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Heart of Midlothian v Celtic

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Watch: A day in the life of a Scottish Cup final referee
Scottish Cup final: Hearts v Celtic
Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Date: Saturday, 25 May Time: 15:00 BST
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One Scotland; listen on BBC Radio Scotland; text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

It has taken 140 games for Celtic to get to the brink of a treble treble. Now they are just 90 minutes on Saturday from completing an unprecedented feat.

The Parkhead club have won every domestic Scottish honour available for the past three seasons. Securing a ninth successive piece of silverware in the Scottish Cup final would clinch the sixth treble in Celtic’s history and their most special of all.

Neil Lennon’s team have yet to concede in the competition this season – and have won all four ties by at least two goals – but face a Hearts side who are not heading to Hampden to make up the numbers.

A season that promised so much for the Tynecastle men – they topped the Scottish Premiership for the first three months – has petered out to a sixth-place finish with cup glory a golden chance of salvation.

Injuries to key players have severely hampered Hearts throughout the campaign, but they are one of only four teams to inflict a domestic defeat on Celtic this term, beating them 1-0 at Tynecastle in August.

They are looking to summon the spirit of 2012 – when they demolished Hibernian 5-1 in the final – as they return to the scene of that memorable triumph bidding to lift the trophy for the ninth time.

How they got to Hampden

Celtic’s road to the Scottish Cup final
Hearts’ road to the Scottish Cup final

Previous final meetings

Hearts hold the upper hand in previous Scottish Cup finals between the pair, but it is more than 60 years since the sides last went head to head for the trophy.

On that occasion, in 1956, a crowd of nearly 133,000 gathered at Hampden to see Hearts prevail 3-1. Before that, the Tynecastle men won 4-3 in 1901, before Celtic ran out 3-0 winners six years later.

Of their recent meetings in earlier rounds, Celtic hammered the hosts 4-0 to reach the last 16 in 2014 after a 7-0 win at the same stage a year later. But a last-minute goal from former Celtic striker Craig Beattie gave Hearts a 2-1 win in the 2012 semi-final.

What the managers say

Hearts manager Craig Levein: “We are going for the single single. It is just as important to us.

“We have recent history of beating Celtic and I feel that the preparation for the game, particularly the last two or three weeks, has gone extremely well, especially getting players back fit, makes me feel better.

“The proof will be in the pudding of course, but we can beat Celtic, we have proven that we have got a big occasion in us, I am certain of that.”

Watch: Celtic’s Tierney & McGregor interview each other

Celtic manager Neil Lennon: “Hearts are a very difficult obstacle for us to overcome, so there’s no point me sitting here telling you how I’m going to feel when we win the cup.

“I’m just wary of everyone talking about treble trebles and bus parades. We’ve got to play the game and not the occasion. That’s the message we’ll be hammering into the players.

“We have a very motivated Hearts team and for some of their players it will be their first cup final. They may never get the opportunity to win it again, so they will be very hungry too.”

Team news

Levein is confident Uche Ikpeazu (hamstring), Peter Haring (groin) and Arnaud Djoum (Achilles) will all be fit, having missed the 2-1 defeat at Celtic Park last Sunday. But Callumn Morrison, Aidan Keena, Ben Garuccio, Demetri Mitchell, Steven Naismith and Olly Lee are all out with knee injuries.

James Forrest and Kieran Tierney after being rested for the last couple of games with hamstring and hernia issues respectively. Captain Scott Brown will also be available following a foot injury, while Oliver Burke is hopeful he will take some part despite a knee problem. Ryan Christie (face), Jack Hendry, Vakoun Bayo, Dedryck Boyata (all hamstring), Craig Gordon, Eboue Kouassi and Daniel Arzani (all knee) are still out and Leigh Griffiths remains unavailable.

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Will the next prime minister be able to negotiate a new Brexit deal?

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After weeks of candid interviews, kitchen photo shoots and “wide-ranging speeches”, the Tory leadership circus is now beginning in earnest.

Theresa May’s premiership is hanging by a thread after her “bold offer” on Brexit, which included the prospect of a second referendum, drew a furious backlash among MPs and prompted the resignation of cabinet Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom.

The beleaguered prime minister, who has survived defeat after defeat, appears to have finally run out of road. Senior Conservatives are openly talking about replacing her, and Westminster is waiting with bated breath for the results of her meeting with Tory backbench leader Sir Graham Brady on Friday. The problem for Boris Johnson and other would-be prime ministers is they will face the same challenges as Ms May on entering Downing Street.

