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FILE PHOTO: French Open - Roland Garros
FILE PHOTO: Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 10, 2018 Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates by biting the trophy after winning the final against Austria’s Dominic Thiem REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

May 27, 2019

(Reuters) – Defending champion Rafa Nadal begins his French Open campaign on Monday, seeking his 12th title and 18th Grand Slam while looking to dismiss any doubts about his form after three consecutive semi-final exits in the run-up to Roland Garros.

Three different players ousted the Spaniard in clay court tournaments in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid before he roared back to his best to beat world number one Novak Djokovic in the final in Rome.

Nadal, a known stickler for routine and order, arrives at a revamped court Philippe Chatrier which has been 80% rebuilt for this year’s tournament, but the 32-year-old said he will not be affected by the changes.

He is generally a slow starter but should not have any problem getting past his first-round opponent, Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann.

The 27-year-old, who turned professional only four years ago, has never advanced past the opening round of a Grand Slam but he feels no pressure facing the championship favorite.

“I’ll know a lot about him and maybe he doesn’t know as much about me,” he said in an interview on the Roland Garros website.

“I’ve been playing well. I’ve got a big game… So if my serve and return works, I can definitely do some damage.”

While the crowd may be overwhelmingly in favor of Nadal, it is not something that affects Hanfmann, who has a hearing impairment.

“It’s an advantage on court,” he added. “Maybe on Chatrier, it’ll be an advantage because I don’t hear that much that’s going on.”

In the other half of the draw, Djokovic begins his quest to hold all four Grand Slam titles for the second time in his career when he takes on Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz.

Djokovic became the first man since Australia’s Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four Grand Slams in 2016 when he won his only French Open title.

Three-times Roland Garros champion Serena Williams is looking to win her 24th Grand Slam singles title and she takes on Vitalia Diatchenko who has never progressed to the third round.

Dominic Thiem, who comes into the tournament having won titles in Barcelona and Indian Wells this year, will be in action on court Suzanne-Lenglen against American Tommy Paul.

Stan Wawrinka, a winner in 2015, will be the star attraction on court Simonne-Mathieu when he takes on Jozef Kovalik while French veteran Richard Gasquet faces Mischa Zverev.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)

Source: OANN

French Open - Roland Garros
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – May 26, 2019 Switzerland’s Roger Federer in action during his first round match against Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

May 26, 2019

By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) – Roger Federer made a stylish comeback to the French Open after a three-year hiatus as the revamped, widely-acclaimed Roland Garros burst into life on Sunday.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion, back on the Paris clay 10 years after his only title here, swept aside Italian Lorenzo Sonego 6-2 6-4 6-4 in a graceful performance on an expanded court Philippe Chatrier.

“The reception I got today was crazy, it was really nice to see a full stadium for a first round like this. It was a beauty,” the 37-year-old Swiss told reporters.

Earlier, 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza inaugurated the new court Simonne Mathieu with a first-round victory, describing the semi-sunken 5,000-seater as a ‘cosy’ place.

Situated within a botanical garden at the East end of Roland Garros, the court is cocooned by greenhouses featuring rare tropical plants.

“It’s a cute court. It’s in a very different place. You don’t feel like you are around a court. It’s like in a garden,” Muguruza said.

Some top players, however, will not get much chance to enjoy the new stadium, with former world number ones Angelique Kerber and Venus Williams sent packing along with former winner Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Opening proceedings on Chatrier, Germany’s Kerber was downed in two short sets by Russia’s Anastasia Potapova as her attempt at completing a career slam was cut short on her least favorite surface.

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams was also eliminated in straight sets by Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, the ninth seed and one of a dozen contenders for the Suzanne Lenglen Cup.

Last year’s semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato of Italy, seeded 16th, was at the receiving end of Nicolas Mahut’s spectacular comeback as the local favorite advanced into the second round with a 2-6 6-7(8-6) 6-4 6-2 6-4 victory on court Simonne Mathieu.

In the women’s draw, second seed Karolina Pliskova and seventh seed Sloane Stephens eased into round two while on the men’s side, Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas and Japan’s Kei Nishikori also progressed.

Top favorites Rafa Nadal, the 11-time champion, and world number one Novak Djokovic will be in first-round action on Monday.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; editing by Tony Lawrence)

Source: OANN

French Open - Roland Garros
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – May 26, 2019 Switzerland’s Roger Federer in action during his first round match against Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

May 26, 2019

By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) – Roger Federer returned to the French Open and breezed into the second round with a 6-2 6-4 6-4 win against Italian Lorenzo Sonego on Sunday, four years after hitting his last ball on the Parisian clay.

The third-seeded Swiss, who won his only title at Roland Garros 10 years ago, treated the crowd at the renovated court Philippe Chatrier to some exquisite shot-making, thwarting his opponent’s attempted comeback in the second set.

Sporting cream shorts and a taupe shirt that perfectly matched the red clay, the former world number one, who has been as been absent from the tournament since 2015, played some exquisite tennis as Sonego struggled to cope with the early pressure.

“Don’t be too quick, Roger!,” a spectator shouted after Federer had raced to a 4-0 lead in the second set, even playing serve-volley at times, a rarely-used tactic on clay.

That seemed to spur Sonego into action.

A jaw-dropping passing shot and a superb lob almost turned the crowd in his favour, but Federer contained the world number 73 and claimed the decisive break for 5-4 in the third set with a delicate backhand passing shot.

He then served it out to set up a second-round meeting with Germany’s Oscar Otte.

Federer opted to skip the French Open for the past three years — a decision based on prolonging his career

“I feel that the public missed me, and I missed them, as well,” Federer told reporters.

“There was some buzz, which I could feel on the central court when I was training and when I was playing today.

“So it was rather cool, rather pleasant, and I really loved the welcome I got on the court. I hope that it continues like this.”

Federer showed no ill effects of a right-leg injury that caused him to pull out of the Italian Open before his quarter-final clash against Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, his possible last-eight opponent in Paris.

“No problems with my body before or after the match,” said the 37-year-old, who will play his next match in three days.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Toby Davis)

Source: OANN

French Open - Roland Garros
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – May 26, 2019 Spain’s Garbine Muguruza in action during her first round match against Taylor Townsend of the U.S. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

May 26, 2019

(Reuters) – Spain’s Garbine Muguruza has the potential and talent to win any tournament in the world when she is at her peak despite her recent slide down the singles rankings, two-times French Open finalist Alex Corretja has said.

Muguruza, a 2016 winner at Roland Garros, is seeded 19th this year and has not been in the best of form this season, winning only one title at the Monterrey Open in April after her final opponent Victoria Azarenka retired with an injury.

From a career-high number one singles ranking in 2017, she has since slipped to 19th after a poor 2018 season and was stretched in the opening round on Sunday by American Taylor Townsend before eventually claiming a 5-7 6-2 6-2 victory.

“I’ve been watching her, she’s practising hard, been in the gym a lot,” Eurosport analyst Corretja told Reuters. “One thing about Muguruza is when she’s in good shape she can win any tournament in the world.

“When she hits her peak she’s so dangerous because she moves well. She knows the clay, she has already won there, so I think the first few rounds for her will be very important to build up her confidence.”

Corretja also said that the 25-year-old two-times grand slam winner could go far by flying under the radar and maintaining her consistency over a season.

“Not too many people are going to talk about her at the beginning,” the Spaniard added. “I think she will be able to go a long way without people talking about her… I think that might help her in this moment of her career.

“Maybe she’s not as consistent as we wish — we always want them to be consistent for 25 weeks of the year — but she can win anywhere.”

Muguruza plays Sweden’s Johanna Larsson in the second round.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Martyn Herman)

Source: OANN

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha speaks to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha speaks to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (not pictured) during their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, April 26, 2019. Parker Song/Pool via REUTERS

May 26, 2019

BANGKOK (Reuters) – A pro-army in Thailand will cement a deal on Monday to gain enough parliamentary seats to keep the current military junta leader in power as an elected prime minister, a lawmaker and executive board member of the party told Reuters.

Palang Pracharat contested the March 24 election on a platform of electing retired General Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minister, five years after he seized power as army chief in 2014.

Puttipong Punnakanta, one of Palang Pracharat’s board members and members of parliament, told Reuters that the party – which gained the second-largest number of seats in the election – would formally invite two other medium-sized parties to join in a coalition government.

“We will invite the two parties tomorrow. It’s certain that we will be forming a coalition government, with at least 251 seats and more,” he said.

(Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

Source: OANN

Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop in Philadelphia
Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., May 18, 2019. REUTERS/Mark Makela

May 26, 2019

(Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agree on their assessment of former Vice President Joe Biden, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Sunday.

North Korea’s state-run news agency issued a blistering attack last week on Biden, who has been critical of the reclusive communist state in the past.

“I think they agree in their assessment of former Vice President Joe Biden,” Sanders said of Trump and Kim. She was speaking from Japan during a state visit by Trump.

