U.S. men earn mixed results in World Gymnastics Championships qualifying

Sam Mikulak

The U.S. qualified behind China and Japan into the World Gymnastics Championships team final Saturday, with team leader Sam Mikulak struggling but advancing to the all-around final.

The U.S. men were weak on high bar, counting a 13.666 and a 13.633 in Nanning, China. That came after the Americans posted the top combined team score on their Achilles’ heel apparatus, pommel horse, counting zero falls over five routines.

Qualifying scores are wiped out, and gymnasts start with a clean slate for the team and individual finals. The team final is Tuesday. The all-around final is Thursday. Individual event finals are next weekend.

“The team qualified, that’s the goal,” Mikulak said in a USA Gymnastics interview. “Team finals, everyone’s going to be a little fresher. Not everyone’s doing as many events as they possibly can. Really be able to focus on perfection.”

In 2012, the U.S. qualified first into the London Olympic team final and finished fifth.

The Olympian Mikulak, the two-time reigning P&G Championships all-around winner, struggled on parallel bars (14.133) and high bar (13.633) on Saturday, though he didn’t fall.

He qualified13th for the all-around final, 4.5 points behind Japan’s four-time reigning World champion Kohei Uchimura, after qualifying second into the 2013 World all-around final, where he was a medal threat until the last apparatus and finished sixth.

Mikulak was beaten in Saturday’s all-around qualifying by countryman Donnell Whittenburg, the only U.S. man making his Worlds debut. Whittenburg was fourth in all-around qualifying.

Uchimura’s super-favorite status was boosted before Worlds with Olympic all-around silver medalist Marcel Nguyen‘s torn ACL. U.S. Olympic all-around bronze medalist Danell Leyva did not compete on all six events in qualifying, keeping him out of the all-around final.

Reigning World all-around silver medalist Ryohei Kato and top British hope Max Whitlock were third among their countrymen in all-around qualifying, meaning they also did not qualify into the all-around final.

Germany’s Fabian Hambuechen, the reigning World all-around bronze medalist, is the only man other than Uchimura with a World or Olympic all-around medal to his name in the all-around final Thursday.

Team Qualifying
1. China — 362.698
2. Japan — 361.609
3. USA — 360.393

All-Around Qualifying
1. Kohei Uchimura (JPN) — 92.165
4. Donnell Whittenburg (USA) — 89.631
13. Sam Mikulak (USA) — 87.665

The U.S. men in position to qualify for individual event finals (top eight, maximum two per country) with one qualifying group left:

Parallel Bars
1. Danell Leyva — 15.9 (Leyva is the 2011 World champion on parallel bars)
7. Donnell Whittenburg — 15.533

Pommel Horse
2. Alex Naddour — 15.633

6. Jake Dalton — 15.183

Floor Exercise
8. Jake Dalton — 15.466 (Dalton is the 2013 World silver medalist on floor)

World Gymnastics Championships broadcast schedule

Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz set French Open semifinal showdown


Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz will play in the French Open semifinals on Friday in the most anticipated match of the tournament.

Each man advanced with a quarterfinal win on Tuesday.

Djokovic, eyeing a record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam men’s singles title, rallied past 11th-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov 4-6, 7-6 (0), 6-2, 6-4. The Serb reached his 45th career major semifinal, one shy of Roger Federer‘s men’s record.

Later Tuesday, top seed Alcaraz crushed fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (5) to consolidate his status as the favorite in Friday’s showdown.

“This match, everyone wants to watch,” Alcaraz said. “I really wanted to play this match as well. I always say that if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Alcaraz, who at last year’s U.S. Open became the first male teen to win a major since Rafael Nadal in 2005, is at this event the youngest man to be the top seed at a major since Boris Becker at 1987 Wimbledon.

The Djokovic-Alcaraz semifinal will produce the clear favorite for Sunday’s final given left-handed 14-time French Open champion Nadal is out this year with a hip injury and No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev lost in the first round. Djokovic and Nadal share the record 22 men’s major titles.

Djokovic and Alcaraz met once, with Alcaraz winning last year on clay in Madrid 6-7 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5).

“[Alcaraz] brings a lot of intensity on the court,” Djokovic said, before breaking into a smile. “Reminds me of someone from his country that plays with a left hand.”

Alcaraz and Djokovic were set to be on opposite halves of the draw — and thus not able to meet until the final — until Medvedev won the last top-level clay event before the French Open to move ahead of Djokovic in the rankings. That meant Djokovic had a 50 percent chance to wind up in Alcaraz’s half, and that’s what the random draw spit out two weeks ago.

Earlier Tuesday in the first two women’s quarterfinals, No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and 43rd-ranked Czech Karolina Muchova advanced to face off in Thursday’s semifinals.

Sabalenka, the Australian Open champion, swept Ukrainian Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-4 to complete her set of semifinals in all four Grand Slams. Sabalenka will take the No. 1 ranking from Iga Swiatek if Swiatek loses before the final, or if Sabalenka makes the final and Swiatek does not win the title.

Svitolina, a former world No. 3, returned to competition in April from childbirth.

Muchova took out 2021 French Open runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 7-5, 6-2, to make her second major semifinal after the 2021 Australian Open.

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2023 French Open men’s singles draw

Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz
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The French Open men’s singles draw is missing injured 14-time champion Rafael Nadal for the first time since 2004, leaving the Coupe des Mousquetaires ripe for the taking.

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

Novak Djokovic is not only bidding for a third crown at Roland Garros, but also to lift a 23rd Grand Slam singles trophy to break his tie with Nadal for the most in men’s history.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Women’s Draw

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 meet in Friday’s 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).

All of the American men lost before the fourth round. The last U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals was Andre Agassi in 2003.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Men’s Singles Draw

French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw