Missy Franklin

Missy Franklin wins 200 freestyle world title; swimming worlds Wednesday recap

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Missy Franklin remained golden at the world swimming championships by winning the 200-meter freestyle Wednesday.

The four-time Olympic champion is now three for three in golds in Barcelona with four events to go (cutting the 50 backstroke, which she scratched out of). No woman has won seven medals — let alone seven golds — at one worlds, and Franklin, 18, is in great shape to pull it off.

Franklin held off world-record holder Federica Pellegrini to win the 200 free in 1 minute, 54.81 seconds, an event in which she missed bronze by .01 at the London Olympics. She’s slated for the 100 freestyle prelims and semifinals and the 4×200 free relay finals Thursday.

The other several-event star of USA Swimming, Ryan Lochte, returned to form Wednesday. Lochte qualified first into Thursday’s final of the 200 individual medley, an event he’s won at the last two world championships.

Lochte said he felt like “a new man” in his third of a potential seven events at the meet. He swam an average leg on the U.S.’ silver medal-winning 4×100 free relay team Sunday and took fourth in the 200 free Tuesday.

In Wednesday’s other finals, China’s Sun Yang asserted his distance dominance by winning the 800 freestyle, but American Michael McBroom surprised with the best swim of his life for silver. South African Olympic champions swept the 200 butterfly (Chad le Clos) and the 50 breaststroke (Cameron van der Burgh).

Americans Nathan Adrian and Jimmy Feigen led the qualifiers into Thursday’s 100 freestyle final, where they’ll have a showdown with Australian James Magnussen.

Scroll down for full results, analysis and video of Wednesday’s events.

NBC, Universal Sports broadcast schedule | Live results 

Men’s 100 Freestyle Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Nathan Adrian (USA) 47.95
2. Jimmy Feigen (USA) 48.07
3. Marcelo Chierighini (BRA) 48.11
4. Vladimir Morozov (RUS) 48.20
4. James Magnussen (AUS) 48.20
6. Fabien Gilot (FRA) 48.21
7. Cameron McEvoy (AUS) 48.43
8. Luca Dotto (ITA) 48.46

Summary
The Olympic champion Adrian leads the qualifiers into Thursday’s final, followed, surprisingly, by his teammate Feigen. Feigen swam anchor for the U.S. in the 4×100 free relay Sunday and lost the lead to France. Magnussen, the defending world champion, is still the fastest man in the world this year, four tenths faster than Adrian, actually. Morozov is the second fastest this year. Gilot was by far the fastest relay split in the 4×100, so watch out for him, too.

“James and I are friends,” Adrian told Universal Sports. “I think it’s a very friendly rivalry, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to win.”

Women’s 50 Backstroke Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Fu Yuanhui (CHN) 27.40
2. Aya Terakawa (JPN) 27.70
3. Mercedes Peris Minguet (ESP) 27.71
4. Zhao Jing (CHN) 27.87
5. Etiene Medeiros (BRA) 27.89
6. Rachel Bootsma (USA) 27.93
7. Lauren Quigley (GBR) 28.02
8. Georgia Davies (GBR) 28.05

Summary
This event is not on the Olympic program. Franklin scratched this event after qualifying 13th into the semifinals Wednesday morning to concentrate on the 200 free final. Franklin was the 2011 world bronze medalist. Fu, the youngest semifinalist at age 17, is about as big of a favorite for gold as you can have in a 50-meter race with three of the four fastest times in the world this year. Terakawa is the only woman who has been within three tenths of Fu in 2013. Peris Minguet set a new national record in winning the first semifinal. Bootsma, in her only event at these worlds, has a shot at a medal.

Men’s 200 Butterfly Final

Results
Gold: Chad le Clos (RSA) 1:54.32

Silver: Pawel Korzeniowski (POL) 1:55.01
Bronze: Wu Peng (CHN) 1:55.09
4. Chen Yin (CHN) 1:55.47
5. Tom Luchsinger (USA) 1:55.70
6. Nikolay Skvortsov (RUS) 1:56.02
7. Tyler Clary (USA) 1:56.34
8. Leonardo De Deus (BRA) 1:56.44

Summary
Le Clos, 21, follows his Olympic title with a world championship, forcefully splashing the water after touching first. He was one tenth behind Korzeniowski after 150 meters. Korzeniowski earned his third career world medal in the 200 fly. Wu won his fourth world medal in the event. The retired Michael Phelps had won the previous three world titles in this, his signature race.

