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'We're the Messi and Ronaldo of tennis' Federer relishes Nadal rivalry

‘We’re the Messi and Ronaldo of tennis’ Federer relishes Nadal rivalry

London, Jul2: Roger Federer marked the 10th anniversary of his epic Wimbledon final loss to Rafael Nadal by claiming his rivalry with the Spaniard is the equal of the battle between football superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Federer will start his bid for a ninth Wimbledon title against Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic on Centre Court tomorrow.
But, on the eve of the Swiss star’s 20th Wimbledon, the defending champion’s mind drifted back to the evening he was dethroned by Nadal in a classic final widely regarded as the greatest match ever played.

Federer had beaten Nadal in two previous Wimbledon finals before the Spaniard knocked him off his perch in 2008 with a five-set thriller lasting almost five hours and late into the evening in front of an enthralled global audience of millions.
It was the match that cemented Federer and Nadal as the giants of their generation and accelerated the sport’s resurgence as a multi-million pound industry.

Nadal’s triumph — his first at Wimbledon — fuelled an epic rivalry that reminds Federer of the way Barcelona striker Messi and Real Madrid forward Ronaldo have slugged it out for the top prizes in football.
“Sure, yeah. They have a long-standing rivalry. I have the same with Rafa,” Federer said when asked if he could see similarities between the rivalries.

“They’re very different from one another. I guess there’s some similarities there as well.
“As similar as we are, Rafa and myself, we’re still very different on many levels. I think it’s pretty much the same for them.
“Obviously in football, it’s different because you’re only as good as your team. The pitch is huge, with 11 of them running around.
“With us, we’re a little more in control, let’s be honest. I hope I can control it a bit better than they could.” Like Messi and Ronaldo, both Federer and Nadal have showed astonishing longevity, splitting the last six Grand Slam titles with three each.
Federer now has 20 major titles to his name, while Nadal clinched his 17th by winning the recent French Open.
– Painful memories –

Nadal arrives at Wimbledon as world number one, with defending champion Federer one place behind him.
And, while Messi and Ronaldo have flopped out of the World Cup in Russia, with Argentina and Portugal both eliminated on Saturday, Federer and Nadal could easily clash in 10th anniversary final reunion later this month.
For Federer, that would bring back painful memories of one of the most difficult defeats of his glittering career.
“I think it was one of the hardest losses I ever had, no doubt about it. I was so close to making it six in a row,” Federer said.
“It was a great match for many reasons. It also made me more human potentially, the loss under the circumstances.
“We go back in time with Rafa. I’m sure that we’ll talk about it when we’re older in the rocking chair.
“We’ll talk about how it all was. I’m sure I took something away from it, but mostly positive, even though the moment was pretty hard naturally.” Before he can contemplate avenging that loss, Federer’s immediate aim is to avoid a first round wobble against world number 57 Lajovic.
Despite all his experience, playing the first match on Centre Court is still an anxious moment for Federer, who skipped the clay-court season to stay fresh for Wimbledon.

“I think it remains a little bit nerve-wracking, in all honesty. It’s a big deal,” said Federer, who won the Wimbledon warm-up at Stuttgart, but lost in the Halle final to Borna Coric last weekend.
“I mean, besides the history and the mythical place that it is, you cannot also practice on it.
“When you come out, there’s a bit of uncertainty for both players, from a very quiet week and site that we’ve seen this week, it’s just packed everywhere.
“The entire atmosphere changes at Wimbledon, and you realise the eyes are on you. It’s a massive honour.”

India falter in shoot-off again to lose second straight CT final to Australia

Champions Trophy hockey 2018: India falter in shoot-off again to lose second straight CT final to Australia

Breda (Netherlands), July 2: India’s quest for their maiden Champions Trophy hockey title remained unaccomplished as they lost 1-3 to defending champions Australia via penalty shoot-off in the summit clash of the 37th and final edition of the prestigious tournament here today.

India came agonisingly close to securing their maiden Champions Trophy triumph, only to be denied by a valiant show by Australia goalkeeper Tyler Lovell.
The match went into the shoot-off after both the teams were locked at 1-1 in regulation time.
But the Kookaburra custodian produced a stellar show in the shoot-off, denying Sardar Singh, Harmanpreet Singh and Lalit Upadhayay while Manpreet Singh was the only scorer for India.