“The president doesn’t need somebody else to give him an assessment of Joe Biden. He’s given his own assessment a number of times.”

Trump, a Republican, referenced the criticism in a Twitter post on Saturday in which he mentioned Biden, a Democrat who is running for president, initially misspelling his name as Bidan and taking pleasure in the North Korean leader’s sharp rhetoric about a fellow American.

Trump said in a subsequent corrected tweet that he smiled when Kim “called Swampman Joe Biden a low IQ individual, & worse. Perhaps that’s sending me a signal?”

Trump on Sunday dismissed concerns about recent missile launches from North Korea and said he was confident that Kim would keep promises that he had made.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

Source: OANN

French Open - Roland Garros
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – May 26, 2019 Germany’s Angelique Kerber during her first round match against Russia’s Anastasia Potapova REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

May 26, 2019

By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) – Angelique Kerber’s campaign to complete a career slam was cut short in the French Open first round on Sunday, but that came as no surprise considering the former world number one was playing on her least favorite surface.

Add in a niggling ankle injury to her poor record on clay, there was little chance that the fifth-seeded German would win a tournament where she has never gone past the quarter-finals in 11 previous appearances.

She entered only two claycourt tournaments – in Stuttgart and Madrid – before arriving in Paris, winning only one match at each. An ankle injury meant the German aborted her Madrid Open challenge without hitting a ball in her second-round match.

“The year has been with up-and-downs and right now I lost here the first round, so what should I say?,” Kerber told reporters after being swept aside 6-4 6-2 on Court Philippe Chatrier by Russian Anastasia Potapova.

“Of course I’m disappointed, but I tried everything the last two weeks to be here to play a match, and I was happy about the process the last days, but at the end, I didn’t have real match practice.”

Kerber, who would have reclaimed the world number one ranking by lifting the Suzanne Lenglen Cup on June 8, did not really believe in her own chances.

“At the end I really didn’t have too much expectation for this tournament,” she admitted.

“I think the feeling I had before the tournament was right.”

Even though she owns three claycourt titles among her haul of 12, Kerber has never found the conditions at Roland Garros to her liking.

“For me, of course, the (problem) is the movements, the sliding. Also the bounces, how the ball is bouncing, and how to play on clay,” she explained.

“It’s a little bit different to grass and to hard court, so it’s always a big challenge for me to have the patience to wait for the ball, to go through the balls.”

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Source: OANN

French Open - Roland Garros
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – May 26, 2019 Germany’s Angelique Kerber during her first round match against Russia’s Anastasia Potapova REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

May 26, 2019

By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) – Angelique Kerber’s campaign to complete a career slam was cut short in the French Open first round on Sunday, but that came as no surprise considering the former world number one was playing on her least favorite surface.

Add in a niggling ankle injury to her poor record on clay, there was little chance that the fifth-seeded German would win a tournament where she has never gone past the quarter-finals in 11 previous appearances.

She entered only two claycourt tournaments – in Stuttgart and Madrid – before arriving in Paris, winning only one match at each. An ankle injury meant the German aborted her Madrid Open challenge without hitting a ball in her second-round match.

“The year has been with up-and-downs and right now I lost here the first round, so what should I say?,” Kerber told reporters after being swept aside 6-4 6-2 on Court Philippe Chatrier by Russian Anastasia Potapova.

“Of course I’m disappointed, but I tried everything the last two weeks to be here to play a match, and I was happy about the process the last days, but at the end, I didn’t have real match practice.”

Kerber, who would have reclaimed the world number one ranking by lifting the Suzanne Lenglen Cup on June 8, did not really believe in her own chances.

“At the end I really didn’t have too much expectation for this tournament,” she admitted.

“I think the feeling I had before the tournament was right.”

Even though she owns three claycourt titles among her haul of 12, Kerber has never found the conditions at Roland Garros to her liking.

“For me, of course, the (problem) is the movements, the sliding. Also the bounces, how the ball is bouncing, and how to play on clay,” she explained.

“It’s a little bit different to grass and to hard court, so it’s always a big challenge for me to have the patience to wait for the ball, to go through the balls.”

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Source: OANN

NATO helicopters land at the Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan
NATO helicopters land at the Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan October 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

May 26, 2019

By Rupam Jain and Sabine Siebold

KABUL/BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany, a leading donor and member of the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan, has been talking with the Taliban and the Afghan government in an effort to restart peace talks to end 18 years of conflict, officials said.

While the Taliban have been talking with U.S. officials since October about a withdrawal of international troops, they have so far refused formal talks with the Western-backed government, which they dismiss as a “puppet” regime.

