say we've done everything day and night, day and night, day and night. And the only thing they've done is try to come up with plans of distracting the fans and trying to come up with plans of lies." 

More negotiations took place. Each side says something different transpired— Wilder said Joshua sent blank contracts missing a date or place; Joshua said Wilder didn't meet the deadline. There was also a disputed rematch clause.

Regardless, months passed without any signed contract, leading the WBA to step in.

Wilder thinks Joshua would rather fight Povetkin anyway because he's not ready to compete against the best.

"Wilder has a big power punch, but he likes to fight. He likes to get into the brawl a little bit," Povetkin said through a translator. "Joshua is more technical, but he also has a lot of power. It would be a different approach, but they're both great fighters." 

Povetkin would rather fight Joshua — probably because he's going to — but thoughts of fighting Wilder cross his mind often. He'd be glad to get in that ring, too. (They've tried, but two failed drugs tests by Povetkin prevented a fight from actually happening.)

If Povetkin defeats Joshua, the unification discussion might change. Only time will tell. Both parties say they want it to happen. It's just not happening this year.

Joshua has Povetkin at Wembley Stadium in London. Wilder says he will also have a fight and to be on the lookout for an announcement soon. 

Life is moving on — for now. 

"At the end of the day, me and Joshua don't need each other," Wilder said. "Not to survive and live. We've been doing that before we even met each other, and we're going to do that after we've met each other.

"But for this fight to happen — for fans to see one of the biggest fights in world history and to see one champion, one face, one name — we definitely need each other."


Update July 17, 2018

World Cup win gives France new set of heroes, needed boost

France's players celebrate on the roof of a bus while parading down the famed Champs-Elysee avenue in Paris, Monday, July 16. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

Elaine Ganley

Paris (AP) — The welcome was grand, the emotion visceral as France's victorious World Cup team rolled down Paris' Champs-Elysees Avenue in an open-top bus Monday while tens of thousands of people cheered with unrestrained pride and jets streamed the national colors — blue, white, red — overhead.

The crowd that waited for hours to greet the soccer team, under a hot sun and amid celebratory smoke bombs that choked the air, got its moment hours after the team returned from Russia to hoist the gold trophy on French soil for the second time in 20 years.

The national team's 4-2 win over Croatia on Sunday gave France a new set of heroes, many of whom represent the changing face of a diverse, multicultural country with which not all French citizens have yet reckoned.

The red carpet welcome for the World Cup winners continued at the Elysee Palace, where President Emmanuel Macron threw an informal garden party that had 1,000 children and 300 athletes from local soccer clubs as guests.

Many of the invited clubs are based in the poor neighborhoods French that produced the players who made up France's youthful, diverse World Cup team, including 19-year-old breakout star Kylian Mbappe. Members of the club he grew up with in suburban Bondy attended the party.

"Merci!" Macron, the youngest person to become France's president, told the guests. "This team is beautiful because it was united."

Addressing the team, Macron offered advice.

"Don't change," he said, adding, "Never forget where you come from."

Team captain and goalie Hugo Lloris, brandishing the trophy from soccer's eminent tournament, and coach Didier Deschamps led the team onto the red carpet at the Elysee courtyard. With Republican Guards standing motionless in full dress uniforms, the squad quickly broke into party mode for the official photos.

The fun continued in the garden with chants led by midfielder Paul Pogba and off-the-cuff songs.

The victory came at a time when many French were in need of good news, and the magic provided a sense that a grand coming together might at least paper over political, economic and social fissures for a while.

"Eternal Happiness" read Monday's headline in French sports daily L'Equipe, summing up the mood of many who hoped the euphoria would last.

Before the reception, the Champs-Elysees became the epicenter of national pride for the third day in a row, following the post-World Cup celebrations that brought hundreds of thousands to the fame avenue Sunday and a Bastille Day parade of French military might Saturday.

The team appeared elated, too, during its victory lap on the bus Monday. Players threw scarves into the crowd and recorded the action.

Several Paris Metro stations were temporarily adjusting their names to honor the team and its members, the transport authority tweeted. The Champs-Elysees Clemenceau has become the Deschamps-Elysees Clemenceau to honor coach Didier Deschamps.

The Etoile station is, for now, "On a 2 Etoiles" (We have 2 stars), to denote France's second World Cup victory. The Victor Hugo station is now Victor Hugo Lloris, after France's standout goalie and team captain.

"We are linked for life now with this Cup," defender Raphael Varane told BFM-TV on Monday before departing from Moscow, evoking the theme of unity that French partiers have consistently evoked.

Macron exulted on the field in Moscow and in the locker room, hugging players as they received their medals even as the skies poured rain. The president clearly hoped the World Cup glow would rub off on him, raising him up in the eyes of a nation where his economic reforms have drawn fierce protests and labor strikes.

He meets Tuesday with business representatives and an eye on mobilizing them in needy neighborhoods of France.

It was the players, though, who captured the French imagination.

Sports Minister Laura Flessel, who met the team at the airport, told Europe-1 radio that the World Cup victory allows France's youth — like those in the poor suburbs where many of the players grew up — "to dare to believe in their dreams."

The patriotic fervor sparked by the World Cup did not prevent the vandalism and violence that sometimes accompany public celebrations in France. Broken shop windows and signs of looting lined a section of the Champs-Elysees. Authorities detained 90 people for questioning in the Paris region and some 290 around France.


Froome happy as Tour de France heads for the mountains

Britain's Chris Froome, rides in the pack during the eight stage of the Tour de France cycling race in Amiens, France, Saturday, July 14. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Ciaran Fahey

Annecy, France (AP) — Chris Froome believes the mountains will reveal the true Tour de France contenders as he looks forward to the first of three grueling stages in the Alps.

"I'm feeling good and optimistic about the upcoming stages," the four-time champion said on Monday, the Tour's first rest day.

Froome, who is eighth overall after nine stages, is 1 minute, 42 seconds behind yellow-jersey holder Greg Van Avermaet before the first Alpine stage on Tuesday.

Van Avermaet is not expected to be a threat in the mountains, and Froome suggested the Belgian "will find it difficult to hang on tomorrow. It's a proper climber’s stage."

After an opening week of relatively flat routes, the first significant ascents begin with four categorized climbs as well as the punishing Montee du plateau des Gileres, which features a six-kilometer climb at an incline of 11.2 percent.

"It's a tough stage. It will definitely start shaping the GC," Froome said of the general classification.

Sky teammate Geraint Thomas is second overall, 0:43 behind Van Avermaet, meaning the team has two viable options to claim the yellow jersey over the second week of the three-week Tour.

"It's great for us to have those options to play when it comes down to it, especially looking at some of our rivals who have got two or three options in their team," Froome said.

"The team around us is such a capable group of guys, and we're really going to be coming into our element now in the mountains."


The Open returns to the nasty links of Carnoustie

In this July 22, 2007, file photo, Ireland's Padraig Harrington looks down to where his ball landed in the Barry Burn during the final round of the British Open Golf Championship at Carnoustie, Scotland. (AP Photo/Phil Noble, Pool)

Doug Ferguson

London (AP) - Carnoustie is known as much for the calamity it causes as the British Open champions it crowns.

Any mention of Carnoustie immediately brings back that image of Jean Van de Velde, equal parts tragedy and comedy, standing in Barry Burn on the 18th hole with water up to his shins and rising. He made triple bogey to lose a three-shot lead, and then completed as great a collapse as can be found in a major championship by losing in a three-man playoff in 1999.

Just don't get the idea Van de Velde owns all the rights to bad endings at Carnoustie.

Jose Jurado was the first victim.

He had a three-shot lead going into the final round in 1931 and was still two shots clear late in the round until coming undone in the brutal closing stretch, topping one shot on the 17th hole into the burn. He lost out to Tommy Armour.

More recently was Padraig Harrington, only it worked out well for him in 2007. Playing the 18th with a one-shot lead, the Irishman hit his tee shot into the Barry Burn. He took a penalty drop and then hit his next shot into the winding stream. Harrington managed the best double bogey of his life. It got him into a playoff when Sergio Garcia made bogey from the bunker, and Harrington went on to win his first major.

Of the six previous Opens on these menacing links, Ben Hogan is the only winner to hold a 54-hole lead.

For most everyone else, Carnoustie always seem to dish out its share of carnage. Rod Pampling once opened with a 71 and had the lead. He followed with an 86 and missed the cut. Phil Mickelson still hasn't seen a weekend at Carnoustie. Garcia made his major debut as a professional at Carnoustie. He shot 89.

"That's a brutal course," Bernhard Langer said. He speaks from experience in 1999, when Langer had his third-highest score of the 23 Opens he completed. He shot 297, and he tied for 18th that week.

The first time Tiger Woods went an entire round without a birdie in a major was in 1999 at Carnoustie.

"I think I made one birdie on the weekend and I finished three or four back of the playoff," Woods said. "That was ridiculous how hard it was."

One month after Shinnecock Hills was punishing as ever in the U.S. Open, golf's oldest championship doesn't figure to be much of a reprieve. Scotland has been going through a warm, dry patch of weather, which figures to make it firm and bouncy.

Mickelson, who played Carnoustie a week before the Open, said it was unlikely he would even carry a driver.

"I'm either going to carry a driver or that hot 3-wood, but there's only two or three holes — there's actually only two holes I plan on using it, both par 5s. I have a low 1-iron that I've been putting in the bag and ... it's very low. Gets on the ground quick. I'll hit that on probably the last ten holes, almost every hole."

Carnoustie in any conditions is regarded as a beast, with a reputation as the toughest links in the world. Sir Michael Bonallack, the former R&A secretary, might have sized it up the best when he said, "When the wind is blowing, it is the toughest course in Britain. And when it's not blowing, it's probably still the toughest."

In recent Opens, it has picked up a nickname: Car-nasty.

For so much of the field, it will be a new experience. Only two players from the top 10 in the world have played a British Open at Carnoustie — Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy, who was an 18-year-old amateur in 2007 and immediately showed his potential when he opened with a 68. He tied for 42nd that week.

Only 33 players in the 156-man field have played an Open at Carnoustie, and only 12 have played it twice.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth only knows it from television.

He was 13, just starting to blossom as a junior, and he watched the Open from home as Garcia and Harrington tried to survive the finish.

"I remember ... how good of a score par was on that hole and will continue to be for Opens going forward," Spieth said. "It's one of probably the toughest closing holes in the Open Championship anywhere, and that creates some drama when it comes down to Sunday, as we've seen. And I don't think it will be any different this year."

Carnoustie gets its mean streak from the way the course was set up in 1999, with narrow fairways and high grass. But its strength comes from the wind, like most links courses, and this course near the North Sea is particularly exposed.

It measures 7,402 yards, which is 19 yards shorter — yes, shorter — than it was in 2007, the last time the Open was at Carnoustie.

Spieth will try to become the first player in 10 years to repeat as British Open champion, and right now he'd simply settle for a chance. Since his closing 64 at the Masters to finish third, Spieth has finished at least 12 shots out of the lead in four of his seven tournaments. He missed the cut in the other three.

Like most majors these days, the Open figures to be wide-open.

Dustin Johnson, who lost a four-shot lead over the final two rounds at Shinnecock, is back to No. 1 in the world and eager to pick up another major. He has not played since the U.S. Open. The next three players behind him in the world ranking — PGA champion Justin Thomas, Rose and U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka — all have a chance to replace him at No. 1.

Recent history would suggest a young American — the last five majors have been won by Americans in their 20s.

"It's definitely been pretty one-sided, and the Americans are dominating," Rose said. "So it would be lovely to turn that around next week."

Woods is happy to get another crack at it.

Carnoustie was his first experience with links golf in 1995, when he was still at Stanford and came over for the Scottish Open at Carnoustie ahead of the British Open at St. Andrews. He opened with a 69, closed with a 78 finished 48th.

"Carnoustie is an unbelievable driving golf course," Woods said. "You have to drive the ball well there, but also it's not your traditional in (and) out golf course. It's a lot of different angles, so a lot of different crosswinds. I have to be able to maneuver the golf ball both ways there efficiently. You just have to hit the golf ball well."

There is no faking. Nothing comes easily. No one really conquers Carnoustie. It's more about survival.

The highest compliment might have come from Tom Watson, who won his first major at Carnoustie in 1975 in a playoff over Jack Newton.

"Carnoustie is like an ugly, old hag who speaks the truth no matter how painful," Watson once said. "But it's only when you add up your score, you hear exactly what she thinks of you."


Serena Williams at No. 28 in WTA rankings, climbs 153 spots

Serena Williams of the United States gestures during the women's singles final against Germany's Angelique Kerber at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London, Saturday July 14. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

London (AP) — Serena Williams climbed 153 spots in the WTA rankings after her runner-up finish at Wimbledon, putting her back in the top 30.

Williams is ranked 28th in the list published Monday. At Wimbledon, the former No. 1 was playing only her fourth tournament after returning from childbirth, but still reached the final before losing to Angelique Kerber of Germany. Kerber climbed six spots to No. 4, with Simona Halep holding onto the top ranking despite going out in the third round at the All England Club.

Kevin Anderson climbed into the men's top 5 for the first time after his run to the Wimbledon final put him in fifth place, while champion Novak Djokovic jumped 11 spots to No. 10. Rafael Nadal, who lost to Djokovic in the semifinals, remains No. 1.


Update July 16, 2018

France beat Croatia 4-2 to win 2nd FIFA World Cup

French players celebrate with the FIFA World Cup trophy after the final match between France and Croatia in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, July 15. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Graham Dunbar

Moscow (AP) — Taking turns sliding across the rain-soaked turf holding the World Cup trophy tight, teenager Kylian Mbappe and the rest of France's players acted like the youthful bunch they are.

Nothing, not a Pussy Riot protest nor a postgame downpour that soaked Russian President Vladimir Putin, was going to stop the party.

It carried on long after a thrilling 4-2 win over Croatia on Sunday. In the locker room with French President Emmanuel Macron striking poses with players, then a champagne-spraying, water-splashing interruption of the coach Didier Deschamps' news conference.

"Sorry! They're young and they're happy," said Deschamps, like a proud father.

Deschamps had good reason to indulge them. His team is mostly aged 25 or under and can return almost intact to defend their title in 2022 in Qatar.

"Our children are going to be very proud," forward Antoine Griezmann said. "The World Cup, it's a lot."

The 19-year-old Mbappe became only the second teen after Pele to score in a World Cup final.

Mbappe had just shown his electrifying speed in the 52nd minute when play was held up by four protesters who ran onto the field. Russian punk band Pussy Riot later took credit for the incident — watched from the VIP seats by Putin, whose government once jailed members of the activist group. Charges were filed against the group Sunday, too.

Putin was later on the field to award medals to the players in a ceremony soon drenched in rain and joy. As thunder pealed and lightning cracked, FIFA president Gianni Infantino handed France captain Hugo Lloris the gold World Cup trophy.

Gold confetti stuck to the soaked Les Bleus as they paraded the trophy around the Luzhniki Stadium, a final act of an enthralling tournament in which Croatia reached their first final while powers Brazil, Germany and Argentina went home early.

About 12 minutes after a protester gave Mbappe a double high-five on the field, Mbappe sent a right-footed shot from 25 yards past goalkeeper Danijel Subasic. The goal put France up 4-1, closing the door on Croatia who had been the better team until Mbappe took control.

The only other teen to score in a World Cup final was Pele, who was 17 when Brazil beat Sweden 5-2 in 1958.

Mbappe, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain in the French league, was born months after France won their only other World Cup title in 1998.

"I have a whole story to write," Mbappe said. "This is just the beginning."

Paul Pogba and Griezmann, France's two other key creative players, also scored. Pogba played a disciplined role in Russia, but his natural joy was evident celebrating his 18-yard shot, and leading the champagne shower for Deschamps.

But it was Mbappe who put the match out of reach with a furious passage of play in the second half. In the 59th, a run from Mbappe started a play that ended up with Pogba on the edge of the penalty area. With his second attempt, the midfielder curled his shot beyond Subasic.

Griezmann scored from the penalty spot in the 38th minute fully four minutes after his corner kick was knocked out of play by Ivan Perisic's arm. The referee ruled it handball only after a video review, just as the first thunders claps boomed around the stadium.

"In a World Cup final, you do not give such a penalty," Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said.

France took the lead in the 18th when Croatia's tallest outfield player, 1.90-meter forward Mario Mandzukic, rose to meet Griezmann's free kick with the top of his head. He deflected it past his own goalkeeper.

Perisic and Mandzukic both scored for Croatia, first to equalize in the 28th minute and later as a consolation goal in the 69th, embarrassing Lloris with a flicked shot as the France goalkeeper tried to dribble the ball out of his goalmouth.

But the three-goal lead was too much for the red-and-white-checkered squad that made a habit of coming back at the World Cup — and played three straight 120-minute games before the final.

"We were dominant, we had control," Dalic said through a translator. "What we've had in terms of luck over the tournament, we lacked that today."

Deschamps became only the third man to win the World Cup as a player and a coach. He joined Mario Zagallo of Brazil and Franz Beckenbauer, who captained West Germany.

France's captain 20 years ago, Deschamps was lifted up by his players on the field and flung into the air several teams and caught. The normally staid coach did a few skipping dance steps in the rain before stopping and laughing at himself.

It was that kind of unbridled evening for the French who won with an exuberance not often seen in a mostly efficient, controlled title run.

Back home in France, tens of thousands of fans headed to the Eiffel Tower to watch a broadcast on giant screens that Paris police closed the area more than two hours before kickoff.

Two years ago at home, France flopped in a European Championship final they were expected to win against Portugal.

"But maybe if we had been European champions we would not be champions today," Deschamps said.


Djokovic wins 4th Wimbledon by beating Anderson in 3 sets

Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns the ball to Kevin Anderson of South Africa during the men's singles final match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Sunday July 15. (Neil Hall/Pool via AP)

Howard Fendrich

London (AP) — Novak Djokovic was disconsolate and injured when he left Wimbledon a year ago, quitting during his quarterfinal because of a painful right elbow that would need surgery.

Djokovic was so dispirited by his upset exit at the French Open last month that he vowed, in the heat of the moment, to skip the grass-court circuit.

Good thing he didn't stick to that. Just look at him now, back at his best and Wimbledon's champion for the fourth time. Djokovic ended a Grand Slam drought that lasted more than two seasons, grabbing a lead in Sunday's final right away against a weary Kevin Anderson and holding off a late challenge to win 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (3).

Anderson nearly managed to extend the match, five times standing just a point away from forcing a fourth set. Djokovic held steady on each one, then was as superior in the tiebreaker as he was most of the sun-drenched afternoon.

It is Djokovic's 13th major trophy, the fourth-highest total in the history of men's tennis, trailing only Roger Federer's 20, Rafael Nadal's 17 and Pete Sampras' 14.

But it's also Djokovic's first since he completed a career Grand Slam at the 2016 French Open.

During that time, he struggled with the first major injury of his professional career, one that forced him off the tour for the last half of 2017. He eventually had an operation this February, and as his losses accumulated, his ranking fell out of the top 20 for the first time in more than a decade.

At No. 21, Djokovic is the lowest-ranked Wimbledon titlist since Goran Ivanisevic in 2001.

Under a pale blue sky interrupted by only the occasional soft white puff of cloud, with the temperature at 86 degrees (30 Celsius), Djokovic started so well, and Anderson shakily.

That might have been easy to anticipate beforehand.

This was, after all, the 22nd Grand Slam final for Djokovic, and the second for Anderson, a 6-foot-8 powerful server who was the runner-up at last year's U.S. Open and was aiming to become the first South African man to win at Wimbledon.

Plus, Anderson could be excused for exhaustion. His semifinal was the second-longest Grand Slam match in history, lasting more than 6 hours until he edged John Isner 26-24 in the fifth set. And that followed another extended fifth set in his 13-11 upset of eight-time champion Federer in the quarterfinals.

So it was no wonder that, with all of that time on court, all of that stress on his racket-swinging arm, Anderson was visited by a trainer after Sunday's opening set to get his right elbow massaged.

Anderson was so out of sorts, his strokes so off-the-mark, that Djokovic gathered eight of the first 10 games even though he only conjured up two winners. No need for more, because Anderson gifted him 15 unforced errors in that span.

By the conclusion of a third consecutive dud of a straight-set men's singles final at the All England Club, Anderson had made 32 unforced errors, and the steady Djokovic merely 13.

Another key: Djokovic was able to handle Anderson's big serves much better than previous opponents. Widely considered the top returner in the game today, Djokovic broke Anderson four times. Consider that Anderson held in each of his last 27 service games against Isner, and dropped his very first on Sunday.

And one more: Djokovic saved all seven break points he faced, including five that would have given Anderson the third set.

As much as Djokovic is known for his body-bending defense and unerring reads on opponents' serves, he's also someone who fills his matches with histrionics and exaggerated reactions, whether violently smacking the side of his shoe with his racket — as he did against Nadal — or tearing off his shirt to celebrate a victory.

This day was no different. Angered by fans making noise during points, he told the chair umpire to tell them to shut up, adding a colorful word in there. He pointed to his ear after winning one point, as if to say: "Who are you cheering for now?!" He blew a kiss toward the stands after another.

But when he broke Anderson for the second time in three service games at the outset, Djokovic simply shook a clenched fist while calmly looking at his guest box above the scoreboard. The bright yellow digits on there showed that Djokovic already led 4-1 after all of 18 minutes.

Might as well have declared him the champion, right then and there.

It was so lopsided for the first hour-plus that spectators began pulling for Anderson, likely in the hopes of getting more tennis for the price of their tickets, which carry a face value of 210 pounds (about $275).

Just his earning a random point, even via a Djokovic miscue, was reason to roar, it seemed. Surely, Anderson appreciated the support. Didn't do a thing to alter the ultimate outcome, however.

