Meb Keflezighi

Meb Keflezighi in familiar spot as New York City Marathon underdog

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NEW YORK — Two elite marathoners are targeting the New York City Marathon course record Sunday. Meb Keflezighi, the inspirational Boston Marathon winner, is not one of them.

And he’s OK with that.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself, but my career has been solidified as 110 percent complete,” Keflezighi said Thursday.

Keflezighi became the most recognizable U.S. marathoner when he triumphed in Boston on April 21, one year after twin bombings rocked the world’s oldest annual 26.2-mile race. He became the first American man to win Boston in 31 years.

It was an incredible upset in a race where the winner almost always comes from a small number of pre-race favorites. Like with Boston, Keflezighi is not part of that tiny group going into Sunday. The group may be as small as two.

Kenyans Geoffrey Mutai and Wilson Kipsang said three weeks ago they intend to break the course record of 2:05:06, set by Mutai in 2011. Mutai is trying to win his third straight New York City Marathon, something no man has done in 32 years. Kipsang held the marathon world record up until September, a mark of 2:03:27.

“If they’re going for 2:04, 2:05, I cannot do that,” Keflezighi said.

Keflezighi, who has run the New York City Marathon eight times before and won it in 2009, owns a fastest marathon time of 2:08:37, his clocking in Boston six months ago. It’s hard to expect much better at age 39 in New York, where his best time is 2:09:13. No man that old has won the New York City Marathon.

Of course, Mutai and Kipsang could be too confident, go out at a record pace and falter in the second half of the race. Or, the Kenyans might not have it in their legs come Sunday, like the Boston favorites who couldn’t catch Keflezighi’s break on April 21.

If Keflezighi finds himself with a chance to win, he could join exclusive company. He would be the second man in the last 12 years to win Boston and New York in the same year. The other was Mutai in 2011. The last U.S. man to pull off the double was Alberto Salazar in 1982.

Keflezighi finished so far back at last year’s New York City Marathon, 23rd in 2:23:47, that it sparked retirement questions.

There is no talk of quitting now.

Keflezighi hopes to compete at his fourth Olympics in Rio in 2016, should he make the team at the Olympic Trials. He would be the oldest U.S. Olympic runner of all time, according to sports-reference.com.

“Whether I win [New York], awesome, if I don’t win, I’m still going to be Meb,” he said.

Caroline Wozniacki has nervous dreams ahead of NYC Marathon

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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