“I was very nervous coming into his race because I was the favorite of course,” le Clos told Universal Sports. “Having Michael there (when Phelps was competing) almost lifts you, to be honest. … I’m in awe of him, every time I see him. … Knowing that he was watching in the stands means a lot to me.”

Women’s 200 Freestyle Final

Results
Gold: Missy Franklin (USA) 1:54.81

Silver: Federica Pellegrini (ITA) 1:55.14
Bronze: Camille Muffat (FRA) 1:55.72
4. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 1:56.63
5. Melanie Costa Schmid (ESP) 1:57.04
6. Kylie Palmer (AUS) 1:57.14
7. Shannon Vreeland (USA) 1:57.41
8. Charlotte Bonnet (FRA) 1:57.56

Summary
Franklin is now three for three in golds at the world championships with four events to go. No woman has won seven medals at a single worlds. She took the lead between 50 and 100 meters, was under world-record pace at 100 and held on amid a strong late charge by Pellegrini, who was bidding to become the first woman to win three straight world titles in the same event. It’s the biggest freestyle win of Franklin’s career. She placed fourth in the 200 free at the Olympics, missing bronze by .01.

“This feels absolutely incredible,” Franklin said. “I knew Federica was definitely going to come back strong. … I was just trying to push myself as hard as I could to try to stay out front.”

Men’s 50 Breaststroke Final

Results
Gold: Cameron van der Burgh (RSA) 26.77

Silver: Christian Sprenger (AUS) 26.78
Bronze: Giulio Zorzi (RSA) 27.04
4. Damir Dugonjic (SLO) 27.05
5. Joao Gomes (BRA) 27.20
6. Glenn Snyders (NZL) 27.21
7. Johannes Skagius (SWE) 27.84
8. Mattia Pesce (ITA) 27.53

Summary
This event is not contested at the Olympics, and it was the first final this week without an American in the field. Van der Burgh, the Olympic champ in the 100, was one tenth of a second off his world record. He won by the smallest margin possible, .01, for his second world title in the 50 breast (2009). Sprenger adds silver to his gold in the 100 earlier this week. South Africa has now won three medals Wednesday.

Women’s 200 Butterfly Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) 2:06.53
2. Camille Adams (USA) 2:06.75
3. Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 2:06.85
4. Natsumi Hoshi (JPN) 2:07.18
4. Liu Zige (CHN) 2:07.18
6. Zszuzsanna Jakabos (HUN) 2:07.31
7. Jiao Liuyang (CHN) 2:07.70
8. Judit Ignacio Sorribes (ESP) 2:07.87

Summary
Belmonte Garcia, the London silver medalist, could win the first world or Olympic gold by a Spaniard born in Spain. American-born and Russian-born Spaniards previously took titles. Adams, fifth at the 2012 Olympics, won the first semifinal in a time two tenths off her personal best. Her chances of a medal took a big jump with that clocking. Hosszu, the 200 IM champion two days ago, is also a medal threat. As are Liu and Jiao, the last two Olympic champions.

Men’s 200 Individual Medley Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Ryan Lochte (USA) 1:57.07
2. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 1:57.38
3. Laszlo Cseh (HUN) 1:57.41
2. Thiago Pereira (BRA) 1:57.52
5. Wang Shun (CHN) 1:57.80
3. Daiya Seto (JPN) 1:58.03
4. Daniel Tranter (AUS) 1:58.10
5. Simon Sjodin (SWE) 1:58.17

Summary
Lochte looked very impressive, shutting it down in the final few meters and still easily qualifying first. If he keeps that form Thursday, there’s no doubt he’ll win his first gold of these world championships. Lochte, the two-time defending world champ in this event, already has a silver from the 4×100 free relay and took fourth in the 200 free. His U.S. teammate, Conor Dwyer, failed to make the final after getting silver in that 200 free. Hagino, Cseh and Pereira are in the mix for silver and bronze.

“The first two days of competition, I was too worried about winning and too worried about the time I was gonna go, and that’s not me,” Lochte said. “I woke up this morning, felt like a new man. I was having fun, wasn’t caring about the time I went.”

Men’s 800 Freestyle Final

Results
Gold: Sun Yang (CHN) 7:41.36
Silver: Michael McBroom (USA) 7:43.60
Bronze: Ryan Cochrane (CAN) 7:43.70
4. Connor Jaeger (USA) 7:44.26
5. Jordan Harrison (AUS) 7:47.38
6. Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA) 7:50.29
7. Pal Joensen (FAR) 7:52.57
8. Ous Mellouli (TUN) 7:52.79

Summary
The super favorite Sun defended his world title, letting out a nice yell, pumping his arms and beating his chest, and is now two for two in golds in Barcelona. He has the 1,500 freestyle left, where he holds the world record. McBroom and Jaeger both broke the American record. McBroom won his first major international medal by setting a personal record by four seconds.

