FILE PHOTO: Dec 23, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) runs down the field during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
May 24, 2019
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette is happy to have a “clean start.”
Fournette was a major disappointment in 2018 for a team that greatly underachieved with a 5-11 mark one season after reaching the AFC Championship Game. But he has had time to decipher his poor campaign and feels he is back on track.
“I’m happy, especially the way I’m here working with my team right now,” Fournette told reporters Friday after Jacksonville’s third organized team activity. “It’s a new year. We have a new team. We’re focused, and we have new players. It’s a new year for us. So it’s a new everything. It’s a clean start for a lot of us guys.
“We’re not focused on the past. The past’s the past. Some things I did, whether it was offseason and I admitted to, yeah, I was wrong. We moved on. We’re in a good place right now.”
Fournette rushed for just 439 yards and five touchdowns in eight games last season after having 1,040 yards and nine scores in 13 games as a rookie in 2017.
An early-season hamstring injury derailed Fournette and he ended up missing seven games because of ailments and another due to a suspension.
The bad fortune continued into the offseason when Fournette was arrested and charged with speeding and driving with a suspended license.
But in terms of offseason workouts, Fournette decided not to train in his hometown of New Orleans. He instead worked out at the University of Wyoming where Ben Iannacchione works as the director of sports performance.
Iannacchione worked at LSU when Fournette was the Tigers’ star tailback.
“I kind of put a lot on myself this offseason, like getting my body right,” Fournette said. “Just mentally coming back ready to play football. No distractions. Leaving the outside stuff where it’s at. I think that’s one of the biggest things that us players have a problem with.
“We face a lot of problems, you know what I mean? We have a lot of issues ourselves. And if we’re not right with ourselves and then we come out on this field, we’re not going to be right in the game.”
That was certainly an issue for Fournette last season. His suspension was for leaving the bench and getting in a fight with Buffalo Bills defensive lineman Shaq Lawson. He also was caught on video yelling at a fan in the stands during a December loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Jaguars vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin publicly ripped Fournette — and fellow running back T.J. Yeldon — for appearing disinterested during the season finale against the Houston Texans. Fournette was inactive due to a foot injury.
Jacksonville is looking for a bounce-back season from Fournette and new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo is interested in making him the focal point of the attack.
“I’m going to call it what it is: He’s going to be a major reason for where our offense goes,” DeFilippo told reporters. “I’m not going to sugarcoat that. Leonard Fournette needs to be a big part of this offense. The harder he works, which he is right now, I think that’s not only going to be good for our offense but good for our team.”
–Field Level Media
FILE PHOTO: Apr 4, 2019; Rancho Mirage, CA, USA; Michelle Wie tees off on the 13th hole during the first round of the ANA Inspiration golf tournament at Mission Hills CC – Dinah Shore Tournament Course. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
May 24, 2019
(Reuters) – Former U.S. Women’s Open champion Michelle Wie has pulled out of next week’s major tournament because of continuing wrist problems, she said on Friday.
“While I’m making progress with my recovery, I have decided to withdraw from the U.S. Women’s Open,” Wie announced in a statement.
The 2014 champion underwent surgery on her right hand in 2018 but problems returned this year.
“It was a difficult decision to make because the U.S. Open was one that I was looking forward to playing in all year, but my recovery and health is the priority,” the 29-year-old said.
Currently ranked 46th in the world, Wie tied for 23rd in the Honda LPGA Thailand, withdrew in the middle of the first round of the HSBC Women’s World championship and missed the cut in the ANA Inspiration, shooting 74-77.
She has no timeline for returning, but hopes to do so this season.
The U.S. Women’s Open begins on May 30 at the Country Club of Charleston, South Carolina.
Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn is the defending champion.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Ken Ferris)
FILE PHOTO: Tennis – ATP 1000 – Monte Carlo Masters – Monte-Carlo Country Club, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France – April 18, 2019 Germany’s Alexander Zverev celebrates during his third round match against Italy’s Fabio Fognini REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
May 24, 2019
(Reuters) – Alexander Zverev continued his preparations for the French Open by sealing a hard-fought 7-5 6-7(6) 6-3 victory on Friday over Argentine Federico Delbonis to reach the Geneva Open final.
Zverev, whose form on clay has been patchy so far this season, takes on Chilean Nicolas Jarry on Saturday in his first ATP title clash on the surface since last year’s Italian Open.
Jarry earlier defeated Moldova’s Radu Albot 6-3 6-4 after saving four out of five break points in the contest. The world number 75 is seeking a first tour-level trophy in his second final.
“I am very happy with the win. I am very happy to be in the final and give myself an opportunity to win a tournament here,” Zverev, whose last title was at the ATP Finals in London in November, said.
“I made 15 aces so my serve was doing alright … Delbonis beat great players on this surface already, he has done well on this surface and I think winning against him is a good win.”
Zverev lost his only previous clash with Jarry in the second round of the Barcelona Open last month.
The world number five faces Australia’s John Millman in the opening round at Roland Garros, which begins on Sunday.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Alison Williams)
May 24, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; The #14 car reflects in the sunglasses of IndyCar series driver Tony Kanaan on Carb Day for the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
May 24, 2019
By Steve Keating
INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) – Tony Kanaan will start from the middle of the gird for the Indianapolis 500 but had his AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet out front on Friday, posting the top speed in final practise for the “the Greatest Spectacle in Racing”.
Kanaan, who needed 12 years before capturing a maiden Indy 500 in 2013, flashed the type of speed that could take him to Victory Lane a second time – recording a maximum 225.517 mph around the sprawling 2.5-mile oval in the final tuneup for Sunday’s race.
Rookie Santino Ferrucci had the second best effort behind the Brazilian pacesetter, clocking 225.486, while Japan’s Takuma Sato, the 2017 winner, was third quickest under overcast skies.
It marks the second consecutive year that Kanaan has dominated what is known as “Carb Day” and will be hoping it is a better omen than in 2018 when he led for 19 laps before crashing out 13 laps from the checkered flag.
“It was a good day for us, conditions look very similar to what we are going to see on Sunday,” said Kanaan, who qualified 16th and will start inside of row six alongside Graham Rahal and 2008 champion Scott Dixon.
“I wasn’t really happy with my car on Monday and I was extremely vocal about (that), and I think my engineers heard me and made it better today.”
Frenchman Simon Pagenaud flashed little of the speed he displayed putting his Team Penske Chevrolet on pole for Sunday’s race, producing the 22nd best time.
Teammate Australian Will Power, who is bidding to become the first back-to-back winner since Helio Castroneves in 2001 and 2002, was the quickest of the powerhouse Team Penske four-car entry, clocking the 10th fastest run.
Marco Andretti, who is trying to end the Andretti Curse and become the first member of his clan to win the Indy 500 since his grandfather Mario in 1969, was 23rd best.
Underscoring the ultra-competitiveness of this year’s race, every driver in the 33-car field, with the exception of rookie Ben Hanley, were within one second of each other.
“It is the most competitive field I have ever seen in my 18 years here,” said Kanaan. “Qualifying was really hard and it was extremely tight. I think it is going to be a difficult race.
“I do strongly believe that every single guy starting this race and girl, they think they can win this race.”
(Editing by Mark Heinrich)
FILE PHOTO: Tennis – ATP 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 19, 2019 Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates winning the final against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic REUTERS/Matteo Ciambelli
May 24, 2019
By Martyn Herman
(Reuters) – For the first time in four years the big three in men’s tennis will all be present at the French Open, all striving to etch another remarkable storyline in the red Parisian dirt.
That Spain’s undisputed king of clay Rafael Nadal is hunting a record-extending and almost unbelievable 12th Roland Garros title is remarkable in itself.
