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Venus Williams falls on a rough day for Team USA tennis

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Seven members of the United States tennis team participated in the first round of matches in the men’s and women’s tournaments at the Rio Olympics, and five saw their runs come to an immediate end. Among those who lost was Venus Williams, with Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens beating her in three sets 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5). Next up for Flipkens is Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic, who advanced with a win over Italy’s Karin Knapp.

As for Keys, she had little trouble with Danka Kovinic of Montenegro. Seeded seventh in the women’s singles draw, Keys won in straight sets 6-3, 6-3 and converted three of her nine break point opportunities. Next up for Keys is France’s Kristina Mladenovic, who beat Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic in straight sets.

Also losing in the women’s singles draw for the United States was Sloane Stephens, who tell to Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3. Stephens had three double faults in the match, and Bouchard managed to break her serve three times. Yet to compete for the United States in the women’s draw is top seed and pre-tournament favorite Serena Williams, who takes on Daria Gavrilova of Australia Sunday morning.

Stephens joins three American men on the sidelines, including Jack Sock, who lost in straight sets to Japan’s Daniel Taro 6-4, 6-4. Sock had issues with his serve Saturday, finishing the match with five double faults and he won less than 50 percent of the points available on his second serve. By comparison Taro had just one double fault and he won 57 percent of the points on his second serve. Brian Baker fell in three sets to Japan’s Yuichi Sugita, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4. and Denis Kudla was defeated in straight sets by Slovakia’s Andrej Martin, 6-0, 6-3.

The one American male who managed to advance Saturday was 12-seed Steve Johnson, who beat Darian King of Barbados in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2. Next for Johnson is Gastao Elias of Portugal, with that match scheduled for Tuesday.

It has been 7 years since Simone Biles last lost an all-around

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Simone Biles had braces but no driver’s license and “Harlem Shake” topped the Billboard Hot 100 the last time she was beaten in all-around competition, seven years ago this week.

Biles, then having just turned 16, took second to 2012 Olympian Kyla Ross at a tri-meet among the U.S., Germany and Romania in Chemnitz, Germany, on March 30, 2013.

It was just the third senior meet of Biles’ career in her first year as a senior gymnast. Since that runner-up, Biles has won 21 straight all-arounds through the October 2019 World Championships, rarely even challenged (though she has been defeated in unofficial national team camp competition).

Chemnitz marked one of the least consequential meets of Biles’ sterling career. She devoted one sentence to it in her autobiography, “Courage to Soar,” and noted she was distracted from the stress of competition on the overseas trip by daydreaming about a birthday present.

“Secretly, I hoped that when I got back home, a shiny new turquoise-blue Ford Focus would be waiting for me in our driveway,” she wrote.

Ross, speaking by phone last week, faintly recalled when asked the last time Biles was defeated.

“I think it was … were we in Germany?” she said. “Oh gosh, I don’t even know if I can remember it that well.”

Ross did remember training before the meet at a German national team gym.

“When we got to the arena we were all kind of shocked,” she said. “In elite, we’re all used to competing on podium or in these big arenas. It was more of just almost like a college meet. Like it was a basketball floor. Nothing was on podium.

“I don’t even remember how the scores were shown or anything. Those meets in the spring in elite we’re just trying to get our routines figured out and get more consistent.”

Ross was the all-around star of the U.S. program at the time, given fellow 2012 Olympians Gabby DouglasJordyn Wieber and Aly Raisman were taking breaks. She won both Chemnitz and the U.S. Classic (where Biles was pulled mid-competition by coach Aimee Boorman after early struggles).

Later that summer, Biles edged Ross by two tenths of a point combining scores from two days at nationals, and they again went one-two at the world championships.

“I felt like it was kind of the two of us,” Ross said. “This was her time to upgrade and make a name for herself. I definitely feel like I helped her and guided her a little bit. I feel like Martha [Karolyi] wanted me to teach her the ropes a little bit just because she always so fun and outgoing but definitely needed to try to learn and focus and understand what it was like to compete internationally and compete for Team USA.”

NBC Sports researcher Sarah Hughes contributed to this report.

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MORE: Kocian, Ross reflect on likely end to gymnastics careers

 

Boglarka Kapas, world champion swimmer, tests positive for coronavirus

Boglarka Kapas
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Boglarka Kapas, the Hungarian swimmer and world 200m butterfly champion, said she tested positive for the coronavirus.

“I don’t have any symptoms yet, and that’s why it’s important for you to know that even if you feel healthy you can spread the virus,” was posted on her social media. “Please be careful, stay at home and stay healthy.”

Kapas said her first test was negative but a second test showed she had the virus. She was staying in quarantine at home for two weeks.

Kapas, 26, won the 200m fly at last summer’s world championships by passing Americans Hali Flickinger and Katie Drabot in the last 25 meters. She clocked 2:06.78 to prevail by .17 of a second.

Kapas also took bronze in the Rio Olympic 800m freestyle won by Katie Ledecky.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.