Sports Thiem feeling optimistic again after Madrid boost
Madrid turns focus from Super League to Champions League
MADRID — Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane wants nothing to do with the Super League. Last week, the Spanish club was doing everything possible to make the controversial breakaway competition happen, attracting attention to it and trying to convince everyone it was a good idea. Now, on the eve of the Champions League semifinals against Chelsea, Zidane is working hard to steer away from it. “What we have to do is to compete and to only think about playing soccer. That’s it,” Zidane said Monday. “If we start to think about everything that is being said ... it would make it worse. We can only think about the match. The referee will do his job. We have to compete as always.
MADRID — Dominic Thiem is leaving Madrid with his confidence boosted despite falling short of the final.
Thiem returned to action at the Madrid Open after taking a break to recharge ahead of the French Open later this month.
He couldn’t get past the semifinals in the Spanish capital, losing to Alexander Zverev in two sets. But it was further than Thiem had imagined reaching after a difficult start to his year.
“In general, I’m super happy with the week,” Thiem said. “I would have never expected to be in the semifinals, to play in the semifinals against a player like him. I cannot complain about anything.”
Benzema denies Chelsea to remind Perez of Real Madrid's proud Champions League pedigree
After falling behind to Christian Pulisic's opener, the 13-time champions of Europe were dragged back into the semi-final tie by their French forwardAfter a remarkable week in which Real Madrid president Florentino Perez tried to change the future of football, it took a brilliant goal from Karim Benzema to snap los Blancos back to reality on Tuesday night and remind them that there is plenty to fight for in the present.
The fourth-ranked Austrian hasn’t won a tournament since breaking through with his first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open in September. He then lost in the early rounds in Doha and Dubai, and decided it was time to take a break.
Thiem said the coronavirus pandemic also played a part in his decision to take time off — because it was "mentally a little bit more demanding to be in a bubble, to play in front of empty seats” — but his lack of motivation played a greater role.
“The main reason was that I won the first major, that I reached basically my lifetime goal,” Thiem said. “So, of course, it’s tough to just continue like before. That was the main reason, that I just had to, well, think about it, regroup myself. That took a little bit of time.”
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Revitalized Thiem cruises into 3rd round at Madrid Open
MADRID — Looking fresh again after taking a few weeks off, U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem cruised into the third round of the Madrid Open with a comfortable 6-1, 6-3 win over American Marcos Giron on Tuesday. Thiem was in control from the start at the “Magic Box” centre court in what was his first match since March. The fourth-ranked Austrian was coming off early round losses in Doha and Dubai and felt like he needed a break. “For my game, I need 100% intensity and 100% energy,” the 27-year-old Thiem said. “I’m not the guy who can serve through a match or who can play with a little bit intensity and is still winning. I need 100% in every aspect of my game.
He said he wasn't really sure how he would perform on his return but was pleasantly surprised with his game. He started in Madrid with a couple of straight-set wins over Marcos Giron and Alex de Minaur, then rallied to defeat John Isner in three sets to reach the semifinals.
“It was a way better result than I expected,” the 27-year-old Thiem said. “Playing-wise and physically wise I expected to be in a decent shape. But, of course, there are still many things to improve just to keep all intensity for all the week, day in, day out ... But I’m very optimistic that every week I’m playing now it’s going to improve. Especially for the confidence it was important to get a great result here.”
Thiem will next play in Rome before returning to the French Open, where he was a finalist in 2018 and 2019.
“Of course, there are many things to improve for next week and then for the weeks after, as well,” he said. “Just try to get to Rome, get some good practices in there, then hopefully play even better than here in Madrid.”
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Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press
Madrid wins to keep up pressure on Atlético in La Liga .
MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid is not letting up in its quest to catch Atlético Madrid and repeat as Spanish league champion. Madrid won 4-1 at Granada on Thursday to stay within range of leader Atlético entering the final two rounds. Luka Modric and Rodrigo scored in the first half and Álvaro Odriozola and Karim Benzema added goals in the second to leave the defending champions two points behind Atlético, which won 2-1 at Real Sociedad on Wednesday to close in on its first league title since 2014. “We will keep putting pressure on Atlético and hope that it doesn’t win one of its last two matches,” Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said.