Rio Olympics six months out: Must-see Olympic events


A more detailed schedule is here, but one must-watch Rio Olympic event per day, starting with a spectacle six months from today (all times Eastern):

Friday, Aug. 5 — Opening Ceremony (7 p.m.)
The cauldron will be lit at the famed Maracanã, preceded by the usual Parade of Nations and artistic performances.

Saturday, Aug. 6 — Swimming women’s 4x100m freestyle relay (9 p.m. session)
This could be the Rio debut for Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky, who should be vying for several medals each in the first week of the Games. The U.S. hasn’t won this event since 2000 and finished third (without Ledecky) at the World Championships on Aug. 2.

Sunday, Aug. 7 — Swimming men’s 4x100m freestyle relay (9 p.m. session)
No swimming race has provided more consistent drama over the last four Olympics, and this year’s edition is dripping with potential storylines. Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte could be part of the U.S. quartet looking to take the Olympic title back from the French. Host Brazil has a deep pool of young sprinters, plus one of its most recognizable athletes, Cesar Cielo. Australia and Russia may also factor in.

Monday, Aug. 8 — Rugby women’s medal matches (4:30 p.m.)
The first Olympic rugby medals since 1924 will be awarded, though it will be the first for women and the first for the sevens version. The previous Olympic rugby tournaments were 15 players per side.

Tuesday, Aug. 9 — Gymnastics women’s team final (3 p.m.)
The U.S. looks to repeat as Olympic women’s team champion for the first time. It should be heavily favored over China and Russia given easy wins at the 2014 and 2015 World Championships.

Wednesday, Aug. 10 — Gymnastics men’s all-around final (3 p.m.)
Japan’s Kohei Uchimura, the six-time reigning World champion, could become the first repeat Olympic champion in 44 years and further the argument that he’s the greatest gymnast of all time.

Thursday, Aug. 11 — Gymnastics women’s all-around final (3 p.m.)
Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas went one-two at the World Championships on Oct. 29. Biles is the three-time reigning World all-around champion. Douglas is the reigning Olympic all-around champion.

Friday, Aug. 12 — Swimming men’s 100m butterfly (9 p.m. session)
It’s been said before, but expect this to be Phelps’ last individual Olympic swim. He captured the 100m butterfly at the last three Olympics and posted the world’s fastest time for 2015. Franklin (200m backstroke) and Ledecky (800m free) may also race individually for the last time (in Rio, not overall) in events they won four years ago.

Saturday, Aug. 13 — Tennis women’s singles final
Serena Williams could become the first singles player to repeat as Olympic champion.

SIX MONTHS OUT: Burning Questions | Team USA Roster | Rio Schedule Highlights | Key Qualifying, Trials Dates | Records Watch | Brazil’s Preparations

Sunday, Aug. 14 — Track and field men’s 100m final (9:25 p.m.)
In what’s expected to be his final Olympics, Usain Bolt could try to become the first male runner to win the same individual Olympic event three straight times. The last man other than Bolt to win the event — 2004 champ Justin Gatlin — could be his biggest competition.

Monday, Aug. 15 — Track and field women’s 400m final (9:45 p.m.)
Allyson Felix could capture the first of a possible four gold medals in six days. She is the reigning Olympic 200m champion and World 400m champion and was part of gold medal-winning 4x100m and 4x400m relays in London.

Tuesday, Aug. 16 — Weightlifting men’s super heavyweight final (6 p.m.)
The world’s strongest man will be crowned. At the 2015 World Championships, Russian Aleksey Lovchev lifted a world-record combined 1,047 pounds in the snatch and clean and jerk for gold.

Wednesday, Aug. 17 — Beach volleyball women’s final (9 p.m. session)
Three-time U.S. Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings and new partner April Ross could spoil the Brazilian party on Copacabana Beach in one of the nation’s most popular sports. However, the two best beach teams last season were Brazilian pairs.

Thursday, Aug. 18 — Track and field men’s 200m final (9:30 p.m.)
This could be Bolt’s final individual Olympic race, one that he has dominated, winning every Olympic and World title since 2008. Again, Gatlin may play spoiler.

Friday, Aug. 19 — Soccer women’s final (4:30 p.m.)
The U.S. women could be going for a third straight Olympic gold medal, while host Brazil may seek its first Olympic men’s or women’s soccer title at the Maracanã.

Saturday, Aug. 20 — Volleyball women’s final (9:15 p.m.)
Brazil defeated the U.S. in the last two Olympic finals. But the Americans, now with Karch Kiraly coaching, swept Brazil in the 2014 World Championship semifinals en route to gold.

