Isner sidelined by sore right knee

WASHINGTON (AFP) - New US number one John Isner, who took back-to-back titles the past two weeks in Newport and Atlanta, withdrew from the ATP Citi Open on Monday with a right knee injury. The 32-year-old standout, a three-time runner-up at the Washington hardcourt event, won the 11th and 12th titles of his career over the past two weeks, downing Australian Matthew Ebden on Newport grass and compatriot Ryan Harrison in two Atlanta tie-breakers in the finals. But the toll prompted Isner to withdraw from Washington, where he was seeded ninth and owned a first-round bye, as Masters Series events in Montreal and Cincinnati loom before the US Open starts August 28. The twin triumphs were enough to boost Isner over Jack Sock in the rankings to top the American list.–AFP

 

Nishikori tries to end title drought

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Japan's Kei Nishikori, trying to end an 18-month ATP title drought, hopes returning to the scene of his most recent outdoor crown will provide a pre-US Open spark. The 27-year-old Rio Olympic bronze medalist opens with a second-round match Tuesday at the ATP Citi Open in his first match on the Washington hardcourts since beating John Isner in the 2015 final for his 10th career ATP crown. "I don't want to think about it too much, but I know this is a tournament I've won before. I do have good memories on center court," Nishikori said Monday. "I think there's an advantage for past champions. I'm happy to play in a place I've won before." Ninth-ranked Nishikori was the 2014 US Open runnerup, becoming the first Asian man in a Grand Slam final.–AFP

 

Aru to lead Astana at Vuelta a Espana

PARIS (AFP) - Former winner Fabio Aru will lead Astana at the Vuelta a Espana starting later this month, the Kazakh team said on Tuesday. The Italian finished fifth at last month's Tour de France having made a late decision to ride the race after injury forced him out of May's Giro d'Italia. It was a great Tour for Aru as he won the fifth stage and a week later held the race leader's yellow jersey for a couple of days before fading in the final week as he struggled with illness. He won the Vuelta in 2015 as Chris Froome, who won a fourth Tour last month, was forced to leave the race following a crash. Aru will be in good company as Froome has announced his intention to race in Spain alongside fellow Tour winners Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali, and top Frenchman Romain Bardet.–AFP

 

Barca block Neymar's multi-million bonus

BARCELONA (AFP) - Barcelona have blocked payment of a 26-million-euro bonus for star attacker Neymar as speculation mounts that he will move to Paris Saint-Germain, a source at the club said Tuesday. The Brazilian football star, who is due to come back for training on Wednesday morning, is at the centre of an apparent tug of war between the two European giants in what would be the most expensive transfer fee in football history. Speculation is mounting that the 25-year-old could quit Barcelona for PSG for a world-record 222 million euros. "These 26 million euros have been placed with a notary pending to see if the player continues," the source, who refused to be named, told AFP. The renewal bonus was agreed on a year ago when Neymar extended his contract with Barcelona until 2021.–AFP

 

LAHORE: Punjab College Shahdara principal Syed Ahmad Bukhari and Assistant Commissioner Muridke Arshad Baidar cut the ribbon to inaugurate the Sports Gala 2017.–PR