It’s probably bittersweet for Ryan Lochte that this week’s national swimming championships in Indy will be the first since 1999 without all-time Olympic champion Michael Phelps, because while he may not have his close friend to compete against, Lochte does have a better shot at owning the event.
But Lochte isn’t shy about his assumption that we haven’t seen the last of Phelps in competition.
“I think we all know by now that he’s coming back,” Lochte told USA Today after a workout. “I don’t think it’s really a surprise. It’s just a matter of when is he going to get back in the full swing of training.”
Of course, Phelps’s longtime coach Bob Bowman, who has already signed up to consult with the Turkish national swim team and to train two-time London Olympics champ Yannick Agnel of France, said he’d be the first to hear about a Phelps comeback… and he hasn’t heard anything yet.
“[Phelps] is really enjoying himself,” Bowman said. “He’s playing a lot of golf and I think he’s in good place as a person, and that’s real important to me, because he had a hard four years. I think it was tough on him.”
Instead of chatting about a comeback, or even swimming in general, Bowman said he and Phelps text back and forth about the two-year-old race horse they bought in May, which they’ve affectionately named “By A Hundredth” after the amount of time by which Phelps won the 100m butterfly in Beijing. Memories…
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 most recent match with a right thigh injury last week 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 and No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, are the best hopes 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, who lost in the French Open first round in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, is improved on clay. He won the Italian Open, the last top-level clay event before the French Open, and is the No. 2 seed ahead of Djokovic.
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.