When Anderson pushed a forehand return into the net to end it, Djokovic exhaled. After they shook hands, Djokovic performed his ritual of bending down to grab a couple of blades of grass and plopping them in his mouth, savoring the triumph.


Pacquiao wins 60th career fight with seventh-round knockout

 

Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines, right, fights Lucas Matthysse of Argentina during their WBA World welterweight title bout in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sunday, July 15. (AP Photo/Yam G-Jun)

Eileen Ng

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (AP) — Manny Pacquiao won for the 60th time with his first stoppage in nine years, and made a proclamation.

"This is it. I am back in boxing," the 39-year-old Pacquiao said after his seventh-round knockout of Lucas Matthysse for the World Boxing Association welterweight title on Sunday. "I am not done. I'm still there."

It was Pacquiao's first bout since a contentious loss last year to Jeff Horn in Australia, and since parting ways with longtime trainer Freddie Roach to work with Buboy Fernandes.

"It's just a matter of time. You have to rest and get it back and that's what I did."

Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) knocked Matthysse down onto one knee in the third and fifth rounds. He knocked the Argentine down again in the seventh, and Matthysse spat out his mouthpiece, causing a frenzy among Pacquiao fans in the stadium.

"I am not boasting but ... I think he's hurting from my punches," said Pacquiao, who hadn't won by knockout since 2009. "Every punch that I throw, he's hurt. I think he's scared of my punches."

Matthysse, who won 36 out of 39 matches by knockout, said Pacquiao was a "great fighter, a great legend," adding that he planned to take a break.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad attended the fight, the biggest in the country since the 1975 heavyweight clash between Muhammad Ali and Australian Joe Bugner.

"I would like to congratulate Senator Manny Pacquiao for giving us pride and bringing the Filipino nation together once more," said Duterte, who flew to Malaysia for the bout ahead of an official visit.

Duterte said in a statement that Pacquiao has proven himself again as "one of the greatest boxers of all time" and that the win will cement his legacy in the sport.

Scores of screaming Filipino fans in the stadium waved flags and chanted "Manny, Manny" throughout the match. Pacquiao's rise to fame from an impoverished rural childhood to become one of the world's wealthiest sportsmen over his 23-year career has made him a national hero.

Pacquaio said he will return to his work as a senator for now but won't be hanging up the gloves just yet.

"I am addicted to boxing. I really love to fight and bring honor to my country," he said. "That's my heart's desire."

Horn, who lost his WBO welterweight title to Terence Crawford in Las Vegas last month, was quick to respond to Pacquiao's victory.

"Congratulations Manny Pacquiao," Horn posted on Instagram. "Rematch?"

In the other title fights, Filipino Jhack Tepora had a knockout win over Edivaldo Oretga of Mexico for the interim WBA featherweight title. Venezuela's Carlos Canizales defended his WBA world light flyweight title against China's Lu Bin, who had been aiming to become the first boxer to win a major world title in just two career fights. South African Moruti Mthalane got a unanimous decision against Pakistan's Muhammad Waseem to capture the IBF flyweight title.


Suwannapura gets first LPGA Tour win at Marathon Classic

Thidapa Suwannapura kisses the trophy after winning the LPGA golf Marathon Classic, Sunday, July 15, at Highland Meadows in Sylvania, Ohio. (Kurt Steiss/The Blade via AP)

Sylvania, Ohio (AP) — Thidapa Suwannapura's main focus going into the Marathon Classic was trying to put together four solid rounds that would help her keep her LPGA Tour card.

She doesn't have to worry about that any longer.

Suwannapura picked up her first win on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 and birdieing the first playoff hole to defeat Brittany Lincicome at Highland Meadows.

In the playoff, Suwannapura converted a short birdie putt after Lincicome hit her second shot into a water hazard and scrambled for par.

"I never expect it was going to be today at all. I've just been struggling the whole year," said Suwannapura, whose previous best finish was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship. "Finally all my work I've been doing has come out and shown up today. After I knocked that last putt in, it just felt like a dream come true."

With the win, the 25-year-old Thai player has an exemption through the 2020 season. She is also the sixth first-time winner on tour this year

Suwannapura picked up three strokes over her final two holes, making eagle on the par-5 17th and closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th to finish at 14-under 270. She then had to wait for the final seven groups to finish.

"I did not think or expect that 14 would be good enough, because I know there were two par-5s coming in on 17 and 18, and it's a good opportunity for players to make birdie," Suwannapura said. "I was just chilling in the clubhouse, you know, being silly and stuff, trying to relax, and see what they're doing. Now, like, 'Oh, I have to go warm-up and try to win the tournament.'"

Lincicome shot 67. She had a chance to win in regulation, but her birdie putt from about 10 feet did a nearly 360-degree turn around the edge of the cup and stayed out.

Despite having eight career victories, including this season's opener in the Bahamas, the 32-year-old Lincicome said she was extremely nervous standing over that putt.

"I was shaking so bad. I had to take so many deep breaths. So it's kind of cool to have those nerves, but learning how to play through them after 12 years of being a pro ... 14 years of being a pro, I still haven't figured it out, so that's a little disappointing," she said. "(The putt) caught a lot of the hole, so I feel like I hit a pretty good putt for how nervous I was. I really haven't seen one that aggressive in a long time, so that was just unfortunate, really."

Next up for the big-hitting Lincicome: a start against the men at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship in Kentucky. She will become the first woman since 2004 to play in a PGA Tour event.

Third-round leader Brooke Henderson led by two shots after six holes, but struggled the rest of the way. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead. The 20-year-old Canadian finished with a 2-under 69, one shot out of the playoff.

"Sometimes golf is weird. Sometimes it just doesn't go your way, and that was kind of me the last four holes," said Henderson, who lost for only the second time in six occasions she has led after 54 holes.

Besides the tour exemption, Suwannapura's win came with another bonus. She was one of five players to earn a spot in the Women's British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

The top five players not already exempt earned spots. The other qualifiers were Daniela Darquea, Celine Herbin, Mina Harigae and Mel Reid.


Degenkolb masters cobblestones as Porte crashes out of Tour

Belgium's Greg van Avermaet, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, left, and Slovakia's Peter Sagan, wearing the best sprinter's green jersey, ride over a cobblestone section of the ninth stage of the Tour de France cycling race near Arras, France, Sunday, July 15. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena )

Andrew Dampf

Roubaix, France (AP) — Richie Porte sat on the pavement grasping his right shoulder and grimacing in pain. A fan helped Chris Froome get going after he tumbled onto grass lining the road. Romain Bardet recovered from three punctured tires.

And they were only the highest-profile riders to face mishaps in the action-packed cobblestoned Stage 9 of the Tour de France on Sunday.

Every cyclist who reached the finish was covered in dust — many with their jerseys torn to shreds from crashes.

Spanish rider Gorka Izaguirre had the unusual experience of his rear wheel buckling to the point that it looked like something out of a scrap heap.

John Degenkolb won a three-man sprint to take victory in a memorable stage, while overall contender Porte crashed out of the race.

Yellow-jersey holder Greg Van Avermaet crossed second and increased his overall lead to 43 seconds ahead of Geraint Thomas, a teammate of Froome's at Sky. Yves Lampaert of Quick-Step finished third.

"It was a pretty hectic day," Van Avermaet said after the dust settled.

Added Thomas, "It was just hard all day from kilometer zero. You've got to be in the right position but you also need the luck because it's easy to puncture or get caught up in something."

Froome, the four-time champion, crossed in the main pack, 27 seconds behind, overcoming a crash with 45 kilometers to go that saw him go over the top of teammate Gianni Moscon.

"I'm relieved to get through today and looking forward to getting into the mountains now where the real race for GC (general classification) will start," Froome said.

Froome moved up to eighth overall, 1:42 behind Van Avermaet, who is not a threat in the mountains.

Porte, the BMC team leader, crashed out of the Tour 10 kilometers into the 156.5-kilometer leg — before any of the 15 cobblestone sections. He was later diagnosed with a fractured right clavicle.

Porte also crashed out of last year's Tour in the ninth stage, on a mountain descent.

"It won't be easy for him to get back in his mind," teammate Van Avermaet said. "The good thing is that his crash is not as bad as last year so he will recover faster."

Rigoberto Uran, last year's runner-up, and Mikel Landa, one of three leaders of the Movistar team, also each crashed and lost time.

Bardet, the French hope who finished on the podium the last two years, finished only seven seconds behind the main pack despite having to be paced back to the peloton three times.

Among the favorites in the overall standings apart from Froome: Alejandro Valverde is fifth (1:31 behind); Rafal Majka sixth (1:32); Jakob Fuglsang seventh (1:33); Adam Yates ninth (1:42); Landa 10th (1:42); Vincenzo Nibali 12th (1:48); Tom Dumoulin 15th (2:03); and Bardet 17th (2:32).

It was the first career victory at the Tour for Degenkolb, who rides for the Trek-Segafredo team. The German rider won the Paris-Roubaix single-day classic, which covers much of the same course, in 2015.

Degenkolb was the victim of a serious training accident in January 2016 when a car drove into oncoming traffic. Then he crashed in Paris-Roubaix this year and injured his knee.

"You start doubting if you can still do it," Degenkolb said. "That is the hardest part to don't lose the trust in yourself and that you can still be up there. I am so happy that my wife and my family gave me the strength to do this to give it 100 percent and work hard. It is amazing."

Degenkolb became the third rider to win both Paris-Roubaix and a cobbled stage at the Tour after Roger De Vlaeminck and Bernard Hinault. His average speed over the stage was 45.9 kph overall and 39.8 kph on the cobbles.

The route starting in Arras contained the highest number of cobblestone sections since the 1980 Tour, with nearly 22 kilometers altogether.

While it wasn't rainy and muddy like in April for the Paris-Roubaix race, the heat and sun made it dry and dusty.

Others who crashed included: Dylan Groenewegen, the Dutch rider who won the previous two stages; Froome's Sky teammates Egan Bernal and Michal Kwiatkowski; American hope Tejay van Garderen and Italian sprinter Sonny Colbrelli.

After the first rest day Monday, the Tour resumes in the Alps on Tuesday with a 158.5-kilometer leg from Annecy to Le Grand-Bornand featuring four serious climbs.


Update July 14-15, 2018

Anderson tops Isner 26-24 at Wimbledon; other SF suspended

Kevin Anderson of South Africa celebrates winning a point from John Isner of the US during their men's singles semifinal match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London, Friday July 13. (AP Photo/Glyn Kirk, Pool)

Howard Fendrich

London (AP) — To say that Kevin Anderson won this interminable Wimbledon semifinal, and that John Isner lost it, didn't really seem fair. To Anderson, anyway.

They had played on and on, through 6 1/2 hours of ho-hum hold after ho-hum hold, during the second-longest match in the history of a tournament that began in 1877, all the way until the never-ending serving marathon did, finally, end at 26-24 in the fifth set Friday, with Anderson claiming the most important of the 569 points — the last.