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The Brexit chaos will not end with Ms May’s departure, and it will undoubtedly prove just as toxic to another Conservative leader. Top Tories know this, which is why they have not moved against the prime minister already. But Ms Leadsom’s dramatic resignation is an attempt to distance herself from the prime minister’s Brexit deal – and to steal a march on her leadership rivals.

The lack of a Commons majority makes it difficult for the government to pursue any Brexit course, even without the fierce divisions between MPs. And that is assuming the new leader can even secure changes to Ms May’s Brexit deal, which for all its faults is still the only deal on the table.

Brussels washed its hands of the talks months ago and has stood firm on its stance that Ms May’s Brexit package cannot be renegotiated. Ireland’s deputy prime minister, Simon Coveney, was clear at the weekend that the “personality might change but the facts don’t” and warned that the risk of a no-deal Brexit has never been greater.

He said: “For Britain, in many ways it’s been about party politics and personalities – and many people seem to think that Britain would have got a much better deal if only they had a tougher prime minister. In my view that just is a fundamental misunderstanding of how the European Union operates.”

The fallout from the European election results next week could mean the EU being prepared to devote less focus on Brexit going forward, he said. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, has also repeatedly ruled out a renegotiation or even a longer extension beyond 31 October.

He is open to movement on the political declaration covering the future relationship between the UK and the EU but there will be no change on the withdrawal agreement, which covers citizens’ rights, the Irish border and the divorce bill.

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Brexiteers insist Ms May should have been tougher with Brussels, and a true Eurosceptic – rather than a Remain-backer – would have negotiated a better deal. Frontrunner Mr Johnson is among those who believe he can get a better deal and bring it through the Commons by the autumn. It will be interesting to see whether his confidence wavers if he is confronted with the reality of the task ahead.

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Ed Sheeran, Chance The Rapper, And PnB Rock Are Defenders Of Love On ‘Cross Me’

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Ed Sheeran‘s new collection of joint songs, No. 6 Collaborationswill be out on July 12. One of the most highly anticipated tunes that will appear on the LP is his collaboration with Chance The Rapper and PnB Rock, “Cross Me,” that was teased earlier this week. It’s out now and it’s an angry defense track for a lover, a warning that they aren’t to be toyed with. But beneath the tough talk and gritted teeth, it’s an adorable track about being whipped. Ah, young love.

“Cross Me” is gummy with a jelly center. Sheeran and company sing with eyes made of horned hearts across a candied bass line about coming to the defense of their partners if they have to. PnB Rock kicks things off quickly with a breathless threat that the song is built around: “Just know if you cross her then you cross me.” Sheeran and Chance then come busting through the door with swords and nunchucks drawn, ready to vocalize about why it’s the wrong idea to even think of trying them. Sheeran handles half of the refrain with PnB Rock while Chance raps about his wife being a force to be reckoned with: “Pew, kung pow, hit your ass with a cross kick,” he raps. She’s been taking CrossFit.

“Cross Me” follows the release of the Justin Bieber-assisted “I Don’t Care” that came out earlier this month. The anthem about social anxiety and love received a crazy video treatment with adorably cringe-y green screen that makes it a chuckle-worthy watch. It’s the only video that you’ll find where a waffle cone has Justin Bieber’s head and a horse’s legs.

Listen to “Cross Me” up above.

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Afghanistan beat Pakistan in World Cup warm-up match

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Hashmatullah Shahidi scored 74 from 102 balls to help Afghanistan on their way to victory at Bristol
World Cup warm-up, Bristol
Pakistan 262 (47.5 overs): Babar 112, Malik 44, Nabi 3-46
Afghanistan 263-7 (49.4 overs): Hashmatullah 74*, Hazratullah 49, Wahab 3-46
Afghanistan won by three wickets (Scorecard)
Other World Cup warm-up, Cardiff: South Africa 338-7 (50 overs) beat Sri Lanka 251 all out (42.3 overs) by 87 runs (Scorecard)

Afghanistan beat Pakistan by three wickets in a World Cup warm-up match at Bristol featuring an unbeaten 74 from Hashmatullah Shahidi.

Opener Hazratullah Zazai hit 49 and Mohammad Nabi added 34 to see Afghanistan to victory.

Earlier, Nabi took 3-46 as Pakistan were bowled out for 262 despite a century from Babar Azam.

