FUJAIRAH: The AJP Tour Fujairah International Pro Championship kicked off at Zayed Sports Complex on Saturday with stellar performances from Emirati fighters in the teens, youth, and men’s masters categories.
Commando Group came in first on the opening day of the championship while AFNT and Sharjah Self-Defense Sports Club took second and third places respectively.
About 800 athletes from 50 countries are competing in the championship, which is organized by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation in partnership with AJP. The first day’s competitions were held across seven mats with the top finisher in each category receiving 600 ranking points under the AJP-approved ranking.
The AJP Tour Fujairah International Pro Championship is the third event of the AJP Championships, which consists of five legs held in different regions of the country. The opening day saw the UAE take first place in the country rankings, ahead of Colombia and Brazil.
Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al-Zeyoudi, minister of state for foreign trade, was presented with two commemorative shields at the event by the UAEJJF and the Fujairah Martial Arts Club in appreciation of his support for jiu-jitsu and other martial arts competitions.
“The UAE continues to excel and solidify its position as a home for jiu-jitsu,” Al-Zeyoudi said. “The strongest evidence of our country’s excellence in hosting and managing the largest sporting events and championships is the fantastic performance we saw in the Zayed Sports Complex today and the great response by the public to the competitions.”
Mohammed Salem Al-Dhaheri, on behalf of the board of directors of the federation, extended his thanks to Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Sharqi, crown prince of Fujairah, for his support for jiu-jitsu.
“The biggest assurance for the tournament’s success and achievements was his highness’ support,” he said. “The primary tenet of the nation’s leadership in this sport on a global scale is the support of our wise leadership.”
Two-time Most Valuable Player Jokic scored 27 points with 10 rebounds and 14 assists to lead the Nuggets
Bam Adebayo scored 26 points to lead Miami
Updated 02 June 2023
DENVER: The Denver Nuggets launched their first NBA Finals campaign in franchise history with a dominant 104-93 victory over the Miami Heat on Thursday, propelled by yet another Nikola Jokic triple double.
Two-time Most Valuable Player Jokic scored 27 points with 10 rebounds and 14 assists to lead the Nuggets, who will try to double their advantage in the best-of-seven series when they host Game 2 on Sunday.
Jamal Murray scored 26 points, handed out 10 assists and grabbed six rebounds for the Nuggets, who led by 24 points in the third quarter and repelled the resilient Heat’s fourth quarter challenge.
“We respect their team a lot,” Jokic said. “We just wanted to get the first punch.
“In the first three rounds they won their first game when they traveled on the road and we didn’t want to have that to happen. I think we did a good job.”
Bam Adebayo scored 26 points to lead Miami. Gabe Vincent added 19 and Haywood Highsmith scored 18 off the bench, but Heat star Jimmy Butler was limited to 13.
Trailing by 21 entering the fourth quarter, Miami used an 11-0 run to cut the deficit to 10. Highsmith’s three-pointer got the gap to nine points with 2:34 to play.
But as they had all night, the Nuggets seamlessly pulled away.
Jokic fed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for a jump shot, Caldwell-Pope came up with a steal and Aaron Gordon made two free throws as the Nuggets rebuilt the lead.
Jokic added a pair of free throws and a turnaround jump shot and the ecstatic crowd of 19,528 at Ball Arena in Denver could start the celebrations.
“Everybody contributed,” Jokic said. “It’s a great win for us.”
Jokic was content to play facilitator in the first quarter, handing out six assists as the Nuggets clicked quickly despite the 10-day gap since they finished off their sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals.
Gordon scored 12 points in the first quarter. Jokic didn’t take a shot until the waning seconds of the period, when he stripped the ball from Cody Zeller and made a layup that put Denver up 29-20 at the end of the period.
Meanwhile the Heat, who flew straight to Denver from Boston after finally polishing off the Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday, connected on just nine of their 26 attempts in the first quarter.
“They are in a pretty good rhythm, especially in that first half, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Our disposition, the multiple efforts, the resolve in the second half was much better.
“But you get to this level, it has to be complete games of that kind of disposition.”
Denver kept up the relentless pace in the second quarter, Murray scoring 10 points in the period as the Nuggets connected on 60 percent of their shots.
Four Denver players scored in double figures in the first half. Adebayo had 16 before the break for Miami, but Caleb Martin went 0-for-5 and Max Strus 0-for-7.
Not only were the Heat unable to convert the good looks they had, they couldn’t stop the Nuggets inside. Denver outscored Miami 32-18 in the paint in the first half.
Jokic’s 10 points and 10 assists before the break made him the only player besides LeBron James in the past 25 years to reach double digits in both categories in any half of an NBA Finals game.
He’d post his 15th playoff triple double with his 10th rebound in the fourth quarter.
