Michael Phelps could be offered World Championships spot by FINA

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Michael Phelps may be extended an invitation to the World Swimming Championships by FINA, the sport’s international governing body.

Phelps was taken off the roster for the U.S. team in October as part of his punishment for a DUI arrest. Phelps said Wednesday that he accepted that decision, despite a March report that he may be reinstated by USA Swimming.

“We may give him another status because he’s the greatest athlete [in] history,” FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu said, according to The Associated Press, adding that it would be “no problem for us.” “We can do whatever. He is the No. 1. He doesn’t need the accreditations.”

Phelps was told of Marculescu’s comments at the Pro Swim Series at Mesa, Ariz., later Thursday.

“Old Cornel,” Phelps joked to reporters after his first race since August (recap, video here). “I don’t even know. Cornel and I have known each other for a long time. It’s news to me. … I’m here to swim here right now. That’s what I’m focused on. I really don’t know what to expect. Bob and I’s plan has always been to prepare ourselves for [Summer] Nationals [in San Antonio the same time as the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, in August] because I wasn’t able to swim at the World Championships.”

On Wednesday, Phelps was most adamant that he did not want to take the spot of another U.S. swimmer on the World Championships team.

“By no way would I ever want to displace a member of that team,” Phelps said. “It is painful to think that I won’t have the chance to compete at Worlds based off the decision that was made last fall by USA Swimming.”

More on Phelps’ 40-minute press conference here.

If USA Swimming reinstated Phelps for the 100m butterfly, it would knock Tim Phillips off the U.S. team. In Phelps’ other events, swimmers who were already on the U.S. team in different races stepped up to take his individual spots (Tyler Clary in the 200m individual medley and Ryan Lochte in the 100m freestyle).

Rules dictate that a nation may enter no more than two swimmers per race. But if FINA awards an extra place for Phelps at Worlds, it wouldn’t have to affect the U.S. team.

If Phelps is given a third U.S. spot in Worlds races, then it creates the possibility for a U.S. podium sweep in events. However, this is unlikely, given South African Chad le Clos is the reigning 100m fly World champion, Japan’s Kosuke Hagino beat Phelps and Lochte in the 200m IM at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships and Australians Cameron McEvoy and James Magnussen took the 100m free at last two major international meets.

If Phelps was readded, he could also compete in U.S. relays, including mixed-gender relays, which are on the World Championships program for the first time.

“We don’t discuss with USA Swimming yet because they passed so many waves in the case of Phelps,” Marculescu said, according to the AP.

Flashback: Michael Phelps at the Sydney 2000 Olympics

2020 French Open women’s singles draw, bracket

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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, bracket

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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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