So when Anderson left Centre Court, well aware that his 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-7 (9), 6-4, 26-24 victory earned him the chance to win his first Grand Slam title at age 32, the South African said: "At the end, you feel like this is a draw between the two of us."

He continued: "John's such a great guy, and I really feel for him, because if I'd been on the opposite side, I don't know how you can take that, playing for so long and coming up short."

Only one match at Wimbledon ever lasted longer: Isner's 2010 first-round victory over Nicolas Mahut, the longest match in tennis history. It went more than 11 hours over three days and finished 70-68 in the fifth on Court 18, which now bears a plaque commemorating it.

Friday's contest lasted so long, the day's second semifinal didn't finish.

Novak Djokovic was leading Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9) in a compelling showdown filled with entertaining points that was suspended as soon as the third set concluded at just past 11 p.m., the curfew at the All England Club. Some people in the stands booed the decision to halt the match after a fantastic tiebreaker in which Nadal wasted three set points at 6-5, 7-6 and 8-7. Djokovic cashed in on his second when Nadal's backhand found the net after an 18-stroke exchange.

Because Nadal and Djokovic didn't begin playing until after 8 p.m., the retractable roof above the main stadium was shut between the matches and the arena's artificial lights were turned on. Now they'll come back Saturday to figure out who will face Anderson in the final, resuming at 1 p.m. local time, under the roof.

The women's final between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber will then follow. That creates an unusual situation: Instead of a standard 2 p.m. start, Williams and Kerber won't know exactly when their match will begin.

Anderson will certainly appreciate the chance to put his feet up ahead of Sunday's final, while Nadal and Djokovic — who have a combined 29 Grand Slam titles between them, five at Wimbledon — push each other some more.

Anderson's fifth set alone lasted nearly 3 hours as his semifinal became a test of endurance more than skill.

"He stayed the course incredibly well," said the No. 9 seed Isner, a 33-year-old American playing in his first major semifinal. "Just disappointed to lose. I was pretty close to making a Grand Slam final and it didn't happen."

Anderson finally earned the must-have, go-ahead service break with the help of a point in which the right-hander tumbled to his backside, scrambled back to his feet and hit a shot lefty.

"That definitely brings a smile to my face," said Anderson, the runner-up to Nadal at last year's U.S. Open. "At that stage, you're just trying to fight in every single moment, and I was like, 'Just get up!'"

The No. 8 seed Anderson eliminated eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer in a 13-11 fifth set in the quarterfinals Wednesday. Between that and the energy-sapper against Isner, it's hard to imagine how Anderson will have much left for his second Slam final.

Wimbledon doesn't use tiebreakers in the fifth set for men, or third set for women, so there's nothing to prevent a match from continuing ad infinitum. Both Isner and Anderson said they'd like to see that change.

At one point in the fifth set, a spectator shouted, "Come on, guys! We want to see Rafa!"

The 6-foot-8 Anderson and 6-10 Isner go way back, to their college days, Isner at Georgia, Anderson at Illinois. In the pros, Isner had won eight of 11 previous matchups. But this one was as close as can be.

There wasn't a whole lot of intrigue, or momentum shifts. The serving, though, was something else. Isner pounded his at up to 142 mph; Anderson reached 136 mph. They combined for 102 aces: 53 by Isner, 49 by Anderson.

"The effort they both put in and the performance and the guts, the way they competed — a lot to be proud of," said Justin Gimelstob, one of Isner's coaches.

Both failed to seize early opportunities. Isner wasted a set point in the opener. Anderson served for the third at 5-3, got broken, and then had a pair of set points in that tiebreaker, double-faulting one away.

By the latter stages, with break chances so rare, murmurs would spread through the Centre Court stands whenever a game's returner got to love-15 or love-30.

Could we be about to see the sixth and last break of a match that would end up with 90 holds?

Repeatedly, the answer was, of course, "No," even when Anderson held break points at 7-all, 10-all and 17-all. The 10-all game ended with Isner hitting a forehand passing winner on the run to hold, then letting his momentum carry him directly to his sideline chair, where he plopped himself down.

By the end, he was looking exhausted, leaning over to rest a hand on a knee between points.

"I feel pretty terrible," Isner said afterward. "My left heel is killing me and I have an awful blister on my right foot."

He never got a break point in the fifth set. Anderson finally came through on his sixth for a 25-24 lead, when Isner wearily put a backhand into the net.

Then Anderson served out the victory, with Isner sailing a forehand wide on match point.

Soon, they were meeting for an embrace.


Karunaratne leads Sri Lanka to 272-run lead 2 days into test

Sri Lanka's wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella, left, and teammates appeal successfully for the wicket of South Africa's Vernon Philander, second right, during the second day of their first test cricket match in Galle, Sri Lanka, Friday, July 13. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Galle, Sri Lanka (AP) — A day after making a remarkable unbeaten 158, Dimuth Karunaratne again tormented South Africa with a half-century as Sri Lanka began to lock up the first test after day two on Friday.

Karunaratne became only the fourth Sri Lankan to carry his bat through in the first innings, and his 60 second time around helped Sri Lanka to extend their lead to 272 runs.

South Africa face a tall order to save the match on a crumbling pitch with plenty of assistance for spin bowlers.

Hashim Amla, who captained South Africa to a 1-0 series win the last time the Proteas were in Sri Lanka in 2014, said 272 was already a handy lead for the pitch.

"If we manage to restrict them to, I'd say 320, then certainly that would be a good target for us," Amla said. "If a couple of us have a good partnership and one of us plays like Karunaratne played, that would get us close to that score."

The visitors were bowled out for 126, their lowest total against Sri Lanka, eclipsing the 168 all out in Durban in 2011.

"Like most pitches, as the days go on the deterioration occurs," Amla said. "Today, it spun a little bit more than yesterday. Tomorrow, maybe in the morning session it might not spin as much and then break up and spin more and more."

Sri Lanka were 111-4 in their second innings. Left-arm orthodox spinner Keshav Maharaj picked up the first three wickets but, with a healthy first-innings lead of 161 runs, the hosts could play with freedom.

With five overs left to stumps, South Africa paceman Kagiso Rabada dismissed Karunaratne, who was caught at slip by Hashim Amla.

Danushka Gunathilaka (17) added 51 runs for the first wicket with Karunaratne and the former was dismissed when he gave Maharaj the charge but couldn't clear the boundary. Rabada ran to his left from long-on to complete the catch.

With the total on 64, Maharaj struck twice in the space of four deliveries, removing Dhananjaya de Silva (9) and Kusal Mendis (0) in quick succession. Mendis unsuccessfully reviewed after being given leg before wicket.

Maharaj, however, couldn't trouble Karunaratne as the left-hander was solid in defence and punished the loose balls with a couple of elegant drives. He was Sri Lanka's best batsman in 2017 having posted over 1000 runs in tests. He missed Sri Lanka's recent tour of the Caribbean due to injury.

The Proteas had a dramatic collapse in the morning. Resuming from the overnight score of 4-1, the Proteas lost five wickets in the morning session for just 82 runs as the three-pronged spin attack of Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera and Lakshan Sandakan shared the bulk of the bowling.

Stand-in skipper Suranga Lakmal, the lone seamer in the Sri Lanka side, brought himself on in the last over before lunch and by then the spinners had sent down 37 overs.

From 51-6, South Africa recovered somewhat to reach 115-6 thanks to a seventh-wicket stand between Vernon Philander (18) and Francois du Plessis (49). Sri Lanka made the breakthrough after lunch as Philander was ruled leg before wicket to Dilruwan Perera, who finished with four wickets.

"What we have realized is that they don't play offspin too well," said Perera, who took 16 wickets in the 2014 series. "That has been evident in their last few series they have played. Maybe that is one reason why I picked up four wickets today.

"We didn't expect to get them bowled out for 126, though."

Lakmal hastened South Africa's collapse with a superb piece of seam bowling accounting for the last three batsmen including captain Du Plessis, who was clean bowled by a delivery that cut back in sharply.


Pacquiao, Matthysse make weight for welterweight title fight

Philippine senator and boxing champion Manny Pacquiao trains at a press preview in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, July 11. Pacquiao is scheduled to fight Lucas Matthysse on July 15 for the World Boxing Association welterweight title in Malaysia. (AP Photo/Yam G-Jun)

Eileen Ng

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (AP) — Manny Pacquiao weighed in at a trim 146 pounds Saturday for his showdown with World Boxing Association welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse, who also made weight at 146.7 pounds.

The legendary Filipino eight-division champion and the Argentinian known as a knockout specialist were comfortably below the 147-pound limit when they stepped on a scale ahead of Sunday's bout, dubbed the "fight of champions."

Pacquiao, who turns 40 in December, returns to the ring a year after his shock-decision loss to Australia's Jeff Horn.

Pacquiao didn't speak after the weigh-in but the words on his long sleeve t-shirt made clear his determination to seek a 60th victory: "Fight On."

He has 38 of his 59 wins by knockout. Matthysse, 35, has 39 wins — 36 by knockout.

Pacquiao is fighting for the first time with new trainer Buboy Fernandez. He replaced Pacquiao's longtime trainer Freddie Roach, who Pacquiao dropped after 16 years together.


Chelsea fire manager Antonio Conte after 2 years in charge

Former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is shown in this May 19, 2018 file photo. Chelsea fired Conte after a two-year tenure the London club said on Friday. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

Steve Douglas

London (AP) - Antonio Conte's protracted divorce from Chelsea was finalized on Friday when he was fired after a two-year tenure in which he won the English Premier League and FA Cup but failed to gain the power he craved at the London club.

Chelsea began a terse, four-sentence statement on its website, "Chelsea Football Club and Antonio Conte have parted company."

Leaving Stamford Bridge was always the likely outcome for Conte following a season in which Chelsea missed out on Champions League qualification after a fifth-place league finish, 30 points behind champions Manchester City. The Italian coach regularly grumbled about his failure to exert control, particularly over transfers.

Contrast that to the end of his first season at the club, where Conte was feted for leading Chelsea to the league title by seven points after a record-breaking run of 13 straight wins in the middle of the season, sparked by an inspired and bold change of formation.

Conte took preseason training this week at Chelsea's practice base in Cobham with players who hadn't featured at the World Cup, but reports emerged in the Italian media on Thursday saying Conte had been fired. That speculation only intensified when Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas and former Chelsea captain John Terry paid tribute to Conte on social media.

"Thank you boss," Terry wrote on Twitter. "Great man, Great manager. I wish you every success in the future."

The club's 64-word announcement was eventually made on Friday, ending with: "We wish Antonio every success in his future career."

Conte still had a year left on a revised deal he signed last summer after delivering the fifth Premier League title since Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003. Only the pay was improved, though, with Conte's contract still running for just another two seasons — hardly a show of commitment by either the club or its manager.

The Italian's main gripe for the past year was Chelsea's failure to land the signings he really wanted for their Premier League title defence. Chelsea were beaten to the signing of Romelu Lukaku by Manchester United and then Fernando Llorente by Tottenham, for example.

