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‘Nadal’s success made Roland Garros feel like the Bernabeu’



'Nadal's success made Roland Garros feel like the Bernabeu'

When you arrive through the gates at Roland Garros one of the first things that catches your eye is a sculpture depicting its finest champion.

The pose is unmistakeable.

Rafael Nadal, left arm across his chest, feet levitating above the court and mouth agape, has just walloped a trademark forehand winner.

The next fortnight will be the final time it will be seen in the flesh at the French Open.

Nadal, who turns 38 during the tournament, is set to play the clay-court Grand Slam for one last time before retiring, having won a record 14 men’s singles titles.

“The French Open is the most important tournament of my tennis career. All the things that I lived there, enjoyed there, stays in my heart forever,” said Nadal, who faces German fourth seed Alexander Zverev in a tough first-round draw.

The ‘unbelievable’ numbers behind Nadal’s success
No player in tennis history has been as synonymous with a tournament as Nadal has been with the French Open.

The Spanish left-hander’s dominance at Roland Garros is why he is known as the ‘King of Clay’.

The facts and figures – supplied by OptaAce and the International Tennis Federation – clearly illustrate his dominance:

Nadal is the only player in history to win 14 singles titles at one Grand Slam tournament

Nadal has won 112 of his 115 matches there – the highest winning percentage of any singles player at a major

Nadal is the only player to win five successive titles at Roland Garros (2010-2014)

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Nadal is the only man to win four Grand Slam titles without dropping a set (2008, 2010, 2017 and 2020)

Nadal has only ever lost to two men – Robin Soderling (2009 fourth round) and Novak Djokovic (2015 quarter-finals, 2021 semi-finals)

Five of Nadal’s victories in Paris are among the top 20 most dominant Grand Slam men’s singles title runs by games dropped

Nadal won the first 16 of his 22 Grand Slams under the tutelage of his uncle Toni, who watched him hit a tennis ball for the first time aged three and coached him until 2017.

“When Rafael was young I tried to teach him how important it was to improve every day, every single match and every single tournament. We weren’t thinking Roland Garros was more important than Wimbledon or the US Open,” Toni Nadal told BBC Sport.

“I grew up watching Bjorn Borg, I could see how good Borg was on clay and saw him win Roland Garros six times.

“For me that was unbelievable – six times. Years later I saw my nephew win it 14 times. It is incredible what we have seen him do.”

Why is Nadal so good on clay?
Nadal’s main weapon is the vicious, lasso-style forehand that is immortalised in steel at Roland Garros.

That, combined with his sharp movement and supreme athleticism, is what has made him so great in Paris.

“He has the uncanny ability of being able to hit a lot of forehands and move very well on clay,” Michael Chang, the American who won the 1989 title, told BBC Sport in 2018.

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“He knows how to manipulate the angles and get people out of position.

“He is very aggressive, although patient when he needs to be, but if the shot is there he is going for it.”

Clay slows the ball down more than grass, enabling Nadal to construct his points and tee up that famed forehand.

The hotter summer temperatures in mainland Europe – where the majority of the clay-court season takes place – also help Nadal generate more bounce.

It is notable that his successes at the Monte Carlo and Rome Masters tournaments outnumber those in Madrid, as the high altitude of the Spanish capital means the ball has less top spin and bounces lower.

“Spin is very important at Roland Garros,” Toni Nadal said.

“Rafael moves his wrist very fast to get a lot of spin – we worked on that from a young age.

“To play flat is more difficult and Rafael has incredible feeling in his hands.”

Why Roland Garros means so much to the Spanish
Clay is the natural surface for Spanish players, with about 100,000 courts across the country – most small villages have them.

So it is not surprising that Nadal emerged as the latest in a long line of Spanish success – albeit far more sustained than his predecessors – at Roland Garros.

Nadal’s 14 wins, plus triumphs for Sergi Bruguera (two), Carlos Moya, Albert Costa and Juan Carlos Ferrero, means the nation has accounted for 19 of the past 30 men’s champions.

Carlos Alcaraz, the two-time major winner who is the Spanish heir apparent to Nadal, is expected to add to that in the coming years.

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Wandering around Court Philippe Chatrier – particularly before Nadal played a French Open final – felt like being outside the Santiago Bernabeu in the build-up to a big Real Madrid match.

Spanish speakers can be heard everywhere, chattering about the prospect of seeing one of the nation’s favourite sons creating more history.

Splashes of red and yellow are ubiquitous on flags, football kits and hats. Super-fans wear Nadal-branded ‘raging bull’ hats and t-shirts.

Ferrero, the 2001 champion, says it feels like a home from home.

“Roland Garros is the closest Grand Slam and the fact that it is held on clay makes it even closer to Spain,” he said.

“The fact that Spanish players have won it a lot, and especially thanks to Nadal, [means] tennis fans relate Roland Garros with good moments for Spanish tennis.”


