Katie Ledecky breaks world record; Phelps beats Lochte in Austin

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Katie Ledecky broke the 800m freestyle world record for the fourth time in as many years, clocking 8:06.68 in Austin, Texas, on Sunday night.

“I kind of knew from the start if I put together a good swim and swam it the right way that I could have a pretty good swim,” Ledecky, who exuberantly splashed in her lane after seeing her time, said on NBC Sports Live Extra. “Every race is different, every world record has some sort of meaning.”

Ledecky, 18, first lowered the 800m free world record of 8:14.10 set by Rebecca Adlington at the Beijing 2008 Olympics on Aug. 3, 2013, when she won the World Championship in 8:13.86.

Ledecky later broke the record on June 22, 2014 and on Aug. 8, when she repeated as World champion in 8:07.39.

Her world record Sunday marked the 11th in her career in a long-course meters event.

Ledecky, who won the 2012 Olympic 800m free as the youngest member of the U.S. delegation of more than 500 athletes, owns the 400m, 800m and 1500m free world records.

She is the reigning World champion in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees.

In Rio, Ledecky could become the second U.S. woman to swim the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m frees at one Olympics, if she finishes in the top two in each event at the June/July Olympic trials in Omaha. The women’s 1500m free is not on the Olympic program.

Including relays, Ledecky could also challenge the records for most gold medals won by a woman at a single Olympics (six by East German swimmer Kristin Otto at Seoul 1988; the U.S. record is four by Missy Franklin and Amy Van Dyken).

Also in Austin, Ledecky set personal bests in the 100m and 200m freestyles and won the 400m free with the fifth-fastest time of all time.

“The 400 is my sweet spot,” Ledecky told media in Austin. “It’s probably what I train for the most, and then I’m able to go up and down from it.”

Earlier Sunday, Michael Phelps notched another first in his comeback, beating Ryan Lochte in a 200m IM final for the first time since the London Olympics. Full Austin meet results are here.

Phelps, who came out of a 20-month competitive retirement in April 2014, topped Lochte in the event by clocking 1:58.00 to his rival’s 1:58.43.

“I can look back throughout my career and say he’s probably the one who has really brought the most out of me,” Phelps told media in Austin. “I’ve had a lot of people that I’ve raced and, I guess I have a history with, but I think with Ryan it’s something special. We’ve been racing since 2004.”

Phelps and Lochte had competed in the 200m IM in four meets since Phelps’ comeback going into Austin — with Lochte clocking a faster time in every one of those meets.

The 200m IM is the staple of the Phelps-Lochte rivalry. Phelps has won the last three Olympic 200m IM titles, with Lochte joining him on the podium each time. Lochte has won the last four World titles.

Phelps swam the fastest time in the world in 2015 — 1:54.75 — at the U.S. Championships, after Lochte took the World Championship in 1:55.81, the second-fastest in the world in 2015, three days earlier.

Lochte is the world-record holder, thanks to his 1:54.00 at the 2011 World Championships.

Earlier Sunday, Franklin took second in the 100m backstroke behind Hungarian Katinka Hosszu, who won the 200m individual medley about 15 minutes later.

Franklin also finished sixth in the 100m free on Friday and third in the 200m free and 200m back on Saturday.

Olympic champion Matt Grevers prevailed in a 100m back final that included the three fastest U.S. men in the event in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Grevers prevailed in 53.35, followed by Ryan Murphy in 53.46 and David Plummer in 53.50.

That trio is expected to vie for two Olympic spots at the trials on June 28, possibly along with Olympic silver medalist Nick Thoman.

The Pro Swim Series continues March 3-5 in Orlando.

MORE SWIMMING: Ledecky looks like Olympic contender in 100m free

*Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated no U.S. woman has swum the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m freestyles at one Olympics.

Coco Gauff upsets 9th seed to start French Open

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Coco Gauff notched yet another impressive Grand Slam match win, taking out ninth seed Jo Konta in her French Open main draw debut on Sunday.

Gauff, a 16-year-old American, upset the Brit Konta, a 2019 French Open semifinalist, 6-3, 6-3 on the first day of play at Roland Garros despite 12 double faults. Konta had 41 unforced errors to 22 winners.

“Every match is a great win,” said Gauff, the youngest player in either singles draw. “I don’t really take anything for granted because I’m just happy to be playing. I don’t think maybe winning Slams, matches at Slams is something I’m used to. Especially, this is my first main draw Roland Garros. When I’m on the court. I can act like I’m used to it. When I’m off the court, I’m just happy to be here.”

