Sports Digest: Novak Djokovic loses clay-court opener at the Monte Carlo Masters

TENNIS

Novak Djokovic opened his clay-court season with a surprising loss to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina at the Monte Carlo Masters on Tuesday in Monaco.

Davidovich Fokina stunned the top-ranked Serb 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-1 in the second round to hand Djokovic another setback as they try to move on from the controversy surrounding his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19 . It makes for rare back-to-back losses for Djokovic, who had not played since being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Tennis Championships in Febrary – his only previous tournament this year after he was barred from playing at the Australian Open.

Djokovic had beaten Davidovich Fokina in straight sets twice last year, in Rome and at the Tokyo Olympics.

Djokovic could not defend his Australian Open title in January after he was deported from the country for not being vaccinated. They had to skip tournaments in Indian Wells, California, and Miami because they couldn’t travel to the United States for the same reason.

USTA: Lew Sherr has been selected as the chief executive officer and executive director of the USTA.

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The national governing body for tennis in the United States announced the hiring Tuesday, saying Sherr will start his new role on May 2. He has been with the association for 13 years, the past decade as its chief revenue officer. Sherr will work with the USTA board to set the strategy for tennis’ growth in the US, and to make sure the sport continues its trend toward an increasingly diverse player and fan base.

Sherr has helped drive all revenue streams for the USTA to record levels, including overall sponsorship, broadcast revenue, and attendance and ticketing revenue.

CLIJSTERS RETIRES AGAIN: Four-time Grand Slam singles champion Kim Clijsters has retired from professional tennis again. The 38-year-old Clijsters, who ended her second retirement in 2019 after a seven-year hiatus, announced Tuesday that she will be “no longer playing official tournaments.”

The former No. 1 Clijsters, who is already a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, won the US Open for the first time in 2005 and walked away from tennis two years later at age 23 shortly before getting married. The Belgian player then took about two years off while having a daughter but returned and won the 2009 US Open. She won another championship at Flushing Meadows in 2010, then added to the Australian Open title the following season and moved back atop the rankings.

Clijsters, who has three children with her husband, Brian Lynch, left the tour again in 2012. They live in suburban New Jersey.

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SOCCER

FIFA TRIAL: Former FIFA officials Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini will go on trial for fraud and other offenses in June, Switzerland’s federal criminal court said Tuesday.

The trial will be before a panel of three judges on 11 days from June 8-22. The trial will begin more than 6 1/2 years after the criminal proceedings were opened, first against Blatter for a 2011 payment of 2 million Swiss francs (then $ 2 million) they authorized FIFA to make to Platini.

Platini made a written request to FIFA in January 2011 to be paid backdated additional salary for working as a presidential adviser in Blatter’s first term, from 1998-2002. The allegations revealed by Swiss federal prosecutors in September 2015 removed Blatter early from the FIFA presidency and ultimately ended Platini’s campaign to succeed him. Platini was also ousted as UEFA president after he was banned from soccer because of the payment.

Blatter has been charged with fraud, mismanagement, misappropriation of FIFA funds and forgery of a document. Platinum has been charged with fraud, misappropriation, forgery and as an compliment to Blatter’s alleged mismanagement.

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