Zverev denies domestic abuse allegations: ‘Not who I am’

LONDON — German tennis player Alexander Zverev gave a more detailed denial of domestic abuse allegations made by a former girlfriend, saying Friday “that’s not who I am.”

Olga Sharypova said last month that the 23-year-old Zverev tried to strangle her with a pillow before last year’s U.S. Open.

The seventh-ranked Zverev was asked about it during a news conference ahead of the ATP Finals that begin Sunday in London. He has previously denied the accusations on social media and in brief comments, but elaborated Friday.

“These accusations are just unfounded and untrue,” he said. “We had our ups and downs but the way our relationship is described in the public is not how it was. That’s not who I am, that’s not how I was raised by my parents. That’s not just simply who I am as a person.

“It makes me sad that the impact of such false accusations can have on the sport, on the outside world, on myself as well. I truly apologize that the focus has shifted away from the sport.”

Zverev was looking down toward his phone on his lap as he spoke.

Sharypova initially accused an unnamed ex-boyfriend of abuse on Instagram. But in an interview with Russian sports website Championat, Sharypova said Zverev attempted to strangle her with a pillow and hit her head against a wall at a New York hotel before the U.S. Open in 2019. She said she feared for her life at the time.

In a Racquet magazine interview published this month, Sharypova said Zverev was emotionally and physically abusive to her.

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Verstappen best on a Turkey track Hamilton calls ‘ice rink’

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was fastest in both practices for the Turkish Grand Prix on a slippery track compared to “an ice rink” by Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton on Friday.

Verstappen was .4 seconds quicker than Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc and .58 ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in the second practice. Bottas’ teammate, Hamilton, was .85 back in fourth place on a resurfaced circuit low on grip and which last hosted a Formula One race in 2011.

“It was a little bit of a disaster today, to be honest … it’s like an ice rink out there,” said Hamilton, who felt organizers wasted “millions” needlessly resurfacing it.

“It’s terrifying the whole way around,” Hamilton said. “It’s almost like there are wet patches all over. So (when) you’re accelerating, it goes so fast. That’s because you’re way, way below the (tire) temperature window.”

But Bottas, who did off-season rally driving last winter back in Finland, appreciated the challenge.

“For sure it (rally driving) helped. It was quite far from the normal driving style we’re used to in Formula One. I had fun, actually,” he said. “It was pretty extreme the way the tarmac was.”

Hamilton is looking to secure his seventh F1 title and equal Michael Schumacher’s record. He is the runaway championship leader and needs to finish ahead of only Bottas on Sunday to win the title.

Verstappen’s best lap was 1 minute, 28.33 seconds, about seven seconds better than his fastest time in the first session.

But although times improved as tires got warmer in the afternoon, Verstappen’s leading mark was still three seconds slower than Sebastian Vettel’s pole position for Red Bull nine years ago.

Verstappen was even farther behind Juan Pablo Montoya’s track record of 1:24.77, when the inaugural race was held in 2005.


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ONE: Belingon absorbs brutal TKO loss

FILE PHOTO—Kevin Belingon 

MANILA, Philippines—Former champion Kevin Belingon suffered a brutal technical knockout loss bowing to John Lineker in their bantamweight bout in the main event of ONE: Inside the Matrix III Friday at Singapore Indoor Stadium.

The no.1 ranked bantamweight in the division, Belingon had his early moments landing Team Lakay’s spinning heel kicks but Lineker had a punch or two ready for every attack the Filipino sent him.

Lineker, the no.5 in the division, then continued his body assault in the second round and ultimately landed a cracking right uppercut that sent Belingon to the canvas, prompting the referee to stop the bout 1:16 into the second round.

“Belingon’s a very strong opponent but I did train hard to be here tonight,” said Lineker (33-9), who’s now won four of his last five fights and his second straight in ONE.

Lineker then proceeded to call out bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes for a potential title bout.

“I want to be the champion, Bibiano I’m coming for you baby!”

The loss marked Belingon’s third straight, the previous two were against Fernandes, as he dropped to 20-8.

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