Tagged in: Spain

Spain, Poland win second consecutive matches at ATP Cup to remain perfect

Spain and Poland remained perfect at the ATP Cup, securing winning 2-0 leads in their games Monday for their second consecutive triumphs in the team event.

Roberto Bautista Agut clinched the match for Spain by beating Casper Ruud of Norway 6-4, 7-6 (4) after Pablo Carreno Busta defeated Viktor Durasovic 6-3, 6-3.

Bautista Agut improved to 9-2 in singles at the team event.

“Casper is playing unbelievable tennis, (he did) an unbelievable performance last year, and today I played very good,” Bautista Agut said in his on-court interview. “I returned very well, I made very few unforced errors and I played aggressively. “

Kamil Majchrzak gave Poland the early lead over Georgia with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Aleksandre Bakshi before Hubert Hurkacz clinched it ahead of the doubles with a 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-1 win over Aleksandre Metreveli.

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“He [Metreveli] played well in the first set and things were not going my way. But I got better with each set and am happy to get the win,” Hurkacz said.

Spain and Poland later both won their doubles matches to make it 3-0 scorelines.

Poland can book a place in the semifinals if it defeats Argentina on Wednesday in its next group match.

Majchrzak needed only 53 minutes to beat Bakshi.

“I was trying to move [Bakshi] around and I think that was the key to the match,” said Majchrzak, who is coached by former world seventh-ranked Joakim Nystrom.

“He brings me a lot of confidence and a lot of calm in my tennis so I can feel that I am improving,” Majchrzak said of Nystrom on the ATP Tour’s website. “We are working on (developing an all-court game) but in a way that doesn’t interrupt my baseline game. We will take it from the practice to the matches but it takes time.”

Greece plays Argentina and Serbia takes on Chile in night matches Monday.

The four group winners in the 16-team tournament advance to the semifinals on Friday and Saturday, with the winners meeting in the final on Sunday.

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U.S. beats Spain to set up Billie Jean King Cup semifinal vs. Russia

The United States won both singles matches versus Spain to reach the semifinals of the Billie Jean King Cup on Wednesday.

The Americans faced a must-win situation after losing to Slovakia 2-1 in Group C on Tuesday, and Sloane Stephens and Danielle Collins both earned straight-set victories to render the final doubles meaningless.

The U.S., the most successful team in the competition formerly known as the Fed Cup with 18 titles, will face Russia in the semis. The Russians eliminated defending champion France earlier in the day.

Stephens beat Nuria Parrizas-Diaz 6-4, 6-4, earning her seventh break of the match in the final game and converting her first match point with a backhand winner.

“I came out really confident, I knew that I’m ready,” said Stephens, the 2107 U.S. Open champion.

Collins secured the second point by easing past Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-1, 6-0 in just under one hour to seal the victory and eliminate Spain. “I think in this format, every game, every set counts,” Collins said.

“For me, I was just on a roll. I think it’s quite hard putting to words when you have a performance like that.”

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After sweeping Canada 3-0 the previous day, Russia needed only one win from the best-of-three match versus France to advance from Group A.

It could rely on its top player, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, to deliver it.

The 12th-ranked Pavlyuchenkova rallied to beat Alize Cornet 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 to earn Russia the semifinal spot.

“I’m so happy and so proud of myself,” Pavlyuchenkova said. “It was an incredible match. It was very good tennis but the more important was the amazing fighting spirit from both of us.”

After dropping the first set, the Russian broke Cornet in the opening games of the following two sets to improve her record against her 59th-ranked opponent to 7-1, hitting 34 winners on the way.

After the 2019 champion was upset by outsider Canada 2-1 in its opener on Monday, France needed to beat Russia 3-0 to advance.

Last year’s edition was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 12 teams in the finals are divided into four groups of three teams in a new format of the competition. Only the group winners advance to Friday’s semifinals.

Earlier, Clara Burel kept France alive, winning the opening singles.

The 77th-ranked Burel upset Ekaterina Alexandrova, ranked 32nd, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 for her first victory over a top-50 player in her singles debut in the competition.

The Russian hit 34 winners but also produced 44 unforced errors before double-faulting on Burel’s fourth match point.

“It’s very special. It was the first match for my country and I was very happy to be able to win today,” the 20-year old Burel said. The Russians also won the doubles for a 2-1 overall win.

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Pau Gasol, two-time NBA champion, announces retirement from basketball

Pau Gasol revealed his retirement from basketball Tuesday, ending a career that lasted more than two decades and earned him two NBA titles and a world championship gold with Spain’s national team.

The 41-year-old had already announced his farewell from international basketball in August after Spain lost to the United States in the quarterfinals of the Tokyo Games, which marked his fifth Olympics.

Gasol had been with Spanish club Barcelona since February. His career had stalled before that because a stress fracture in his left foot that lingered and kept him from playing for nearly two years.

“I’m going to retire from professional basketball,” Gasol said. “It’s a difficult decision after so many years, but it’s a decision that I really thought over.”

The retirement announcement was made in an event at an opera house in Barcelona attended by former teammates and family members, including Pau Gasol’s wife, his young daughter and his brother Marc.

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Gasol acquired two NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, in 2009 and 2010, playing a vital role in the back-to-back championships.

“Pau Gasol brought hope and talent to the Lakers,” former coach Phil Jackson said in a statement to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. “The effect was immediate. His game put LA back into championship contention. He was also a gentleman and generous hero.”

Gasol averaged 17.0 points and 9.2 rebounds in 1,226 regular-season games with five NBA teams, including the Memphis Grizzlies, Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks. He was the No. 3 pick in the 2001 NBA draft, being selected by Atlanta and traded to Memphis.

Gasol last played in the NBA with the Bucks in 2019.

He signed with the Portland Trail Blazers that year but never got to play.

Gasol won a world championship title with Spain in 2006, in addition to European titles in 2009, 2011 and 2015.

He helped Spain win Olympic silver medals in 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London, as well as a bronze in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. Gasol recently won an election to represent athletes for the next seven years with the International Olympic Committee.

He joined an IOC membership list drawn variously from European and Middle East royal families, international sports bodies, business leaders and 12 athletes elected by their peers.

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Los Angeles Lakers again trade Marc Gasol to Memphis Grizzlies, who plan to waive veteran

The Los Angeles Lakers traded Marc Gasol, a 2024 second-round pick and cash ($250,000) to Memphis on Friday.

The Grizzlies plan to work on a waiver and release to let Gasol to stay in Spain with his family, sources told ESPN.

The Lakers will save approximately $10 million in salary and luxury tax and acquire the draft rights to Memphis’ Wang Zhelin. The Lakers have 13 guaranteed contracts before the beginning of training camp this month.

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After the tumult of the Orlando bubble in 2020 and the COVID-19 restrictions of the 2020-21 season, Gasol made a decision to remain with his family in Spain for the start of the 2021-22 season, sources said.

His professional career started in 2003 with FC Barcelona in Spain, and his NBA career started with Memphis in 2008.

It was a Lakers-Grizzlies trade before his rookie season that included his older brother, Pau, that set the stage for a successful 11-year run with the Grizzlies.

Gasol, 36, has won an NBA championship, won two Olympic silver medals, made three All-Star teams and earned an NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award and All-NBA first-team honors.

After the Lakers signed two former All-Star centers this summer — Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan — it appeared Gasol’s role would be increasingly limited.

Gasol had a $2.7 million deal for the 2021-22 season. The Lakers signed him to a two-year free-agent deal in 2020 after he spent a season-plus in Toronto Raptors, where he was part of a 2019 NBA championship team.

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Rakitic leaves Barca to rejoin Sevilla

Ivan Rakitic is set to become the first big name player to leave Barcelona this summer and will re-sign for old club Sevilla.

The Croatian was one of numerous Barca stars who were told they were not part of new manager Ronald Koeman’s plans moving forward at the Nou Camp.

The midfielder has agreed a two-year deal with Sevilla, with an option for a third, and will take a significant pay cut as a result, according to Goal.

Rakitic will earn £2.7million-per-year at Sevilla which is a huge decrease from the £7million he earned during his last term with Barcelona.

The 32-year-old spent three seasons with Sevilla and won the Europa League in the 2013/14 season right before he made his big switch to the Catalan club in 2014.

His return has been agreed in principle by the two clubs, who have agreed a nominal fee for now.

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Rakitic has been one of the few Barcelona stars who have been linked with moves away for quite some time.

The midfielder was attracting interest from Serie A clubs back in January, as well as being linked with Manchester United, but no move was finalized.

Whilst he has always spoken on his love for Sevilla, he had said earlier in the transfer window that he would remain at Barca for one more season to see out his contract.

However, new boss Koeman has had other plans as the LaLiga giants have descended into chaos over recent weeks with Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal and others all told they are no longer wanted.

Lionel Messi has also not been reporting to training and testing as his feud with Koeman rumbles on amid rumours of a staggering transfer to Manchester City. Sevilla have also managed to get business done elsewhere, as they confirmed the signing of goalkeeper Yassine Bono on a permanent basis from Girona for £3.6million.

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Tennis club apologizes for letting Djokovic train

The tennis club where Novak Djokovic broke confinement rules in Spain stated Tuesday it mistakenly let the top-ranked Serb to practice and apologized for the error.

Djokovic released a video of him training on Monday in apparent violation of Spain’s current rules amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The video posted on Instagram showed Djokovic exchanging shots with another man at the club in the coastal city of Marbella, where the Serb has been staying for the past several weeks.

