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Novak Djokovic suggests change to Olympic tennis format

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LONDON (AP) — Novak Djokovic is a fan of the round-robin format in tennis, and he would even like to see it used at the Olympics and the Davis Cup.

Djokovic, who is chasing the year-end No. 1 ranking this week at the season-ending tournament, praised the system at the ATP finals, where players can lose a match in the first round and still advance to the semifinals.

“I think this format is exciting,” Djokovic said Thursday after winning his third straight match at the ATP finals. “I mean, look, it’s the only tournament in the year that we have this kind of format. I like playing in the round-robin system.”

Djokovic, who lost to eventual silver medalist Juan Martin del Potro in the first round at the Rio de Janeiro Games, then said he thinks the format could be used at the Olympics.

“I guess you play more matches,” said Djokovic, who won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Games. “The people like to see the top players being at least for a couple matches, two, three matches, in the tournament. It gives more value to the event.”

Djokovic also criticized the Davis Cup, a team tournament spread out through the year. He proposed condensing it to make it easier on the top players.

“Once a year … two weeks, have a round-robin format,” Djokovic said. “Have teams play in different locations, then come together in one location and play a knock-out stage, quarterfinals, semifinals, final four, whatever.

“It’s a no-brainer. I’m not the only one to have this kind of opinion about it. Many of the players have been talking about this format and the schedule, top players especially.”

Djokovic also said the three-day, best-of-five set system could be cut to two days and best-of-three matches. But he said the International Tennis Federation hasn’t been receptive to change.

“The only thing that they wanted to change is the neutral final, I think for next year or the year after that … nobody agrees with that,” Djokovic said. “Again, you’re taking away from the players the one thing that players love about Davis Cup, which is the home tie, the home crowd.

“I don’t know how the future of Davis Cup will look like,” Djokovic added. “But there is definitely something radically that has to change.”

MORE: Venus Williams targets 2020 Olympics at age 40

U.S. Olympic, USA Gymnastics leaders set for another Senate hearing

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Recently replaced U.S. Olympic Committee acting CEO Susanne Lyons, USA Gymnastics President and CEO Kerry Perry and Michigan State interim president John Engler are scheduled witnesses for a Senate subcommittee hearing next Tuesday on reforms following the Larry Nassar sexual-abuse crimes.

The hearing is titled, “Strengthening and Empowering U.S. Amateur Athletes: Moving Forward with Solutions” and will stream live at https://www.commerce.senate.gov/ on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

“The hearing will focus on changes made by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Gymnastics (USAG), and Michigan State University (MSU) to protect Olympic and amateur athletes from abuse,” according to the subcommittee’s website. “It will examine recent reforms to provide safe environments for athletes and how these reforms are being implemented.”

The subcommittee held hearings April 18 and June 5 with testimonies from gymnasts and other athletes who were abused, former Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon and former senior vice president of USA Gymnastics Rhonda Faehn. Former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny also attended the June 5 hearing but refused to answer questions.

Lyons and Perry were questioned at a House subcommittee hearing May 23.

The USOC last Thursday named Sarah Hirshland its new CEO, replacing Lyons, who had been in the role on an interim basis since Scott Blackmun resigned in February. Blackmun, who had been CEO since January 2010, left citing prostate cancer and the USOC’s need to immediately address the USA Gymnastics sexual-abuse scandal.

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MORE: USOC names first permanent female CEO

Annemiek van Vleuten wins La Course with epic comeback (video)

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Annemiek van Vleuten, the cyclist who returned from a horrific Rio Olympic road race crash to become world champion, repeated as La Course winner with an epic last-kilometer comeback on Tuesday.

Van Vleuten sprinted from several seconds behind countrywoman Anna van der Breggen to win the one-day race, including four categorized climbs, contested on part of the Tour de France stage 10 course later that day.

“With 300 meters to go, I still thought I got second, and then I saw her dying,” Van Vleuten said, adding later, according to Cyclingnews.com, “With 500 meters to go my team director in the car gave up and stopped cheering for me.”

In Rio, van Vleuten suffered three small spine fractures and a concussion when her brakes appeared to lock, and she flipped over into a ditch during the road race. Van Vleuten was alone in the lead at the time with about seven miles to go of the 87-mile course.

She was eventually hospitalized in intensive care.

Van der Breggen went on to win the Olympic title, while van Vleuten returned quick enough to race at the October 2016 World Championships.

Van Vleuten, 35, won her first world title 13 months after the Rio Games, taking the time trial crown ahead of van der Breggen by 12 seconds. She also won the 10-stage Giro Rosa that concluded on Sunday.

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