Gracie Gold eyes Skate America rebound after crumbling in Japan

Gracie Gold
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Gracie Gold‘s first international competition this season didn’t go well.

“I just kind of choked, really,” she said.

Gold, the top U.S. finisher at the 2014 Olympics (fourth) and 2014 and 2015 World Championships (fifth, fourth), was the last finisher overall, sixth in a six-skater field, at the Japan Open on Oct. 3.

The Japan Open is a team event, closer to an exhibition, with skaters performing only a free skate.

The other five women at the competition were Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova, World champions Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Mao Asada, three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner and Worlds silver medalist Satoko Miyahara.

Gold fell and finished a distant 27.17 points behind the winner Asada.

She called it a “speed bump” to start a season for which she’s set specific goals — qualifying for the six-skater Grand Prix Final in December, reclaiming the U.S. title in January and becoming the first U.S. woman to make a World Championships podium since 2006, in Boston in March and April.

“I just got nervous [at the Japan Open], and I didn’t rely on all of my training and hard work,” Gold said Thursday. “I just kind of froze. I almost wanted to skate so well and show everyone how hard I had been working and everything that I just ended up tripping over my own feet.”

The 20-year-old wants to approach next week’s Skate America as if the Japan Open didn’t happen. Gold is the top U.S. draw in the Milwaukee event (live on NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra, Oct. 24-25).

MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule

Gold finished third at Skate America last year, behind two Russians who turned out to be the strongest skaters over the course of the season — Yelena Radionova and Tuktamysheva.

This year’s field includes neither Radionova nor Tuktamysheva. Gold could have an easier path to the title with the other star attractions being Miyahara and Russian Yulia Lipnitskaya, the darling of the 2014 Olympic team event who plummeted to ninth at the Russian Championships last season.

Gold spent her offseason practicing a triple Axel but does not expect to try it in competition until next season at the earliest. Tuktamysheva and Asada are known for performing the difficult jump that has eluded the top active U.S. women.

Gold said she made great strides with the triple Axel until a few weeks ago, when she took a hard fall attempting the jump and decided to step back from it. She hopes to work on it more consistently after Skate America and before her second Grand Prix Series event, Trophée Bompard in France in mid-November.

She sees positives from practicing it, even if she won’t use it in competition this season.

“Working on a triple Axel, then my other jumps feel easy in comparison,” Gold said. “I have a, so far, positive relationship with the triple Axel.”

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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

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.

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.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

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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