"The club decides every player," he moaned last season.

Winning the FA Cup by beating Manchester United at Wembley Stadium in May — and getting one over his great managerial rival, Jose Mourinho — proved to be Conte's last hurrah and maintained his record of winning a trophy every season he has been in charge of Juventus — where he won the Serie A for four straight years — and Chelsea.

Chelsea seek a 13th permanent manager under Abramovich's ownership, and at possibly the most turbulent period of the Russian billionaire's trophy-filled reign.

It emerged in May that Abramovich had yet to have his British visa renewed amid a crackdown by authorities on associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Chelsea also halted plans to redevelop Stamford Bridge, citing an unfavorable climate to invest in the 500 million pound project.

Conte leaves amid reports in the British and Italian media that former Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri will take over at Chelsea for next season.

Sarri's future has been up in the air since Napoli hired Carlo Ancelotti as their new coach in May. Sarri spent three years at the club and led them to two runner-up finishes and a third place, playing an entertaining and high-energy brand of football like that seen at Man City under Pep Guardiola, Tottenham under Mauricio Pochettino, and Liverpool under Juergen Klopp.

Sarri didn't win a major title at Napoli, however, and that would not be tolerated at Chelsea.

As Conte and many of his predecessors have learned, even winning trophies is no guarantee of job security at Chelsea under Abramovich.


Update July 13, 2018

Serena Williams nears 8th Wimbledon title, 24th Slam overall

Serena Williams of the United States returns the ball to Germany's Julia Gorges during their women's singles semifinals match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London, Thursday July 12. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Howard Fendrich

London (AP) — Yes, this will be Serena Williams' 10th Wimbledon final. Yes, it's her 30th title match at any major. And, well, sure, she's widely regarded as not just the best of her era, but any era.

Let others shrug at this latest accomplishment, as if all it signified were merely another chance at another in a long line of trophies. Williams is not shy about saying she, for one, is impressed by this. Rightly so. For it was only about 10 months ago she was having a baby and then dealing with a serious health scare that followed.

Even after all of that, even after more than a year away from the game, even in only the fourth tournament of her comeback, Williams showed she's still capable of dominance. Especially at the All England Club, where a relatively routine 6-2, 6-4 victory over 13th-seeded Julia Goerges of Germany on Thursday put Williams one win away from an eighth championship.

She's also closing in on her 24th Grand Slam title, which would equal Margaret Court's all-time record.

"A lot of people were saying, 'Oh, she should be in the final,'" the 36-year-old Williams said. "For me it's such a pleasure and a joy because, you know, less than a year ago, I was going through so much stuff."

After hitting five aces with a serve that reached 119 mph, delivering 16 winners to only seven unforced errors, and covering the court so well with speed and effort, Williams will face another German, 11th-seeded Angelique Kerber, on Saturday.

"Whatever happens, honestly," Williams said, "it's an incredible effort from me."

The left-handed Kerber, a former No. 1 and two-time major champion, beat 12th-seeded Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-3 earlier Thursday.

"Seeing her back, it's great," said Kerber, who has lost six of eight previous matches against Williams. "I know that she is always pushing you to the limits."

Kerber let 2017 French Open champion Ostapenko determine the outcome of nearly every point. By the end, Ostapenko had far more winners, 30-10, and far more unforced errors, 36-7.

Williams vs. Kerber will be a rematch of the 2016 final. Williams won that for a second consecutive Wimbledon title, then sat out the grass-court tournament last year while pregnant, part of a 16-month gap between majors.

After giving birth to daughter Olympia last September, Williams was treated for blood clots.

"I lost count after, like, four surgeries," said Williams, who has been wearing compression leggings this fortnight as a precaution.

Her first Grand Slam tournament back was the French Open, where she won three matches before withdrawing last month because of an injured chest muscle.

All of the time away pushed someone who's spent more than 300 weeks ranked No. 1 down the rankings — she began Wimbledon at 181st, but was seeded 25th on account of her past success — and no one could quite be sure how the American would fare over these two weeks.

Not even Williams knew.

"This is not inevitable for me. I had a really tough delivery ... and almost didn't make it, to be honest," Williams said. "I remember I couldn't even walk to my mail box, so it's definitely not 'normal' for me to be in a Wimbledon final."

The victory over Goerges extended Williams' winning streak at Wimbledon to 20 matches, dating to the start of the 2015 edition. She's also won her past 15 Grand Slam matches since the start of the 2017 Australian Open, which she won while pregnant.

That title pushed her past Steffi Graf's record of 22 majors in the half-century professional era; Court won some of her Slams during the amateur era.

Williams' match against Goerges was even until 2-all, 30-all. Until then, Goerges, the first seeded player Williams faced these two weeks, showed she was capable of trading power from the baseline and big serves with Williams.

There were moments when watching Goerges made it easy to wonder how it could be possible she never had been past a major's fourth round until now. Or, more to the point on this afternoon, how such a stinging serve and groundstrokes didn't help her avoid first-round exits each of the past five years at Wimbledon.

But she couldn't keep up with Williams, who grabbed 18 of 22 points and five consecutive games to close the first set and begin the next.

"She brings her 'A game' in a lot of important moments," Goerges said. "We saw that she improved every single match she's playing here."

There was one brief blip to come: Williams got broken for the only time while serving for the match at 5-3. Immediately, though, she broke back at love to end it, placing her left fist on her chest when Goerges' last shot landed long.

Later, Williams was asked whether this has been her most trying comeback in a career that's had its share, including an earlier bout with blood clots in her lungs.

"I don't know if it's been the toughest, because I have Olympia. For me, I only see joy out of it," Williams said with a smile. "In a way, it's by far the toughest, but in a way it's by far the best."


Suwannapura leads after first round at LPGA Marathon Classic

Thidapa Suwannapura laughs as she talks with her caddie before teeing off during the first round of the LPGA Marathon Classic golf tournament, Thursday, July 12, at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio. (Kurt Steiss/The Blade via AP)

Sylvania, Ohio (AP) — For only the second time in her seven-year career, Thidapa Suwannapura took the overnight lead at an LPGA Tour event.

Suwannapura shot a 6-under-par 65 on Thursday at the Marathon Classic and led seven players by one shot. The Thai player grabbed the outright lead with a birdie on the par-5 18th at Highland Meadows — her 10th birdie of the day.

"I'm really happy about the way I played today," she said. "I didn't really look at the leaderboard, and did not even expect anything. I have a chance, so let's see how it goes."

Suwannapura, who has three top-10 finishes in 120 career LPGA Tour starts, last had the overnight lead after the first round of the 2013 Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, where she faded in the second round and finished in a tie for 65th.

The 25-year-old Suwannapura's best career finish was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Invitational. That was also her last top 10. This season, her best performance was a tie for 18th three weeks ago in Arkansas.

Seven players, including defending champion I.K. Kim and former No. 1 Yani Tseng, were a stroke behind at 66.

Kim, who started her round on the back nine, said conditions were calmer once she made the turn. She birdied five of the final six holes, including the par-4 ninth.

"Not much wind out there. So I took that advantage on the front nine," she said. "I had a good roll, all three birdies in a row. And birdieing the last two par-5's was really fun."

Tseng was the only player in the top eight to have a bogey-free round. She missed an eagle putt on the final hole that would have drawn her even with Suwannapura.

"I stayed patient all day. Just need to get that putting going a little bit," Tseng said. "So today I dropped a few, I missed a few, and this is how golf is. I feel like this is the way I should play."


Yadav and Sharma help India outclass England in 1st ODI

India's Kuldeep Yadav appeals during the One Day International Series cricket match between England and India at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, England, Thursday, July 12. (David Davies/PA via AP)

Nottingham, England (AP) — Kuldeep Yadav and Rohit Sharma spearheaded India as they crushed England by eight wickets in the first one-day international at Trent Bridge on Thursday.

Sharma hit a wonderful 137 not out after Yadav did the damage with the ball with six wickets, helping India win with 10 overs to spare.

Jos Buttler top-scored for England – who have a chance to level the series at Lord's on Saturday - with 53 but they failed to deal with Yadav's spin before toiling in the field.

Yadav claimed 6-25 from 10 overs - including 38 dot balls - as England were outclassed and dismissed for 268 having lost the toss and put into bat.

"We need to get better at playing him," England captain Eoin Morgan said.

"When he does bowl well he is very good and he exposes an area of our game we need to improve on, that is a healthy thing. It's a chance to improve in this area, however long it takes, between now and the World Cup."

Yadav was backed up by the quick-hitting openers before Shikhar Dhawan was caught for 40 after mistiming a slog off Moeen Ali.

But it did little to slow India down as they passed 100 with Sharma and Virat Kohli taking on England. They reached their half-centuries as India cruised to 169-1, needing 100 to win from 25 overs.

The devastating Sharma rattled off a century with a stunning six only after seeing Jason Roy drop an extremely difficult chance when the opener was on 92.

Kohli, though, was stumped by Buttler for 75 off Rashid to end the partnership at 167 but it was only a brief respite for England.

Mark Wood's 0-55 from six overs was costly but Morgan's side failed to post a competitive total.

England, who plundered a record 481 in Nottingham against Australia last month, struggled despite an opening stand of 73.

Yadav took control in a devastating spell, claiming 3-7 from two overs with Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root all falling.

"Luckily I got three wickets in two overs which changed the momentum," Yadav said.

"I'm enjoying English conditions at the moment. I didn't try anything new, I stuck to the basics and stuck wicket to wicket. I'm hoping for the test call and let's see what happens in a couple of days when they announce the team."

Roy (38) was caught by Umesh Yadav while Bairstow (38) and Root were trapped lbw in the 13th over.

It saw England slip to 82-3 and Morgan (19) walked after bringing up England's 100, giving his wicket away after being caught at midwicket off Yuzvendra Chahal.

From then it was slow going as Ben Stokes took 103 balls to make his fifty and Buttler crept to a half-century as the pair rebuilt the host's innings.

India restricted England to pinching quick runs rather than plundering boundaries - a far cry from when Bairstow and Alex Hales smashed Australia.

And when Kuldeep Yadav returned he had Buttler caught behind for 53 thanks to Mahendra Singh Dhoni's impressive reflexes.


Dumoulin and Bardet lose time at Tour after bikes break

Ireland's Daniel Martin celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race in Mur-de-Bretagne Guerledan, France, Thursday, July 12. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena )

Joseph Wilson

Mur de Bretagne, France (AP) — Sometimes in cycling the bike can be the rider's biggest enemy.

Tour de France contenders Tom Dumoulin and Romain Bardet both lost significant time in the overall standings after spokes on their wheels snapped near the uphill end of Stage 6 on Thursday.

Both title hopefuls were left behind by the rest of the top riders as they increased the pace hunting for the win that finally went to Daniel Martin of Ireland.

Dumoulin said his bike broke when he knocked into Bardet near the foot of the second of two two-kilometer ascents up the Mur de Bretagne to the finish line.