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‘No integrity’ – Osimhen fires back at Finidi



Osimhen fires back at Finidi’s comments on national team commitment

Victor Osimhen has responded fiercely to former Super Eagles coach Finidi George‘s claims about his commitment to Nigeria’s national team, the Super Eagles ahead of the crucial 2026 World Cup qualifiers this month.

The Napoli striker, who has been the subject of intense transfer speculation linking him to Chelsea and Arsenal, expressed his frustration in a six-minute rant on Instagram, targeting Finidi.

Finidi had suggested that it was challenging to discipline certain players, claiming that Osimhen had opted out of two World Cup qualifying matches despite being fit to play. He accused Osimhen of selectively choosing which games to participate in.

Osimhen, angered by these accusations, took to Instagram Live to voice his displeasure:

“I called Finidi George when he was appointed and told him: ‘Let’s do great things together.’ I asked him to let me stay with the players in the camp, but he told me to stay with my family. Now, after two bad games, everyone is blaming me.”

He continued, “I always play my heart out for Nigeria. I know how many injuries I’ve played through for Nigeria. But after two bad games, everyone is attacking me. I have lost all respect for him.

“I always call my teammates to encourage them, but after these games, I wasn’t even part of the team. I got injured in the last minute of our last match. The MRI confirmed an ankle injury. I won’t allow disrespect from anyone. I play my heart out for Nigeria.”

Despite Osimhen’s injury, Finidi maintained that the striker could have played in the matches.

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Osimhen was ruled out for four weeks due to a twisted ankle, and he now feels unfairly targeted for the Super Eagles’ failure to win those games.
The 25-year-old striker remains a hot topic in football transfer news, but his recent comments have highlighted the tension between him and the former coach.

Under Finidi’s leadership, the Super Eagles suffered a surprising 2-1 defeat to the Benin Republic in Abidjan, following a 1-1 draw against South Africa at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium.

These results leave the Super Eagles winless after four matches, sitting in fifth place in Group C with just three points, putting Nigeria’s chances of qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup in serious jeopardy.


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Woeful Finidi George resigns as Super Eagles head coach



Finidi George has resigned from his position as the head coach of the Super Eagles. It is believed Finidi took the decision on Saturday,

Finidi George has resigned from his position as the head coach of the Super Eagles.

It is believed Finidi took the decision on Saturday, days after the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, announced moves to bring in a foreign technical adviser.

His exit was confirmed by former Eagles media officer, Toyin Ibitoye, on his X account.

Ibitoye wrote: “News just in: Finidi George @FinidiGeorge_FG has resigned from his @NGSuperEagles manager position.”

Finidi was only appointed on April 29, 2024, to replace Jose Peseiro, whose contract expired in February.

During his very brief tenure, the former Enyimba boss oversaw a 1-1 draw with South Africa and a 2-1 defeat to Benin Republic, both in the 2026 World Cup qualifying series.


READ ALSO  Aruna Quadri qualifies for Paris Olympics
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I’m coming for heads, warns returning Adesanya



I’m coming for heads, warns returning Adesanya

Former UFC middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, has expressed excitement ahead of his highly anticipated return to the octagon,

The Nigeria-born fighter is expected to challenge rival, and new champion Dricus du Plessis for the championship later this year. Although nothing has been announced officially, the promotion is reportedly targeting UFC 305 on August 18 in Perth, Western Australia.

In a post on his YouTube channel on Friday, “The Last Stylebender” discussed the potential return, showed some of the new elements to his strength and conditioning program, and also revealed his new mindset when it comes to his fighting career.

“How excited am I to get back in the octagon? I’m excited,” Adesanya said. “I’m excited, it’s been a year, almost a year, like 11 months by the time I get back in the octagon. People are like, ‘Oh, I hope you get the belt back, I hope you get the belt back,’ I have belts. I don’t need any more belts. I’m coming for heads. That’s what I want to do.

Source: The Punch


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Aruna Quadri qualifies for Paris Olympics



Aruna Quadri has earned the berth to represent Nigeria at the table tennis event of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

The 35-year-old’s Olympic qualification was announced in a statement by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) on Friday.

He secured the qualification through his position in the ITTF world rankings and the selection of continental quotas.

Aruna, ranked 17th in the world, secured the berth alongside Lynda Loghraibi from Algeria and six other players from other continents.

“As the countdown to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games intensifies, ITTF is thrilled to announce significant progress in the qualification process for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games,” the statement reads.

“With the Games now under 50 days away, this week’s world ranking update has seen eight athletes secure their participation based on the selection of Continental quotas allocated by World Ranking.

“The Men’s Singles draw welcomes African powerhouse Quadri Aruna from Nigeria, alongside the Americas’ rising talent Nicolas Burgos from Chile. Asia’s Kirill Gerassimenko of Kazakhstan and Europe’s Alvaro Robles of Spain, who previously qualified in Mixed Doubles, also confirm their spots.”

