Roger Federer, Martina Hingis to play Rio Olympic mixed doubles

Roger Federer, Martina Hingis
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Roger Federer said Friday that he will play mixed doubles with Martina Hingis at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Mixed doubles rejoined the Olympic program for 2012 for the first time since 1924, and the Swiss duo discussed going for the London debut but opted against it.

“[Hingis] has approached me [for 2016], and I said I’d give it some thought,” Federer, who turns 35 on the first Monday of the Rio Olympics, said March 10. “The problem is, I don’t know how I play singles, doubles, mixed [doubles] within an eight-day period [at the Olympics]. To try to win them all, it’s like 15 matches in eight days [15 in nine days in London 2012]. You tell me how that works. I don’t [know]. I have to figure out things and what my priority is at the end of the day.”

Federer and Hingis’ Olympic careers haven’t overlapped yet.

Hingis, then 15, was the second-youngest singles player at the Atlanta 1996 Games, behind Anna Kournikova, and lost in the second round.

She then won five Grand Slam singles titles, skipped the Sydney 2000 Olympics to avoid injury risk, was retired during the 2004 and 2008 Olympics and not playing WTA Tour events in 2012.

Federer and Hingis played together and won at the 2001 Hopman Cup, a team indoor event in Australia.

“She was, I guess, some say a hero of mine, seeing her on the tour, basically when I was still not knowing what I was doing on the tennis court,” Federer, who played in the last four Olympics but hasn’t won Olympic singles gold, said March 10. “She was already winning Wimbledon and all of those things. It was unbelievable to watch. I’ll obviously give it [mixed doubles in Rio] some thought because I have a lot of respect for her.”

Hingis asked both Federer and Federer’s 2008 Olympic doubles champion partner, Stan Wawrinka, about playing mixed doubles in Rio, reportedly asking Federer first.

Hingis then said Sept. 11 that she would wait for the men to decide who she would play with in Rio.

This year, the 35-year-old Hingis won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open mixed doubles with Indian Leander Paes. She’s the first woman to win three Grand Slam mixed doubles titles in one year since Martina Navratilova in 1985.

Only one female Olympian has gone longer between Olympic appearances than Hingis’ potential 20-year gap — U.S. equestrian Jessica Newberry-Ransehousen (from 1964 to 1988), according to Olympic historian Bill Mallon of OlympStats.com.

The overall record is held by Japanese equestrian Hiroshi Hoketsu, who went 44 years from 1964 to 2008.

MORE TENNIS: Rafael Nadal talks Rio Olympic doubles

In a tie, Wendy Holdener puts to rest a remarkable stat in Alpine skiing

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Swiss Wendy Holdener ended one of the most remarkable victory droughts in sports by tying for the win with Swede Anna Swenn Larsson in a World Cup slalom in Killington, Vermont, on Sunday.

Holdener, after 15 second-place finishes and 15 third-place finishes in her career, stood on the top step of a World Cup slalom podium for the first time. She shared it with Swenn Larsson, who had six World Cup slalom podiums before Sunday and also earned her first win.

They beat Austrian Katharina Truppe by .22 of a second combining times from two runs.

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Holdener, 29, previously won three World Cups in other disciplines, plus two world championships in the combined and Olympic and world titles in the team event.

“To be tied first when I came into the finish was such a relief,” Holdener said while shoulder to shoulder with Swenn Larsson. “On the end, it’s perfect, because now we can share our first win together.”

Mikaela Shiffrin had the best first-run time but lost her lead midway through the second run and finished fifth. Shiffrin, who won the first two slaloms this season last weekend, was bidding for a 50th World Cup slalom victory and a sixth win in six slaloms in Killington.

“I fought. I think some spots I got a little bit off my timing, but I was pushing, and that’s slalom,” she said before turning her attention to Holdener and Swenn Larsson. “It’s a pretty special day, actually.”

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves next weekend to Lake Louise, Alberta, with two downhills and a super-G.

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Injured Ilia Malinin wins Grand Prix Finland, qualifies for Grand Prix Final

Ilia Malinin
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Ilia Malinin, competing “a little bit injured” this week, still won Grand Prix Finland and goes into the Grand Prix Final in two weeks as the world’s top-ranked male singles skater.

Malinin, who was second after Friday’s short program, landed four clean quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate to overtake Frenchman Kevin Aymoz.

Malinin, who landed a quad flip in competition for the first time, according to SkatingScores.com, also attempted a quad Axel to open his program, but spun out of the landing and put his hand down on the ice.

Malinin also won his previous two starts this season in come-from-behind fashion. The 17-year-old world junior champion became the first skater to land a clean, fully rotated quad Axel in September, then did it again in October at Skate America, where he posted the world’s top overall score this season.

Next, Malinin can become the second-youngest man to win the Grand Prix Final after Russian Yevgeny Plushenko. His biggest competition is likely to be world champion Shoma Uno of Japan, who like Malinin won both of his Grand Prix starts this fall. Malinin and Uno have not gone head-to-head this season.

Grand Prix Finland highlights air on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

FIGURE SKATING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier, Japan’s Mai Mihara overtook world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium to become the only woman to win both of her Grand Prix starts this season. Mihara prevailed by .23 of a point. The top three women this season by best total score are Japanese, led by a junior skater, 14-year-old Mao Shimada, who isn’t Olympic age-eligible until 2030.

Mihara and Hendrickx qualified for the Grand Prix Final, joining world champion Kaori Sakamoto and Rinka Watanabe, both of Japan, South Korean Yelim Kim and American Isabeau Levito, the world junior champion.

Italians Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini won both pairs’ programs and qualified for their first Grand Prix Final.

Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara and Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier headline the Final. Both pairs won each of their Grand Prix starts earlier this fall. The Japanese have the world’s two best scores this season. The Americans are reigning world champions.

At least one Russian or Chinese pair made every Grand Prix Final podium — usually pairs from both countries — but neither nation competed in pairs this Grand Prix season. All Russian skaters are banned due to the war in Ukraine. China’s lone entry on the Grand Prix across all disciplines was an ice dance couple.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier improved on their world-leading score for this season in winning the ice dance by 17.03 points over Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. Both couples qualified for the Grand Prix Final in the absence of all three Olympic medalists this fall.

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