Goals from Beckie, Sinclair propel Canada past Australia

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As two of the three teams in Group F ranked in the top ten of FIFA’s world rankings, Canada and Australia were expected to put together an entertaining match in the group stage opener for both Wednesday afternoon. And that was the case, with Canada winning 2-0 despite being down to ten women for nearly 70 minutes of the match. The Canadians remained strong defensively, and they took advantage of two major mistakes made by Australia to tally both of their goals.

The first Australian error occurred in the game’s first minute, as Christine Sinclair was able to pick the pocket of an Aussie defender who made a lazy on her back line. After taking the ball Sinclair found Janine Beckie, who calmly deposited the ball into the net to give Canada a 1-0 lead just 20 seconds into the match. Beckie’s goal, scored in her Olympic debut, is the fastest ever scored in the history of Olympic soccer both men’s and women’s. The goal provided John Herdman’s side with some positive momentum, which they appeared poised to lose just 19 minutes later.

Defender Shalena Zadorsky was sent off in the 19th minute after bringing down Australia’s Michelle Heyman in what was rightfully deemed to be the denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity just outside of the penalty area. Australia was unable to take advantage of the resulting free kick, and that proved to be a theme of sorts for them as Canada managed to thwart multiple scoring chances for the Matildas.

Canada appeared poised to take a 2-0 lead in the 73rd minute as they were awarded a penalty for an Australian handball in the penalty area, a decision that appeared to be a bit harsh on the replay. Beckie’s penalty was saved by Australian keeper Lydia Williams, who lucked out four minutes later when a shot that trickled through her legs was cleared off the line by a teammate. Williams wasn’t as fortunate int he 80th minute however, as her misplaying of a long ball sent to Christine Sinclair resulted in Canada scoring the second goal they were looking for on the counter attack.

With Canada playing a long ball to Sinclair, Williams took the risk of running well off her line in an attempt to clear the ball. But far away from her goal Williams missed, leaving Sinclair to calmly put the match out of reach with an Australian defender unable to apply the pressure needed to keep a scorer of Sinclair’s caliber off the score sheet. Sinclair’s goal is the 163rd of her international career, placing her 21 behind Abby Wambach on the all-time list.

Next up for Canada (1-0-0; 3 points) is a matchup with Zimbabwe Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Eastern, while Australia (0-0-1; 0 points) will take on Germany Saturday at 5:00 p.m. Eastern.

2023 French Open women’s singles draw, scores

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At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Having turned 22 on Wednesday, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula, the highest-seeded American man or woman, was eliminated in the third round.

No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, is the best hope to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw

Jessica Pegula upset in French Open third round

Jessica Pegula French Open

Jessica Pegula, the highest-ranked American man or woman, was upset in the third round of the French Open.

Elise Mertens, the 28th seed from Belgium, bounced the third seed Pegula 6-1, 6-3 to reach the round of 16. Pegula, a 29-year-old at a career-high ranking, had lost in the quarterfinals of four of the previous five majors.

Down 4-3 in the second set, Pegula squandered three break points in a 14-minute game. Mertens then broke Pegula to close it out.

“I feel like I was still playing good points. Elise was just being really tough, not making a lot of errors and making me play every single ball. And with the windy conditions, I felt like it definitely played into her game,” Pegula said.

Pegula’s exit leaves No. 6 seed Coco Gauff, last year’s runner-up, as the last seeded hope to become the first U.S. woman to win a major title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major span without an American champ is the longest for U.S. women since Monica Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

Mertens, who lost in the third or fourth round of the last six French Opens, gets 96th-ranked Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the 2021 French Open runner-up, for a spot in the quarterfinals.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Also Friday, No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus won a third consecutive match in straight sets, then took questions from a selected group of reporters rather than conducting an open press conference. She cited mental health, two days after a tense back and forth with a journalist asking questions about the war, which she declined to answer.

“For many months now I have answered these questions at tournaments and been very clear in my feelings and my thoughts,” she said Friday. “These questions do not bother me after my matches. I know that I have to provide answers to the media on things not related to my tennis or my matches, but on Wednesday I did not feel safe in press conference.”

Sabalenka next plays American Sloane Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion now ranked 30th, who reached the fourth round with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 win over Kazakh Yulia Putintseva.

Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, the former world No. 3, is into the fourth round of her first major since October childbirth. She’ll play ninth-seeded Russian Daria Kasatkina.

Novak Djokovic continued his bid for a men’s record-breaking 23rd major title by dispatching No. 29 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-2. Djokovic’s fourth-round opponent will be No. 13 Hubert Hurkacz of Poland or 94th-ranked Peruvian Juan Pablo Varillas.

Later Friday, top seed Carlos Alcaraz faces 26th seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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