In the other World Cup warm-up match, South Africa beat Sri Lanka by 87 runs in Cardiff.

Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis top-scored with 88, ably supported by Hashim Amla (65) in a partnership worth 128 for the second wicket following the early dismissal of Aiden Markram for 21.

After both fell in successive overs, Rassie van der Dussen (40) and Andile Phehlukwayo (35) hit close to a run a ball to help South Africa reach 338-7.

Sri Lanka batsman Avishka Fernando had to be carried off on a stretcher when he was injured while fielding in the covers. However, he is still expected to be fit for the World Cup after scans revealed he had suffered only a minor ankle injury.

Sri Lanka began poorly in reply and were reduced to 10-2 inside three overs thanks to two wickets from Lungi Ngidi (2-12).

Dimuth Karunaratne (87) and Angelo Mathews (64) showed resistance but Phehlukwayo took 4-36 to help bowl out Sri Lanka inside 43 overs.

South Africa face West Indies in their second warm-up game at Bristol on Sunday before opening the tournament against hosts England on 30 May.

Sri Lanka meanwhile take on Australia in their final warm-up game at Southampton on Monday before their World Cup opener against New Zealand in Cardiff on Saturday 1 June.

At Bristol, Babar top-scored with 112 to help lead the recovery after Pakistan were reduced to 65-3 early on.

His 102-run partnership with Shoaib Malik anchored the innings but Malik’s eventual dismissal for 44 sparked a collapse, with Pakistan losing their final five wickets for 42 runs.

Afghanistan made a fine start with the bat and were 45-0 after six overs before opener Mohammed Shahzad retired hurt with a hamstring injury.

Some tight bowling from Imad Wasim (2-29) restricted runs in the middle overs. Wahab Riaz (3-46) then took two wickets in the 48th over to give Pakistan hope of victory, but Hashmatullah and Rashid Khan saw Afghanistan home with two balls to spare.

Afghanistan face England at The Oval in their final warm-up game on Monday before their World Cup opener against holders Australia on Saturday, 1 June.

Pakistan meanwhile play Bangladesh in Cardiff on Sunday before taking on West Indies at Trent Bridge in their first World Cup match on Friday, 31 May.

‘Work to do for Pakistan’

Analysis by Test Match Special’s Scott Read

Babar Azam continued his impressive start to his tour of England with an impressive century but it wasn’t enough for Pakistan who are still looking for their first win in England this year.

Afghanistan will leave Bristol for their next warm-up match against England at The Oval on the back of an encouraging performance.

With an impressive spin attack they took the final five wickets for just 42 runs, led by Mujeeb Rahman who opened up the bowling before they unleashed Rashid Khan who fired in some rapid leg-spinners which have the potential of lighting up the World Cup.

The run-chase was anchored superbly by Hashmattullah. On the evidence of today there is work to do for Pakistan ahead of the competition starting.

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Copa del Rey final: Barcelona’s Lionel Messi says Liverpool defeat was one his ‘worst moments’

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Lionel Messi (right) scored 36 goals to help Barcelona win this season’s La Liga title

Lionel Messi said he wants to win the Copa del Rey with Barcelona in order to ease the pain of the Champions League defeat by Liverpool which ranked among the “worst moments of his career”.

Speaking at his first news conference in four years, the 31-year-old forward said he was still thinking about the semi-final loss on 7 May when the Reds overturned a 3-0 first-leg deficit.

“We were hit hard by it,” he said.

“Winning the Copa del Rey will be the best way to end the season.”

The La Liga champions would complete the domestic double if they overcome Valencia on Saturday (20:00 BST), but Messi warned that defeat would mean the team would “feel a lot worse” than they have done.

He added: “We have to apologise for the second half of the match at Liverpool [when they conceded three goals in the 4-3 aggregate loss] not because of the result, but because of how it looked and that we didn’t compete. It was one of the worst experiences in my career.”

The Argentine forward, who also referred to the club’s capitulation to Roma in the Champions League quarter-finals last season, defended coach Ernesto Valverde, stating the players were to blame for the Anfield defeat and added that he wanted the Spaniard to remain at the Nou Camp.

When asked if he himself was considering leaving Barcelona, Messi responded: “No, no, no.

“I have had problems with the national team and I still want to keep trying to win something there. The Champions League exit does not make me lose my desire to be here.”

The club legend could win his seventh Copa del Rey and 21st major trophy with the Catalan giants on Saturday.