But then world number one Novak Djokovic arrives on the cusp of becoming the first man in the professional era to twice hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously.
And then there is Roger Federer, back from his self-imposed French Open exile since 2015, aiming to reclaim the title for a second time, a decade after the first.
As befitting this old city steeped in stories for the ages, the plotlines at this year’s tournament run far deeper than the ambitions of the central characters.
A new order has emerged with fearless Greek Stefanos Tsistipas jumping to the head of a queue of hungry young talents seeking to barge the establishment to one side.
The 20-year-old Athenian has wins over both Federer and Nadal this year and will arrive without any of the mental baggage collected by so many others who have tried and failed to knock Nadal off his throne.
Austrian Dominic Thiem, who Nadal beat to win an 11th title last year, is knocking loudly on the door, while Germany’s Alexander Zverev, Russian duo Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov and exciting Canadians Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger Aliassime will add to the rich mixture.
Throw in rejuvenated former champion Stan Wawrinka, the one-man circus that is Australian Nick Kyrgios and the mercurial Italian Fabio Fognini and the next fortnight is unmissable.
Nadal’s stranglehold on the French Open is one of the most incredible dominations ever in sport — he has lost just two matches at Roland Garros since winning on debut in 2005.
This year injuries have hampered him and when he lost semi-finals in three successive claycourt events, Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid, it seemed he was vulnerable.
He swept to the title in Rome, though, last week against Djokovic and, as usual, he will start as the man to beat as he seeks an 18th Grand Slam title, two short of Federer’s record.
“I think he is peaking involuntarily, and he has going to be so much better come the quarter-finals or semi-finals than he is now,” former champion Mats Wilander, working as an analyst for Eurosport told Reuters.
“Maybe his claycourt season has been more of a rollercoaster ride this year but at the same time you can get away with that at the French Open over five sets.”
Twelve months ago Djokovic, who turned 32 this week, arrived in Paris in a strange funk, still grappling with his game.
A quarter-final exit sparked a dramatic return to his best though and the Serb went on to win Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and this year’s Australian Open, taking his Grand Slam haul to 15.
A slight dip followed his Melbourne success but after winning the Madrid title this month he will arrive in Paris confident of repeating his “Djoker Slam” of 2016. Victory over Andy Murray in the Roland Garros final meant he became the first man to hold all four majors at the same time since Rod Laver in 1969.
“That would be unbelievable, for me that would be a bigger deal than Rafa winning 12 French Opens,” Wilander said.
Federer made his French Open debut in 1999 and but for Nadal would have bagged more than the one title he managed in 2009 when he beat Robin Soderling in the final to complete his career Slam.
The Swiss is 38 in August and this could be his final shot at repeating that feat.
As story twists go, that would take some beating.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)
FILE PHOTO: Tennis – ATP 1000 – Madrid Open – The Caja Magica, Madrid, Spain – May 12, 2019 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates winning the final against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas REUTERS/Javier Barbancho
May 24, 2019
PARIS (Reuters) – World number one Novak Djokovic believes he is peaking at the perfect moment to win four successive Grand Slam titles for the second time in his career by capturing the French Open.
The Serb became the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four Grand Slams simultaneously when he won the French Open for the first time in 2016.
Now he stands on the cusp of doing it again, less than a year after many predicted his best days were behind him after his struggle to recover from elbow surgery.
After a dip in form following his Australian Open triumph this year, the 15-times Grand Slam winner has impressed on the European claycourts, winning the Madrid title and reaching the final in Rome where he was beaten by French Open holder Rafael Nadal.
He arrived at Roland Garros in peak condition and high on confidence.
“This is the tournament I was preparing for, so to say, for last couple of months I wanted to peak in this tournament and this is where I want to play my best tennis,” Djokovic told reporters on Friday.
“I’m sure I’m not the only one, but there’s extra motivation and incentive to win Roland Garros because of the opportunity to hold all four slams, something I did three years ago, and that gives me enough reason to believe I can do it again.”
