Leigh Nugent stepped down as head coach of the Australian swim team Wednesday after leading the nation to its worst Olympic showing in decades.
The failure was blamed on “toxic incidents” and a “lack of collective leadership” in a review commissioned by Swimming Australia, which discovered that members of the 4x100m relay had taken banned sleeping pills, made prank phone calls, and engaged in other “childish behavior.”
Swimming Australia president Barclay Nettlefold made a point to say that Nugent wasn’t fired and will stay with the team in a youth development and mentor role after he takes an extended break.
“Leigh actually approached us to discuss his future and where he would best fit into the new structure of the high performance unit,” Nettlefold said. “In those discussions it soon became very clear that while he still wanted to remain involved in the sport, he didn’t want to continue in the position of head coach.”
Nettlefold also plans to hire an interim coach, a new chief executive officer, and a high performance director very soon, as this summer’s world championship in Barcelona are quickly approaching.
“Leigh accepts responsibility for the team’s performance – he’s never shied away from that,” Nettlefold added in an interview with the Associated Press Wednesday. “I think he felt fairly remorseful.”
But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.
She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.
No. 3 Jessica Pegula, the highest-seeded American man or woman, was eliminated in the third round.
No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, is the best hope to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seleswon the 1996 Australian Open.
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 and No. 12 Frances Tiafoe are the highest-seeded Americans, 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.