Considered a gold medal contender going into today’s cross-country individual sprint, Kikkan Randall has come up empty-handed.
The American World Cup sprint champion got a tough draw for her quarterfinal heat, which included not one but two of her biggest rivals for sprint gold in Norway’s Marit Bjorgen and Germany’s Denise Herrmann.
Randall was able to charge to the front of the heat, but then fell back late and finished a disappointing fourth behind Herrmann, Bjorgen and Italy’s Gaia Vuerich.
Herrmann and Bjorgen automatically advanced out as the top two finishers in the heat, and Randall failed to be one of the two “lucky losers” – the two fastest third or fourth-place finishers – that also go to the next round.
She lost out on a “lucky loser” spot by a mere five one-hundredths of a second to Vuerich.
Sochi marks Randall’s fourth Olympics and she was hoping to become the first American woman to win an Olympic medal and the first American man or woman to win cross-country gold.
Instead, her teammate, Sophie Caldwell, will look to get that chance after she advanced into the semis. She is the lone American in that round, after Randall, along with Ida Sargent and Jessie Diggins, were unable to move on.
One of Randall’s teammates, Holly Brooks, reacted to Randall’s early defeat on Twitter:
If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.
Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.
Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.
If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.
Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.
The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.
Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.
The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.
Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.
Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.
Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.
Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.
The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.