Ted Ligety

Ted Ligety beaten up in Bormio slalom; Neureuther wins

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Ted Ligety will leave Bormio, Italy, with a 27th-place finish and a few stitches.

The American was slapped in the face by a gate in training for Monday evening’s World Cup slalom race. He then skied into 15th in the first run and fell during his second run, somehow not missing a gate, but it relegated him to last place out of 27 finishers in the second run.

“I skied relatively well in sections, I just made some mistakes here and there,” Ligety said. “And this hill is so flat you definitely pay on those little mistakes.”

German Felix Neureuther came from one hundredth behind after the first run to beat world champion Marcel Hirscher in a two-run time of 1 minute, 59.75 seconds. Hirscher was second, .36 back, followed by Italy’s Manfred Moelgg.

Neureuther was second to Hirscher at the World Championships and in the World Cup slalom standings last season and is a medal favorite behind Hirscher in Sochi.

Ligety, who last year became the first man in 45 years to win three gold medals at a World Championships, has one top-10 in races other than giant slalom this season.

What Ligety did at the World Championships last February must be put in perspective when assessing his Sochi medal chances. Yes, he is still incredible in giant slalom, where he has won two races this season but trails Hirscher in the World Cup standings.

But Ligety, the 2006 Olympic combined champion, had never before won a World Cup or World Championships race other than giant slalom before he took the super combined and super-G crowns in Schladming, Austria.

He hasn’t made a World Cup podium outside giant slalom since Dec. 12, 2009.

Monday’s race was moved from Zagreb, Croatia, due to lack of snow. The Alpine skiing World Cup continues with a giant slalom and slalom in Adelboden, Switzerland, on Saturday and Sunday.

Bormio Slalom
1. Felix Neureuther (GER) 1:59.75
2. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) 2:00.11
3. Manfred Moelgg (ITA) 2:00.40
4. Naoki Yuasa (JPN) 2:00.48
5. Mattias Hargin (SWE) 2:00.80
6. Jean-Baptiste Grange (FRA) 2:00.87
7. Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) 2:00.93
8. Fritz Dopfer (GER) 2:00.94
9. Andre Myhrer (SWE) 2:01.23
10. Luca Aerni (SUI) 2:01.30
15. David Chodounsky (USA) 2:01.81
27. Ted Ligety (USA) 2:04.40

Star skier makes Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in sports

U.S. men off to best French Open start in 24 years

Sebastian Korda
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The last time U.S. men started this well at the French Open, Sebastian Korda wasn’t alive and his dad had yet to win a Grand Slam singles title.

Eight American men are into the second round at Roland Garros, the largest contingent in the last 64 since 1996. No nation will have more. Astonishing, given U.S. men went a collective 1-9 at the 2019 French Open.

Back in 1996, nine American men won first-round matches. That group included Pete SamprasAndre AgassiJim Courier and Michael Chang (in Sampras’ deepest run in Paris, to the semifinals).

Clay has long been kryptonite for this generation of Americans — the last U.S. man to make a Roland Garros quarterfinal was Agassi in 2003.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

This group includes veterans like Jack Sock, who swept countryman Reilly Opelka 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 on Monday. Sock, 28, was once ranked eighth in the world.

He then dropped out of the rankings entirely, missing time due to injury and going 10 months between tour-level match wins. He’s now at No. 310 and preparing to play No. 3 Dominic Thiem in the second round.

Then there’s 35-year-old John Isner, the big server who swept a French wild card in round one. Isner, the highest seeded U.S. man at No. 21, has posted some decent Roland Garros results, reaching the fourth round three times.

There are new faces, too. Taylor Fritz is seeded 27, aged 22 and in an open section of the draw to make his first Grand Slam fourth round.

On Monday, 20-year-old Korda became the youngest U.S. man to win a French Open main-draw match since an 18-year-old Andy Roddick beat Chang in 2001.

An American man is already guaranteed to reach the third round — Korda, the son of 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda and brother of the world’s second-ranked female golfer Nelly Korda, next faces Isner.

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Novak Djokovic rolls at French Open; top women escape

Novak Djokovic
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Novak Djokovic began what could be a march to his 18th Grand Slam title, sweeping Swede Mikael Ymer 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 in the French Open first round on Tuesday.

The top seed Djokovic lost just seven points in the first set. He gets Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis in the second round in a half of the draw that includes no other man with French Open semifinal experience.

Djokovic had plenty going for him into Roland Garros, seeking to repeat his 2016 run to the title. The chilly weather is similar to four years ago.

As is Djokovic’s form. His only loss in 2020 was when he was defaulted at the U.S. Open for hitting a ball in anger that struck a linesperson in the throat.

Djokovic got a break with the draw when No. 3 seed Dominic Thiem was put in No. 2 Rafael Nadal‘s half. The Serbian also won his clay-court tune-up event in Rome, where he received warnings in back-to-back matches for breaking a racket and uttering an obscenity.

“I don’t think that [the linesperson incident] will have any significant negative impact on how I feel on the tennis court,” Djokovic said before Roland Garros. “I mean, I won the tournament in Rome just a week later after what happened in New York.

“I really want to be my best version as a player, as a human being on the court, and win a tennis match. Because of the care that I have for that, I sometimes express my emotions in good way or maybe less good way.”

If Djokovic can lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires two Sundays from now, he will move within two of Roger Federer‘s career Slams record. Also notable: He would keep Nadal from tying Federer’s record and head into the Australian Open in January, his signature Slam, with a chance to match Nadal at 19.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Earlier Tuesday, No. 2 Karolina Pliskova and No. 4 Sofia Kenin each needed three sets to reach the second round.

The Czech Pliskova rallied past Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif 6-7 (9), 6-2, 6-4. Pliskova, the highest-ranked player without a major title, next gets 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.

“Let’s not talk about my level [of play],” Pliskova said. “I think there is big room for improvement.”

Kenin, the American who won the Australian Open in February, outlasted Russian Liudmila Samsonova 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

“It doesn’t matter how you win — ugly, pretty, doesn’t matter,” Kenin said on Tennis Channel.

She gets Romanian Ana Bogdan in the second round. Only one other seed — No. 14 Elena Rybakina — is left in Kenin’s section en route to a possible quarterfinal.

American Jen Brady, who made a breakthrough run to the U.S. Open semifinals, was beaten by Danish qualifier Clara Tauson  6-4, 3-6, 9-7.

Sam Querrey nearly made it eight American men into the second round, serving for the match in the third set. But he succumbed to 13th-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev 6-7 (5), 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-4, 6-3. It’s still the best first-round showing for U.S. men since nine advanced in 1996.

The second round begins Wednesday, highlighted by Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal.

MORE: Halep, Comaneci and the genesis of a Romanian friendship

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