The Heat quickly sliced the deficit to 10 points to open the third quarter, but Denver had the answer to every adjustment they made.
“Right now the most important thing is to win a game,” Jokic said. “We’re trying to win a game any way possible. I don’t need to shoot, I don’t need to score to affect the game. I think I did a good job today.
Thuram, Wahi, David: Ligue 1 stars set for big summer transfers
Thuram has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain but looks destined to eventually move to the Premier League
Wahi was nominated for the Ligue 1 young player of the year prize after an outstanding season at Montpellier
Updated 02 June 2023
PARIS: As the Ligue 1 season comes to an end this weekend, AFP Sport looks at five stars of the French top flight who could make big-money moves when the transfer window opens:
The 22-year-old comes from the highest footballing stock, as the son of France 1998 World Cup hero Lilian Thuram and the younger brother of Marcus, who appeared for Les Bleus in their defeat by Argentina in the recent World Cup final.
Khephren Thuram is a bounding midfielder who has been a shining light for Nice in a difficult season for the club owned by British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos group. His performances led to him being named in the Ligue 1 team of the season, and he made his full France debut in March. Thuram, who started his career at Monaco where he was given his debut by Thierry Henry, will play for France at the upcoming Under-21 Euro.
Nice will not want to sell a player who is under contract until 2025, but they may struggle to resist a big offer. Thuram has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain but looks destined to eventually move to the Premier League. Liverpool are the latest club rumored to be lining up a bid.
The 20-year-old striker was nominated for the Ligue 1 young player of the year prize after an outstanding season at Montpellier, for whom he has scored 17 league goals. The France Under-21 international also won the goal of the season award for one outrageous overhead kick against Lyon.
Under contract for two more years, Montpellier will be able to command a huge fee for a player who reportedly has a preference to remain in France for now even if he does depart his current club.
“We will see what the future holds. At the end of the season we will talk about it with the people involved,” the ambitious Wahi told L’Equipe earlier this year. “If I can follow in the footsteps of (Kylian) Mbappe, that would be great,” he added.
The midfielder, 24, is hardly a raw young prospect. Fofana played for France at the World Cup, coming off the bench in the final. Full international recognition for the Parisian was the reward for his impressive form at Monaco, where he enjoyed a superb partnership with Aurelien Tchouameni before the latter joined Real Madrid last year.
Fofana went from France’s national youth academy at Clairefontaine to delivering pizzas before getting his breakthrough at Strasbourg and then joining Monaco in 2020. Out of contract next year, Monaco are expected to cash in on a player who recently indicated that playing for hometown team PSG was something he “dreamed of.”
In recent years Lille have made huge profits selling their best attacking players abroad, from Eden Hazard to Nicolas Pepe and Victor Osimhen. Canada forward David is likely to be the next to be sold by the northern side, who paid a reported €27 million plus bonuses to Belgian club Gent for his services in 2020.
The 23-year-old has become Lille’s top scorer this century, helping fire them to the title in his first season and netting 26 goals in this campaign.
Fast and strong, the Brooklyn-born star did not enjoy a successful World Cup with Canada but that is unlikely to put off suitors and the Premier League appears his most likely destination.
Lens have been the sensation of the French season, securing second place behind PSG. Their success has been first and foremost collective, but several individuals have stood out. The club will hope to keep most of their squad together for an assault on the Champions League, but the team with the best defensive record in France are likely to receive offers for their standout center-backs.
The 24-year-old Danso is one of them, and the Austrian international — named in the Ligue 1 team of the year — could be keen on a move to England, After all, he was brought up there after moving to Milton Keynes aged six. He spent time in the academies at Reading and MK Dons, and had a loan spell at Southampton in 2019/20.
Stuttgart beat Hamburg 3-0 in 1st leg of Bundesliga playoff
The win puts Stuttgart, which finished third from bottom in the Bundesliga, on course to stay in the first division
Hamburg, the last remaining founding member of the Bundesliga, were relegated in 2018 and have been bidding for promotion since
Updated 02 June 2023
STUTTGART: Hamburger SV’s five-year wait to rejoin the Bundesliga looks set to continue.
Serhou Guirassy helped to put Stuttgart in a commanding position to keep their place in Germany’s top division with a 3-0 win over Hamburg on Thursday in the first leg of their playoff.
Guirassy had failed to make the most of a one-on-one chance and had a penalty saved in the first half, but the Guinea forward grabbed Stuttgart’s third goal early in the second half.
Hamburg’s task was further complicated in the 69th minute when substitute Anssi Suhonen was sent off minutes after coming on for a studs-up lunge at Josha Vagnoman’s thigh.