"I hit the back wheel of Bardet when there was the movement in the peloton and I couldn't avoid it," the Dutch rider said. "I needed to change wheel and chase to the finish as hard as possible but it was very difficult."

Dumoulin and his Sunweb team compounded the mechanical mishap by getting a 20-second penalty when Dumoulin stayed too close to the team car while trying to catch the pack, thereby benefiting from its draft that pulled him along.

"I knew I wouldn't make it back so it was about limiting the time loss," Dumoulin said. "I'm disappointed of course, I would have liked to be in a better position on (general classification) but that's how it is."

Dumoulin and Bardet entered the three-week race among the chosen few riders considered strong enough to challenge four-time champion Chris Froome.

Dumoulin, the time trial world champion and 2017 Giro d'Italia winner, started the stage 44 seconds ahead of Froome, but finished just behind him. Froome trails race leader Greg Van Avermaet by 1:02. Dumoulin is one more second behind.

Bardet was already trailing Froome, and after losing 28 seconds is now 1:45 off the leader's pace after he broke his back wheel and had to change bikes with Tony Gallopin.

"Then I had to chase and that effort was fatal. It's never good to lose time," said Bardet, who has finished on the podium in the past two Tours. "There are a lot of twists on the Tour and this time luck was not on our side."

Martin took the win for UAE Emirates after he broke away on the final kilometer, winning the 181-kilometer leg that started in the western port city of Brest in over four hours.

Martin counterattacked when Richie Porte jumped ahead and nobody immediately tried to reel him in.

"I saw the moment. I had really good legs and when I went my legs kept coming and coming," Martin said. "I knew if I could get a gap it would be difficult to close from behind."

Pierre Latour crossed the line second followed by Alejandro Valverde in third.

Van Avermaet, a BMC support rider for Porte, kept the yellow jersey for a third straight day.

Froome's teammate Geraint Thomas moved into second place overall at three seconds behind Van Avermaet after snatching two additional bonus in an intermediate bonus sprint.

Martin was one of several team leaders along with former Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali and two-time runner-up Nairo Quintana who were caught off-guard by an attack by Quick-Step midway through the stage during a straightaway that was exposed to crosswinds.

A group of around 40 riders including Froome opened up a gap of over a minute, but Martin and the rest hustled back.

This was the first summit finish of this Tour. After the relatively flat first nine days, the race will head south and into the Alps and then the Pyrenees Mountains.

Friday's flat 231-kilometer leg from Fougeres to Chartes is the longest stage of this Tour.


Update July 12, 2018

Croatia beat England 2-1, reach World Cup final for 1st time

Croatia's Ivan Perisic scores his side's first goal past England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford during the semifinal match between Croatia and England at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, July 11. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein

Ronald Blum

Moscow (AP) — Croatia's legs seemed heavy, burdened by the accumulated toll of consecutive penalty-kick wins needed to get this far. England had gone ahead with a free kick just five minutes in, dominated play and appeared headed to their first World Cup final since 1966.

Then the second half started and it was as if a different Croatian team had replaced the lethargic one.

Ivan Perisic tied the score in the 68th minute, Mario Mandzukic got the go-ahead goal in the 109th and Croatia shocked England with a 2-1 victory Wednesday that advanced a nation of just over 4 million to a World Cup final against France.

"Mentally strong team," midfielder Ivan Rakitic said. "It's just unbelievable to get back in the game in this way."

When the final whistle blew and they knew they were going to their first World Cup final, the Croatians ran to their jumping and cheering fans in their iconic red-and-white checkered jerseys. Croatia joined an exclusive club of 13 nations that advanced to a World Cup final, doing it in a tournament where powers Brazil, Germany, Argentina and Spain made early exits.

"They've had an incredible route to the final. They've shown remarkable character," said England coach Gareth Southgate, who for now will be remembered more for a fashionable waistcoat than ending a half-century of hurt.

France, who won their only title at home in 1998, will have an extra day of rest after beating Belgium 1-0 on Tuesday.

Croatia, coming off 360 intense minutes at soccer's highest level, face their biggest sporting moment since becoming an independent nation in 1991.

"We started slowly, but we've shown our character, just as we did in the previous two knockout rounds when we were one-goal down," Perisic said.

Fans back home in Zagreb took to the streets to celebrate, lighting flares and waving flags in a sea of exuberance.

"We are a nation of people who never give in, who are proud and who have character," said coach Zlatko Dalic, who wore a checkered jersey to his post-match news conference. "There's no weakness in a team that is in the final."

England were not among the top 10 nations in ticket sales before the tournament, but the team's progress caused gallivanting supporters to flock to Moscow.

The front of the stands behind one goal was filled with more than two dozen white banners with a red Cross of St. George, pledging support from many of the island's clubs, from Bradford to Wolverhampton. Back home, a crowd of 30,000 was in London's Hyde Park for a large-screen viewing, the British Beer and Pub Association predicted supporters would buy 10 million extra pints at pubs during the match, and No.1 Court at Wimbledon was less than one-third full for the men's quarterfinal between John Isner and Milos Raonic.

Promise seemed about to be fulfilled when Kieran Trippier curled in a free kick in the fifth minute for his first international goal, above leaping Dejan Lovren and Mandzukic and past the desperate dive of goalkeeper Danijel Subasic. Choruses of "God Save the Queen" began in England's end.

"We had a couple chances after that to get the second, give ourselves a bit more breathing room," England captain Harry Kane said.

Football will not be coming home to England, and there will be no title to match the 1966 triumph at Wembley Stadium. Kane & Co. will deal with the same disappointment that felled Shearer and Platt, Gazza and Wazza, Beckham and Gerrard. And Southgate, whose penalty-kick failure led to England's previous semifinal loss in a major tournament, in the 1996 European Championship semifinals.

"Impossible to say anything to them that is going to make them feel better at this point," Southgate said after England's fourth straight loss in a major tournament semifinal.

Croatia tied the score after Rakitic switched the ball from left flank to right, where Vrsaljko crossed. Kyle Walker attempted a diving header to clear. Perisic jumped and from behind raised his left boot over Walker's head to poke the ball past goalkeeper Jordan Pickford from about 8 yards for his fourth World Cup goal, including two in this tournament.

Mandzukic scored after Walker stuck out a leg to block Josip Pivaric's cross. The ball popped up, and Perisic outjumped Trippier to head the ball toward goal. Mandzukic alertly reacted to the unexpected ball in the penalty area, splitting defenders Stones and Harry Maguire, who both had taken four short steps up. The ball bounced twice, Mandzukic ran onto it and one-timed a low, left-footed shot to Pickford's left.

"Three times 120 minutes and fresher legs today than the English team," Lovren marveled.

Mandzukic ran to a corner and was mobbed by teammates, who jumped on him and trapped photographers under them in the crush.

Not long after, Dalic was thinking about the short recovery time before the final.

"It's our fault. Why didn't we score earlier?" he said. "Why didn't we finish the job in regulation time?"

Rakitic wasn't worried.

"We still have lots of energy in the tank," he said.


Federer stunned in Wimbledon QF; Nadal, Djokovic, Isner win

Switzerland's Roger Federer prepares to leave the court after losing his men's quarterfinals match against Kevin Anderson of South Africa, at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London, Wednesday July 11. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Howard Fendrich

London (AP) — Roger Federer was a point away from a rather tidy, straight-set victory in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. One lousy point.

And then, slowly, over the next two-plus hours, all the way until the fifth set reached its 24th game, as the temperature dropped and the spectators' cries of "Let's go, Roger!" echoed through the shadows, everything came apart for the eight-time champion. Against an opponent who'd never beaten him nor made it this far at the All England Club.

In a stunning turnaround in an unfamiliar setting — No. 1 Court instead of Centre Court — the top-seeded Federer blew a third-set match point and, eventually, all of his big lead in a 2-6, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 loss to No. 8 Kevin Anderson on Wednesday in a 4-hour, 14-minute tussle.

"It was just one of those days where you hope to get by somehow," said Federer, who last played at No. 1 Court in 2015. "I almost could have. I should have."

While his tournament is over, two of his long-time rivals at the top of tennis set up a semifinal showdown: Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Nadal, who's won two of his 17 Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon, edged 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro 7-5, 6-7 (7), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in a wildly entertaining match that featured diving shots by both and lasted 4 hours, 48 minutes.

Djokovic, whose 12 major championships include three from the All England Club, got to his first Grand Slam semifinal since 2016 by beating No. 24 seed Kei Nishikori  6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

In Friday's other men's match, Anderson will face No. 9 John Isner, the 33-year-old American who reached his first major semifinal in his 41st try by eliminating 2016 runner-up Milos Raonic 6-7 (5), 7-6 (7), 6-4, 6-3. Isner hit 25 aces, saved the only break point he faced, and has won all 95 of his service games in the tournament.

Federer hadn't been broken until facing Anderson. Still, the 20-time major champion was leading by two sets and 5-4 in the third when, with Anderson serving, he got to Ad-Out. He could have ended things right then and there. Federer managed to return a 134 mph serve, but on his next stroke, he shanked a backhand.

Back to deuce. From there, it all began to change. Anderson held for 5-all, broke to 6-5 with a violent return winner off a 97 mph second serve, then staved off three break points and closed the set with a 133 mph ace.

The comeback was just beginning.

"I had my chances," Federer said, "so it's disappointing."

This was only the third time in Federer's 20 years of contesting Grand Slam matches that he lost after taking the opening two sets; both of the other defeats came in 2011. And, according to the ATP, it's the fifth time Federer lost a match at a major after holding a match point, something else that last happened seven years ago.

How hard was it to see this coming?

First of all, Federer was 4-0 against Anderson, winning every set. But there was more. So much more. Federer was attempting to reach his 13th semifinal at Wimbledon and move closer to title No. 9, both of which would have broken his own records.

He came into the match having won 32 consecutive sets at Wimbledon, a run he stretched to 34 before faltering.

"I just kept on telling myself, 'I have to keep believing.' I kept saying that today was going to be my day," Anderson said, "because you really need that mindset taking the court against somebody like Roger."

Anderson was the runner-up to Nadal at last year's U.S. Open, but he never made it beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon until this week. He hit 28 aces against Federer, saved nine of 12 break points and managed to hold his own in the rare lengthy baseline rallies.

"It's like that with the big servers," Federer said. "You're never really safe."

As the fifth set became as much a test of mental strength as anything, from 4-all to 6-all to 8-all to 10-all, Anderson stayed steady. It was Federer who blinked, double-faulting to face a break point at 11-all, then slapping a forehand into the net.

Anderson, a 32-year-old South African who played college tennis at Illinois, served it out, ending things with a 128 mph service winner before raising both arms.

Djokovic got his wish to play in the main stadium, and he showed that he might completely be back from right elbow troubles that lasted more than a year until he finally had surgery in February.

He's been flashing some anger this fortnight and did so again in the second set, bouncing his racket off the turf after failing to capitalize on three break points at 1-all. That earned a code violation from chair umpire Carlos Ramos. When Nishikori let his own racket fly in the fourth set, he wasn't chastised, which prompted Djokovic to yell "double standards" toward Ramos — drawing boos from fans.

