Rowdy Gaines previews Duel in the Pool

Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS – Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin will lead the U.S. contingent against European all-stars at Duel in the Pool in Indianapolis on Friday and Saturday.

The 2013 event came down to a tie breaking mixed 4 x 50m medley relay, won by the United States to claim the overall meet victory and preserve its undefeated 6-0 streak since Duel in the Pool started in 2003.

The Ryder Cup-style event is a 25m short course dual meet held over two days with no prelims or semis – only finals. There are 15 events for men and 15 for women, where athletes can score five points for first place, three points for second and one point for third place. Seven points are awarded to winning relays. The first team to reach 131.5 points wins.

Action begins Friday at 7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Live Extra. will stream Friday night’s action and Saturday’s at 2 p.m. ET.

NBC will air coverage of the meet Dec. 19 from 4-6 p.m. ET.

NBC Olympics analyst and gold medalist Rowdy Gaines provided his thoughts about what makes this meet so special.

If the U.S. is beatable:

“It’s going to be really close. The Europeans are trying to win. They have some real fire power and they have great relay strength this time. That’s one of the reasons they got off to such a great start a couple of years ago, because they were able to win those relays. They’ll be a little hungrier.”

On the presence of big stars like Lochte and versatile Hungarian Olympian Katinka Hosszu:

“It always helps to have a big star or a couple big stars on the team because they can anchor that team when they do that. I know the Europeans had Short Course [Championships, last weekend] and some of them may keep resting after that.”

On the popularity of this swim meet:

“If it ends up even anything close to what it was two years ago – ha! – it’s going to be crazy. Even if you’re not a fan of swimming, it was so much fun two years ago because it was like this crescendo that just started building more and more, especially for the Europeans because they actually started believing they could win.”

On the storied venue, which hosted the first Duel in the Pool in 2003:

“We’re used to swimming in Indianapolis. It’s a real home-cooking type of pool. It’s the cathedral of swimming really. Not that we have a Wrigley Field or Fenway Park, but it’s sort of Wrigley Field or Fenway Park. Everybody’s swum there, everybody’s had big meets there. They’re used to that pool. I think that will help a lot.”

Franklin was absent from the 2013 meet because she was prepping for finals during her first semester at the University of California. Lochte was out due to an injury from an accident invoving a fan encounter.

Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky are sitting this year’s meet out. Phelps won three events last weekend at Winter Nationals, and Ledecky most recently competed at a Pro Series meet in Minneapolis.

The European roster features 27 Olympians from 11 countries, including Hungarians Hosszu and Laszlo Cseh, the Netherlands’ Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Great Britain’s Hannah Miley and Russia’s Vladimir Morozov and Yulia Efimova.

USA’s 6-0 Duel in the Pool record:

2003 vs. Australia, in Indianapolis: 196 to 74

2005 vs. Australia, in Irvine, Calif.: 190 to 102

2007 vs. Australia, in Sydney: 181.5 to 129.5

2009 vs. Europe, in Manchester: 185 to 78

2011 vs. Europe, in Atlanta: 181.5 to 80.5

2013 vs. Europe, in Glasgow: 132-131

French Open: Sloane Stephens takes out seed Karolina Pliskova

Sloane Stephens

PARIS — Back on her “favorite court in the world,” Sloane Stephens looked sharp in her opening match at the French Open with a 6-0, 6-4 win over two-time major finalist Karolina Pliskova.

While Stephens’ only Grand Slam title came at the 2017 U.S. Open, she’s also had sustained success at Roland Garros, finishing as a runner-up to Simona Halep in 2018 and reaching two quarterfinals on the red clay in Paris — including last year.

“This is my favorite court in the world, so I’m super happy to be back,” Stephens told the crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier. “To start a Slam on your favorite court, your favorite surface, is always incredible.”