The win puts Stuttgart, which finished third from bottom in the Bundesliga, on course to stay in the first division before the second leg of the playoff in Hamburg on Monday. Hamburg finished third in the second division.
There was a minute’s silence before Thursday’s game in tribute to the 15-year-old player who died after a post-match brawl at an international youth tournament in Frankfurt last weekend.
Stuttgart got off to a great start with Konstantinos Mavropanos heading the opener inside the first minute.
The visitors had Daniel Heuer Fernandes to thank for keeping the score down. The Hamburg goalkeeper saved from Chris Führich, then got the better of Guirassy in a one-on-one, and also saved Guirassy’s penalty in the 27th. Two minutes later he produced another save to deflect Führich’s effort away.
Fuhrich effectively created the second goal in the 51st when he eluded two Hamburg defenders and played a perfectly weighted pass for Enzo Millot, who crossed for the unmarked Vagnoman to score.
Guirassy finally scored with a header to a corner three minutes later.
Hamburg, the last remaining founding member of the Bundesliga, were relegated in 2018 and have been bidding for promotion since. They finished fourth in 2019, 2020 and 2021 before finishing third last year for a playoff against Hertha Berlin. Hertha prevailed on that occasion.
Daniel Altmaier wins French Open epic as Andreeva strikes blow for teens
The longest ever match at Roland Garros remains the six hours and 33 minutes it took Fabrice Santoro to beat fellow Frenchman Arnaud Clement in 2004
Andreeva became just the seventh player under the age of 17 to make the third round in Paris in 30 years
Updated 02 June 2023
PARIS: Germany’s Daniel Altmaier won the fifth longest ever French Open match on Thursday as 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva made the last 32, providing a tantalizing glimpse into the sport’s future.
Altmaier saved two match points and then held his nerve on a fifth match point of his own to knock out Italian eighth seed Jannik Sinner 6-7 (0/7), 7-6 (9/7), 1-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5 after five hours and 26 minutes of breathless action on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
“I just love the game of tennis,” said Altmaier, ranked 79 in the world and who broke down in tears at the end of the marathon.
“I don’t know if you can call it a historical match, but it was one to remember. Playing every point you can with the best effort, that’s what keeps you in reality.”
The longest ever match at Roland Garros remains the six hours and 33 minutes it took Fabrice Santoro to beat fellow Frenchman Arnaud Clement in 2004.
The 24-year-old Altmaier, who made the last 16 in 2020, twice faced defeat when Sinner was serving for victory in the fourth set.
He battled back to level the tie and broke in game seven of the decider but then failed to serve it out.
He immediately gave himself another chance, though, and this time crept over the line as he secured a surprise win on his fifth match point after a thrilling final game in which he also saved three break points.
Next up is a clash with Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov for a place in the last 16.
“That’s sport,” said Sinner. “I’ll come back but it’s tough to swallow.”
Andreeva became just the seventh player under the age of 17 to make the third round in Paris in 30 years — joining the likes of Serena Williams and Martina Hingis — with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Diane Parry of France.
Andreeva, ranked at 143 and making her Grand Slam debut after coming through the qualifiers, will face Coco Gauff in the next round.
The 19-year-old Gauff, the runner-up to Iga Swiatek last year, defeated Julia Grabher of Austria 6-2, 6-3.
“She’s an experienced player. I am sure it will be a great match. She will do her best, I will do mine. We’ll have to see who does it better,” added Andreeva, the youngest player in the third round since a 15-year-old Sesil Karatantcheva made the quarter-finals in 2005.
Swiatek maintained her bid to become the first woman to successfully defend the French Open title in 16 years by cruising into the third round with a 6-4, 6-0 win over American Claire Liu.
World No. 1 Swiatek, who turned 22 on Wednesday, will face China’s Wang Xinyu on Saturday for a place in the second week.
The Polish star could lose her world number one ranking for the first time in over a year next week if she fails to lift a fourth Grand Slam singles title.
Justine Henin was the last woman to win back-to-back Roland Garros titles when she lifted her third in a row and fourth in total in 2007.
One year after suffering a season-ending ankle ligament injury in the semifinal against Rafael Nadal, Germany’s Alexander Zverev made a winning return to Court Philippe Chatrier.
Zverev, who was taken off court in a wheelchair in that 2022 tie, buried the misery with a confident 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 win over Alex Molcan.
World No.4 and Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina racked up her 30th win of the year by defeating Czech teenager Linda Noskova 6-3, 6-3.
Kazakh fourth seed Rybakina converted three of the 10 break points she carved out and fired 30 winners past 18-year-old Noskova.
Last year’s men’s runner-up Casper Ruud booked his place in the third round with a four-set win over battling Italian qualifier Giulio Zeppieri.
The Norwegian fourth seed was pushed hard by his 129th-ranked opponent but clinched a 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 success.
