Diamond League resumes with women’s sprint clash in Stockholm

Allyson Felix

U.S. track and field athletes spent the last month in the shadows as the top meets have been European- and Commonwealth-only affairs.

The resumption of the Diamond League, beginning in Stockholm on Thursday (Universal Sports, 2 p.m. ET), brings Americans back into the spotlight.

The marquee race features the biggest U.S. women’s sprint star at the last three Olympics — Allyson Felix — and the biggest U.S. women’s sprint star of 2014 — Tori Bowie.

Felix’s season, a comeback campaign from last year’s torn hamstring at the World Championships, has not reached her usual standard. She’s notched one Diamond League race victory — a 200m in Oslo on June 11.

Felix, a four-time Olympic champion, was on the track for one of the more memorable races of the season. She finished third in the Prefontaine Classic 200m on May 31.

That race victory was snagged by the then-unheralded Bowie, previously best known for long jumping at the World Indoor Championships in March.

Bowie proved no fluke, going down to 100m and winning Diamond League races in Rome, New York and Monaco, overcoming a hamstring injury at the U.S. Championships between New York and Monaco.

Bowie is the fastest woman this year in the 100m (10.8 seconds, after entering 2014 with a personal best of 11.14) and held the world’s fastest 200m time this year until Dutchwoman Dafne Schippers took the mantle at the European Championships on Friday.

Here are five events to watch in Stockholm:

Men’s shot put — 12:45 p.m. ET

The field is loaded — the top five men this year, the two-time reigning World champion and the two-time reigning Olympic champion.

Joe Kovacs, with zero global medals to his name, is the only man to throw farther than 22 meters this year, doing so to win the U.S. Championship on the California State Capitol grounds on June 25.

Kovacs will be looking for his second Diamond League win of the year, going against all of the other men to have won in 2014 — Reese HoffaChristian Cantwell and David Storl.

Men’s 400m hurdles — 2:03

This race features Olympic champion Felix Sanchez, World champion Jehue Gordon, Olympic and World silver medalist Michael Tinsley and 2014 world leader Javier Culson.

The American Tinsley is looking to match the Puerto Rican Culson in Diamond League race wins this season at three.

Men’s 5000m — 2:15

Galen Rupp became a father of twins during the Diamond League break. Now, the Olympic 10,000m silver medalist will try to better his two previous 5000m results from this season, a third and a fourth.

Rupp’s task will be difficult. The field in Stockholm is led by Kenyan Edwin Soi, who won a race in Paris that included Rupp, Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwetthe World silver medalist, and Kenyan Caleb Ndiku, the Commonwealth Games champion.

Women’s 200m — 2:32

Five different women have won the six Diamond League 200m races this season, but Felix and Bowie are the only ones returning to this field. They’ll both try to match Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare at two victories in 2014.

Will Bowie have her sights set on Schippers’ world lead of 22.03? She would need to knock .15 off her personal best from this year to match it. Felix is ranked No. 6 in the world this year at 22.34. Her best time in a season hasn’t been that slow since 2002, when she was 16.

Women’s 1500m — 3:50

The usual Abeba AregawiJenny Simpson duel adds World Indoor 3000m champion Genzebe Dibaba for a little extra spice to cap off the night’s action in Stockholm.

The favorite may be none of them but Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan, who won the last two Diamond League 1500m races and the European Championship over Aregawi.

Lolo Jones ends track and field season early

Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz exit French Open, leaving no U.S. men

Frances Tiafoe French Open

Frances Tiafoe kept coming oh so close to extending his French Open match against Alexander Zverev: 12 times Saturday night, the American was two points from forcing things to a fifth set.

Yet the 12th-seeded Tiafoe never got closer than that.

Instead, the 22nd-seeded Zverev finished out his 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-1, 7-6 (5) victory after more than 3 1/2 hours in Court Philippe Chatrier to reach the fourth round. With Tiafoe’s exit, none of the 16 men from the United States who were in the bracket at the start of the tournament are still in the field.

“I mean, for the majority of the match, I felt like I was in control,” said Tiafoe, a 25-year-old from Maryland who fell to 1-7 against Zverev.

“It’s just tough,” he said about a half-hour after his loss ended, rubbing his face with his hand. “I should be playing the fifth right now.”

Two other American men lost earlier Saturday: No. 9 seed Taylor Fritz and unseeded Marcos Giron.

No. 23 Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina beat Fritz 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5, and Nicolas Jarry of Chile eliminated Giron 6-2, 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-3.

There are three U.S women remaining: No. 6 Coco Gauff, Sloane Stephens and Bernarda Pera.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

It is the second year in a row that zero men from the United States will participate in the fourth round at Roland Garros. If nothing else, it stands as a symbolic step back for the group after what seemed to be a couple of breakthrough showings at the past two majors.

For Tiafoe, getting to the fourth round is never the goal.

“I want to win the trophy,” he said.

Remember: No American man has won any Grand Slam title since Andy Roddick at the 2003 U.S. Open. The French Open has been the least successful major in that stretch with no U.S. men reaching the quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003.

But Tiafoe beat Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of the U.S. Open along the way to getting to the semifinals there last September, the first time in 16 years the host nation had a representative in the men’s final four at Flushing Meadows.

Then, at the Australian Open this January, Tommy Paul, Sebastian Korda and Ben Shelton became the first trio of Americans in the men’s quarterfinals in Melbourne since 2000. Paul made it a step beyond that, to the semifinals.

After that came this benchmark: 10 Americans were ranked in the ATP’s Top 50, something that last happened in June 1995.

On Saturday, after putting aside a whiffed over-the-shoulder volley — he leaned atop the net for a moment in disbelief — Tiafoe served for the fourth set at 5-3, but couldn’t seal the deal.

In that game, and the next, and later on, too, including at 5-all in the tiebreaker, he would come within two points of owning that set.

Each time, Zverev claimed the very next point. When Tiafoe sent a forehand wide to end it, Zverev let out two big yells. Then the two, who have been pals for about 15 years, met for a warm embrace at the net, and Zverev placed his hand atop Tiafoe’s head.

“He’s one of my best friends on tour,” said Zverev, a German who twice has reached the semifinals on the red clay of Paris, “but on the court, I’m trying to win.”

At the 2022 French Open, Zverev tore ligaments in his right ankle while playing Nadal in the semifinals and had to stop.

“It’s been definitely the hardest year of my life, that’s for sure,” Zverev said. “I love tennis more than anything in the world.”

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2023 French Open women’s singles draw, scores

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At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Having turned 22 on Wednesday, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

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 Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

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