Getty Images

Usain Bolt meets Michael Phelps, predicts when 100m world record will fall

Leave a comment

The long-awaited first meeting between Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps occurred rather unremarkably, at an airport en route to the Laureus Sports Awards in Monaco on Monday, according to Laureus.

Bolt and Phelps then each won an award at the annual show on Tuesday, Bolt garnering Best Male Athlete and Phelps earning Comeback of the Year for their performances at their last Olympics in Rio.

They sat at bordering tables at the show (evidenced by Phelps’ presence in between Bolt’s trophy and the sprinter’s face in this image). After, they were on stage together, as Bolt gathered more than a dozen in attendance for a selfie and to share in his iconic “To Di World” pose.

Bolt also said in Monaco that he believed his 100m world record of 9.58 seconds, set in 2009, will probably be broken in 10 or 15 years, according to multiple reports.

“I think, just looking at the crop [of young sprinters] right now, I probably have 10, 15 years,” he said, according to the Times of London.

Bolt’s retirement at the end of this year will leave large spikes to fill in track and field. He had words of advice to young sprinters, especially Andre De Grasse, who earned three sprint medals for Canada in Rio at age 21 but is perhaps best known for exchanging grins with Bolt during the 200m semifinals

“I’ve said to a few athletes that I know personally, ‘You guys need to show your personality, not just performance. Listen to me, I’m not trying to say you should try and do weird things, but people want to see personality and something different,'” Bolt said, according to the Times. “Hopefully they’ll trust me and try to change.

“I said to De Grasse last season, ‘Listen to me, yes you’re doing well, but you guys are too quiet. Look at the attention you got because we were having fun.’ People were like, ‘De Grasse is so cool.’ “

Bolt also cautioned to young sprinters who have already signed lucrative endorsement contracts. De Grasse and American Trayvon Bromell inked with Puma and New Balance, respectively, while still in college. Americans Candace HillKaylin Whitney and Noah and Josephus Lyles turned pro in the last two years as teenagers.

“When I started track and field you didn’t get paid a lot when you just came out of high school,” Bolt said, according to the Times. “Now when you have young talent, they get paid so early that a lot of them just lose their way real quick.

“If De Grasse can focus, or the other talents can focus, there is going to be great competition in years to come. But I’ve seen it so much, where the young kids start getting paid and they just drop out of the scene. It’s all about who wants it. We’ll see.”

Bolt’s next scheduled meet is the Racers Grand Prix in Kingston on June 10, but he could (and likely will given his past) sign up for another race between now and then.

VIDEO: Michael Phelps’ agent to frame his world-record certificates

Novak Djokovic rolls at French Open; top women escape

Novak Djokovic
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Novak Djokovic began what could be a march to his 18th Grand Slam title, sweeping Swede Mikael Ymer 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 in the French Open first round on Tuesday.

The top seed Djokovic lost just seven points in the first set. He gets Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis in the second round in a half of the draw that includes no other man with French Open semifinal experience.

Djokovic had plenty going for him into Roland Garros, seeking to repeat his 2016 run to the title. The chilly weather is similar to four years ago.

“I don’t like usually comparing the years,” he said. “But I think [the conditions are] quite suitable to my style of the game.”

As is Djokovic’s form. His only loss in 2020 was when he was defaulted at the U.S. Open for hitting a ball in anger that struck a linesperson in the throat.

Djokovic got a break with the draw when No. 3 seed Dominic Thiem was put in No. 2 Rafael Nadal‘s half. The Serbian also won his clay-court tune-up event in Rome, where he received warnings in back-to-back matches for breaking a racket and uttering an obscenity.

“I don’t think that [the linesperson incident] will have any significant negative impact on how I feel on the tennis court,” Djokovic said before Roland Garros. “I mean, I won the tournament in Rome just a week later after what happened in New York.

“I really want to be my best version as a player, as a human being on the court, and win a tennis match. Because of the care that I have for that, I sometimes express my emotions in good way or maybe less good way.”

