For the second time in these Sochi Olympics, the Netherlands have pulled off a sweep in speedskating.
Michel Mulder (pictured) earned the men’s 500m gold medal by one one-hundredth of a second over teammate Jan Smeekens, with Michel’s twin brother, Ronald, claiming the bronze (+0.15 seconds). 2010 Olympic champion Mo Tae-Bum finished off the podium in fourth (+0.38 of a second).
In a precursor to his bid for Winter Olympic history later this week, U.S. speedskater Shani Davis got started in Sochi with a 24th-place finish.
That was enough to lead the American trio that competed in the event, with Tucker Fredricks and Mitchell Whitmore winding up 26th and 27th respectively.
Davis used the 500m to prepare himself for Wednesday’s 1000m, in which he’ll attempt to become the first American man to claim three Winter Olympic golds in the same individual event (snowboarder Shaun White has a chance to do the same one day before on Tuesday in the halfpipe competition).
MEN’S SPEED SKATING – 500m FINAL STANDINGS 1. Michel Mulder (NED), 69.31
2. Jan Smeekens (NED), 69.32
3. Ronald Mulder (NED), 69.46
24. Shani Davis (USA), 70.98
26. Tucker Fredricks (USA), 70.999
27. Mitchell Whitmore (USA), 71.06
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, is her top remaining challenger in Paris.
No. 3 Jessica Pegula, the highest-seeded American man or woman, was eliminated in the third round. No. 4 Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, who has three wins over Swiatek this year, withdrew before her third-round match due to illness.
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. 12 Frances Tiafoe is the last American remaining, 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.