Australia, on the other hand, converted their first two efforts in the shoot-off through Aran Zalewski and Daniel Beale before Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh denied Matthew Swann and Tom Craig.
But Jeremy Edwards converted the last try to hand Australia their record 15th Champions Trophy title.
But the Indians can take heart from the fact that they matched Australia stick to stick in the entire 60 minutes, even dominated the proceedings for a better part of the game but the strikers failed to utilise the numerous chances in front of an agile Lovell.

It was Australia who took the lead in the 24th minute through Blake Govers who converted their only penalty corner.
But it was India who had better chances initially in the form of two back-to-back penalty corners inside the first 10 minutes but they wasted both.

The Indians continued their attacking instinct and in the 13th minute, young Dilpreet Singh’s hit was blocked by an Australian defender before it fell on the path of SV Sunil who failed to control the ball.

India secured their third penalty corner in the 18th minute but Harmanpreet’s flick was blocked by the Australian defence as another opportunity went abegging.
In the 24th minute, Sreejesh pulled off a brilliant save to deny Aaron Kleinschmidt but from the resultant move Australia secured their only short corner and Govers made no mistake to give his side the lead.
Just a minute before half time, Sreejesh evicted a fine save from Zaleski’s effort as Australia went into the breather leading by a solitary goal.

Three minutes into the third quarter, India earned another penalty corner but it also failed to yield the desired result.
Four minutes later, Mandeep Singh struck the post from close range.
Manpreet was then denied by Lovell from close range after being fed by Harmanpreet’s pass. But from the resultant move Vivek scored after getting a deflection from Manpreet as India levelled the score.

After that it was all India in the fourth and final quarter when Harendra Singh’s men went for the kill.
But luck was not in their side once again as Mandeep’s shot in the 45th minute was brilliant kept away by Lovell.
Lovell once again came to Australia’s rescue in the 53rd minute, saving Dilpreet’s shot from close range with his extended right foot.

Three minutes from the final hooter, Manpreet failed to get his stick to Sunil’s pass from close range as match went into shoot-off, where Australia came out stronger.
While India had to be contend with their second consecutive silver medal, hosts Netherlands took away the bronze beating Olympic champions Argentina 2-0 in the third-fourth place match.

Belgium finished fifth after beating Pakistan 2-1 in the penalty shoot-off after both the teams were levelled at 2-2 at the end of 60 minutes.

Manika, Sathiyan guide Smashers to UTT title

Manika, Sathiyan guide Smashers to UTT title

Kolkata, July 1: India’s golden girl Manika Batra and G Sathiyan stamped their class, guiding Dabang Smashers to the CEAT Ultimate Table Tennis title with a 11-7 win over Falcons TTC in the final here tonight.
Manika and Sathiyan’s power-packed performances helped the Smashers topple defending champions Falcons TTC and also pocket a whopping Rs 1 crore prize money in front of a full house.

Riding on a brilliant start that saw the Smashers jump to a solid 7-2 lead after just three matches, captain Sathiyan recorded a thumping 2-1 victory over Alvaro Robles to bring the contest to a premature end.
Sathiyan won the first set handsomely and led 5-0 in the second. But Spain’s Robles pulled back to draw level and make it 1-1. World No. 44 Sathiyan, however, had the last laugh, winning the third and the crucial 11th game point to seal the victory for the Smashers.

Earlier, 23-year-old Manika led the charge, downing World No. 30 Matilda Ekholm 3-0 (11-8, 11-10, 11-9). The 2018 Commonwealth Games double-gold medallist dominated her Swedish opponent, claiming points with a series of blistering smashes.
Manika picked up the Indian player of the league award for her outstanding performance through the season. She won 5 matches and lost 2.

World No. 27 Yoshida Masaki extended Smashers lead with a 2-1 victory over Sanil Shetty. Masaki exhibited great technique and control to claim the first two sets 11-8, 11-8. But Shetty went back for broke and claimed the last set to corner one vital point.

Sathiyan and Sakura Mori promptly paired up to pick 2 more game points, getting the better of Sanil Shetty and Bernadette Szocs in the mixed doubles clash.