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French Open: Karolina Pliskova, top player sans Slam, again exits early

Karolina Pliskova
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No. 2 seed Karolina Pliskova exited yet another Grand Slam in the early stages, falling to 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in the second round at Roland Garros on Thursday.

Ostapenko, whose only match wins at the French Open before this week came in her title run three years ago, bounced the big-serving Czech 6-4, 6-2.

Pliskova put fewer than half of her first serves in play, while Ostapenko fired 27 winners to 19 unforced errors. Pliskova was on the ropes in her first round, too, needing three sets to get past an Egyptian qualifier.

“Maybe same level as the match before, but of course [Ostapenko] is much better player,” Pliskova said. “Not much to say about this match.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Later Thursday, top-ranked Novak Djokovic had a second straight win ceding just five games, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 over Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis. Djokovic undefeated in 2020 save his U.S. Open default for smacking a ball that inadvertently struck a linesperson, next gets Colombian lucky loser Daniel Elahi Galán.

Nobody else in Djokovic’s half of the draw at the start of the tournament made a French Open semifinal before.

Pliskova is the highest-ranked player of either gender (No. 4) without a Grand Slam title, yet hasn’t made it past the fourth round at a major since the 2019 Australian Open.

She’s played six Slams as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed, one shy of Caroline Wozniacki‘s total before she broke through at the 2018 Australian Open and two shy of Simona Halep‘s total before she won the 2018 French Open.

Ostapenko, meanwhile, is having a very different career.

She won the 2017 Roland Garros title, two days after turning 20, while ranked 47th. She hasn’t gotten past the third round of a major since 2018 Wimbledon, including first-round French Open exits the last two years, and is back down to No. 43 in the WTA rankings.

“It’s hard to compare with 2017. As I said, it was like three years ago, and I was much younger, and also I was fearless. Nobody knew me,” Ostapenko said. “The world doesn’t stop with winning only one Grand Slam. Of course I want to achieve more, and I want to be back in top five, top 10.”

She dropped just nine games in four sets this week.

Ostapenko gets 87th-ranked Spaniard Paula Badosa in third round. Badosa dispatched 2018 French Open runner-up Sloane Stephens 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

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Figure skating’s Grand Prix fields look very different this season

Nathan Chen
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Before Nathan Chen is expected to go for a historic fifth straight U.S. figure skating title in January, he will, in a first, compete against most of his top countrymen later this month.

Fields for the Grand Prix Series, figure skating’s autumn international circuit, were published Thursday. As expected, every top skater entered will compete in his or her home country, or nearest to where he or she trains, and in one of the six events.

Traditionally, skaters compete in two of the six events and are scattered among competitions in the U.S., Canada, France, Russia, China and Japan based on world rankings.

But the International Skating Union restricted travel this season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Skaters are limited to compete locally. And the Grand Prix Final at the conclusion of the Grand Prix Series has been postponed from its scheduled December setting in Beijing.

That means that Chen vies for a record-tying fourth straight Skate America crown in Las Vegas in three weeks against a field mostly made up of countrymen, including Olympic teammate Vincent Zhou and U.S. bronze medalist Tomoki Hiwatashi.

In all, there are eight U.S. men entered in Skate America, 11 women (including past national champions Bradie Tennell and Gracie Gold), six pairs and nine ice dance couples (including U.S. champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue), plus some skaters from other nations who train in the U.S.

Traditionally, a country has no more than three entries per discipline at a Grand Prix event.

GRAND PRIX FIELDS: Men | Women | Pairs | Ice Dance

Sochi Olympian Jason Brown, who trains in Toronto, is entered in Skate Canada the week after Skate America.

Two-time U.S. women’s champion Alysa Liu will not be old enough for the Grand Prix Series until the 2021-22 Olympic season.

All of the reigning Olympic champions are absent from the series.

Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan previously announced he wouldn’t compete due to virus-related travel risks. Russian Alina Zagitova extended her indefinite break from competition dating to last autumn, rather choosing to participate in a skating-themed TV series.

Ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada retired. The German pairs’ team of Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot last competed in the 2018 Olympic season.

Instead, the headliners include Chen, the two-time world champion undefeated since placing fifth in PyeongChang. And a deep crop of Russian teenage women, all of course entered in the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow in November.

MORE: Brian Orser reacts to Yevgenia Medvedeva’s coaching switch

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