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Trio’s absence no problem for French Open
Paris: Roland Garros organisers are confident that the absence from the 2017 French Open of Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova will just be a footnote when the story of the second major of the season is told. “The absence of these three stars does not weaken the tournament because Roland Garros remains an institution and the Holy Grail for a player,” French tennis historian Jean-Christophe Piffau said.
 
 
Sharapova handed Rogers Cup wild card in Toronto
Toronto: Maria Sharapova’s comeback from a doping ban will include an appearance at the Rogers Cup in August after the former world number one was granted a wild card by the organisers of the Toronto tournament on Tuesday. Sharapova returned to the court last month after serving a 15-month suspension when she tested positive for a banned substance at last year’s Australian Open and the Russian has so far been handed three wild
   
Spain Supreme Court confirms Messi fraud sentence
Madrid: Spain’s Supreme Court on Wednesday confirmed a 21-month jail sentence and 2.09-million-euro ($2.25 million) fine imposed on Lionel Messi for tax fraud, months after the Barcelona football star lodged an appeal. The Argentina international and his father Jorge Horacio Messi were in July 2016 found guilty of using companies in Belize, Britain, Switzerland and Uruguay to avoid paying taxes on 4.16 million euros of Messi’s
 
 
Toure to donate six-figure sum to Manchester victims
London: Manchester City’s Ivory Coast football great Yaya Toure is to donate along with his agent £100,000 to the victims and their families of Monday’s suicide bombing at a pop concert in Manchester that killed 22 people and left more than 60 injured. The 34-year-old four-time African player of the year — capped 102 times and a member of the Ivory Coast side that ended a 23-year drought in lifting the 2015 Africa Cup of
   
England bowler James Anderson set for lengthy lay-off
London: England spearhead James Anderson could be out of action for up to six weeks after officials announced on Tuesday that the Lancashire paceman had torn his groin. The 34-year-old, England’s all-time most successful Test bowler with 467 wickets, collapsed while bowling for Lancashire against Roses rivals Yorkshire last Friday. He was unable to bowl for the rest of the match but did make an unexpected appearance as a
 
 
Rolland wins Giro d’Italia 17th stage to end drought
Canazei: France’s Pierre Rolland swelled with emotion after ending a two-year victory drought with an impressive victory on the 17th stage of the Giro d’Italia Wednesday. Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) retained the race leader’s pink jersey to maintain his 31-second overall lead on Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar) after the pair rolled over the finish line nearly eight minutes in arrears with the main peloton.
   
Bangladesh post first away win against N.Zealand
CLONTARF: Bangladesh got their prized first away win over New Zealand a week before the start of their Champions Trophy campaign. The five-wicket win in front of a packed crowd in Clontarf was a tense affair at times but Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah aced the chase of 271 in some style. Mahmudullah hit the winning runs through midwicket, with 10 balls to spare. He was unbeaten on 46 off 36 balls with six fours and a six, while
 
 
Champions Trophy more competitive, says Kohli
Mumbai: Indian skipper Virat Kohli said on Wednesday his side would be ruthless in defending their Champions Trophy title next month, describing the competition as tougher even than the World Cup. India won the last Champions Trophy in 2013 and head into June’s tournament in England and Wales as favourites after a hugely successful home season with 10 Test wins. They are number one in the Test rankings after series victories
   
England Poulter aims to sort out US Open spot
Wentworth: England’s Ian Poulter is aiming to cement his place in next month’s US Open with a win in the European PGA Championship which starts at Wentworth on Thursday. Poulter, ranked 81st in the world, needs to get into the top 60 of the rankings by June 12 - or win this tournament - to reserve his place at Erin Hills in the season’s second major or face heading to qualifying. The 41-year-old will have other chances to
 
 
Chummy Hamilton, Vettel rivalry set for Monaco test
MONACO: The chummy rivalry between formula One champions Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel could be tested at this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, an unforgiving circuit where drivers are often pushed to the limit. After five races, four-time F1 champion Vettel is six points clear of three-time champion Hamilton. They have two wins each and are relishing what is, surprisingly, their first championship tussle. When Vettel was
   
