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Naomi Osaka withdraws from Italian Open quarter-finals with hand injury

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World number one Naomi Osaka pulled out of the Italian Open quarter-finals on Friday with a right thumb injury, casting doubts over her participation in this month’s French Open.

The 21-year-old Japanese was scheduled to face sixth seed Kiki Bertens after coming through two matches on Thursday in the rain-affected tournament.

But she said she was forced to withdraw due to pain and swelling at the base of her thumb.

“I woke up this morning and couldn’t really move my thumb,” Osaka told reporters.

“I tried to practise and grip my racket but I couldn’t, and I kept feeling this pain when I tried to move my hand in different directions.

“Right now I’m… in between sad and disappointed because I really wanted to play my match today. For me, it was sort of a test to play against Kiki because she’s playing really well and I wanted to see how well I could do today.

“I didn’t feel anything yesterday. That’s why I’m kind of confused right now because I literally woke up in the morning and couldn’t move my thumb. So, I was like, maybe I slept on it and maybe it will go away, but it didn’t.”

An abdominal injury had forced Osaka to pull out ahead of her semi-final clash in Stuttgart last month before she was beaten by Belinda Bencic in the Madrid Open quarter-finals.

“I would describe (my clay season) as rocky,” Osaka added.

“But I can’t necessarily say it’s been ups and downs because if I think about it, it’s definitely been going up. Every match I’ve played I’ve learned a lot. I’ve tried to take what I’ve learned into the next match and I think I’ve done that well.”

Following her U.S. Open and Australian triumphs, Osaka is chasing a third straight Grand Slam trophy at the French Open which begins on May 26.

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Cristiano Ronaldo served with court papers in US rape lawsuit

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Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo has been served with court papers related to a rape lawsuit in the United States, according to documents filed by his lawyers on Friday.

Five-time world player of the year Ronaldo is accused of rape by Kathryn Mayorga, who claims the Portuguese soccer star assaulted her in a Las Vegas hotel in 2009.

Ronaldo, 34, the former Manchester United and Real Madrid player, has strongly denied the accusations against him, insisting their encounter was consensual.

The legal process in the civil case had been held up as “federal court’s rules on serving foreigners” meant an identical state-level case needed to be dropped, Mayorga’s attorney said last week.

A motion filed in federal court in Nevada on Friday said “the parties have agreed to deem Defendant effectively served,” meaning Ronaldo has officially received court documents in the case, allowing it to move forward.

Former model Mayorga made the accusations against Ronaldo, who now lives in Turin, in a complaint filed last year.

She said that while she had agreed to a financial settlement with Ronaldo shortly after the alleged incident, her emotional trauma at the time did not allow her to participate in the mediation process.

Mayorga’s attorney added that the model agreed to an out-of-court settlement to keep her name from going public, but was inspired to speak out by the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.

Ronaldo’s lawyers have said that the non-disclosure agreement signed with Mayorga was “by no means a confession of guilt”.

Following her renewed accusations, Las Vegas police reopened an investigation last year.

Ronaldo is widely considered one of the greatest footballers in the history of the game, having won the Champions League title five times — once with Manchester United and four times with Real Madrid.

He also led Portugal to the Euro 2016 title in France.

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CAF president apprehended in France

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The president of the Confederation of African Football Ahmad Ahmad has been arrested in Paris hotel by French police.

According to Jeune Afrique, Ahmad was picked up around 8:30 am at the Berri Hotel in Paris, by the services of the Central Office for the fight against corruption and financial and fiscal offences (Oclif).

It said the arrest may be related to the alleged misappropriation and corruption involving French company, Tactical Steel.

Former secretary-general of the confederation Amr Fahmy accused Ahmad of corruption before he was sacked in April.

Fahmy in a document sent to FIFA investigations committee accused the president of costing CAF an additional $830,000 because he ordered equipment through Tactical Steel.

Sabine Seillier, president of Tactical Steel, however, insisted that her company won the contract on a transparent basis. She noted that her company was the only one that could guarantee delivery of the equipment sought in a tight timeframe of three weeks.

When she was questioned if Tactical Steel was been involved in kickbacks to Ahmad or his associates, Seillier replied: “Absolutely not. Tactical Steel complies with French law.”

There are reports that Seiller’s husband is a friend of an acquaintance of Ahmad.

CAF is currently battling a major controversy with its flagship club competition, the CAF Champions League, ordered to be replayed after Tunisian club, Esperance were declared the winner. Wydad Casablanca walked off the field an hour into the second leg fixture because VAR was unavailable to judge a goal disallowed by the referee.

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Neymar accused of rape in Paris

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Star striker Neymar has been accused of raping a woman at a hotel in Paris, Brazilian media reports said Saturday, charges that the player’s father slammed as attempted blackmail.

According to a complaint filed with Sao Paolo police and reported by the UOL and GloboEsporte websites, the Paris Saint-Germain star is accused of “using violence to have sex with the victim without her consent.”

Sao Paulo’s security secretariat would not provide a copy of the complaint to AFP, confirming only that one had been filed but saying its contents were classified.

The unidentified woman, who lives in Brazil, allegedly met Neymar through Instagram, and after exchanging messages, the footballer invited her to visit him in Paris in mid-May.

According to the complaint, Neymar arrived at the hotel “apparently intoxicated,” and the two chatted and exchanged “caresses.”

But then “he became aggressive and used violence to have sex with the victim without her consent,” the document said.

Neymar’s father, who is also his agent, categorically denied the accusations in an interview with Brazilian broadcaster Bandeirantes.

“This is not true, he has never committed any crime,” said Neymar Santos, arguing that his son was a victim of blackmail. “We have all the evidence and we already gave everything to the lawyers.”

According to Neymar Santos, his son and the woman went on a date, but Neymar did not want to see her again. Since then, the woman has tried to extort money from the player and his family, he said.

“My son can be accused of many things, but I know what kind of man he is … it’s clear that this was a trap,” he said, adding that the family was prepared to release WhatsApp messages that would exonerate Neymar.

According to the media reports, the accuser was in Paris from May 15 to 17, but waited until last Friday to file the complaint in Brazil because she was “emotionally shaken.”

Neymar, 27, is currently in Brazil preparing for the Copa America, which takes place in the country from June 14 to July 7.

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