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Mao Asada vows to skate on after disastrous Japan Nationals

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It appears three-time world champion Mao Asada will not end her career with a 12th-place finish at the Japanese Championships.

Asada said she will stick with her plan to compete next season after her worst result in 14 career nationals appearances over the weekend, according to Japanese media.

“I wasn’t able to put together my best performances in either the short program or the free, so there’s a lot of frustration,” Asada said, according to Kyodo News.

Asada, now 26 years old, has been competing at senior nationals since she was 12. She finished third or higher in her last 11 nationals appearances. Before this year, her last time off the podium was in 2003, when she was eighth at the age of 13.

Asada, reportedly dealing with a left knee injury this year, saw an awful season bottom out in Osaka over the weekend.

Over two programs, she fell twice, singled two jumps and had her patented triple Axel downgraded in the free skate. She was eighth after the short program and 12th-best in the free skate.

Asada ended up 40.45 points behind Satoko Miyahara, who captured her third straight national title and earned one of three berths for the world championships. Wakaba Higuchi and Mai Mihara will join Miyahara at worlds in Helsinki in three months, according to Japanese media.

Asada also had her worst Grand Prix season in the fall, finishing sixth at Skate America in October and ninth at Trophée de France in November.

Asada took Olympic silver in 2010 and world titles in 2008, 2010 and 2014.

Shoma Uno won the men’s national title with Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu sidelined by the flu. Uno, Hanyu and Keji Tanaka were named to the world championships team, according to Japanese media.

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2020 French Open women’s singles draw, results

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If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.

Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.

Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.

If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.

Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.

The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.

Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.

The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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2020 French Open men’s singles draw, results

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Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.

Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.

Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.

The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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