Sunday, Aug. 21 — Basketball men’s final (2:45 p.m.)
The biggest challenge ahead for the U.S. men’s program could be which players to leave off its 12-man Olympic roster. Anything less than a third straight gold medal could be the shocker of the entire Games.

2023 French Open men’s singles draw, scores

French Open Men's Draw
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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 could meet in the 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).

No. 9 Taylor Fritz, No. 12 Frances Tiafoe and No. 16 Tommy Paul are the highest-seeded Americans, all looking to become the first U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003. Since then, five different American men combined to make the fourth round on eight occasions.

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

At the French Open, a Ukrainian mom makes her comeback


Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, once the world’s third-ranked tennis player, is into the French Open third round in her first major tournament since childbirth.

Svitolina, 28, swept 2022 French Open semifinalist Martina Trevisan of Italy, then beat Australian qualifier Storm Hunter 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 to reach the last 32 at Roland Garros. She next plays 56th-ranked Russian Anna Blinkova, who took out the top French player, fifth seed Caroline Garcia, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 on her ninth match point.

Svitolina’s husband, French player Gael Monfils, finished his first-round five-set win after midnight on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. She watched that match on a computer before going to sleep ahead of her 11 a.m. start Wednesday.

“This morning, he told me, ‘I’m coming to your match, so make it worth it,'” she joked on Tennis Channel. “I was like, OK, no pressure.

“I don’t know what he’s doing here now. He should be resting.”

Also Wednesday, 108th-ranked Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis ousted three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3 in four and a half hours. Wawrinka’s exit leaves Novak Djokovic as the lone man in the draw who has won the French Open and Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz as the lone men left who have won any major.

The top seed Alcaraz beat 112th-ranked Taro Daniel of Japan 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2. The Spaniard gets 26th seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada in the third round. Djokovic, the No. 3 seed, swept 83rd-ranked Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (2), 6-0, 6-3 to reach a third-round date with 29th seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Svitolina made at least one major quarterfinal every year from 2017 through 2021, including the semifinals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2019. She married Monfils one week before the Tokyo Olympics, then won a singles bronze medal.

Svitolina played her last match before maternity leave on March 24, 2022, one month after Russia invaded her country. She gave birth to daughter Skai on Oct. 15.

Svitolina returned to competition in April. Last week, she won the tournament preceding the French Open, sweeping Blinkova to improve to 17-3 in her career in finals. She’s playing on a protected ranking of 27th after her year absence and, now, on a seven-match win streak.

“It was always in my head the plan to come back, but I didn’t put any pressure on myself, because obviously with the war going on, with the pregnancy, you never know how complicated it will go,” she said. “I’m as strong as I was before, maybe even stronger, because I feel that I can handle the work that I do off the court, and match by match I’m getting better. Also mentally, because mental can influence your physicality, as well.”

Svitolina said she’s motivated by goals to attain before she retires from the sport and to help Ukraine, such as donating her prize money from last week’s title in Strasbourg.

“These moments bring joy to people of Ukraine, to the kids as well, the kids who loved to play tennis before the war, and now maybe they don’t have the opportunity,” she said. “But these moments that can motivate them to look on the bright side and see these good moments and enjoy themselves as much as they can in this horrible situation.”

Svitolina was born in Odesa and has lived in Kharkiv, two cities that have been attacked by Russia.

“I talk a lot with my friends, with my family back in Ukraine, and it’s a horrible thing, but they are used to it now,” she said. “They are used to the alarms that are on. As soon as they hear something, they go to the bomb shelters. Sleepless nights. You know, it’s a terrible thing, but they tell me that now it’s a part of their life, which is very, very sad.”

Svitolina noted that she plays with a flag next to her name — unlike the Russians and Belarusians, who are allowed to play as neutral athletes.

“When I step on the court, I just try to think about the fighting spirit that all of us Ukrainians have and how Ukrainians are fighting for their values, for their freedom in Ukraine,” she said, “and me, I’m fighting here on my own front line.”

Svitolina said that she’s noticed “a lot of rubbish” concerning how tennis is reacting to the war.

“We have to focus on what the main point of what is going on,” she said. “Ukrainian people need help and need support. We are focusing on so many things like empty words, empty things that are not helping the situation, not helping anything.

“I want to invite everyone to focus on helping Ukrainians. That’s the main point of this, to help kids, to help women who lost their husbands because they are at the war, and they are fighting for Ukraine.

“You can donate. Couple of dollars might help and save lives. Or donate your time to something to help people.”

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