Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 27th 2017 Contents sports A39
Thursday, April 27, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Door still open for Sharapova in French Open
PARIS---Maria Sharapova will find out next
month if she can compete at the French Open.
French tennis federation president Bernard
Giudicelli said yesterday that the announce-
ment will be made on Facebook on May 16 at
7 pm local time.
"The only guarantee I gave her is to call her
beforehand," Guidicelli said without giving
any indication on whether Sharapova will get
a positive answer. "There is no reason why we
should make an exception for Maria Sharapova,
there is no reason why we should announce a
wild card before the others."
The five-time Grand Slam champion and
former No. 1 is returning to competition this
week as a wild-card entry at the Porsche Grand
Prix in Stuttgart, Germany.
Sharapova was suspended after testing pos-
itive for the banned substance meldonium at
the 2016 Australian Open. The ban was reduced
from two years to 15 months last October by
the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Meldonium,
which was previously legal, was banned by the
World Anti-Doping Agency earlier that year,
but Sharapova claims she missed the memo
instructing her to stop using it.
Sharapova, who has titles at all four majors,
won at Roland Garros in 2012 and 2014.
Top-ranked players Angelique Kerber and
Andy Murray are among those who have ques-
tioned whether Sharapova should be allowed
to resume her career in main draws without
playing her way back through qualifiers. Shara-
pova has also been handed a wild-card entry
into the Italian Open in Rome next month.
Giudicelli said the federation's decision would
not be linked to Serena Wililams' withdrawal
from the tournament.
"Serena is on maternity leave and Serena's
situation is completely different," he said. "We
are dealing with these issues separately."
As for the men's draw, tournament director
Guy Forget said he had not received more infor-
mation regarding Roger Federer's participation.
The former No. 1 is currently on a break from
the tour, skipping most of the clay-court season
"I have not received any information suggest-
ing that he would take Roland Garros off his
schedule," Forget said. "Behind (Rafael) Nadal,
he is the best clay-court player. He is capable
of settling in very quickly."
Pacquiao preps for
'Battle of Brisbane'
BRISBANE---Manny Pacquiao has had bigger,
more significant fights while compiling world
titles in an unprecedented eight divisions.
The 38-year-old senator from the Philippines may
not have fought in front of a bigger crowd, though,
than what promoters are predicting for Pacquiao's
"Battle of Brisbane" on July 2 against Jeff Horn.
The on-again-off-again fight was confirmed af-
ter a rich deal for a Pacquiao-Amir Khan bout in the
Middle East fell through.
Pacquiao and Horn met for the first time yesterday
at the venue where local promoters are expecting a
crowd of 55,000 for the WBO welterweight world
That, at least according to veteran American pro-
motor Bob Arum, would beat Pacquiao's biggest live
crowd to date --- 50,994 at Cowboys Stadium in Tex-
as Suncorp Stadium, usually the home ground for
the Brisbane Broncos in Australia's National Rugby
League and the annual State-of-Origin rugby league
grudge match, has witnessed pretty of brawls, but
none of them sanctioned like this one.
Pacquiao is putting his WBO title on the line against
Horn, a trained teacher who took up boxing because
he was bullied at high school, had his first professional
bout in 2013, and is 16-0-1.
"If you ask inside my heart, I have confidence to win
the fight, but I'm not taking it lightly," said Pacquiao,
who has 11 major world titles and has a record of 59-6-
2, with 38 knockouts. "I'm not underestimating him."
Since losing to Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas in
April, 2015, a fight which generated a world record
4.4 million pay-per-view buys, Pacquiao has had two
fights --- wins over Tim Bradley and Jessie Vargas on
either side of a brief retirement. The win over Vargas
in November earned Pacquiao his third reign as the
WBO welterweight champion.
When Pacquiao arrived in Australia, he said he
didn't know a lot about Horn, but knew the 29-year-
old Australian had the kind of style that would make
for an entertaining fight.
"I want an opponent that wants to fight toe-to-toe,
throwing a lot of punches, aggressive," Pacquiao said.
"My style is to throw a lot of punches and I believe
that will be very effective for Jeff Horn's style. That's
why I accepted this fight.
Arum, who sat beside Pacquiao at the news con-
ference yesterday and first saw Horn fight in New
Zealand last November, compared the bout with a
young lion lying in wait to challenge on old one.
"This fight certainly has that theme," he said.
Manny Pacquiao AP PHOTO
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