Sachin Tendulkar’s life brought to silver screen
Mumbai: A hotly anticipated film about the life of Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar hits cinemas this week but the batting great says he might find watching it an unsettling experience. “I am used to seeing myself on a big screen inside the stadium, not inside a movie theatre,” Tendulkar told said ahead of Friday’s release of “Sachin: A Billion Dreams” The docudrama, directed by Emmy-nominated British filmmaker James
 
 
Olympic champ Chalmers to have heart surgery
Sydney: Australian Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers on Wednesday pulled out of July’s world titles in Budapest to have surgery for a worsening heart condition. The Rio 100m gold medallist suffers from supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), which occasionally causes his heart to race but is not normally life threatening. It forced the teenager to miss Australia’s national short course championships late last year, and his doctor and
   
Lankans register facile 9-wicket win over Scots
London: Scotland were unable to back up their historic win over Sri Lanka as the Asian nation turned the tables with a nine-wicket victory when the teams returned to Beckenham on Tuesday. The Kent ground had seen Scotland record their first victory over a Test-match country in any format when they won Sunday’s one-day tour opener by seven wickets. But Sri Lanka, using the matches as a warm-up for the Champions Trophy tournament
 
 
Irving, James star as Cavaliers beat Celtics, face Warriors in Eastern Conference finals
Los Angeles: Kyrie Irving and LeBron James combined for 76 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers battled to a 112-99 victory over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday to move within one game of a place in the NBA Finals. The win gives Cleveland a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and leaves them firmly on track for a third consecutive NBA Finals showdown against the Golden State Warriors. Cleveland, stunned by Boston in Game 3 after
   
India’s generation next Bitburg-bound as Tata Trust kicks off U Dream Football project
MUMBAI: India has been stepping up efforts to unlock its potential as a soccer power with the hosting of the under-17 World Cup on the horizon, the latest a venture looking to tap into the know-how of former European champions Borussia Dortmund. Once famously described as a “sleeping giant” of world football by former FIFA President Sepp Blatter, India last year launched the “Mission 11 Million” programme aimed at engaging that
 
 
FA Cup final is about club, not me, says Wenger
London: Arsene Wenger insists that Saturday’s FA Cup final is about much more than him and his future, and revolves instead around Arsenal’s drive to beat Premier League champions Chelsea and end a troubled season on a high note. The 67-year-old Frenchman has constantly refused to give a definitive answer on whether his current contract, which expires at the end of the season, is to be renewed. It is the issue that has divided
   
Terry dismisses criticism over farewell imbroglio
Cobham: Defiant Chelsea captain John Terry on Wednesday brushed off criticism of his controversial farewell substitution at Stamford Bridge which caused a furore in the English media. The 36-year-old central defender — who will leave Chelsea in the close season after 22 years at the club —was given a guard of honour by his teammates last weekend when he was substituted after 26 minutes (the same as his squad number) during a 5-1
 
 
Sturridge stars in Liverpool 3-0 win in Sydney
Sydney: Liverpool coasted to a 3-0 win over Australian A-League champions Sydney FC on Wednesday just three days after finishing their English Premier League season. England striker Daniel Sturridge, fighting back from a hip injury, was outstanding — scoring the opening goal and setting up another for Brazilian Roberto Firmino. The Reds, playing in front of a red-bedecked near-capacity crowd of 73,000 at Sydney’s Olympic
   
Ex-Bilbao coach Valverde coy on Barcelona link
Madrid: Ernesto Valverde said Wednesday there were clubs chasing him but refused to say if one of them was Barcelona, amid reports he is poised to be appointed head coach at the Camp Nou. The 53-year-old Spaniard resigned as Athletic Bilbao boss on Tuesday and Spanish media reports he should be named as successor to outgoing Barcelona coach Luis Enrique on Monday. “I’m not going to deny that I have an agent and obviously there
 
 
China’s Tianjin shoot down Costa swoop rumours
Shanghai: China’s Tianjin Quanjin appear to have shut the door on a rumoured megamoney swoop for Chelsea’s Diego Costa or any other “excessive” spending, amid a government crackdown on high-priced foreign imports. The Brazilian-born Spain striker has since January been the subject of repeated speculation that he could join Super League club Tianjin when China’s summer transfer window opens next month and become the latest in a
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