Gerard Pique has won three Champions League titles with Barcelona although the last of those came in 2015

In an interview with Spanish publication El Pais, Messi’s team-mate Gerard Pique said the defeat against Liverpool was a “nightmare”.

The 32-year-old defender said: “On a mental level some were affected by what happened in Rome.”

“The first goal came very quickly [in the 15th minute] and suddenly the image of Rome appeared.

“Then they scored two more goals in quick succession and it starts to look too similar to what happened a year ago. It was very tough, it has been very difficult to pull ourselves back up because the days go by and you can’t forget this defeat.”

TEAM NEWS

Barcelona forward Philippe Coutinho is expected to return from injury although he is not guaranteed a starting role as Valverde’s side go for a fifth consecutive Copa del Rey.

Dutch keeper Jasper Cillessen is likely to start with German first choice Marc-Andre ter Stegen still sidelined with a knee problem.

Valencia will be without winger Denis Cheryshev, who also has a knee injury, although he has travelled with the team to Seville’s Benito Villamarin Stadium.

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The future is bright for Ukraine – but first Zelensky must face down the oligarchs, the west and Russia

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Five years ago, the English-language media around the world could not get enough of Ukraine. Its heroic young people were laying down their lives for a European future on the same square in Kiev where their elders had braved the winter cold a decade before in what became known as the Orange Revolution. The president fled, his only legacy being the estate bought with his ill-gotten gains, which now provides an entertaining day out for his fellow-countrymen.

Big bad Russia exploited the chaos to snatch Crimea, then helped foment pro-Moscow resistance in the southeast. Ukraine elected a new president, assistance flooded in from the EU and Nato and the IMF, and – well – the rest was, for the west, a bit of a disappointment. Corruption continued, political reform stuttered, there was no resolution to the armed conflict.  

Which may help to explain why what has happened in Ukraine since the start of this year has received less exposure – I would say, a lot less – than its due. In these five months, Ukraine has held a keenly contested election that was judged by international observers to be free and fair. The winner, who beat the incumbent president by a landslide, was a complete political outsider, who is also a lawyer, a media mogul and a television comedian. Volodymyr Zelensky, whose first language is Russian and who is of Jewish background, was inaugurated this week. The man he defeated, Petro Poroshenko – and who had conceded without a fuss – smiled benevolently as his successor took office.

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Now there are many reasons other than western disappointment as to why Ukraine might not have received the coverage that, in my view, it merited. They include the general jostling for news attention from such dramas as Venezuela, the escalating tension between the US and Iran, Trump generally in the United States, where we are watching the first skirmishes before the 2020 election, and in the UK – well, it’s all Brexit all the time. Plus there were the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka at Easter, which knocked Ukraine’s presidential election clean out of the international news.

But might the difference also be that the narratives of 2004 and 2014 – according to which plucky Ukraine was successfully defying Russia in its pursuit of a European future – rather suited us, while the narrative of spring 2019 maybe not so much? After all, the European Union and the west generally have invested an enormous amount of financial and political capital in Ukraine over the past five years. They had reached a fairly comfortable modus vivendi with Poroshenko and were expecting, until quite a late stage, five more years of the same. Suddenly it is, or it could be, all change.

A corollary of this is that, in so far as Zelensky’s rise has been considered in any detail outside Ukraine, it is invariably with a strong streak of pessimism. Difficulties, even failure, were being forecast before he had begun. And it is true that in many respects he faces an uphill struggle.

One reason, though not the only reason why people voted for him, was disillusionment, even anger, with what they saw as the lack of progress during Poroshenko’s five years. So Zelensky has raised expectations – and these could easily be dashed. People in different parts of Ukraine also voted for him for different reasons – in the east, his pledge to try to end the armed conflict was paramount; in the west of the country, it was more his profile as a modern, outward-looking leader committed to Ukraine’s European future. It may not be possible to please everyone.

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Then there is the likely resistance from vested interests. These start with the oligarchs – those businesspeople who made money in the wake of the Soviet collapse and used it to exert political influence. Unlike in Russia, where Putin clipped their wings almost as soon as he came to power, oligarchs have ruled the roost in Ukraine, with regional power bases, even private militias. Zelensky has vowed to change this – despite claims that he enjoys the protection of an oligarch in the shape of Ihor Kolomoyskyi (who is reported to have returned to Ukraine this week from exile in Israel).