Ruud will next face Zhang Zhizhen who became the first Chinese man to make the last 32 since 1937 with a 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-4 win over Argentine qualifier Thiago Agustin Tirante.
The bottom half of the men’s draw had already opened up after world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev was knocked out in the first round by Brazil’s Thiago Seyboth Wild.
World No.172 Seyboth Wild backed up that win by seeing off Guido Pella of Argentina 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Cristiano Ronaldo reflects on first season with Al-Nassr, new life in Saudi Arabia
The interview, which was published on the Saudi Pro League’s social media channels, comes at the end of the SPL season
Updated 01 June 2023
RIYADH: Cristiano Ronaldo has shared his thoughts on playing and living in Saudi Arabia in his first full interview since joining Al-Nassr Football Club.
The interview, which was published on the Saudi Pro League’s social media channels, comes at the end of a campaign in which Ronaldo’s Riyadh club claimed second place following a closely fought battle for the title with new champions Al-Ittihad.
The Portuguese superstar stressed the positives and building toward next season despite his disappointment at missing out on the title.
He said: “Well, my expectation (at the start) was a little bit different. To be honest I expected to win something this year, but it is not always the way we think or the way we want; sometimes we need passion, consistency, and persistence to achieve the best things.
“So, I still believe that next year we will improve a lot. Let us say in the last five or six months the team has improved a lot. In the league, all the teams improved.
“It takes time sometimes, but if you believe and you think it is your goal, I think everything is possible.
“I expected to win something this year, but we didn’t, but next year I am really positive and confident that things will change, and we will go in a better way. So, let us believe that and work on that.”
Ronaldo joined the club in January and has featured extensively in the SPL, making a significant contribution to the club’s performances with 14 goals in 16 matches.
He added: “The league is very good but I think we have many, many opportunities to still grow. The league is competitive, we have very good teams, very good Arab players.
“But they need to improve the infrastructure a little bit more, even the referees. The VAR system should be a little quicker. I think other small things need to improve.
“But I am happy here, I want to continue here, I will continue here. And in my opinion if they continue to do the work that they want to do here, for the next five years, I think the Saudi league can be a top five league in the world.”
Regarding the biggest change following his move, the former Real Madrid and Manchester United star said: “One example is that in Europe we train more in the morning, but here we train in the afternoon or evening and in Ramadan we train at 10 at night. So, this is strange, but as I tell you these situations are part of an experience, memories.
“I like to live these moments because you learn with these things. It is difficult, but it is nothing I have not seen before. My experience so far is that Saudi fans really love football and like to live the life and it is good and I am so happy now.”
Saad Allazeez, Saudi Pro League’s vice chairman, recently said of the player: “The arrival of Cristiano always had the potential to be one of the most impactful and transformational in football history. And that has proved to be the case.
“He is a special footballer and a special person whose impact goes far beyond football. The ‘Cristiano Effect’ has definitely been felt. This season has been our biggest yet, with more spectators on match days, more followers and global viewing than ever before.
“The Saudi Pro League is now aired by 48 platforms and TV broadcasters in over 170 countries worldwide, and attendances at Al-Nassr matches have doubled year on year since Cristiano signed.
“Saudi Arabia is already a football-obsessed nation with over 80 percent of Saudi Arabia’s men and women either playing, attending or following football. Recent developments include the establishment of a professional women’s premier league and women’s national team and school girls league with 50,000 playing each week.
“And thanks to the new growth in the league’s popularity I’m sure other big names will look to follow in Cristiano’s footsteps and join the brilliant young homegrown talent who play in our league.”
Asked about players joining the league, Ronaldo said: “If they are coming, big players and big names, young players, old players, they are very welcome because if that happens, the league will improve a little bit.”
He added: “Living in Saudi is very good if you want to come here to have fun, to see the culture, to eat well.
“The Saudis live more at night which I think is quite fun and interesting. If you see the city during the night, it’s very beautiful. And if you like food, come to Riyadh — the city probably has some of the best quality restaurants I have come across.
“The most beautiful experiences I’ve had here were when I was in Boulevard World. It was something I really enjoyed. I took all my family there. So far it has been a very good experience.
“The family are happy, the schools are very good, and things that the country is building for the future.
“I like to see different things, try different things and this is why I am here as well. The next place that I want to see is AlUla. I want to go as I know it’s very beautiful. And as we travel around the country, you see many good places.”
He added: “Thank you very much for supporting me here every day, not only in the games or in the stadium, but outside in the streets and the places that I go.
“I will be part of your world, your culture. I will be here and I hope I make the people enjoy it through my games, my performance, and winning things.
“Again, thank you for welcoming me, and I will try to give my best during the time that I am here.”