Jeremy Abbott, rebuilt and motivated, begins 10th season

Jeremy Abbott

source: Getty ImagesJeremy Abbott said he spent the weekend rewatching videos of his career, one that’s included four U.S. Championships, two Olympics and a bronze medal from Sochi.

He wanted to get back into a competitive mode — and its associated tension and nerves — going into his debut event of his 10th senior figure skating season at Skate America in Hoffman Estates, Ill., next week.

His takeaway?

“I’ve had a pretty good career,” he said on a teleconference Monday. “Certainly there are still more things that I want to do.”

Abbott went into last season believing it would be his finale as a competitive skater.

He won the U.S. Championships in January then had a disastrous performance in the Olympic team event short program (seventh overall), though he still took home a bronze medal. Abbott later also fell in his singles short program, considered dropping out due to pain, but gutted out a 12th-place finish overall.

Abbott went to the World Championships a month later and finished fifth, matching his best performance ever at a Worlds or Olympics. That motivated him to reconsider retirement.

“I am missing one thing in my competitive career that I want,” he told in May. “I want a World medal. I feel like there is such a void.”

He still feels that way.

“It is a strong motivating factor,” Abbott said Monday. “It’s not the only one.”

Abbott will begin working toward that goal competitively at Skate America next week. There, he’s slated to face 2014 Olympic bronze medalist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan, fifth-place finisher Tatsuki Machida of Japan and countryman Jason Brown, who was ninth in Sochi and won his season debut in Germany three weeks ago.

Confidence will rise if he can top a field of that caliber, but which Abbott will show up?

The man who knocked off Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir at back-to-back U.S. Championships in 2009 and 2010, or the one who underperformed at so many international competitions before that Worlds awakening in Japan in March?

Abbott finished fifth in his only Skate America appearance in 2012. He hasn’t won a Grand Prix series event since 2011. He still has at least a little of that fire, ignited with that “middle finger” rant in Sochi.

“When I comepted against Evan and Johnny, I was always constantly fighting for that attention, because I was always that third one,” Abbott said. “I was always brushed aside by the media because they garnered the attention. Now, Jason Brown is garnering that attention as well. That’s great for figure skating, and that’s great for the U.S., but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s going to win.”

Abbott said this season “is for me.” He said he’s rebuilt himself as a skater, right down to the “biomechanics,” not a term often used in the sport. Less dancing movement. More classic figure skating.

“We kind of wanted to throw it back and be very traditional,” said Abbott, who said his body feels better than it has in years with less hip and back pain.

He’s grown facial hair and added a short program to Sam Smith‘s “Lay Me Down.”

“Since this is the first year we get to do lyrics,” Abbott said of a new rule allowing skaters to perform to music with words, “I was super excited to get the chance to do that.”

Abbott said he’s loving his skating right now but cautioned to let time and competitions play out.

“Every season is long,” he said. “We get to start the whole marathon next week.”

Video: Wrong anthem played at World Gymnastics Championships

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

French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw