Former world No 1 Rafael Nadal announced that he will miss the Monte Carlo Masters in the build-up to the French Open as he is yet to get back to full fitness after suffering a hip injury at the Australian Open.
Michael Keane’s late long-distance strike rescued a point for Everton when they hosted Tottenham on Monday at Goodison Park.
Barcelona, meanwhile, have called for the resignation of La Liga president Javier Tebas over “false” accusations made by him against the club. Staying in Spain, Real Valladolid and Espanyol have sacked thier coaches in a bid to stay in the Spanish top flight.
In boxing, former Olympic silver medallist and world champion Amir Khan was handed a two-year ban after testing positive for a prohibited substance.
Here’s a look at the key stories from international sporting events through the day for 4 April, 2023:
Nadal, Alcaraz withdraw from Monte Carlo
Rafael Nadal’s preparation for a tilt at a record-extending 15th French Open title suffered a blow when he announced his withdrawal from the upcoming Monte Carlo Masters on Tuesday.
A short while later, Carlos Alcaraz announced that he too was pulled out of the event because of hand and back injury problems.
“Hi everyone, I’m still not ready to compete at the highest level,” the 36-year-old Spaniard tweeted.
“I will not be able to play in one of the most important tournaments of my career, Monte Carlo.”
The Monte Carlo tournament, which Nadal has won 11 times, begins on Saturday, while the French Open starts May 28.
Nadal said he was hoping to return soon from the hip flexor injury he sustained in the Australian Open in January, suffering a second round exit against Mackenzie McDonald.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion pulled out of hard-court tournaments at Indian Wells and Miami, with his sights set on a return at the start of the clay court season.
Record Monte Carlo Masters champion Nadal won the tournament eight consecutive times between 2005 and 2012.
After the tournament’s director said Nadal was registered for this year’s edition, the Spaniard last week denied he was set to participate.
“I don’t know who gets this information, but obviously if it were true, I would confirm it, but, unfortunately, I cannot confirm it,” said Nadal at an event.
“Things are moving day by day, and I don’t say things that I can’t fulfil.”
Meanwhile, the world No 2 Alcaraz seemed set to battle Novak Djokovic for the top rank in the French Open warm-up tournament which starts Saturday.
“After two months abroad, I am happy to return home but sad because I finished my last match in Miami with physical discomfort,” said Alcaraz on Twitter.
“I will not be able to go to Monte Carlo to start the clay court tour. I have post-traumatic arthritis in my left hand and muscular discomfort in the spine that needs rest to prepare for everything that is to come.”
Former boxing champ Amir Khan handed doping ban
Former light-welterweight world champion Amir Khan has been handed a two-year ban from all sport after testing positive for a prohibited substance, UK Anti-Doping said on Tuesday.
Khan, 36, returned a positive result for the anabolic agent ostarine following his loss to Kell Brook in Manchester in February 2022.
Ostarine is a drug designed to have similar effects to testosterone.
Khan, who announced his retirement in May last year, accepted a violation of anti-doping rules but said he had not intentionally ingested the substance, an argument accepted by an independent panel following a hearing in January.
The ban is deemed to have commenced on April 6, 2022, when his provisional suspension was imposed, and will expire on April 5, 2024.
Khan became a household name in Britain after claiming a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, aged just 17.
He made his professional debut in July 2005 and four years later won the WBA light-welterweight title with victory over Andreas Kotelnik in Manchester.
Khan unified the WBA and IBF titles with a win over Zab Judah in 2011 but controversially lost his next fight to Lamont Peterson, who would subsequently test positive for synthetic testosterone.
He retired with a record of 34 wins and six defeats from 40 bouts.
UKAD chief executive Jane Rumble said: “This case serves as a reminder that UKAD will diligently pursue anti-doping rule violations in order to protect clean sport.”
Everton hold Tottenham
Michael Keane’s stunning 90th minute equaliser struck dented Tottenham’s challenge for a top-four finish in the Premier League as Cristian Stellini’s caretaker spell in charge of Spurs started with a 1-1 draw at Everton.