Berlin’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Markus Potzel, has visited Kabul for talks with the Afghan government and met Taliban officials in Doha at least twice this month.

“The current chance for a process towards a more peaceful Afghanistan should not be missed. If the friends of Afghanistan – and Germany is one of them – together can help in this effort, then we should do it,” Potzel said.

“In the end only the Afghans themselves, including the Taliban, can decide upon the future of their country.”

The chief U.S. negotiator in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, in March said that a draft agreement had been reached on a withdrawal of U.S. forces in exchange for a commitment by the Taliban to cut ties with militant groups such as Al Qaeda.

But there has been no agreement yet on a ceasefire or a start to talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, both seen as key conditions for a settlement.

An Afghan delegation had been due to meet Taliban officials in the Qatari capital Doha last month to build the basis for possible negotiations, but the meeting was canceled at the last minute after a dispute over the number of participants.

“We realize that U.S.-Taliban talks will gain momentum only if the insurgent leaders start engaging with the Afghan representatives,” a senior German official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Sohail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, said that Germany was one among several countries to have offered help to seek a peaceful resolutions. The European Union and Indonesia are among those to have offered help, another Taliban official said, declining to be named.

Discussions were held with Germany about an Afghan-Taliban meeting in Germany but no decision has been made, Shaheen told Reuters.

The moves come at a time when the Taliban controls or exercises influence over more than half of Afghanistan.

At least 3,804 civilians were killed in the war last year, according to a United Nations report, plus thousands of soldiers, police and Taliban militants.

The involvement of Germany, the second-largest donor and an influential member of the 39-member NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan, follows concern among several U.S. allies at being excluded from the talks.

Germany, which last year spent 23 billion euros ($25.76 billion) in integrating hundreds of thousands of refugees from countries including Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, also has pressing domestic reasons for promoting peace. Next year, parliament will have to approve the continued presence of 1,200 German troops in Afghanistan.

“Lawmakers will ask why they should extend the mandate again if there is no progress there whatsoever,” said Conrad Schetter, an Afghanistan at the Bonn International Center for Conversion, an independent think-tank.

($1 = 0.8927 euros)

(Additional reporting by Hamid Shalizi and Abdul Qadir Sediqi; Editing by David Goodman)

Source: OANN

French Open - Roland Garros
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – May 25, 2019 Switzerland’s Roger Federer attends a training session on the eve of the start of the tournament REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

May 26, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – Roger Federer tops the bill at the French Open on opening Sunday when he makes his long-awaited return to the Parisian clay with a first-round match against Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

The 37-year-old Swiss, whose one Roland Garros title came 10 years ago, has been absent from the claycourt Grand Slam since 2015 and says he has missed it.

“I’m very happy to be back, maybe a tiny bit more because when I have missed the last three editions, and when you miss something in life, you’re happy to be back there again.”

The 20-time Grand Slam champion, who will play in the third match on the revamped Court Philippe Chatrier, returns as the third seed behind world number one Novak Djokovic and 11-times champion Rafael Nadal, neither of whom are in action on Sunday.

The Swiss has played down his chances of winning the title, although 73rd-ranked Sonego, making his main draw debut at Roland Garros having lost in qualifying last year, should not cause him undue alarm as he reacquaints himself with his surroundings.

“Center court looks very different. There has been a lot of upgrades and investments made,” Federer said.

“But I feel it is still the old Roland Garros, it’s kept its flair and everything.”

A connoisseur of style, Federer will no doubt be interested to see the brand new Court Simonne Mathieu — set in the picturesque Serres d’Auteuil botanical gardens and flanked by greenhouses containing rare and exotic plants.

Former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza will hope the beautiful setting will help her recover some form as the 19th seed christens the court against American Taylor Townsend.

Women’s fifth seed Angelique Kerber will hope the ankle injury that has ruined her preparation will not be factor as she opens proceedings on Chatrier against Anastasia Potapova.

Germany’s Kerber is seeking to win the only Grand Slam to elude her and is one of several women that could take over as world number one at the end of the French Open.

Another one, second seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova, closes play on Chatrier against American Madison Brengle.

Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, one of the young brigade being tipped as a title contender, will also get his tournament started when he takes on Germany’s Maximilian Marterer.

Two Grand Slam champions will be on show on Court Suzanne Lenglen. Marin Cilic plays Italian Thomas Fabbiano while later last year’s runner-up Sloane Stephens faces Misaki Doi.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Source: OANN


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