Falcons’ captain and last year’s MVP Liam Pitchford brought his side back to life, beating Belgium’s Cedric Nuytinck 2-1 in an exhilarating contest. He, however, yielded a vital point, losing the second set 5-11 which proved critical in the end.

Romania’s Szocs, who has quietly been winning matches for Falcons, then overcame young Adriana Diaz to narrow the lead. But the 17-year-old Puerto Rican also pulled one point in the third set to prepare the stage for Sathiyan.

France's Mbappe hailed as new global superstar

FIFA World Cup 2018: France’s Mbappe hailed as new global superstar

Kazan Arena (Russia), July 1: France players and the world’s press hailed Kylian Mbappe as an emerging superstar after the 19-year-old eclipsed Lionel Messi in a match that felt like the passing of a torch to a new generation.
Mbappe’s speed and power ruthlessly exposed Argentina’s defence in Kazan in a thrilling 4-3 victory on Saturday that re-established France among the World Cup favourites.
As one number 10 trudged off — the player wearing an Argentina shirt with Messi’s name on — another in the blue of France took the plaudits.
“Move over, Messi, a new global superstar is born at the World Cup,” was the headline in the Sunday Times in Britain.
“In this game, the Messi was him,” French sports daily L’Equipe said above a photograph of Mbappe celebrating. “He showed his talent to the world and overshadowed Lionel Messi.” The double strike made the boy from the Paris suburbs the first teenager since a 17-year-old Pele to score twice in a World Cup game.
The Brazilian legend tweeted: “Congratulations, @KMbappe. 2 goals in a World Cup so young puts you in great company!” “He’s got a lot more talent than me,” France midfielder Paul Pogba said of Mbappe.
“And he’s not going to stop there. He’s got so much talent.” – Baby Bleus –
Argentina were simply swept aside by a new generation, and not just Mbappe — another of France’s scorers, Benjamin Pavard, is only 22 himself.
“When you have players having a day like Mbappe had today, it’s very difficult to stop them,” said Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli.
With an average age of 25, a France side lacking major tournament experience were feeling the flak after three underwhelming group-stage matches reaped one penalty, an own goal and only one scored from open play.
But coach Didier Deschamps’ “baby Bleus” silenced the detractors with the scintillating win over the 2014 finalists that put France back on course for a tilt at emulating France’s 1998 Cup-winning exploits, when Deschamps was captain.

Mbappe was not even born when France won their only World Cup, on home soil.
“I can’t really take it in,” said Pavard, a defender so unaccustomed to scoring he did not know how to celebrate his superb strike.

“I was running around everywhere, I didn’t know what to do.” Mbappe will be unleashed next on Uruguay, whose steely defence should provide a far sterner test than the shambolic Argentine rearguard.
It may be too early to talk of lifting the trophy in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on July 15, but Deschamps was bubbling with excitement.
“I experienced a lot of great joy and happiness as a France player, and the reason I took this job was to feel the same again,” said Deschamps.
“The lads are young, they have character. As the man in charge, especially when things go wrong, I’m very proud of this team and very happy for them.”

Williams, preparing for the start of Wimbledon on Monday, admitted she was disappointed the story had gone public.

Williams calls for fair treatment over doping test

London, July 1:  Serena Williams demanded fair treatment from US doping chiefs after the former Wimbledon champion was subjected to a series of tests in June.
Williams arrived at Wimbledon this week on the heels of a report that she was unhappy at excessive targeting from US Anti-Doping Agency drug testers.

A Deadspin article revealed Williams’ anger about an unannounced test in June where the tester refused to leave her Florida house.
The tester visited outside Williams’ specified ‘whereabouts window’ and found her not at home.
No athlete is obliged to comply with a testing visit if it is not made during the 60-minute window for which the athlete identifies their whereabouts in advance each day.

The incident was made public after WTA chief Steve Simon was overheard leaving a message on Williams’ answerphone at an airport.
Williams, preparing for the start of Wimbledon on Monday, admitted she was disappointed the story had gone public.

But the seven-time Wimbledon champion also made it clear she didn’t expect to have been tested so often this year.
“It’s unfortunate but I guess when you’re in my position, you mention my name, people overhear things and they want to tell the press. It’s something I’ve dealt with for a long time. That’s okay,” she told a press conference on Sunday.