Harry Kane’s penalty looked set to take Tottenham third in the table after Abdoulaye Doucoure had been sent off for striking the Spurs forward in the face.
But the numbers were levelled up when Lucas Moura also saw red two minutes from time before Keane’s thunderbolt salvaged a vital point in Everton’s bid to beat the drop.
A draw is enough to take Sean Dyche’s men out of the relegation zone and up to 15th.
Tottenham move level on points with Newcastle and Manchester United in fourth, but have played two games more than their rivals for a place in next season’s Champions League.
“After the red card they were much more aggressive than us,” said Stellini after Spurs failed to win away from home for the sixth consecutive game.
“We have to be a team that plays at home and away with the same desire and aggressiveness.”
Stellini was taking charge for the first time since the sacking of his former boss Antonio Conte.
Conte’s fate was sealed by a tirade towards the Tottenham squad after conceding twice late on to draw 3-3 at bottom-of-the-table Southampton.
But there was little sign of a fresh start as the visitors again threw away a promising position against a side fighting relegation.
Barcelona demand La Liga boss’ resignation
Barcelona on Monday called on La Liga president Javier Tebas to quit over “false” accusations allegedly made by him concerning their referee corruption case.
The Spanish giants made the demand after a newspaper claimed Tebas had written to the Spanish public prosecutor accusing two former Barca presidents of wrongdoing.
Last month the Catalan club was charged with corruption after payments of more than 7.3 million euros ($7.8 million) to a company owned by a former refereeing chief were uncovered.
In a statement following La Vanguardia’s report Barcelona claimed Tebas “presented false proof” to the public prosecutor “to incriminate our club”.
“FC Barcelona wants to express its deep anger, indignation and disgust,” the statement read.
It went on to demand that Tebas “appears in public to provide answers”, adding “for the dignity and respect of the presidency of La Liga Mr Tebas should resign”.
Tebas in response denied “accusing anyone” in a post on social media.
Last month the club said they paid Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, the former referee and ex-vice president of the refereeing committee of the Spanish football federation between 1994 and 2018, for reports and advice related to refereeing.
In Monday’s statement a bruised Barcelona claimed they were the victims “of a media lynching for something that never happened – Barca have never bought off referees”.
As well as the club and Enriquez Negreira, two of the club’s former presidents, Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell, are facing the same charge of corruption.
Valladolid and Espanyol sack coaches
Real Valladolid fired coach Jose ‘Pacheta’ Rojo on Monday while Espanyol confirmed they had axed boss Diego Martinez.
Espanyol have slipped to 17th in Spain’s 20-team La Liga, after losing four straight league games.
They are ahead of Almeria in the first relegation place only on goal difference.
Valladolid lost 6-0 at Real Madrid on Sunday and are one point and one place better off than Espanyol.
Martinez held a farewell press conference at Espanyol following the club’s announcement that he was leaving.
“Results lead our organisation to make this decision with the sole and clear objective of staying in the top flight,” said Espanyol in a statement.
They named their former striker Luis Garcia, who moves from coaching Real Madrid’s ‘C’ team, as his replacement until June, 2024.
Valladolid, whose president is former Brazil great Ronaldo, echoed the sentiments in a statement posted on their website as they dismissed the coach who led them to promotion last year in his first season in charge.
“The club recognises the important career of the coach and the role he has played in the team since his arrival but, with the sole objective of achieving survival in the top flight at the end of the current campaign, we have opted to continue in another direction,” said the Valladolid statement.
Rojo and Martinez join a long list of La Liga clubs splitting with their managers this season, including Sevilla, who axed Jorge Sampaoli, and last-placed Elche who fired Pablo Machin, their fifth change of coach this season.
Valencia sacked Gennaro Gattuso in January and then replaced the stand-in, Voro, in February.
With text inputs from AFP
Updated through the day