Gracie Gold leads NHK Trophy; Yuzuru Hanyu struggles

Gracie Gold

U.S. champion Gracie Gold is in position to qualify for her first Grand Prix Final, leading the NHK Trophy in Osaka, Japan, after the short program Friday.

Gold, who was fourth at the Olympics and fifth at March’s World Championships, posted her highest short program score this season, 68.16 points. She led Russian Alena Leonova by .05.

A win at NHK Trophy would put Gold into the six-woman Grand Prix Final in Barcelona in two weeks. The Grand Prix Final, which includes the top skaters from the six-event Grand Prix series, is the top annual international competition outside the World Championships.

If the NHK standings hold through the free skate Saturday, Gold and countrywoman Ashley Wagner would join four Russian women in the Grand Prix Final.

“I think there are positives and negatives in qualifying for the GP Final,” Gold said, according to The Associated Press. “When you consider the U.S. Nationals are in January, it kind of interrupts your schedule for that, but of course it means you have done very well.”

Olympic and World men’s champion Yuzuru Hanyu is in fifth place behind leader and countryman Takahito Mura and in jeopardy of missing the Grand Prix Final. Hanyu, 19, fell on his opening quadruple jump and put his hands down on a later jump, not getting credit for a combination.

Hanyu clearly wasn’t near his best, performing three weeks after a warm-up collision with another skater at Cup of China.

“I feel like I’ve recovered enough and just tried to skate as normal,” Hanyu said, according to the AP. “Obviously this is disappointing. But the free skate is one I’m confident with and I will do my best tomorrow.”

If the NHK standings hold through the free skate, Hanyu would be in a three-way tie with Americans Jeremy Abbott and Jason Brown for the last Grand Prix Final spot. The tiebreaker would be the skaters’ highest combined scores in their two Grand Prix series events.

If Hanyu moves into the top three after the free skate, he will make the Grand Prix Final regardless of what other skaters do in Osaka.

Abbott put himself in contention with a clean short program Friday, totaling 81.51, 4.77 behind Mura. Abbott, a four-time U.S. champion, hopes to make his first Grand Prix Final in three years.

NHK Trophy Short Program

1. Gracie Gold (USA) — 68.16
2. Alena Leonova (RUS) — 68.11
3. Kanako Murakami (JPN) — 64.38
6. Christina Gao (USA) — 54.86
11. Polina Edmunds (USA) — 48.96

1. Takahito Mura (JPN) — 86.28
2. Jeremy Abbott (USA) — 81.51
3. Daisuke Murakami (JPN) — 79.68
5. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 78.01
10. Ross Miner (USA) — 63.36
11. Josh Farris (USA) — 58.35

U.S. figure skaters officially Olympic medalists, 50 years later

2023 French Open men’s singles draw, scores

French Open Men's Draw
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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 could meet in the 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

Coco Gauff, Iga Swiatek set French Open rematch

Coco Gauff French Open

Coco Gauff swept into the French Open quarterfinals, where she plays Iga Swiatek in a rematch of last year’s final.

Gauff, the sixth seed, beat 100th-ranked Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 7-5, 6-2 in the fourth round. She next plays the top seed Swiatek, who later Monday advanced after 66th-ranked Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko retired down 5-1 after taking a medical timeout due to illness.

Gauff earned a 37th consecutive win over a player ranked outside the top 50, dating to February 2022. She hasn’t faced a player in the world top 60 in four matches at Roland Garros, but the degree of difficulty ratchets up in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.

Swiatek won all 12 sets she’s played against Gauff, who at 19 is the only teenager in the top 49 in the world. Gauff said last week that there’s no point in revisiting last year’s final — a 6-1, 6-3 affair — but said Monday that she should rewatch that match because they haven’t met on clay since.

“I don’t want to make the final my biggest accomplishment,” she said. “Since last year I have been wanting to play her, especially at this tournament. I figured that it was going to happen, because I figured I was going to do well, and she was going to do well.

“The way my career has gone so far, if I see a level, and if I’m not quite there at that level, I know I have to improve, and I feel like you don’t really know what you have to improve on until you see that level.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Also Monday, No. 7 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia dispatched 36th-ranked American Bernarda Pera 6-3, 6-1, breaking all eight of Pera’s service games.

Jabeur, runner-up at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year, has now reached the quarterfinals of all four majors.

Jabeur next faces 14th-seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia, who won 6-7 (3), 6-3, 7-5 over Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo, who played on a protected ranking of 68. Haddad Maia became the second Brazilian woman to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal in the Open Era (since 1968) after Maria Bueno, who won seven majors from 1959-1966.

Pera, a 28 year-old born in Croatia, was the oldest U.S. singles player to make the fourth round of a major for the first time since Jill Craybas at 2005 Wimbledon. Her defeat left Gauff as the lone American singles player remaining out of the 35 entered in the main draws.

The last American to win a major singles title was Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought matches the longest in history (since 1877) for American men and women combined.

In the men’s draw, 2022 French Open runner-up Casper Ruud reached the quarterfinals by beating 35th-ranked Chilean Nicolas Jarry 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-5. He’ll next play sixth seed Holger Rune of Denmark, a 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7) winner over 23rd seed Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina.

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