AP

Roger Federer to skip French Open, clay season

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) — Roger Federer lost his second consecutive match and the No. 1 ranking Saturday.

Big-serving Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, a qualifier ranked 175th, rallied to upset Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) at the Miami Open.

The 36-year-old Federer had been the oldest No. 1 man ever, but he’ll lose that spot to Rafael Nadal when the new rankings come out April 2.

“I deserve it after this match,” Federer said. “That’s how I feel.”

Kokkinakis became the lowest-ranked man to beat a No. 1 player since No. 178 Francisco Clavet upset Lleyton Hewitt in 2003. That upset was also at Key Biscayne.

“Pretty crazy,” said Kokkinakis, 21. “I’m pretty happy about it.”

Federer now has lost back-to-back matches for the first time since 2014, a dip that comes after a career-best 17-0 start to the year.

He lost to Juan Martin del Potro in the Indian Wells final Sunday, a defeat that also came down to a winner-take-all tiebreaker.

Did the losses have anything in common?

“Yes, 7-6 in the third,” Federer said. “Other than that, not much.”

The 6-foot-5 Kokkinakis has long been regarded as a promising talent thanks to a thunderous serve and forehand, but has been plagued by injuries. The match was his first against Federer, although they’ve practiced together.

“I’ve always liked his game,” Federer said. “I’m happy for him that on the big stage he was able to show it. It’s a big result for him in his career, and I hope it’s going to launch him.”

Federer won’t be playing to reclaim the No. 1 spot anytime soon. He said he’ll skip the upcoming clay season for the second year in a row, including the French Open.

Federer’s match turned when he played a poor service game and was broken at love to fall behind 3-1 in the second set.

“That game I knuckled down and put pressure on him,” Kokkinakis said. “I started to dictate from there.”

Kokkinakis never broke again but held the rest of the way, consistently topping 125 mph with his serve.

“Every time I had chances, something bad happened,” Federer said. “Wrong decision-making by me, good decision-making by him. It’s disappointing. I don’t know why I couldn’t get to any level I was happy with today.”

Federer kept one exchange going by hitting a volley behind his back, but couldn’t win even that point. He laughed then — it was early in the match — but looked grim two hours later as the end neared.

On match point, Federer buried a backhand return in the bottom of the net. Kokkinakis screamed in celebration, waved his index finger and gestured for more noise from the appreciative capacity crowd.

Kokkinakis said he didn’t mind that fans were firmly in Federer’s corner during the match — and even before it.

“When I came on court there wasn’t much cheering,” Kokkinakis said with a laugh. “He came on court with a little delay and that sort of strut he does, and I was like, ‘This is pretty nuts.’ The crowd goes nuts when he does his walk onto court.”

The walk to the exit was the last at Key Biscayne for Federer, a three-time champion. The event is moving next year to the Miami Dolphins’ stadium.

Nadal will become the new No. 1 even though he missed Key Biscayne because of a hip injury that also forced him to skip Indian Wells.

Kokkinakis is healthy for a change. The tournament is just his fifth in the past seven months, but he said he thought he could beat Federer.

“When I’m playing on my terms, I don’t feel there are too many people that can go with me,” Kokkinakis said. “I just needed to p

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USA Track and Field to honor 1968 Olympic team on 50th anniversary

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USA Track and Field begins a campaign this week to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Olympic team.

Members of the Mexico City Games team, one of the greatest track and field teams in history, will be honored at high-profile events the remainder of the year.

The campaign, “1968-2018: Celebrating Athletic Achievement and Courage,” culminates with a “Night of Legends” reunion in December at the USATF Annual Meeting in Columbus, Ohio, also attended by current U.S. stars.

The 1968 Olympic team is most remembered for Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who took gold and bronze in the 200m and were sent home after raising their black-gloved fists in a human rights salute during the national anthem.

The team also included gold medalists Bob Beamon (long jump), Dick Fosbury (high jump), Al Oerter (discus), Wyomia Tyus and Jim Hines (100m), Lee Evans (400m), Madeline Manning Mims (800m), Willie Davenport (110m hurdles), Bob Seagren (pole vault), Randy Matson (shot put), Bill Toomey (decathlon) and the men’s and women’s 4x100m and men’s 4x400m.

“The legacy of the greatest track & field team to ever be assembled is still felt 50 years later,” USATF CEO Max Siegel said in a press release. “These Olympians persevered through athletic challenges and social injustices, maintaining their composure and dignity when others may have fallen. It is USATF’s honor to pay homage to their achievements and bring the team together for an epic celebration at our Annual Meeting.”

U.S. track and field athletes will compete at two meets on NBC Sports and NBC Sports Gold this weekend — the Drake Relays and Penn Relays.

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WATCH: NBC Olympics documentary on 1968 Olympics

Paralyzed man walks London Marathon in 36 hours in exoskeleton

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A paralyzed man walked the London Marathon route wearing an exoskeleton suit, finishing around 11 p.m. Monday, nearly 36 hours after he started, according to British media.

Simon Kindleysides was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in April 2013 and was paralyzed from the waist down, he said on the BBC before the race.

“I want to be a role model to my children so they can say their daddy’s been the first paralyzed man to walk the London Marathon ever,” said Kindleysides, a 34-year-old father of three, according to the report.

Kindleysides predicted he would finish in 37 hours, completing the first half of the 26.2-mile race on Sunday, then sleeping a few hours and walking the final 13.1 miles on Monday. Kindleysides said after finishing that he spent 26.5 of those 36 hours walking the marathon.

“Painful, emotional to walk that far in 26.5 hours,” he said. “It feels amazing. So glad I’ve done it. I’m here proving a point, anything is possible.”

Kindleysides said he handcycled from London to Paris for charity two years ago.

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