“I actually thought the article was interesting. I didn’t know I was tested so much more than everyone else. I do know I’m always getting tested all the time, no matter where I’m ranked.
“I didn’t realise it was such a discrepancy, at least with the American players. It would be impossible for me not to feel some sort of way about that.” Concerned at being tested more than her fellow American players, Williams revealed she had spoken to USADA chiefs.

The 36-year-old had been tested five times, compared to one or none from some of her compatriots.
Athletes returning from a long absence are often the subject of repeated drug tests, as they are seen as part of a higher-risk category than athletes in the flow of regular competition.

But, calling for equal treatment, the 23-time Grand Slam winner said: “I had a conversation with the lead guy with USADA. I think he was mentioned, as well.
“I sat on player council for 12 plus years. Normally it goes on ranking. I get it even if I’m No. 1. It goes on that number for ranking for 12 months. In January that 12 months for me would have been over.

“How is it I’m getting tested five times in June? It’s only June, I’ve been tested five times. I’m okay with that.
“Literally verbatim I said, I’m going with that, as long as everyone is being treated equally. That’s all I care about.
“I despise having people in our sport that aren’t being honest. I’m totally okay with testing and I encourage it.

“What I want to know is everyone is getting tested, that we are really working to keep this sport clean.
“Tennis has given me so much. It’s such an amazing sport. I feel like equality, that’s all I’ve been preaching, it’s all about equality.

“If that’s testing everyone five times, let’s do it. Let’s be a part of it. It’s just about being equal and not centering one person out.
“Just due to the numbers, it looks like I’m being pushed out. Just test everyone equally.”

Harry Kane
Harry Kane says Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo both inspire him.

FIFA World Cup 2018: England’s Kane says he can score in every World Cup game

Repino (Russia), July 1: England captain Harry Kane believes he can score every time he sets foot on the pitch in Russia after netting five goals in his first two World Cup appearances.
Kane leads the race for the Golden Boot but was kept in reserve by Gareth Southgate for a 1-0 defeat to Belgium that meant the Three Lions finished second in Group G, to keep him fresh for England’s last-16 clash with Colombia on Tuesday.

However, Kane is sure he will pick up where he left off in Moscow after scoring a hat-trick against Panama in his last outing.

“Maybe if I’d played against Belgium and didn’t score, I’d be thinking, ‘I didn’t score in the last game’. But I’m coming off the back of a hat-trick and I’m ready to go in a very important game for us against Colombia,” Kane told Britain’s Sunday newspapers.

“At the moment I think I can score every time we play. Especially when balls are just dropping in for you and things are going for you. You can’t wait to get out there.”

Kane dismissed suggestions he had put pressure on Southgate to play against Belgium to further his chances of winning the Golden Boot.
The Tottenham striker’s odds of winning the prize for the World Cup’s top goalscorer were slashed when Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal were eliminated by Uruguay on Saturday, leaving the world player of the year one short of Kane’s tally.

But Kane insists it is lifting the World Cup rather than individual honours than remains his priority.
“The Golden Boot would be great but I’m still there — and if we’re in the tournament longer it gives me a greater opportunity,” he added.

“My target isn’t the Golden Boot. The target is to win the tournament. That’s always been the target. If the Golden Boot comes along with that then perfect, but the target is to help the team.

“If my goals help the team, brilliant. If not I’ll be running round, working hard, trying to get assists. And that’s all I can do.”

FIFA World Cup 2018 : Indian soccer fan killed in car crash Russia

FIFA World Cup 2018 : Indian soccer fan killed in car crash Russia

Moscow, Jul 1: An Indian soccer fan, who was in Russia for the World Cup, has been killed in a car crash near the tournament host city Sochi, an Indian official said today, the first reported death of a FIFA visitor in the country.
The accident took place yesterday when Portugal was trounced by Uruguay in one of the first games of the knockout stages of the tournament.

An Indian citizen was killed in the accident in the Kuban region, an Indian Embassy official told PTI over phone.
The official said that the Embassy is in touch with the victim’s family. The mission is also helping the family to transport the body to India.

The passenger car and a bus collided on the Adler-Krasnaya Polyana route around 6:50 am yesterday. The Russian driver and one of the passengers of the car, a citizen of India, died, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported.
It identified the Indian victim as Aditya Ranjan.

The body will be sent to India after completing all formalities, including an autopsy tomorrow, the report added.
The condition of another Indian who was injured in the accident is stable.

FIFA World Cup 2018 : Defensive solidity as important to Brazil as Neymar, Coutinho

FIFA World Cup 2018 : Defensive solidity as important to Brazil as Neymar, Coutinho

Sochi (Russia), Jul 1:  Neymar may well be the center of attention as Brazil chase a record sixth World Cup triumph in Russia.
But if the South Americans successfully emulate the class of 1958 by winning a World Cup on European soil, there is a strong likelihood that their rock-solid defense will have something to do with it.

In any World Cup, it is the exploits of the goal-scorers who provide most of the memories for the highlights reels.
But it is a fact that the trophy is usually won by the team with the best defense.

Germany conceded just four in seven games in 2014, and Spain let in just two in 2010, the same tally as Italy’s victorious squad in 2006.

So while Neymar will continue to hog the limelight, the good news for coach Tite is that there is plenty more to his side than the Paris Saint-Germain forward as they prepare to take on Mexico tomorrow.

“In football, there is always one player who gets spoken about more. But you need to have a very good team,” said Casemiro, the formidable Real Madrid defensive midfielder, this week.
“It is inevitable that people will say the player we have who is above average is Neymar, but we cannot forget that we have other great players.”

The flamboyance of the Brazil teams which lit up the 1982 and 1986 World Cups, when the likes of Zico and Socrates delighted fans but ultimately failed to deliver, has long since been replaced by pragmatism.

The World Cup-winning Brazil teams of 1994 and 2002 had plenty of attacking talent but owed their success as much to defensive steel.

In 2002, only England scored against Brazil in the knockout stages, a solid back line providing the foundation for Ronaldo to get the goals that won his country a fifth World Cup.

This Brazil team is constructed on the similarly formidable defensive ground, with just eight goals conceded in 28 matches after the 2-0 win over Serbia on Wednesday.

“We have a very balanced squad, intelligent, and composed when we have to be,” said center-back Thiago Silva, who headed in Brazil’s second goal against the Serbians.
– Streetwise –
Neymar, and especially Philippe Coutinho at the moment, provide the spark, but around them, there are enough streetwise players to ensure this Brazil should not suffer a collapse even close to the scale of the 7-1 against Germany four years ago.

“In defensive positions, it is not just four of us plus one holding midfielder,” said Casemiro.
“Brazil’s defensive strength starts from Gabriel (Jesus), then with Neymar and Willian. All 11 players defend and all 11 attack.”

The ability of Paulinho, one of the few survivors of the 2014 squad, to power forward from deep and score goals like that against Serbia is perhaps not something one associate with a typical Barcelona and Brazil midfielder.

And behind it all, there is a strength in depth in the goalkeeping department that has not always been a characteristic of Brazil teams.

In 2014 a veteran Julio Cesar, then playing for Toronto FC, was the first choice in goal.

This time around the excellent Ederson, a star in Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City team, cannot get in the side because of the presence of Alisson Becker.

“Guardiola has an ace in his team, but he has Alisson in his way, and at the moment he is the Pele of goalkeepers,” said Claudio Taffarel, the custodian in the 1994 World Cup-winning team and now Brazil’s goalkeeping coach, earlier this year.

It all means that, while other pre-tournament favorites continue to fall by the wayside, there is a reason for Brazil to dream of lifting a sixth World Cup even if Neymar doesn’t hit the heights.

I knew I wasn't done with swimming: Virdhawal Khade By Aparajita Upadhyay

I knew I wasn’t done with swimming: Virdhawal Khade By Aparajita Upadhyay

New Delhi, Jul 1: He upstaged an Olympic champion on the comeback trail but one of India’s most accomplished swimmers, Virdhawal Khade, says he had all but “forgotten” how to perform at the big stage owing to the mundanity of a job and injury setbacks.

The 26-year-old, the youngest swimmer from India to qualify for the Olympics at the age of 16 in the 2008 Beijing edition, has risen back to prominence after outpacing Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling in the 100-meter freestyle event at the Singapore National Championships.

