Mikaela Shiffrin
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Mikaela Shiffrin’s return unknown after MCL tear

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Over the next few weeks, Mikaela Shiffrin will slalom between rest and rehab.

Usually so fast on a race course, the Olympic and World slalom champion is taking things at a conservative pace as she recovers from a torn knee ligament and painful bone bruise. There’s no timetable for her return to skiing, either.

But there is some promising news: She won’t need surgery. Just rest and rehab. Lots and lots of it after tearing the medial collateral ligament in her right knee during a wipeout while preparing for a giant slalom last Saturday in Are, Sweden.

”It’s nice for me to know that, as far as everyone’s said, I’ll be able to ski before the snow melts,” Shiffrin said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday. ”Getting back to racing is another story. It’s tough to make any sort of predictions about when I’ll be able to race again.

”If I don’t feel like I can get in the starting gate of a race and attack the hill, I’m not going to.”

There’s a possibility the skier from Eagle-Vail, Colo., could return to the slopes for the World Cup Finals in March. Now that would be quite a birthday present for Shiffrin, who turns 21 on March 13.

”You can only take it week by week first, and then day by day,” Shiffrin’s manager, Kilian Albrecht, said. ”Obviously, there is hope that she can return as the season is still pretty long. But unfortunately all of the tech races are now, which is not good as she will for sure miss a lot of the races.”

Shiffrin was hurt when she crashed during a free skiing session on the competition hill. She said she was making a right-footed turn when she hit a patch of icy snow. Her right ski slipped and then her knee buckled, before hitting some grippy snow that caused her to hyperextend her knee and skid into the protective netting.

As her coaches untangled her, Shiffrin feared the worst.

”I was like, ‘I have to get up, and ski down,”’ she said. ”That was my first thought in the first 10 seconds when I got untangled. But I was sitting there on the side of the hill and there was no way I was even walking. Something was wrong, but I couldn’t tell what.”

She flew back to Colorado for more tests on her knee, which confirmed she had a bone bruise and MCL tear.

”I’m lucky that I don’t need surgery and I’m lucky that there are no other implications,” Shiffrin said. ”It could’ve been really bad. You know Lindsey Vonn‘s knee injuries and how long it took her to come back, and countless other athletes. They all come back, but it takes a solid two years. I’m not looking at a timeline like that at all.”

She was considered the top contender to Vonn in the World Cup overall race, especially with Tina Maze taking the season off and defending champ Anna Fenninger sidelined with a knee injury.

That’s all but vanished for Shiffrin.

”It’s pretty heartbreaking because I think everybody in the back of their minds, including me, was thinking a 20-year-old being able to battle it out probably with Lindsey Vonn for the overall — how that’s pretty spectacular, no matter who comes out on top,” said Shiffrin, who won the slalom at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and at the last two World Championships. ”That’s how it was looking until this happened. It’s definitely a bummer.”

Shiffrin was in the midst of a stellar start, winning the opening two slaloms this season in Aspen by staggering margins, including one by 3.07 seconds, the largest margin of victory for the women’s discipline in World Cup history. She also made her speed debut in Lake Louise, Alberta, this month and finished a respectable 15th during a super-G race won by Vonn.

While sidelined, Shiffrin said she plans to take some online classes in personal finance – ”I’d like to know a little more about investing,” she said – and improve her guitar playing. She also will go through rehab three times a day, even posting a video on social media Tuesday of her pedaling on a stationary bike while wearing a brace.

”I’m pretty positive right now. I’m not in any pain or anything,” Shiffrin said. ”I don’t have a lot of swelling, so that’s all a good sign. That makes me positive.”

MORE: Vonn wins 71st World Cup race after Shiffrin injury

Good news from physician visit yesterday-  No additional injury from what we already knew. I have bone bruising and an…

Posted by Mikaela Shiffrin on Tuesday, December 15, 2015

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.

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