Lennon: No guard of honour shows lack of class
● Thiem wins as Djokovic gets walkover
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.