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WATCH LIVE: United States/France highlights Saturday’s women’s soccer schedule

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Saturday marks the second day of competition in women’s soccer, and the showcase match includes the United States.

The reigning gold medalists (and World Cup champions) play their second group stage match Saturday afternoon, as they take on France in a Group G showdown in Belo Horizonte. The match kicks off at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, and it will be streamed on NBCOlympics.com and on the NBC Sports app. This will be the second consecutive Olympics in which the two teams have met in the group stage, with the United States winning 4-2 in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. France grabbed a 2-0 lead in that match inside of 14 minutes before the Americans replied with four unanswered goals to grab the win.

WATCH: United States vs. France on NBCOlympics.com

While both teams had little trouble winning their opening matches Wednesday, France tallied four goals in their 4-0 thrashing of Colombia that was even more lopsided than the final margin would indicate. Mads Toppel’s own goal inside of two minutes got France going, and they were unrelenting in their pressing of a Colombian side that was ill-equipped to deal with them. The United States beat New Zealand 2-0, and while their final scoreline wasn’t as impressive as the one posted by France Jill Ellis’ team was in control for much of their match.

Alex Morgan, who scored twice in the win over France in the 2012 Summer Olympics, scored in the 46th minute with captain Carli Lloyd’s header in the ninth minute opening the American account Wednesday night. With both teams opening in Belo Horizonte travel won’t be an issue for either, as the teams did not make the trek to Rio for Friday’s Opening Ceremony.

That’s the second of six matches to be played in women’s soccer Saturday, with Canada taking on Zimbabwe in a Group F match in Sao Paulo. Canada beat Australia 2-0 in their opener, and they’ll be expected to grab all three points against a Zimbabwe side that fell 6-1 to Germany in their Olympic debut. With their loss to Canada, Australia enters Saturday’s matchup with Germany in Sao Paulo in need of a result as they look to advance into the knockout stage.

Playing in Rio Saturday will be hosts Brazil, who face Sweden in the second game of a doubleheader at the Olympic Stadium. Both teams are coming off of wins in their opening matches, with Brazil taking care of China and the Swedes beating South Africa. China and South Africa will meet in the first match at the Olympic Stadium.

All six matches will be available at NBCOlympics.com and on the NBC Sports app.

Saturday’s Olympic Women’s Soccer Schedule (all times Eastern):

2:00 p.m.: Canada vs. Zimbabwe – WATCH LIVE
4:00 p.m.: United States vs. France – WATCH HERE
5:00 p.m.: Germany vs. Australia – WATCH HERE
6:00 p.m.: South Africa vs. China – WATCH HERE
7:00 p.m.: Colombia vs. New Zealand – WATCH HERE
9:00 p.m.: Brazil vs. Sweden – WATCH HERE

French Open: Karolina Pliskova, top player sans Slam, again exits early

Karolina Pliskova
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No. 2 seed Karolina Pliskova exited yet another Grand Slam in the early stages, falling to 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in the second round at Roland Garros on Thursday.

Ostapenko, whose only match wins at the French Open before this week came in her title run three years ago, bounced the big-serving Czech 6-4, 6-2.

Pliskova put fewer than half of her first serves in play, while Ostapenko fired 27 winners to 19 unforced errors. Pliskova was on the ropes in her first round, too, needing three sets to get past an Egyptian qualifier.

“Maybe same level as the match before, but of course [Ostapenko] is much better player,” Pliskova said. “Not much to say about this match.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Later Thursday, top-ranked Novak Djokovic had a second straight win ceding just five games, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 over Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis. Djokovic undefeated in 2020 save his U.S. Open default for smacking a ball that inadvertently struck a linesperson, next gets Colombian lucky loser Daniel Elahi Galán.

Nobody else in Djokovic’s half of the draw at the start of the tournament made a French Open semifinal before.

Pliskova is the highest-ranked player of either gender (No. 4) without a Grand Slam title, yet hasn’t made it past the fourth round at a major since the 2019 Australian Open.

She’s played six Slams as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed, one shy of Caroline Wozniacki‘s total before she broke through at the 2018 Australian Open and two shy of Simona Halep‘s total before she won the 2018 French Open.

Ostapenko, meanwhile, is having a very different career.

She won the 2017 Roland Garros title, two days after turning 20, while ranked 47th. She hasn’t gotten past the third round of a major since 2018 Wimbledon, including first-round French Open exits the last two years, and is back down to No. 43 in the WTA rankings.

“It’s hard to compare with 2017. As I said, it was like three years ago, and I was much younger, and also I was fearless. Nobody knew me,” Ostapenko said. “The world doesn’t stop with winning only one Grand Slam. Of course I want to achieve more, and I want to be back in top five, top 10.”

She dropped just nine games in four sets this week.

Ostapenko gets 87th-ranked Spaniard Paula Badosa in third round. Badosa dispatched 2018 French Open runner-up Sloane Stephens 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

MORE: Serena Williams ‘struggling to walk’

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Figure skating’s Grand Prix fields look very different this season

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Before Nathan Chen is expected to go for a historic fifth straight U.S. figure skating title in January, he will, in a first, compete against most of his top countrymen later this month.

Fields for the Grand Prix Series, figure skating’s autumn international circuit, were published Thursday. As expected, every top skater entered will compete in his or her home country, or nearest to where he or she trains, and in one of the six events.

Traditionally, skaters compete in two of the six events and are scattered among competitions in the U.S., Canada, France, Russia, China and Japan based on world rankings.

But the International Skating Union restricted travel this season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Skaters are limited to compete locally. And the Grand Prix Final at the conclusion of the Grand Prix Series has been postponed from its scheduled December setting in Beijing.

That means that Chen vies for a record-tying fourth straight Skate America crown in Las Vegas in three weeks against a field mostly made up of countrymen, including Olympic teammate Vincent Zhou and U.S. bronze medalist Tomoki Hiwatashi.

In all, there are eight U.S. men entered in Skate America, 11 women (including past national champions Bradie Tennell and Gracie Gold), six pairs and nine ice dance couples (including U.S. champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue), plus some skaters from other nations who train in the U.S.

Traditionally, a country has no more than three entries per discipline at a Grand Prix event.

GRAND PRIX FIELDS: Men | Women | Pairs | Ice Dance

Sochi Olympian Jason Brown, who trains in Toronto, is entered in Skate Canada the week after Skate America.

Two-time U.S. women’s champion Alysa Liu will not be old enough for the Grand Prix Series until the 2021-22 Olympic season.

All of the reigning Olympic champions are absent from the series.

Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan previously announced he wouldn’t compete due to virus-related travel risks. Russian Alina Zagitova extended her indefinite break from competition dating to last autumn, rather choosing to participate in a skating-themed TV series.

Ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada retired. The German pairs’ team of Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot last competed in the 2018 Olympic season.

Instead, the headliners include Chen, the two-time world champion undefeated since placing fifth in PyeongChang. And a deep crop of Russian teenage women, all of course entered in the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow in November.

MORE: Brian Orser reacts to Yevgenia Medvedeva’s coaching switch

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