Michael Phelps loses 100m butterfly by .01, makes Pan Pacs

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IRVINE, Calif. — The great Michael Phelps is back, they said after the morning prelims.

“Not yet,” his longtime coach, Bob Bowman, said after the night final. “That was pretty terrible.”

Phelps lost the 100m butterfly (by .01) at a national meet for the first time since the 2004 Olympic Trials on Friday night.

Phelps actually clocked the fastest time of the day, and the fastest time of anyone in the world this year. But he did that in the preliminary heats.

In the final, he went .13 slower. Phelps, known for heart-pounding come-from-behind victories in the 100m fly before his retirement, could not out-touch Tom Shields after running him down over the final 50 meters.

Shields, 23, won in 51.29 seconds, two nights after capturing the 200m fly for his first career national title. Phelps was 51.30.

He was seventh at the 50m wall and was in between strokes going into the turn, forced to glide in and lose momentum (unlike in prelims).

Phelps, in the fifth meet of his comeback following a 20-month competitive break, could take consolation in qualifying for the Pan Pacific Championships, the biggest international meet of 2014. But he wasn’t really in the mood.

“I’m somebody who can’t stand to lose,” Phelps said. “This will definitely be something that sticks with me over the next year.”

Bowman thought Phelps looked nervous before the final, reminding him of Phelps’ first comeback race in Mesa, Ariz., in April.

The pressure of finishing top two to make the Pan Pacs team, perhaps.

That was never an issue for Phelps when he won 22 medals over three Olympics.

Bowman said he thought the last time Phelps felt pressure to make a national team was at the 2000 Olympic Trials, when Phelps was 15.

“I just felt out of it,” Phelps said Friday. “Not my normal self at finals. Normally, I’m very relaxed and very ready. It’s probably just because I’m not used to being in this kind of shape or this kind of feeling going into a meet.

“Normally, I can look back and say I’ve done all the training, I’ve done everything I needed to do to prepare myself. With having a year and a half off and maybe not really going as hard as I probably should have at some of the parts during the year, it shows.”

The razor-thin margin of defeat brought to mind Phelps’ Olympic 100m fly win in 2008, which was by .01 over Milorad Cavic.

Phelps also won the 2004 Olympic 100m fly by .04.

“It’s better to be on the losing side at a meet like this than it is at a bigger meet,” Phelps said.

Phelps, the three-time reigning Olympic 100m fly champ, still improved on a disappointing seventh-place finish in the 100m freestyle, his first event at Nationals on Wednesday.

Phelps qualified to swim any individual events he wants at the Pan Pacific Championships, Aug. 21-24 in Gold Coast, Australia.

South African Chad le Clos, who beat Phelps in the 200m butterfly at the 2012 Olympics, is the only man who has posted a faster 100m fly time than Phelps’ 51.17 since the London Games.

Phelps and Ryan Lochte are entered in both the 100m backstroke Saturday and 200m individual medley Sunday, the final two days of the U.S. Championships.

“I need more training, I need more endurance,” Phelps said. “I need to feel more comfort with my stroke.”

In other events Friday, Olympic silver medalist Elizabeth Beisel won the 400m individual medley in 4:32.98, making her the fourth-fastest woman this year.

Olympic 200m backstroke champion Tyler Clary outdueled World silver medalist Chase Kalisz in the men’s 400m IM in 4:09.51. Clary moved up to No. 2 in the world rankings for 2014.

Kendyl Stewart knocked .54 off her personal best to win the women’s 100m fly in 57.98. She edged 2012 Olympian Claire Donahue by .05.

Mishaps emerge at U.S. Championships

2020 French Open women’s singles draw, results

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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.

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2020 French Open men’s singles draw, results

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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.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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