Last year in Paris Djokovic showed glimpses of his best form before falling to Italian Marco Cecchinato in the quarter-finals — then angrily walking into a press conference saying he was considering skipping Wimbledon.
Instead he regrouped and took the title a few weeks later on the London lawns, before winning the U.S. Open and this year’s Melbourne title to reach 15 Grand Slam titles — five behind the mark of Roger Federer.
The 32-year-old said he had tweaked his strategy in recent months to peak at the Grand Slams.
“Because at this stage of my career, those are the ones that matter the most for me,” Djokovic added.
“Those are the tournaments where I want to play my best. So we try to obviously set up a training schedule that would allow me to reach the top of my potential physically, emotionally, mentally for the Grand Slam.”
Djokovic said Nadal was the favorite to claim a record-extending 12th title in Paris.
“I think it wouldn’t be fair to pick anybody else but him as the main favorite, because he has won this tournament so many times,” he added.
“He’s lost, what, two times in his career on Parisian clay? So lots of respect for him. We had a good match in Rome. He was a better player. Was just too strong.”
Djokovic faces a tricky opener against Poland’s 43rd-ranked Hubert Hurkacz with a possible second-round against Sam Querrey, the American who beat him at Wimbledon three years ago.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru and Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)
FILE PHOTO: Tennis – ATP 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 16, 2019 Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates after winning his third round match against Croatia’s Borna Coric REUTERS/Matteo Ciambelli
May 24, 2019
By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) – Having won 20 grand slam titles during a glittering career, one might think that Roger Federer has seen it all.
Yet the 37-year-old Swiss admits he is stepping into the unknown as he returns to the French Open after a three-year hiatus.
The former world number one won his only Roland Garros title back in 2009, and he wanted to give it another go after skipping the last three editions of the claycourt major.
Asked if he thought he could lift the Musketeers’ Cup on June 9, Federer replied: “I don’t know. A bit of a question mark for me. Some ways I feel similar to maybe the Australian Open in 2017. A bit of the unknown,” Federer told reporters on Friday referring to his comeback to the season’s first major in 2017 after being out of action for six months.
“I feel like I’m playing good tennis but … is it enough against the absolute top guys when it really comes to the crunch? I’m not sure if it’s in my racket.
“But I hope I can get myself in that position deep down in the tournament against the top guys. But first I need to get there and I know that’s a challenge in itself. Yeah, it’s definitely going to be an exciting tournament mentally to go through.”
Federer will kick off his campaign against Italian Lorenzo Sonego and has a relatively easy path until the quarter-finals, where he could meet Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas before a potential semi-final against 11-time champion Rafael Nadal, whom he has never beaten at the French Open.
Federer won the title in 2009 after Nadal had been beaten by Swede Robin Soderling midway through the event. Federer then defeated Soderling in the final to complete his career slam.
Looking back to that tournament 10 year ago, Federer said he was happy he managed to handle the pressure as expectations could have crushed him following Nadal’s exit.
“This is where these expectations started when the journalists started saying it’s this year or never,” he explained.
“From then on, the next nine or 10 days felt like
forever. (When) Soderling had beaten Rafa… I knew that instead of the tournament becoming easier, it was going to become more difficult because of the pressure,” added the Swiss, who was stretched to five sets in his fourth round and semi-final matches after news of Nadal’s demise had already hit the headlines.
“But it was nevertheless interesting and I felt better,
and I feel proud that I was able to manage the pressure.”
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)
FILE PHOTO: Tennis – Fed Cup – World Group Semi-Final – France v Romania – Kindarena, Rouen, France – April 21, 2019 France’s Caroline Garcia reacts during her match against Romania’s Simona Halep REUTERS/Charles Platiau
May 24, 2019
(Reuters) – France’s Caroline Garcia defeated compatriot Chloe Paquet 6-3 6-4 in the Strasbourg International semi-finals on Friday to set up a title clash with fifth seed Dayana Yastremska.
