Getty Images

Nadal sues former French minister who accused him of doping

Leave a comment

MADRID (AP) Rafael Nadal filed suit Monday against a former French minister who accused him of doping, saying he needs to defend his integrity and image as an athlete.

The Spanish tennis star said his lawyers lodged the defamation suit in Paris against Roselyne Bachelot because of her “offensive remarks” on French television last month.

Bachelot, France’s former minister for health and sport, said on TV show Le Grand 8 that the Spaniard’s seven-month injury hiatus in 2012 was “probably due to a positive doping test.”

“Through this case, I intend not only to defend my integrity and my image as an athlete but also the values I have defended all my career,” Nadal said in a statement. “I also wish to avoid any public figure from making insulting or false allegations against an athlete using the media, without any evidence or foundation and to go unpunished.”

He said that if he wins the case, any compensation awarded by the judge will be “paid back in full to an NGO or foundation in France.”

Bachelot’s remarks upset Nadal and outraged Spaniards, including many fellow athletes who quickly came out to defend the tennis star. The Spanish Olympic Committee and members of the Spanish government also loudly criticized the former French minister.

Nadal’s coach and uncle, Toni Nadal, called Bachelot “an imbecile,” according to Spanish media.

A 14-time Grand Slam champion and the gold medalist at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Nadal is one of Spain’s biggest sports idols.

The president of Spain’s Olympic committee said he would like to see Nadal as the country’s flag bearer at the Rio de Janeiro Games, in part to make a statement after the recent accusations made by Bachelot.

Alejandro Blanco said Nadal “is a reference” and deserves the honor “after how he has been treated” by the former French minister. Nadal had been selected as Spain’s flag bearer for the 2012 London Olympics but missed the games because of an injury.

Nadal expressed his “complete trust in the French justice system” which will handle the lawsuit and said that he will not make any further statements about the case.

Bachelot’s allegations came in the wake of Maria Sharapova’s failed doping test.

Djokovic lines up Dimitrov at Queen’s Club

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LONDON — Novak Djokovic’s first appearance at Queen’s Club in eight years was successful when he put away Australian qualifier John Millman 6-2, 6-1 on Tuesday.

Djokovic, entered as a wild card, will play second-seeded Grigor Dimitrov in the second round.

Also, Milos Raonic, runner-up to Roger Federer last week in Stuttgart, won his opener when Indian qualifier Yuki Bhambri retired hurt while trailing 6-1, 3-1.

Djokovic’s comeback from right elbow surgery in January has been gathering pace after reaching the Rome semifinals and French Open quarterfinals. He leads Dimitrov 6-1 in career matchups.

Dimitrov, the 2014 Queen’s champion, struggled past Damir Dzumhur 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3. Dimitrov saved six of eight break points.

Svitolina’s top ambitions survive grass-court struggle

Getty Images
Leave a comment

BIRMINGHAM, England — Elena Svitolina, who came within two wins of becoming world No. 1 in January, maintained her ambitious momentum to reach the top by surviving a tricky start to her Wimbledon build-up on Tuesday.

The second-seeded Svitolina stumbled within sight of a two-set victory, and briefly faltered again in the last set before beating Donna Vekic of Croatia 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.

Svitolina showed glimpses of the tenacious movement and consistently ferocious drives which have earned her the best win-loss record on the WTA tour since the beginning of last year, but also revealed glimpses of insecurity on the lush, low-bouncing surface.

Despite carving a lead of a set and 3-1, her gradually increasing attempts to win points in the forecourt were of variable quality, while Vekic, a former runner-up here, began to contain and counterattack more effectively.

Svitolina nearly let slip another lead of 3-1, in the last set, needing to save two break points on her next service game – one with a fine serve, and the other with a net attack finished off at the third attempt.

Eventually, the Ukrainian’s determination to adapt tactically to a surface on which she has yet to progress beyond any quarterfinal paid timely dividends, and she accelerated toward the finishing line at a canter.

“I was just trying to play well and to dominate, but she played a couple of great points to break back – which is always nice to have,” said Svitolina, apparently meaning she was pleased to gain extra practice on such a technique-testing surface.

“It was difficult for me because she hit the ball very flat and the first match on grass is always a challenge.”

She next faces Alize Cornet of France, who notably beat Serena Williams at 2014 Wimbledon, and who outlasted former top-10 player Ekaterina Makarova of Russia, by 5-7, 6-4, 6-1.