Len­non: No guard of hon­our shows lack of class

● Thiem wins as Djokovic gets walkover

The Scotsman - - SPORT - By STEPHEN HAL­L­I­DAY

Neil Len­non be­lieves Rangers are guilty of lack­ing class by de­clin­ing to pro­vide a pre­match guard of hon­our for Celtic at Ibrox to­mor­row.

Celtic in­terim man­ager Len­non in­sisted the Scot­tish cham­pi­ons, who clinched an eighth suc­ces­sive ti­tle last week­end, would have lined up to ap­plaud their ri­vals if the roles were re­versed.

The Rangers board took the de­ci­sion not to ob­serve the cus­tom ahead of the fi­nal Old Firm show­down of the sea­son. Rangers man­ager Steven Ger­rard was not con­sulted on the mat­ter but said he backed his board’s call.

Len­non, while declar­ing it is not a “ma­jor is­sue” for him per­son­ally, ex­pressed his dis­may that Rangers will not be mak­ing a pub­lic show of recog­ni­tion for his play­ers.

“It’s a break from tra­di­tion,” said Len­non .“I think we would have done it if the shoe had been on the other foot. But it’s not a ma­jor is­sue for me.

“It would have been a touch of class if they did it. I’m dis­ap­pointed they are not. Celtic would have done it.”

Len­non dis­missed the idea that any per­ceived dis­re­spect by Rangers would be an added in­cen­tive for Celtic who have lost just one of the last 14 Old Firm fix­tures.

“You don’t need any ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion for this game,” he added. “We’ve had all the mo­ti­va­tion for the last eight years and we are still go­ing strong. The mo­ti­va­tion is to go out there, play well, play strong and win t he game. That’s your mo­ti­va­tion. You are the cham­pi­ons, so play like cham­pi­ons. That’s what I’m ex­pect­ing on Sun­day.”

Len­non, mean­while, has de­scribed online ru­mours over Leigh Grif­fiths’ sit­u­a­tion at Celtic as “non­sense”. The Scot­land striker has been side­lined since De­cem­ber as he con­fronts per­sonal is­sues

Roger Fed­erer wasted t wo match points in a 3- 6, 7- 6, 6- 4 loss to Do­minic Thiem in the quar­ter- fi­nals of the Madrid Open yes­ter­day.

The fifth- seeded Thiem out­lasted Fed­erer in the sec­ond­set tiebreak and broke him twice in the third set to close out the match in more than two hours.

Thiem, run­ner- up in Madrid in the last two sea­sons, will next face world No 1 No­vak Djokovic, who didn’t have to play his quar­ter- fi­nal match af­ter Marin Cilic with­drew from the tour­na­ment be­cause of food poi­son­ing.

The Madrid Open was Fed­erer’s first clay- court tour­na­ment in three years. The fourth seed skipped the clay swing the past t wo sea­sons to re­main fit for the rest of the cam­paign. He de­cided to re­turn this year in prepa­ra­tion for his first French Open ap­pear­ance since 2015.

The 37- year- old Fed­erer got off to a great start against Thiem at the Magic Box cen­tre court, break­ing the Aus­trian’s serve early and cruis­ing to a first- set win. He squan­dered five break points in the sec­ond and then had match points at 8- 7 and 10- 9 in the tiebreaker be­fore Thiem forced the de­cid­ing set by con­vert­ing his sixth set point.

Thiem broke Fed­erer for the first time in the third game of the third set, con­vert­ing on his ninth break op­por­tu­nity of the match. Fed­erer got back on serve at 4- 4, but started his next game 0- 40 and couldn’t re­cover. Thiem then served out for the vic­tory, con­vert­ing on his sec­ond match point.

Thiem, look­ing to win his third ti­tle of the year af­ter vic­to­ries in Barcelona and In­dian Wells, has won the last two matches he played against Djokovic, who got the day off be­cause of Cilic’s with­drawal.

“It was sup­posed to be def­i­nitely a good match,” said Djokovic, who has played only four sets this week. “I went back on the court, trained for an­other hour and got a good sweat in. Happy that I’m go­ing to be fresh for my semi- fi­nal.”

The top- seeded Serb is seek­ing a third Madrid Open ti­tle, and his sec­ond of the sea­son af­ter win­ning the Aus­tralian Open.

0 Roger Fed­erer on his way to a 3- 6, 7- 6, 6- 4 de­feat yes­ter­day.

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