The performance couldn’t have come at a better time for the Maharashtra lad as he prepares for the Asian Games in Indonesia after a less-than-impressive show at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

“The CWG was the first big competition after 2010, and maybe I had just forgotten how to perform at the big stage. I was training very hard but wasn’t able to put it together. I think between the CWG, and now I have learned how to swim faster,” Khade told PTI in an interview.

The Asian Games trigger good memories for the imposing swimmer, who had won a bronze medal — India’s first in 24 years — during the 2010 edition in Guangzhou.

That performance had fetched him the job of a Tehsildar with Maharashtra government, something that ended up far from being an incentive.

Khade put swimming on the backburner to focus on his job, and the cost was missing two Olympics, the 2014 Commonwealth, and the Asian Games.

“What happened to me was because of my achievements. The Maharashtra government recruited me, but our state policy was a little too restrictive for athletes. So that didn’t allow me initially to come out and train and while I was working I missed out on the Asian Games, Olympics, and CWG,” Khade said.

A serious knee injury added to his woes and Khade’s career seemed all but over. However, he had other plans. He wasn’t going down without a fight.
“I always had swimming at the back of my mind even while working. I knew I wasn’t done. There were a few things like winning a gold medal in the Asian Games, giving the Olympics another crack which was incomplete. I didn’t swim for some 3-4 years. That always kept bugging me,” he said.

The comeback was the 2018 Commonwealth Games. He couldn’t make it past the heats in Gold Coast but began to regain the confidence of being at the big stage. A month and a half later, he managed to edge past Schooling, Singapore’s first ever Olympic gold-medallist.
“It was a competition I participated in the build-up to the Asian Games. Before the competition, we found out that he (Schooling) was racing there and it was a very big deal.
“I wasn’t focusing much on the 100 meters as it wasn’t my main event. But I think it was my day, and somehow I was able to put myself together enough to be able to beat him,” he recalled.
“Nobody thought I was going to win because he is an Olympic winner and he is training for the Asian Games. It was a big shock,” Khade, who once held the national record in five different categories, said.

Khade is now confident of a podium finish at the Asian Games, starting August 18, despite competition from strong swimmers from China and Japan.

“The Chinese and Japanese are definitely amongst the top 10 in the world but the rate at which I have been progressing, and if I fix a couple of things like my start, I can swim as fast as them. I just need to put things together,” he said.

FIFA World Cup 2018 : Eriksen-Modric battle 'could decide' Croatia v Denmark World Cup clash
FIFA World Cup 2018 : Eriksen-Modric battle 'could decide' Croatia v Denmark World Cup clash

FIFA World Cup 2018 : Eriksen-Modric battle ‘could decide’ Croatia v Denmark World Cup clash

Nizhniy Novgorod, Jun 30: Denmark coach Age Hareide said his side’s World Cup last-16 match against Croatia could boil down to who comes out on top in the midfield battle between Christian Eriksen and Luka Modric.

The Danes failed to set pulses racing in the opening round, featuring in the first goalless draw of the World Cup against France, a result that ensured both sides progressed from Group C.

But Hareide said his team would be more expansive and play differently against the fancied Croats in Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday.

“I think you will see a different Denmark from what you have seen so far and the type of game we have played,” said Hareide.
“Yes, we need to defend, but we need to attack more.”

He said the match could end up being decided by two opposing midfielders, Modric, one of the players of the tournament so far, and Denmark’s highly rated Eriksen.

“It could be a match between Modric and Eriksen, that would be interesting, that would be great for the fans.”

Denmark is unbeaten for 18 games, a national record, their last defeat coming against Montenegro in October 2016.

They have also kept six clean sheets in their past seven games.

If Denmark beat Croatia, it will be only the second time the Danes have qualified for the last eight of the World Cup, the other occasion being in 1998.

The two teams had only met in the finals of a major competition once before when Croatia won 3-0 at Euro 96, and Davor Suker famously lobbed Danish goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel.

His son, Kasper, is now the Danish ‘keeper and, despite saying earlier this tournament he was tired of answering questions about his father, the younger Schmeichel was asked if he knew Suker was.

“He’s a Croat, that’s all I know,” he deadpanned.