She helped American women go 4-0 through the first few hours of play on Day 2 of the tournament after a 1-4 start on Sunday, when the only U.S. victory came in a match between two players from the country: Jessica Pegula beat Danielle Collins.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Madison Keys, the runner-up to Stephens in New York six years ago and a semifinalist at Roland Garros in 2018, beat Kaia Kanepi 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 on Monday to improve her career record in the first round of majors to 35-5.

Keys next plays American qualifier Kayla Day, who eliminated French wild-card entry Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 6-1.

Also, Croatian-born American Bernarda Pera beat former No. 2-ranked Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (6), 6-2.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, a finalist in Paris in 2021, breezed past Czech teenager Linda Fruhvirtova 6-2, 6-2; and 22nd-seeded Donna Vekic beat qualifier Dayana Yastremska 6-2, 7-5.

Stephens was down a break in the second set against Pliskova but then won three straight games to close it out.

Stephens had a 19-16 edge in winners and committed only 10 unforced errors to 31 by Pliskova, who lost in the finals of the U.S. Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2021.

“This court is a bit tricky. You have to play on it a lot to understand when the wind is blowing and where it’s coming,” Stephens said. “The more you play on it, the more you understand it. But it’s a very complicated court. But that’s what makes it so amazing.”

Stephens won a small clay-court tournament in Saint Malo, France, at the start of the month and also reached the semifinals of the Morocco Open last week after only playing a total of three matches at bigger clay events in Madrid and Rome.

“Last year, my clay season wasn’t great, but I played amazing at Roland Garros last year,” Stephens said, “and this year, I really wanted to get matches and play a lot and to see where that got me.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Canada wins men’s hockey world title; Latvia wins first medal

IIHF Hockey World Championship

TAMPERE, Finland — Samuel Blais scored two goals to rally Canada to a 5-2 victory over Germany in the final of the world men’s hockey championship on Sunday.

It’s a record 28th world title for Canada, and its second in three years. Russia has 27 while Germany has never won the trophy.

Blais netted with a backhand 4:51 into the final period for a 3-2 lead for Canada, which was playing in its fourth straight final.

“It feels really good,” Blais said. “We’ve been in Europe for a month and we’ve all waited for that moment to play for the gold medal game. And we’re lucky enough to have won it.”

Lawson Crouse, Tyler Toffoli and Scott Laughton also scored for Canada, Peyton Krebs had two assists and goaltender Samuel Montembeault stopped 21 shots.

Toffoli stretched the lead to 4-2 from the left circle with 8:09 remaining and Laughton made it 5-2 with an empty net goal.

Adam Fantilli became only the second Canadian player after Jonathan Toews to win gold at the world juniors and world championship the same year.

Canada had to come back twice in the final.

John Peterka wristed a shot past Montembeault from the left circle 7:44 into the game. It was the sixth goal for the Buffalo Sabres forward at the tournament.

Blais was fed by Krebs to beat goaltender Mathias Niederberger and tie it 1-1 at 10:47.

Daniel Fischbuch put the Germans ahead again with a one-timer with 6:13 to go in the middle period.

Crouse equalized on a power play with 2:32 remaining in the frame.

It was the first medal for Germany since 1953 when it was second behind Sweden.

The two previously met just once in the final with Canada winning 6-1 in 1930.


Defenseman Kristian Rubins scored his second goal 1:22 into overtime to lead Latvia to a 4-3 victory over the United States and earn a bronze medal earlier Sunday.

It’s the first top-three finish for Latvia at the tournament. Its previous best was a seventh place it managed three times.

The U.S. lost in the bronze medal game for the second straight year. The U.S. team was cruising through the tournament with eight straight wins until it was defeated by Germany in the semifinal 4-3 in overtime.

Rubins rallied Latvia with his first with 5:39 to go in the final period to tie the game at 3 to force overtime.

Roberts Bukarts and Janis Jaks also scored for Latvia.

Rocco Grimaldi scored twice for the U.S. in the opening period to negate Latvia’s 1-0 and 2-1 leads.

Matt Coronato had put the U.S. 3-2 ahead 6:19 into the final period.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!