Djokovic filmed the video while hitting shots and wrote he was “so happy to play on clay .. well, just for a bit with my phone in the hands.”

Spain has eased some of the lockdown measures that had been in place since mid-March, allowing professional athletes to return to practice, but most training centers and sports facilities must stay closed until next week.

“We are sorry that our interpretation of the regulation could have been erroneous, and this could have inconvenienced Mr. Djokovic or any other citizen acting in good faith,” the Puente Romano Marbella Tennis Club said in a statement.

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The statement, which was relayed by Djokovic’s management team, said the club got a request from the player to practice and gave him the go-ahead with the “understanding that from May 4 all professional sports players were authorized to train.” The club said it therefore believed he was “permitted to train in our facilities.”

It said it later received a “clarification” from the Spanish tennis federation and “both parties have agreed that training should resume” only next week.

Rafael Nadal stated he also went to train on a court this week, but he did it on private property because the rules weren’t fully clear to him.

Soccer players were among the exceptions who could start training inside sports facilities beginning this week.

Spain has been one of the countries most affected by the pandemic but it started loosening some of its restrictions on movement as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 started to go down recently. The nation went into a lockdown on March 14.

Djokovic recently stated he was against taking a vaccine for the coronavirus if it became mandatory to travel once the pandemic subsides, though he later said he was open to changing his mind.

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La Liga Clubs told no fans until 2021

La Liga’s clubs have been told that soccer games in Spain will likely be performed behind closed doors until 2021, a number of sources have confirmed to ESPN.

The choice — which is but to be officially introduced — has been made by the Spanish authorities, bearing in mind the anticipated evolution of the coronavirus pandemic.

The expectation is that stadiums will regularly re-open underneath strict security measures from January 2021 to attempt to keep away from a brand new outbreak of COVID-19, and will not function at full capability until a vaccine is obtainable.

The choice will probably be saved underneath overview and could be re-evaluated in the occasion of the virus coming underneath management extra rapidly than anticipated, or the event of profitable remedies.

A date is but to be made public for a return to soccer behind closed doors, with La Liga having been suspended indefinitely since final month.

Spain has been one among Europe’s hardest hit nations, with greater than 210,000 confirmed coronavirus circumstances and over 22,000 deaths.

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Players haven’t returned to coaching, and the most definitely state of affairs at present being contemplated is taking part in the rest of the 2019-20 home season behind closed doors in June and July.

La Liga has now handed the information on to its first and second division clubs, which have been alerted to regulate their budgets for subsequent season consequently.

Clubs are going through a major discount in field workplace receipts for 2020-21, in addition to related losses akin to merchandising gross sales and earnings from stadium excursions.

As ESPN reported earlier this week, Barcelona‘s price range for subsequent season is prone to be lowered by €200 million because of the monetary impression of COVID-19.

The membership was already considering a state of affairs that concerned behind-closed-doors video games at Camp Nou until February 2021.

La Liga is beneficial that clubs try to chop switch spending and focus extra on academy gamers and mortgage signings as they appear to construct squads for subsequent season.

ESPN has been told that the league and its broadcast companions are contemplating various measures, together with larger use of pitchside audio and adjusted digicam angles, to compensate for the dearth of fan ambiance in matchday broadcasts.

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Eden Hazard out for season with broken ankle

Eden Hazard will miss Real Madrid’s Champions League last-16 tie with Manchester City after suffering a broken ankle during Saturday’s La Liga loss at Levante.

The Belgian, who only recently returned from a three-month lay-off due to an ankle problem, was substituted in the second half of the 1-0 loss at the Ciutat de Valencia.

Hazard underwent tests on the injury on Sunday morning, after which Madrid corroborated   1 the extent of the problem.

“Following the tests carried out today by the Real Madrid medical department, he has been diagnosed with a fracture to his right distal fibula,” read a club statement. “His recovery will continue to be assessed.”

Madrid have not said how long they expect Hazard to be sidelined for but reports in Spain suggest he could be out for another two months. That would rule the former Chelsea player out of both Champions League matches versus City, the first of which takes place at the Bernabéu on Wednesday.

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It would also see him miss next weekend’s clásico showdown versus title rivals Barcelona, as well as a host of other matches for Zinedine Zidane’s men.

Hazard has started nine games in the league this season and has one goal, failing to make the expected impact after arriving from Chelsea in the summer.

Hazard suffered a hamstring injury in pre-season, which disrupted his preparations for the season and he missed the first three games of the campaign.

Perhaps as a result of that, he struggled to produce his best form early on. His performances were picking up, before he suffered the microfracture versus Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League on November 26.

Real signed the 29-year-old from Chelsea last summer for an initial €100 million, and they could pay the Blues more than half that fee again in potential add-ons.

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