Mao Asada plans to compete through 2018 Olympics

Mao Asada
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BOSTON — Three-time World figure skating champion Mao Asada said Monday that she plans to compete through the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics.

“If I make the Olympic team,” Asada added with a laugh, through a translator.

The 2010 Olympic silver medalist took the 2014-15 season off from competition and announced her return in May, when she reportedly said it was “much too early to think about the [2018] Olympics.”

Asada, 25, opened her season in earnest by winning the Cup of China in November over a field that included Russian Yelena Radionova, arguably the silver-medal favorite at the World Championships at TD Garden this week.

“My feelings are much more geared toward the next event, but the Olympics are at the back of my mind,” Asada said after the Cup of China, according to Kyodo News.

Asada has not won in three top-level events since, taking third at NHK Trophy and sixth (last place) at the Grand Prix Final in the fall. Then she finished third at the Japanese Championships on Christmas weekend, matching her worst result at Nationals since 2003.

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Asada, the only woman in this week’s field with a World title or an individual Olympic medal to her name, did not perform her trademark triple Axel in practice Monday morning but still plans it in both her short program and free skate this week (full Worlds schedule here).

She said she feels better now that at any point this season.

She’ll very likely need to be in top form to earn a place on the podium. The medal favorites — Russians Yevgenia Medvedeva and Radionova and countrywoman Satoko Miyahara — are all at least seven years younger than Asada but also proven major-competition medalists.

If Asada makes it to Pyeongchang 2018, she’ll be chasing the only hole on her résumé.

She won the December 2005 Grand Prix Final at age 15 but was too young for the Torino 2006 Olympics.

She took silver at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics behind Yuna Kim and then lost any shot of a medal in Sochi with a 16th-place showing in the short program. She rebounded to finish sixth at her second Olympics.

MORE: Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold weigh in on U.S. medal drought

Iga Swiatek sweeps into French Open final, where she faces a surprise

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Iga Swiatek marched into the French Open final without dropping a set in six matches. All that stands between her and a third Roland Garros title is an unseeded foe.

Swiatek plays 43rd-ranked Czech Karolina Muchova in the women’s singles final, live Saturday at 9 a.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.

Swiatek, the top-ranked Pole, swept 14th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 6-2, 7-6 (7) in Thursday’s semifinal in her toughest test all tournament. Haddad Maia squandered three break points at 4-all in the second set.

Swiatek dropped just 23 games thus far, matching her total en route to her first French Open final in 2020 (which she won for her first WTA Tour title of any kind). After her semifinal, she signed a courtside camera with the hashtag #stepbystep.

“For sure I feel like I’m a better player,” than in 2020, she said. “Mentally, tactically, physically, just having the experience, everything. So, yeah, my whole life basically.”

Swiatek can become the third woman since 2000 to win three French Opens after Serena Williams and Justine Henin and, at 22, the youngest woman to win four total majors since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Muchova upset No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus to reach her first major final.

Muchova, a 26-year-old into the second week of the French Open for the first time, became the first player to take a set off the powerful Belarusian all tournament, then rallied from down 5-2 in the third set to prevail 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 7-5.

Sabalenka, who overcame previous erratic serving to win the Australian Open in January, had back-to-back double faults in her last service game.

“Lost my rhythm,” she said. “I wasn’t there.”

Muchova broke up what many expected would be a Sabalenka-Swiatek final, which would have been the first No. 1 vs. No. 2 match at the French Open since Williams beat Maria Sharapova in the 2013 final.

Muchova is unseeded, but was considered dangerous going into the tournament.

In 2021, she beat then-No. 1 Ash Barty to make the Australian Open semifinals, then reached a career-high ranking of 19. She dropped out of the top 200 last year while struggling through injuries.

“Some doctors told me maybe you’ll not do sport anymore,” Muchova said. “It’s up and downs in life all the time. Now I’m enjoying that I’m on the upper part now.”

Muchova has won all five of her matches against players ranked in the top three. She also beat Swiatek in their lone head-to-head, but that was back in 2019 when both players were unaccomplished young pros. They have since practiced together many times.

“I really like her game, honestly,” Swiatek said. “I really respect her, and she’s I feel like a player who can do anything. She has great touch. She can also speed up the game. She plays with that kind of freedom in her movements. And she has a great technique. So I watched her matches, and I feel like I know her game pretty well.”

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2023 French Open men’s singles draw

Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz
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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. He can also become the first man to win all four majors at least three times and, at 36, the oldest French Open men’s or women’s singles champion.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Women’s Draw

Djokovic took out No. 1 seed Carlos Alcaraz in the semifinals, advancing to a final against 2022 French Open runner-up Casper Ruud of Norway.

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).

All of the American men lost before the fourth round. The last U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals was Andre Agassi in 2003.

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