If Djokovic can lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires two Sundays from now, he will move within two of Roger Federer‘s career Slams record. Also notable: He would keep Nadal from tying Federer’s record and head into the Australian Open in January, his signature Slam, with a chance to match Nadal at 19.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Earlier Tuesday, No. 2 Karolina Pliskova and No. 4 Sofia Kenin each needed three sets to reach the second round.

The Czech Pliskova rallied past Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif 6-7 (9), 6-2, 6-4. Pliskova, the highest-ranked player without a major title, next gets 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.

“Let’s not talk about my level [of play],” Pliskova said. “I think there is big room for improvement.”

Kenin, the American who won the Australian Open in February, outlasted Russian Liudmila Samsonova 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

“It doesn’t matter how you win — ugly, pretty, doesn’t matter,” Kenin said on Tennis Channel.

She gets Romanian Ana Bogdan in the second round. Only one other seed — No. 14 Elena Rybakina — is left in Kenin’s section en route to a possible quarterfinal.

American Jen Brady, who made a breakthrough run to the U.S. Open semifinals, was beaten by Danish qualifier Clara Tauson  6-4, 3-6, 9-7.

Sam Querrey nearly made it eight American men into the second round, serving for the match in the third set. But he succumbed to 13th-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev 6-7 (5), 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-4, 6-3. It’s still the best first-round showing for U.S. men since nine advanced in 1996.

The second round begins Wednesday, highlighted by Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal.

MORE: Halep, Comaneci and the genesis of a Romanian friendship

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

U.S. men off to best French Open start in 24 years

Sebastian Korda
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The last time U.S. men started this well at the French Open, Sebastian Korda wasn’t alive and his dad had yet to win a Grand Slam singles title.

Eight American men are into the second round at Roland Garros, the largest contingent in the last 64 since 1996. It could have been nine, had Sam Querrey served out the match in the third set against 13th seed Andrey Rublev of Russia.

Still, the U.S. has more men in the second round than any other nation. Astonishing, given U.S. men went a collective 1-9 at the 2019 French Open.

Back in 1996, nine American men won first-round matches. That group included Pete SamprasAndre AgassiJim Courier and Michael Chang (in Sampras’ deepest run in Paris, to the semifinals).

Clay has long been kryptonite for this generation of Americans — the last U.S. man to make a Roland Garros quarterfinal was Agassi in 2003.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

This group includes veterans like Jack Sock, who swept countryman Reilly Opelka 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 on Monday. Sock, 28, was once ranked eighth in the world.

He then dropped out of the rankings entirely, missing time due to injury and going 10 months between tour-level match wins. He’s now at No. 310 and preparing to play No. 3 Dominic Thiem in the second round.

“A pretty horrific two years in a row,” Sock said. “I’m not opposed to silencing some haters after the last couple years I’ve gone through. I’ve read and seen enough of it, heard enough of it. I’m kind of ready to reestablish myself out there, let people know that I’m back.”

Then there’s 35-year-old John Isner, the big server who swept a French wild card in round one. Isner, the highest seeded U.S. man at No. 21, has posted some decent Roland Garros results, reaching the fourth round three times.

There are new faces, too. Taylor Fritz is seeded 27, aged 22 and in an open section of the draw to make his first Grand Slam fourth round.

On Sunday, 20-year-old Korda became the youngest U.S. man to win a French Open main-draw match since an 18-year-old Andy Roddick beat Chang in 2001.

He is the son of 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda and brother of the world’s second- and 22nd-ranked female golfers (Nelly and Jessica).

So far, Sebastian’s biggest feats: winning the 2018 Australian Open junior title and, in his only golf tournament, beating both of his sisters when he was 11. It was around that age that he gave up ice hockey and focused solely on tennis.

Korda was hooked after watching a Czech whom his dad coached, Radek Stepanek, at the U.S. Open in 2009.

“He played Djokovic on [Arthur] Ashe [Stadium] like at 10:30 at night,” Korda, nicknamed Sebi, said on Tennis Channel. “Completely packed. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I went home, and I was like, this is exactly what I want to do.”

An American man is already guaranteed to make the third round in Paris. Korda faces Isner on Thursday.

“I grew up on the clay,” Korda said, “so I know how to play on it a little bit.”

MORE: Halep, Comaneci and the genesis of a Romanian friendship

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!