Garcia, the 2016 champion, dominated the contest, firing 11 aces and 24 winners, and did not face a break point in the match as she advanced to her first career meeting with Yastremska.
Earlier, the Ukrainian teenager moved into her second title clash of the season by stunning big-hitting second seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 6-4 6-4.
After winning the opening set with a decisive break in the fifth game, 19-year-old Yastremska secured an early break in the second before sealing the contest on her fourth match point.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)
FILE PHOTO: May 23, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) drives for the basket as Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) defends in the fourth quarter in game five of the Eastern conference finals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
May 24, 2019
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks went from a 2-0 series lead to a 3-2 deficit and face elimination Saturday in Toronto. The MVP candidate had a message for Milwaukee fans on Thursday night after the Raptors took a third consecutive game in the best-of-seven series.
“We’re not gonna fold,” Antetokounmpo said. “We’re the best team in the league. We’re gonna go in, give it everything we got. We can’t fold. We’re gonna come back to Milwaukee being pissed.”
After the 105-99 loss Thursday in Game 5, Antetokounmpo received treatment for a right ankle injury. He said there was no particular play when his ankle was hurt, but added it wouldn’t be a problem when the team takes on the Raptors in Toronto in Game 6.
“I just want to win,” Antetokounmpo said. “I think we had a chance to win it, but we didn’t. Obviously, I’m pissed. I am not gonna lie to you. We got two more games to go.”
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer took Antetokounmpo out of the game with 1:12 remaining. He said he noticed the injury when Antetokounmpo attempted a backcourt steal against Kawhi Leonard.
Budenholzer said the Bucks will all be ready to roll Saturday.
“I think we talk about the character of the group and the toughness and competitiveness of the group,” Budenholzer said. “It’s first of four. We’ve got to go to Toronto, get a game, and I think the group will be ready. They’ll fill their cup up and be ready to go.”
–Field Level Media
FILE PHOTO: Cycling – Tour de France cycling race – The 184.5 km (114.6 miles) Stage 17 from Berne to Finhaut-Emosson, Switzerland – 20/07/2016 – Team Katusha rider Ilnur Zakarin of Russia wins on the finish line. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
May 24, 2019
CERESOLE REALE, Italy (Reuters) – Russian Ilnur Zakarin powered to victory in the 13th stage of the Giro d’Italia, the first mountain test for the overall contenders, while favorites Primoz Roglic and Vincenzo Nibali finished together on Friday.
A member of the day’s breakaway, Katusha’s Zakarin went solo in the final climb to beat Spain’s Mikel Nieve by 35 seconds and another Spaniard, Mikel Landa, by 1:20 with Jan Polanc of Slovenia retaining the overall leader’s pink jersey.
Slovenian Roglic and Italian Nibali crossed the line 2:57 off the pace after allowing several riders to come back into the game.
“The last climb was really hard, I did not have a lot of strength left,” said Zakarin, who now has ambitions for the general classification.
“Now I can aim at a top five.”
It was another bad day for Simon Yates as the Briton finished five minutes behind Zakarin after he had already lost considerable ground in last Sunday’s individual time trial.
Mitchelton Scott’s Yates cracked after Landa attacked early in the last climb, a 20.3-climb up to Lake Serru, the Movistar rider benefiting from the help of several team mates.
Another top contender, Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez, dropped out in the last ascent after suffering mechanical problems and reached the finish 4:19 down on Zakarin.
Overall, Polanc leads Roglic by 2:25 with Zakarin third 2:56 off the pace.
Dutchman Bauke Mollema is fourth, 3:06 behind Polanc, with double champion Nibali 4:09 down on the leader.
Saturday’s 14th stage is a grueling 131-km mountain trek from Saint Vincent to Courmayeur featuring five categorized climbs.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)