Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte

Michael Phelps enters 5 events at Pan Pacific Championships

Leave a comment

The Pan Pacific Championships psych sheets are out, providing a look at which events the U.S.’ best swimmers are entered in at the biggest international meet of the year.

Michael Phelps is entered in five events — the 100m backstroke, 100m butterfly, 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle and 200m individual medley. Of course, he could pull out of any of them between now and the start of the meet Thursday.

These are the events Phelps has focused on the most since coming out of a 20-month competitive retirement in April. Phelps went winless at the U.S. Championships last week for the first time since the 2000 Olympic Trials.

Phelps’ longtime rival, Ryan Lochte, is entered in the same five events plus the 200m backstroke. Lochte won one event at Nationals, the 200m individual medley over Phelps.

Times from the U.S. Championships and Pan Pacific Championships will determine the U.S. roster for the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia. No more than two Americans can qualify for the A finals of an individual event at Pan Pacs, though many more can swim in the preliminary heats.

Pan Pacs are in Gold Coast, Australia, which is 14 hours ahead of Eastern time, and run through Aug. 24 in the pool. The open-water competition at Pan Pacs is Aug. 25.

Missy Franklin is entered in the same four individual events she swam the finals in at the 2013 World Championships — the 100m backstroke, 100m freestyle, 200m backstroke and 200m freestyle. Franklin won the first three at the U.S. Championships and was second to Katie Ledecky in the 200m free.

Ledecky, who has broken 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle world records this year, is entered in the 100m free, 200m free, 400m free, 800m free and 1500m free.

The U.S.’ biggest competition will come from host and longtime rival Australia.

World 100m free champion James Magnussen is entered in the 50m free and 100m free. He is slated to go up against the U.S. Olympic champion in the 100m free, Nathan Adrian, in both events.

Sisters Cate and Bronte Campbell are the top two seeds in the 50m free and 100m free, creating tough competition for Franklin in the latter.

Christian Sprenger, the World champion in the 100m breaststroke, is out of Pan Pacs with a shoulder injury. That means American Kevin Cordes‘ biggest threats will come from Japan.

Japan’s roster does not include the most decorated breaststroker of all time, Kosuke Kitajima, who failed to qualify for the team. Nor does it include 200m breast world record holder Akihiro Yamaguchi.

Japan’s biggest star is Kosuke Hagino, who won Worlds silver in the 400m free and 200m IM at age 18 last year. Hagino is entered in the 200m back, 200m free, 200m IM, 400m free and 400m IM.

South Korea’s four-time Olympic medalist Park Tae-hwan is in the 100m, 200m and 400m freestyles.

Brazil’s roster does not include its most decorated swimmer, Cesar Cielo. South Africa did not send Olympic champions Cameron van der Burgh and Chad le Clos. China’s team is missing Olympic champions Sun Yang and Ye Shiwen.

Janet Evans sees parallels with Katie Ledecky

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

Sebastian Korda
Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

He is the son of 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda and brother of the world’s second- and 22nd-ranked female golfers (Nelly and Jessica), next faces Isner.

So far, Sebastian’s biggest feats have been winning the 2018 Australian Open junior title and, in his only golf tournament, beating both of his sisters when he was 11.

An American man is already guaranteed to make the third round — Korda faces Isner on Thursday.

“I grew up on the clay,” Korda said, “so I know how to play on it a little bit.”

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

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Novak Djokovic rolls at French Open; top women escape

Novak Djokovic
Getty Images
Leave a comment

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

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!