"He claims that he didn't see what Nishikori has done, but apparently he always sees what I do," Djokovic said afterward, "something that I don't think is fair."

Later, Ramos warned Djokovic for a time violation, but that didn't seem to faze the Serb.

Soon enough, Djokovic was on his way to the semifinals, where he will meet Nadal.

"I like the level of tennis that I'm playing on right now. I really do. I think with the performances I've had, I deserve to be in the semifinals," said Djokovic, whose last major title came at the 2016 French Open. "I don't want to stop here. I hope I can get a chance to fight for a trophy."

He'll have to get past Nadal first.


NFL players union files grievance over anthem policy

San Francisco 49ers players kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game in this Dec. 24, 2017, file photo. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

New York (AP) — The NFL Players Association filed a grievance with the league on Tuesday challenging its national anthem policy.

The union says that the new policy, which the league imposed without consultation with the NFLPA, is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringes on players' rights. The filing met a statute of limitations deadline and will be heard by an independent arbitrator, an NFLPA spokesman said.

In May, the NFL approved its national anthem policy at its owners meetings in Atlanta. The policy allows players to protest during the national anthem by staying in the locker room, but forbids them from sitting or taking a knee if they're on the field or the sidelines.

Teams will be subject to fines if players don't comply and will have the option of punishing players.

When the league announced the policy, Commissioner Roger Goodell called it a compromise aimed at putting the focus back on football after a tumultuous year in which television ratings dipped nearly 10 percent; some blamed the protests for such a drop. The union said at that time that it would file a grievance against any change in the collective bargaining agreement.

The union said Tuesday it has proposed having its executive committee talking to the NFL instead of proceeding with litigation. The union said the NFL has agreed to those discussions.

The NFL declined to comment about the union's action.

In 2016, then-49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick began protesting police brutality and social injustice by kneeling during the national anthem, and the demonstration spread to other players and teams. It became one of the most controversial and sensitive issues in the NFL, with players saying their messages last year were being misconstrued, while others — including President Donald Trump — called them unpatriotic. Trump even said NFL owners should fire any player who refused to stand during the anthem.

Following those comments, more than 200 players protested during the anthem that weekend before the number of protesters dwindled as the season progressed.

"We're here for a bigger platform," Raiders tight end Jared Cook said during the spring. "We're not just athletes. We're people that live this. It's people in our neighborhood, it's people that we grew up with, it's people that we know who are actually living through these circumstances. So when we speak on it, it's not like we're just speaking out of the side of our neck. It's things that actually touch home and things that we can actually relate to.

"All I have to say is, I just think it's sad that it's veered from something that stood for good and the whole narrative has changed into something that's negative when that was not what it was initially about in the first place."

The NFL started requiring players to be on the field for the anthem in 2009 — the year it signed a marketing deal with the military.

"We want people to be respectful of the national anthem. We want people to stand," Goodell said at the May meetings, when he dismissed concerns about the lack of union involvement by contending the league met with countless players over the past year.

"We've been very sensitive on making sure that we give players choices," the commissioner added, "but we do believe that moment is an important moment and one that we are going to focus on."

The league and the Players Coalition have been working in tandem on efforts to support player initiatives in the community and for a variety of social issues. The NFL is committing $90 million over the next seven years to social justice causes in a three-segment plan that involves league players.


Billie Jean King among athletes opposing IAAF hormone policy

Former tennis star Billie Jean King. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

New York (AP) — Billie Jean King is among more than 60 athletes urging international track and field's governing body to rescind its new standard on natural hormone levels for female runners.

The tennis great joined the athletes in an open letter asking the IAAF to end its policy passed in April that limits testosterone levels for middle-distance runners. Two sports groups — the Women's Sports Foundation and Athlete Ally — released the letter Tuesday.

Soccer's Megan Rapinoe, hockey's Meghan Duggan and softball's Jessica Mendoza are among the signees. They say the standard discriminates against female athletes and "no woman should be required to change her body" to compete in sports.

World and Olympic 800-meter champion Caster Semenya recently challenged the policy before the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The policy requires women to take birth control pills to lower testosterone levels and is to take effect Nov. 1.

Rapinoe pointed to the wingspan of swimmer Michael Phelps and height of basketball player Yao Ming.

"This is just another way in which sport governing bodies police dominant female athletes — but never our male counterparts," she said.


Update July 11, 2018

Superb defence takes France through to World Cup final

France's Samuel Umtiti celebrates after scoring his side’s winning goal against Belgium at the 2018 soccer World Cup in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, July 10. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Jerome Pugmire

St. Petersburg, Russia (AP) — France's defence made the difference — on both sides of the field.

Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris kept out the shots and defender Samuel Umtiti scored the winning goal from a corner.

It was France's backline, not their slick attackers, that carried the team to the World Cup final with a 1-0 victory over Belgium on Tuesday.

"This is why football is magical, it gives everyone emotions. It's tough not to give into euphoria, but it's a fantastic moment," Lloris said. "We feared them on set pieces, but in the end it was us scoring from one."

France coach Didier Deschamps fell into Umtiti's arms after the final whistle. His superbly drilled defence, led by Raphael Varane, neutralized Belgium's much-hyped attack to record a fourth shutout in six games so far.

"They have so many athletic players, to have resisted in defence is very good. We had to defend very deep sometimes," Deschamps said. "We came up against a very good Belgium side which controlled the game more than us. But we also hurt them."

Umtiti danced in front of the French fans, while center back partner Varane walked over to them and pumped his clenched fist. Varane was injured when France lost the European Championship final two years ago, and he looks determined to make up for it.

The spotlight has been on 19-year-old sensation Kylian Mbappe in Russia, whose electric pace and skill lit up the tournament. But for the second consecutive knockout game, a defender managed to score when Mbappe couldn't.

Against Uruguay last Friday, it was Varane's header that gave France the lead in a 2-0 win. A few days later, it was Umtiti rising to head home a corner from the right in the 51st minute.

"Enormously proud," Umtiti said. "We worked really hard together, and it's me that scored but we all delivered a big game."

Umtiti showed superb timing to leap above Belgium midfielder Maroune Fellaini — the tallest non-goalkeeper on either side — and power a header past Thibaut Courtois.

"When you're not particularly tall you need determination and the will to get in front of the opponent," Umtiti said. "The set piece was really well taken as well, and that helped me beat someone as good as Fellaini in the air."

Forward Antoine Griezmann set up Umtiti's and Varane's headed goals with his cushioned delivery from set pieces. But like Mbappe, he took a back seat against the Belgians as Lloris and his defence starred at the St. Petersburg Stadium.

Varane made decisive headers to cut out dangerous crosses and corners, and read to perfection almost every run from Romelu Lukaku and the fleet-footed Eden Hazard. He also compensated for the times when right back Benjamin Pavard was caught out of position, particularly by Hazard, when Belgium dominated the opening 20 minutes.

When France's defence was breached, the agile Lloris was on hand to make decisive saves — just like against Uruguay. He made a superb, leaping stop to his right to palm away a sudden strike from Toby Alderweireld in the 22nd minute that would have gone inside the left post.

Midway through the second half, Lloris was there again, springing off his line to punch away a dangerous right-wing cross from Belgium substitute Dries Mertens.

With 10 minutes left and Belgium pressing, Lloris flew off his line to his left to push away a powerful shot from midfielder Axel Witsel.

France won their only World Cup 20 years ago, thanks to a commanding goalkeeper — Fabien Barthez — protected by a rock-solid defence which also chipped in with goals.

In 1998, a defender — Laurent Blanc — scored in the first knockout game to defeat Paraguay in extra time; and Barthez saved France in a tense penalty shootout against Italy in the quarterfinals. Then, right back Lilian Thuram scored the only two goals of his career to help France beat Croatia in the semifinals.

France kept five shutouts in seven games back then. With Croatia or England awaiting in Sunday's final, the formula is one game away from working again.


Ronaldo leaving Real Madrid to join Italian club Juventus

In this Saturday, May 26, 2018 file photo Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates with the Champions League trophy at the Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Daniella Matar

Madrid (AP) - Cristiano Ronaldo is leaving Real Madrid to join Italian club Juventus in a move expected to benefit the Portugal forward's tax return.

Juventus said Tuesday it is paying 112 million euros for Ronaldo, who will sign a four-year deal with the Serie A champions.

The move brings an end to a hugely successful nine-year spell in Spain, and takes him further away from a tax fraud case that may end up costing the Portugal forward more than $20 million in fines.

"These years with Real Madrid and in this city of Madrid have been possibly the happiest of my life," Ronaldo wrote in an open letter. "My only feeling is of an enormous gratitude for this club, for these fans and for this city. I can only thank them all for the love and affection I have received.

"But I think the time has come to start a new phase in my life and that is why I have asked the club to accept my transfer. I feel that it is time, and I ask everyone, especially our fans, to please understand me."

Ronaldo joined Real Madrid in 2009 from Manchester United and is the Spanish club's all-time leading scorer with 451 goals in 438 matches. He helped the club win four Champions League titles — beating Juventus in the final in 2017 — and also won the league and cup twice each.

He has scored a record 120 Champions League goals, 105 of them since moving to Madrid — 12 more than Juventus managed in that same period.

But he was unhappy with the way the tax authorities treated him in Spain. Ronaldo, along with several other top players in the country, has been accused of tax fraud, with authorities saying the government was defrauded of 14.7 million euros from 2011-14. Unconfirmed media reports last month said Ronaldo had agreed to pay a fine of 18.8 million euros.

In Italy, a new law caps tax on income generated from abroad at 100,000 euros per year for residents who have paid their taxes in other countries for at least nine of the last 10 years.

Other players targeted by Spanish tax authorities in recent years include Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano and Luka Modric. Former Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, now at Manchester United, was also investigated.

Ronaldo is currently on vacation in Greece following Portugal's elimination from the World Cup. Juventus president Andrea Agnelli flew out Tuesday to meet the 33-year-old forward.

"Real Madrid wants to express its gratitude to a player who has proven to be the best in the world and who has marked one of the greatest eras in the history of our club and of world soccer," Real Madrid said in a statement.

"In addition to the titles he won, Cristiano Ronaldo has been an example of dedication, work, responsibility, talent and determination," Madrid added. "For Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo will always be one of its greatest symbols and a unique reference for the next generations. Real Madrid will always be his home."

Ronaldo signed a five-year deal with Madrid in 2016, saying he wanted to end his career at the club. But he has also publicly expressed his discontentment about being jeered at times by some Madrid fans at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Ronaldo was also moved by the Juventus fans for giving him a standing ovation after he scored a spectacular goal against the Italian club at the Allianz Stadium in the Champions League quarterfinals last season.

"I gave a lot of thought to this and I know that the time has come for a new era," Ronaldo said. "I'm leaving, but this jersey, this shield and the Santiago Bernabeu will always feel as something that is mine wherever I go."