The clay-court Slam was postponed from May due to the coronavirus pandemic, is being held with damp temperatures in the 50s and has limited spectators to 1,000 per day.

“I’m pretty sure this is my first ever pro tournament, maybe even tournament in general, playing in weather like this,” said Gauff, noting she warmed up for 20 minutes before going on court so she could walk in with a sweat.

Gauff, the 2018 French Open junior champion, gets Italian qualifier Martina Trevisan in the second round after playing a match in leggings for the first time in about six years.

She’s coming off an impressive last year-plus, reaching the fourth round at the most recent Wimbledon and Australian Open. In between, she became the youngest WTA tournament champion since 2004. She recorded wins over Venus Williams and Naomi Osaka.

Gauff will bid over the next nine months to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team outright by being among the top four Americans in WTA rankings after the 2021 French Open. Therefore, her result at this French Open will not count toward Olympic qualifying.

She is currently ranked 51st overall and eighth among Americans.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Earlier Sunday, Williams finished her 2020 with a third first-round loss in as many Grand Slam tournaments — 6-4, 6-4 to Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

With the WTA’s autumn Asian swing canceled, Williams said she won’t play before next season starts in Australia.

Williams, 40 years old and ranked 76th, will need a scintillating start to 2021 to make the U.S. Olympic team in singles. She is currently the 14th-highest-ranked American. If she doesn’t make it in singles, Williams (or Gauff) could be chosen as a doubles-only player for the Tokyo Games.

Top seed Simona Halep took the last 10 games of her 6-4, 6-0 win over Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo. Halep, who is on a 15-match win streak dating to February, could play Gauff in the quarterfinals.

On the men’s side, Stan Wawrinka swept Andy Murray 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 in a battle of three-time major champions and a rematch of their life-changing 2017 semifinal in Paris.

“I need to have a long, hard think about it,” Murray said. “I don’t feel like the conditions are an excuse for it.”

It marked Murray’s first match on clay since that semi, won by Wawrinka in five sets. After that match three years ago, Wawrinka underwent two knee surgeries and Murray had two hip surgeries. Neither has made a Grand Slam semifinal since, and Murray nearly retired due to hip problems.

U.S. men went 3-0 on Sunday after winning one match total at the 2019 French Open.

The most notable victor: Sebastian Korda, the 20-year-old son of Czech 1998 Australian Open winner Petr Korda and brother of Nelly Korda, the world’s second-ranked female golfer.

Korda beat Italian veteran Andreas Seppi 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to become the youngest U.S. man to win a French Open main-draw match since 18-year-old Andy Roddick defeated Michael Chang in 2001.

Korda, after his first tour-level win, gets John Isner in the second round.

Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal, each trying to tie Grand Slam singles titles records, play first-round matches on Monday.

MORE: Halep, Comaneci and the genesis of a Romanian friendship

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Julian Alaphilippe wins world road race title with late attack

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Julian Alaphilippe became the first Frenchman to win a road cycling world title in 23 years, attacking late and holding on to prevail by 24 seconds in Imola, Italy, on Sunday.

Alaphilippe, who wore the Tour de France yellow jersey for 16 stages between the last two years, went clear from a star-filled group at the top of the last climb with about eight miles left of a 160-mile day.

“It was a dream of my career, you know,” said Alaphilippe, whose best previous worlds finish was eighth. “I came here with, for sure, a lot of ambition. It’s just a dream day for me.”

Belgian Wout van Aert took silver, followed by Swiss Marc Hirschi in a five-man bunch sprint for the last two medals. Van Aert also earned silver in the time trial on Friday.

Slovenian Primoz Roglic, who was second in the Tour de France, finished sixth in the same time as the silver and bronze medalists after more than six and a half hours of racing.

The top American was Sepp Kuss in 52nd place, 12:35 behind.

Full results are here.

The last Frenchmen to win world titles were Laurent Brochard (road race) and Laurent Jalabert (time trial) in 1997.

Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, who won the Tour de France last Sunday, attacked with 26 miles left. He led by as much as 25 seconds before being reeled back in with about 13 miles to go.

The cycling season continues with the last two Grand Tours, each starting later than normal due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Giro d’Italia begins Oct. 3, and the Vuelta a Espana starts Oct. 20, before the Giro finishes.

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MORE: A more equal future for women’s cycling? Lizzie Deignan has high hopes