After the oligarchs come those who worked with or for Poroshenko and still-influential politicians, such as Yuliya Tymoshenko, MPs and others with a stake in the existing political system. Some have also drawn a parallel with Armenia, where an outsider, Nikol Pashinyan, led a peaceful revolution a year ago and now, as elected president, faces obstruction from the old regime or, as some say, the “deep state”. Zelensky could also face popular discontent if the economy deteriorates or if, say, there were a flare-up with Russia.

Any or all of these could pose insurmountable obstacles. But Zelensky also has a lot going for him, which tends to be minimised or ignored. He is young, energetic and plugged into modern communications, which is partly how he won the election. He may be a novice politician, but he is not naïve or ill-informed about Ukrainian reality. He ran successful media businesses, and his hit television show, Servant of the People, which brought him to national prominence as a fictional president, resonated with the public precisely because it reflected their own lives.

He also seems to have a shrewd appraisal of where power lies, and a plan. His first act was to announce parliamentary elections ahead of time, and to replace the head of the armed forces. In winning the election so convincingly, Zelensky also overcame his country’s east-west divide, appealing to those with Ukrainian and Russian as their first language, and the many who straddle both. His inaugural speech – delivered, incidentally, mostly in Ukrainian – set out clear priorities, starting with a ceasefire in the east, and played to Ukrainians’ better selves. Rather than having the presidential portrait on their walls, he said, officials should have pictures of their children and consider their future when they took decisions.

Of Ukraine, he also said this: “We must become the Icelanders in soccer, the Israelis in the defence of their native land, the Japanese in technology, and the Swiss in the ability to live with each other in harmony, despite all the differences.” And this underlines something else. It is not only Zelensky who has a lot going for him; despite its poverty, its corruption and its many other faults, Ukraine does, too.

It has a strong sense of national identity that has only been strengthened by the conflict with Russia. It has ancient roots; its own history (distinct from Russia’s), its own language (including its own names for the calendar months which reflect the agrarian year, rather than the Roman names common elsewhere). It has huge economic, especially agricultural, potential, and an original, sometimes quirky sense of style, reflected in a new chain of shops – Vse Svoi (all our own) – selling only Ukrainian designs and brands.

If Zelensky can capitalise on all this, and stay honest, he may lay the foundations for a modern Ukraine, that is neither a client of the west, nor an enemy of Russia, but its own country, in its own place. For that to happen, however, it is not just Ukraine that will need to take greater responsibility, nor Russia that will have to recognise Ukraine as a grown-up, independent country, but Europe and the west that will need to stop trying to claim Ukraine as “ours”.

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NCT 127’s ‘Superhuman’ Is A Stunning Achievement

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In today’s oversaturated Korean pop landscape, the struggle to stand out — to be seen, heard, and remembered — among the daily influx of content is constant. Sure, it’s a great (and expensive) time to be a K-pop fan, but few songs rise above the noise: new groups debut, old groups come back, and everything starts to sound the same — a blur of trop-pop, house, and hip-hop that often sounds good, though not always memorable.

So when a group truly shoots their shot with something unexpected, you take notice. With “Superhuman,” NCT 127 is giving it all they’ve got.

The 10-member group — consisting of Taeyong, Taeil, Johnny, Yuta, Doyoung, Jaehyun, Jungwoo, Mark, and Haechan (member Winwin is not actively promoting with the group) — is known for their swagger and charisma. Their sound has one defining feature: a heavy bassline (the dirtier, the better). And their rappers, Taeyong and Mark, have historically taken center stage, preferring hard-hitting beats over melody on previous singles “Regular,” “Limitless,” and “Simon Says.” But “Superhuman” marks the next evolution of all that.

The nu-disco song pulses with energy, from the isolated harmonies that open and close the track — an old SM Entertainment flourish that groups like TVXQ, Shinwa, and SHINee have all employed — to the ever-changing synths that progress with such vigor, and the deep, dirty groove that hammers into your soul. The track is shining, shimmering splendor, and the futuristic visual crackles with the same intensity:

“Superhuman” is the lead single off their latest EP, We Are Superhuman. The release features five additional tracks, including the previously released “Highway To Heaven,” an anthemic synth-pop dream that seems primed to win over casual listeners and new fans; “Jet Lag,” a jazzy, R&B jam that shows off NCT’s tight harmonies and some mellifluous vocal layering; and the standout “Fool,” a smooth and playful R&B song with flirtatious spoken-word ad-libs that is NCT 127 at their very best.