Quadri joins Olajide Omotayo, Edem Offiong, and Fatimo Bello as Nigeria’s representatives in table tennis at the Olympics.

Paris will be Quadri’s fourth Olympics, having represented the country in London 2012, Rio 2016 and Tokyo in 2021.

Source: The Cable


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Germany smash Scotland in Euro 2024 opener



Germany 5-1 Scotland: Ten-player Scots humiliated

Scotland were taught a lesson by classy Germany in their Euro 2024 opener as Ryan Porteous was sent off in a 5-1 defeat in Munich.

Steve Clarke’s mantra was “respect everyone, fear no one” as they looked to make it past the group stage of a major tournament for the first time.

But they looked stunned as Angus Gunn failed to save Florian Wirtz’s effort in the 10th minute at the Allianz Arena.

Jamal Musiala (19) then rifled a powerful shot into the roof of the net with Kai Havertz making it 3-0 from the penalty spot after Porteous was shown a straight red in the 44th minute for a crunching challenge on Ilkay Gundogan following a VAR check.

The Germans, who last won the European Championship in 1996, were not finished and Niclas Fullkrug smashed a wonderful drive into the top corner to add to Scotland’s woes.

Antonio Rudiger headed into his own net to finally give the Scots something to celebrate before Emre Can made it 5-1 with the last kick of the game to earn Germany the biggest win in an opening match at the Euros.

Misery in Munich
Florian Wirtz celebrates scoring the opener against Scotland
The Tartan Army descended on the stadium in their thousands believing they could upset the odds, but there was an early warning as Rudiger sent a ball through to Wirtz. He was just offside but Gunn reacted to save his half-volley with his head.

The hosts were in control and, after a brilliant clearance from Porteous to deny Musiala a chance, they did take the lead.

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Joshua Kimmich sent a long pass to Wirtz and the Bundesliga’s player of the year took his chance, Gunn did get a touch but only pushed it in off the inside of the post.

It soon got worse for Scotland as they went 2-0 down after just 19 minutes when Musiala picked up a brilliant pass from Gundogan and smashed a powerful shot into the roof of the net.

Clarke had his head in his hands as the hosts were awarded a penalty soon after for Ryan Christie’s clumsy challenge on Musiala, but it was outside the box and overturned after a VAR check.

Havertz’s resultant free-kick deflected off the wall and spun into Gunn’s arms.

Frustration began to show for Scotland and, following a VAR check, Porteous was shown a straight red for a crunching challenge on Gundogan in the box. This time a penalty was awarded.

Havertz stepped up and fired under Gunn from the spot to give the Germans a commanding 3-0 lead before the break.

Che Adams made way for Grant Hanley for the second half as Clarke looked to limit the damage and Scotland did look brighter.

Scott McTominay won a free-kick soon after the restart, but Havertz managed to block his effort.

Germany were then back in command as Rudiger’s 25-yard drive was turned around the post by Gunn.

They did find a fourth, and in some style, as Fullkrug sent a stunning drive into the roof of the net. He thought he had scored again soon after but it was ruled out for offside.

Scotland did have something to celebrate late on as Scott McKenna’s ball came off Rudiger’s head and past Manuel Neuer for a consolation.

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But the celebrations were short-lived as Can – who was only called into the squad two days ago – scored Germany’s fifth in stoppage-time to earn them the biggest win in the opening match of a European Championship game.

Source: Skysport


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Turkish Giants Scramble for Ndidi’s Signature



Barcelona are considering a move for Leicester's Wilfred Ndidi - the defensive midfielder's contract at the Championship winners

Three Turkish football clubs are reportedly locked in a fierce competition to secure the signature of Nigerian midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, whose contract with Leicester City is set to expire by June 2024.

The 27-year-old defensive midfielder has been a stalwart for Leicester City since joining the club in 2017.

However, with his contract nearing its end, Ndidi seems poised for a potential departure from the King Power Stadium.

According to Fanatik, Leicester City have been unable to convince Ndidi to extend his stay, paving the way for Turkish clubs to enter the fray.

Trabzonspor, Bekta and Galatasaray are among the interested parties in the Super Lig.

Trabzonspor, keen on bolstering both their forward line and midfield options, have expressed interest in Ndidi along with Paul Onuachu.

The Black Sea Storm are reportedly determined to secure Ndidi’s services and have presented an enticing offer, including a substantial signing bonus.

Meanwhile, Galatasaray has made a compelling offer of a three-plus-one-year contract in a bid to sway Ndidi to choose them over other suitors.

Ndidi’s tenure at Leicester City has been marked by consistent performances, making him a sought-after asset in the transfer market.

The Nigerian international played 36 matches last season, contributing six goals and six assists to the Foxes’ campaign.

In addition to his club exploits, Ndidi has also been a key figure for the Nigerian national team.

He featured prominently in their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, starting recently against South Africa and the Benin Republic.

Source: Thisday

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