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Caroline Wozniacki wins appeal to participate in Rio Games

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LONDON (AP) — Former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki won her appeal Thursday for a spot in the tennis tournament at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, while 14-time major champion Rafael Nadal‘s status is still up in the air.

On the provisional Olympic entry list released by the International Tennis Federation, 2008 gold medalist Nadal’s participation is contingent on either making himself available for Spain’s Davis Cup matches in July or an ITF Olympic Committee appeal.

Nadal has been dealing with an injured left wrist that forced him to withdraw from the French Open before the third round and pull out of Wimbledon altogether.

Wozniacki already has been picked as Denmark’s flag-bearer for the Summer Games, but needed to appeal for a berth in the event, saying injuries prevented her from meeting the Fed Cup requirements.

She tweeted a photo of herself wearing a red top and standing on a red clay court, racket in hand, and wrote: “It’s been a long wait BUT I am officially going to Rio!! … rocking the Danish colors on court!!”

Wozniacki was ranked No. 1 for 67 weeks in 2010 and 2011, and she was the runner-up at the 2009 and 2014 U.S. Opens. She’s had a rough season, though, including a first-round loss at Wimbledon on Tuesday.

The top three men’s players in the world – No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia, 2012 gold medalist Andy Murray of Britain, and 2012 silver medalist Roger Federer of Switzerland – are all in the field for Rio, where the tennis competition begins on Aug. 6, the day after the opening ceremony. There are 64-player fields in singles, with a maximum of four per gender per country, and 32-team fields in doubles.

The tournament will be played on hard courts. The draws are Aug. 4.

Djokovic won the Australian Open in January, and the French Open in June, and so far is into the third round at Wimbledon. Should he wind up winning the title at the All England Club, he could head to Brazil with his bid intact to become the first man in history to complete a Golden Slam: collecting all four major championships plus a singles gold medal in the same year.

As expected, the U.S. tennis team is led by past gold medalists Serena and Venus Williams, who will both play singles and team up in doubles. The other women set to play singles for the United States are Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens, while CoCo Vandeweghe and Bethanie Mattek-Sands are in the doubles tournament.

The American men on the provisional list for singles include 589th-ranked Brian Baker, along with No. 27 Jack Sock, No. 29 Steve Johnson and No. 66 Denis Kudla. All four are, like Nadal, listed as having their participation contingent on either Davis Cup participation or a successful appeal.

Among the notable names on the ITF list Thursday are International Tennis Hall of Fame member Martina Hingis, who is slated to play doubles with Belinda Bencic for Switzerland and could play mixed doubles with 17-time major champion Federer.

Players already participating in singles or doubles in Rio can be nominated by their national Olympic committee for the 16-team mixed doubles event by the Aug. 9 deadline, with no more than two pairs per country.

MORE: Venus, Serena Wiliams lead U.S. Olympic tennis team

David Boudia adjusts diving event, goal for world championships

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David Boudia earned diving medals at his last three world championships and the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, but that was on the platform. He competes on the global stage on the springboard for the first time at worlds this week.

“I don’t have a lot of high hopes,” Boudia, who is still learning the springboard after switching to it in the last year, said in a phone interview from South Korea, where he begins competition Wednesday (TV schedule here). “But I think my biggest goal is to walk away with an Olympic spot.”

An Olympic spot not necessarily for himself, but for the U.S.

Boudia, a 30-year-old father of three, and any other American will clinch 2020 Olympic quota spots by placing in the top 12 in their respective individual events this week. Those spots, and any others earned at later competitions in the next year, will be filled at trials in June in Indianapolis.

NBC Sports analyst Cynthia Potter believes Boudia, who left the sport to sell homes in 2017 and came back and suffered a concussion off the platform in 2018, can meet his goal of making Friday’s 12-man final in Gwangju.

“He would have to dive well, but not better than he’s been diving,” she said. “His springboard is really well-timed, rhythmic, and he’s for a long time known how to go into the water without making a splash.”

But challenging Rio Olympic gold and silver medalists Cao Yuan of China and Jack Laugher of Great Britain, plus defending world champion Xie Siyi of China would be very tough.

Boudia lacks their degrees of difficulty, for now. He hopes to switch out two of his six dives before his first competition of 2020, though he could insert one of them should he make the world final.

“I need a good six months, so from August to December is when we’re kind of really drilling the fundamentals of learning those new dives and getting them perfected,” he said.

Boudia rallied to beat Rio Olympic springboard diver Michael Hixon for the title in May at nationals, where the top two per event earned world berths. But Boudia competed there with about a month of competition dive practice, about half as long as he would prefer.

“Hix and I are going to have a lot of training to do if we want to be even close to cracking that top five,” at worlds, Boudia said in May, according to TeamUSA.org.

Boudia is the lone U.S. diver to earn an individual world medal in an Olympic diving event since 2009.

The U.S. produced breakthroughs at worlds so far. Sarah Bacon became the first American woman to earn a world title since 2005, taking the non-Olympic 1m springboard event. Murphy Bromberg and Katrina Young bagged bronze in synchronized platform, ending a decade-long medal drought in any synchro event.

But Boudia’s goal must be shared among the whole team — as many top-12 finishes individually and top three in synchro events to gobble up Tokyo 2020 quota spots. The U.S. failed to qualify full teams for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

“Getting in the top 12 in the four individual Olympic events is the big deal right now,” Potter said. “Whether you are on the awards stand or not, that would be icing on the cake for a lot of these divers.”

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MORE: Diving Worlds TV Schedule

Anita Wlodarczyk, one of track and field’s most dominant, sidelined

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Poland hammer thrower Anita Wlodarczyk, the only woman to win the last five combined Olympic and world titles in a track and field event, will not go for a fourth straight world championship this fall.

Wlodarczyk had season-ending, arthroscopic left knee surgery on Monday, according to Polish media citing her coach.

Wlodarczyk, 33, has the top 15 throws on the IAAF’s all-time list, and 27 of the top 29. Her world record of 82.98 meters (scribbled on her leg pre-op) is 11 and a half feet farther the second-best woman in history. She originally took silver at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 Worlds but was upgraded to gold after Russian Tatyana Lysenko was stripped for doping.

Wlodarczyk won a reported 42 straight finals between 2014 and 2017, then suffered three losses in 2018 and two so far this year in three lower-level meets before the operation.

Americans DeAnna Price and Brooke Anderson rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the world this year. A U.S. woman has never finished in the top five of an Olympic or world championships hammer throw, which debuted at worlds in 1999 and the Olympics in 2000.

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