Another swimming rivalry has sunk to the bottom of the pool.
When Michael Phelps retired at the conclusion of the London Olympics, the Michael-Phelps-vs.-Ryan-Lochte discussion came to an abrupt halt. Wednesday morning, another Phelps rival* (see below) hung up his Speedo: Milorad Cavic.
You probably remember Cavic from the Beijing Games, when he appeared to beat Phelps in the 100m butterfly final. It would have ended Phelps’ now legendary eight-for-eight run at those Games, but the timing pads draped over the ends of each lane never lie. Phelps’ last-second half-stroke was enough to get him to the wall first, as he was first to compress the 12mm thick pad the required 2mm with 2.5kg of pressure.
In a fraction of a second the world went from thinking Phelps had lost a race to getting confirmation of yet another victory, the seventh gold.
A similar situation occurred at the 2009 World Championships in Rome, although this time Phelps beat the Serbian by a comfortable (really?) 0.13 seconds.
Now for an explanation of the above asterisk. Cavic is recognized as a rival to Phelps, but they really had only two close races – Beijing and Rome. Cavic was a distant fifth behind Phelps at the 2007 World Championships, while in London he placed fourth – 0.60 of a second slower than Phelps.
Phelps ended his career with 22 Olympic medals (18 gold); Cavic has one. Phelps finished with 33 Worlds medals (26 gold); Cavic earned two (one gold).
Technically it was a rivalry, albeit a brief one. Either way, Phelps and Cavic staged one of the most exciting finishes in Olympic history.
Cavic’s legacy: The guy who nearly slayed a giant.
No. 1 Iga Swiatek of Poland is favored to claim a third French Open title, a year after beating American Coco Gauff in the final. She bids to join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win the French Open three or more times since 2000.
Two Americans are ranked in the top six in the world — No. 3 Jessica Pegula and Gauff.
The last American to win a major singles title was Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought matches the longest in history (since 1877) for American men and women combined.
But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.
Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.
Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.
Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, was upset in the first round by 172nd-ranked Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild. It marked the first time a men’s top-two seed lost in the first round of any major since 2003 Wimbledon (Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt).
No. 9 Taylor Fritz, No. 12 Frances Tiafoe and No. 16 Tommy Paul are the highest-seeded Americans, all looking to become the first U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003. Since then, five different American men combined to make the fourth round on eight occasions.