We Are Superhuman isn’t a departure for the ambitious group; instead, it’s an expansion. They are finally playing to their strengths as vocalists and as performers, while also (smartly) playing into SM’s strengths as a genre-defining force in K-pop. As such, “Superhuman” feels distinctly retro and modern. It’s taking from cues from SM’s old playbook and reshaping them in NCT’s image — a little less stable, a lot more interesting.

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French Open: Nick Kyrgios pulls out of main draw with illness

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Nick Kyrgios forfeited his second-round match with Norwegian Casper Ruud at the Italian Open last week
2019 French Open
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 26 May-9 June
Coverage: Live text and radio commentary on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app.

Australian world number 36 Nick Kyrgios pulled out of the French Open with illness on Friday.

Kyrgios, who was due to play British number two Cameron Norrie in the first round, is said to have been “wiped out” by the bug.

It comes just days after the 24-year-old posted on social media saying the competition “absolutely sucks” compared to other Grand Slam events.

World number 41 Norrie will now face French qualifier Elliot Benchetrit.

Benchetrit, 20, ranked 273rd in the world, lost to compatriot Gael Monfils in the first round at Roland Garros last year – his only main-draw match at a Grand Slam.

Norrie, 23, said he was disappointed not to play Kyrgios, describing the former world number 13 as a “good mate”.

But he added: “He’s a hell of a player, with a ridiculous serve, so it is nice to play a qualifier – someone who is supposedly not as good in ranking. But I will go out and control what I can control.”

Last week Kyrgios admitted “emotions got the better of me” after he forfeited his second-round match with Norwegian Casper Ruud at the Italian Open.

He also pulled out of last year’s French Open with an elbow injury and has never reached the second week in Paris.

Britain’s Norrie is joined by compatriots Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans in the men’s singles draw, while British number one Johanna Konta is seeded 26th in the women’s draw.

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Abbie McManus: England defender joins Manchester United Women after Manchester City exit

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Abbie McManus helped Manchester City to the Women’s FA Cup prior to her departure

England defender Abbie McManus has signed a pre-contract agreement with Manchester United Women after leaving rivals Manchester City Women.

The 26-year-old had been with City for 12 years and left having helped them to a domestic cup double this season, including the Women’s FA Cup final.

A childhood United fan, she now joins the Red Devils after they won the Women’s Championship this season.

“My childhood dream has come true,” McManus said on her Twitter account.

McManus made 111 appearances and scored three goals during her time with United’s cross-city rivals.

She has been included in England’s 23-player squad for this summer’s Women’s World Cup, which begins on 7 June.

BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame this summer to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women’s sport available to watch across the BBC this summer, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women’s sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.

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Mauricio Pochettino’s joke backfires as Real Madrid release official statement

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Pochettino has four years left on his contract at Spurs

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino’s apparent joke about where his team would stay in Madrid for the Champions League final appears to have backfired – and prompted Real Madrid to release an official statement.

The Argentine, who has been linked with a move to the Bernabeu in the past, was discussing Spurs’ plans for the final against Liverpool at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on 1 June.

“Ahead of the final, we will train at Valdebebas [Real’s training complex] and sleep in a nearby hotel,” he told El Partidazo de Cope.

“I asked Florentino [Perez, Real’s president] to let us sleep in the sports centre, but he told me that I can only sleep there when I become the coach of Real Madrid.”

Cue a “Comunicado Oficial” from the 13-time European champions, who re-appointed manager Zinedine Zidane in March.

Real said they were “surprised by the demonstrations” made by Pochettino about a “supposed request” to stay at their training ground.

“Real Madrid wants to make it clear that it is outright false that this request was produced,” they said.

They said they had “always shown its absolute availability” to meet the requests of Uefa, Spurs and Liverpool and requests were only for “the use of the training camps of the Ciudad Real Madrid and its changing rooms”.

Tottenham will be training at Real on 30 and 31 May and Liverpool will use the facilities on the morning of 1 June.

“At no time has our club been requested that these teams could be accommodated in the facilities of Ciudad Real Madrid,” they added.

Pochettino, who has four years left on his contract, has previously hinted he could leave Spurs if they win the European Cup.

He has also said he would be “stupid” to stay at the club if they expect similar levels of success without changing the way they are run – having not signed a player since 31 January 2018.

But he told the Spanish radio show: “I will not make decisions about my future [until] after the final, it is important to know what the club’s future plan is.

“Real Madrid? I have no other goals if I am not training Tottenham; football takes you where you deserve.”

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