The signing breaks the Serie A record, which Juventus set two years ago when they paid Napoli 90 million euros for Gonzalo Higuain.

Ronaldo made his debut for Sporting Lisbon when he was 17. His crossover dribble was already famous when Alex Ferguson brought him to Manchester United ahead of the 2003-04 season and gave him the No. 7 shirt of the recently departed David Beckham.

He spent six seasons in England, winning three Premier League titles, one Champions League title and one FA Cup.

Ronaldo led Portugal to their first major title at the European Championship two years ago in France. He helped the Portuguese team reach the semifinals in his first World Cup in 2006.

Portugal were eliminated by Uruguay in the round of 16 of this year's tournament in Russia. Ronaldo scored four goals to take his tally to 85 for his country and break Ferenc Puskas' record as Europe's all-time leading international scorer.


Serena Williams reaches Wimbledon semis

Serena Williams of the United States celebrates winning her women's singles quarterfinal match against Italy's Camila Giorgi, at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London, Tuesday July 10. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Howard Fendrich

London (AP) — There are moments in which nothing at all seems different about Serena Williams, moments such as when she unleashed a 109 mph service winner to even her Wimbledon quarterfinal at a set apiece, leaned forward and yelled, loudly as can be, "Cooome ooon!"

Or when, about 10 minutes later, she stretched for a lunging backhand winner to break at love and take control of the third set, then raised a fist, figuring a berth in her 11th semifinal at the All England Club was close at hand.

And after Williams came up with a comeback to beat 52nd-ranked Camila Giorgi of Italy 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Tuesday, she headed off Centre Court with her right index finger aloft. Yes, no matter what the rankings or seedings say, no matter how long she was away, Williams still looks capable of playing like someone who's No. 1, just about 10 months after having a baby.

"Everything right now is a little bit of a surprise. To be here. To be in the semifinals. I mean, I always say I plan on it, I would like to be there, have these goals," Williams said. "But when it actually happens, it still is, like, 'Wow, this is really happening.'"

So what if she's still getting her game in gear?

So what if Giorgi wouldn't seem to miss while moving out to that early lead?

Williams never was worried about losing.

"It's weird. Sometimes I feel, 'Man, I'm in trouble.' Sometimes I feel, 'I can fight.' For whatever reason, today I was so calm," said 36-year-old American, who has been wearing compression leggings as a precaution after a blood-clot scare following her daughter's birth. "Even when I was down the first set, I thought, 'Well, she's playing great. I'm doing a lot of the right things.'"

Asked whether that might represent a new way of looking at things, Williams smiled.

"No. Just to be clear, that was just today. I mean, I'm hoping this is, like, a new thing," she said. "Honestly, I highly doubt it."

Next up for Williams as she tries to earn her eighth title at the All England Club and 24th Grand Slam trophy overall will be a match Thursday against No. 13 seed Julia Goerges of Germany, a 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 winner against No. 20 Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands.

"It's pretty unreal for me," said Goerges, who reached her first major semifinal at a tournament where she exited in the first round each of the past five years.

The other semifinal is No. 11 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany vs. No. 12 Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.

Kerber is a former No. 1 who owns two Grand Slam titles and was the runner-up to Williams at Wimbledon two years ago. Ostapenko won last year's French Open.

Kerber needed seven match points to close out No. 14 Daria Kasatkina of Russia 6-3, 7-5 at Centre Court, while Ostapenko defeated 2014 Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 7-5, 6-4 at a windy No. 1 Court.

After a series of upsets made this edition of Wimbledon the first since it began seeding players in the 1920s that none of the top 10 women reached the quarterfinals, Nos. 11, 12 and 13 are still around. And so is No. 25, Williams.

The All England Club seeded her there as a nod to all of her past success at the grass-court major, including titles the last two times she entered, in 2015 and 2016. She missed Wimbledon a year ago because she was pregnant, going about 16 months between Grand Slam tournaments, so her ranking is just outside the top 180.

That is going to change now.

Told she is guaranteed of rising to 51st next week — and higher if she reaches the final or wins the championship — Williams joked: "Got to keep trekking on, though. Serena Williams, 51? Eh, it doesn't have that same ring to it. The '1' part does, but not the '5.'"

Williams is 3-0 against Goerges, winning in straight sets each time.

"Every match starts from zero," Goerges said. "Everybody has the same chances to win that match, and I'm looking forward to it."

After their most recent meeting, in the French Open's third round last month, Williams pulled out of that tournament, citing a chest muscle injury that made it too painful to serve.

She went a couple of weeks without practicing serves, and the rest did wonders. She hit one at 122 mph against Giorgi, delivered six of her seven aces in the final set, and won 44 of the last 54 points she served.

"I messed up too much on my returns," said Giorgi, questioning her decision to stand inside the baseline to receive serve.

Rare is the player who can produce Williams' sort of pace on serves — Giorgi's average speeds were actually faster on first and second serves, and she delivered the match's first three aces — and mirror her power in groundstroke exchanges at the baseline.

But Giorgi plays with nary a trace of subtlety and more than a bit of abandon, taking risky, flat chops at the ball with serves, returns, forehands and backhands. She harbors no compunction about striving for a point-ending winner with every stroke. When she's calibrating properly, it all can be tough for opponents to handle.

Even Williams.

Well, for a set, anyway.


Gaviria beats Sagan again to claim 2nd Tour win on Stage 4

Colombia's Fernando Gaviria, center, sprints to win the fourth stage of the Tour de France cycling race in Sarzeau, France, Tuesday, July 10. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Joseph Wilson

Sarzeau, France (AP) — Fernando Gaviria and Peter Sagan have turned the first four days of the Tour de France into an enthralling duel of rising star versus world champion.

And Tour newcomer Gaviria is winning so far.

Gaviria edged Sagan at the finish line to claim Stage 4 on Tuesday and take his second stage win in his first participation at cycling's greatest race.

The 23-year-old Colombian had already bettered Sagan in a sprint to take the opening stage, amid rising expectations since his four stage victories at last year's Giro d'Italia.

Sagan hit back by winning Stage 2 in an uphill sprint after Gaviria had fallen in a group pileup on the final corner.

Tuesday's flat leg with its four-kilometer finish — the longest straightaway to conclude a leg on this Tour— was perfect terrain for the budding rivals to break the tie.

After Quick-Step hunted down the breakaway to set up Gaviria, he powered ahead of the pack with handlebars swinging and crossed just inches ahead of Sagan and Andre Greipel in a close third.

Sagan was closing fast and seemed to be on pace to overtake him just when Gaviria hit the line.

"He is faster than me," said Sagan, the three-time defending world champion who excels in finishes on slight ascents.

"We will see. Maybe I will wait for some mistake (to beat him). And maybe we will see the next days on the climbs. Every stage is different, every sprint is different."

Gaviria finished the 195-kilometer leg from La Baule to Sarzeau that started and finished on the Atlantic coast in 4 hours, 25 minutes, 1 second.

"It was a very difficult sprint, but we knew how to pull it off," Gaviria said. "We didn't receive any help from the other teams to bring the breakaway back, but at the end my team deserves this victory and we can go to the hotel very happy with what we achieved."

Defending champion Chris Froome of Sky, who remained 55 seconds back due to his fall in Stage 1, finished safely in the pack with leader Greg Van Avermaet.

Riders were enjoying a calm sunny afternoon until a pileup near the front of the peloton with just over 5K left that sent several riders to the tarmac.

But there were no changes among the title hopefuls.

Van Avermaet, the 2016 Olympic road race champion who is support rider for BMC leader Richie Porte, took the yellow jersey when his team won Monday's team time trial.

Tom Dumoulin was seventh (11 seconds behind), last year's runner-up Rigoberto Uran was 10th (:35) and Porte 14th (:51). Movistar teammates Alejandro Valverde and Mikel Landa were 15th and 16th (:53), narrowly ahead of Froome. The 2014 champion Vincenzo Nibali was 19th (1:06), Romain Bardet 20th (1:15) and Nairo Quintana was 48th (2:08).

A four-man breakaway opened up a gap of more than seven minutes early on, but they were slowly reeled in by the Quick-Step-led pack with 2 kilometers to go.

The Tour will spend three more days in northeastern Brittany, where fans waved black-and-white striped Breton flag on the roadside as the peloton rolled through the country villages.

Next up is Stage 5, a hilly 204.5-kilometer leg from Lorient to Quimper.

"Tomorrow is going to be a hard stage. It is a mini-classic in the Tour," said Van Avermaet.

The Tour works its way east before hitting the feared cobblestones of Stage 9 and then heading south and into the mountains.
 


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Johnson and Kisner, housemates and British Open leaders

Sagan takes third win at Tour, Thomas keeps lead on Stage 13

Verstappen sets new lap record in second German GP practice

Chepkoech smashes 3000m steeplechase world record by over 8s


Rowdy Tour fans tarnish win for Thomas atop Alpe d'Huez

Kisner takes lead, Carnoustie holds its own at British Open

F1 champion Lewis Hamilton signs new contract with Mercedes

FIBA bans players, coaches for basketball brawl in Manila


Woods says British Open becomes best shot at a major

Constant action but same result at Tour: Sky domination

Tokyo Olympic venues make progress with 2 years to go

More claims mean NFL concussion payout could jump by $400M


England coast to ODI series win over India

Alaphilippe wins Stage 10, Van Avermaet keeps Tour lead

Spieth returns claret jug, faces tough task getting it back

Anthony Joshua can't escape talk of Deontay Wilder


World Cup win gives France new set of heroes, needed boost

Froome happy as Tour de France heads for the mountains

The Open returns to the nasty links of Carnoustie

Serena Williams at No. 28 in WTA rankings, climbs 153 spots


France beat Croatia 4-2 to win 2nd FIFA World Cup

Djokovic wins 4th Wimbledon by beating Anderson in 3 sets

Pacquiao wins 60th career fight with seventh-round knockout

Suwannapura gets first LPGA Tour win at Marathon Classic

Degenkolb masters cobblestones as Porte crashes out of Tour


Anderson tops Isner 26-24 at Wimbledon; other SF suspended

Karunaratne leads Sri Lanka to 272-run lead 2 days into test

Pacquiao, Matthysse make weight for welterweight title fight

Chelsea fire manager Antonio Conte after 2 years in charge


Serena Williams nears 8th Wimbledon title, 24th Slam overall

Suwannapura leads after first round at LPGA Marathon Classic

Yadav and Sharma help India outclass England in 1st ODI

Dumoulin and Bardet lose time at Tour after bikes break


Croatia beat England 2-1, reach World Cup final for 1st time

Federer stunned in Wimbledon QF; Nadal, Djokovic, Isner win

NFL players union files grievance over anthem policy

Billie Jean King among athletes opposing IAAF hormone policy


Superb defence takes France through to World Cup final

Ronaldo leaving Real Madrid to join Italian club Juventus

Serena Williams reaches Wimbledon semis

Gaviria beats Sagan again to claim 2nd Tour win on Stage 4

 



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