Kyle Snyder savors Russian Tank showdown

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U.S. wrestler Kyle Snyder waited 2 1/2 years for this news. The Russian Tank is moving up to 97kg.

Abdulrashid Sadulayev, a 21-year-old from Dagestan with the foreboding nickname, is undefeated at the senior international level since November 2013. He won the 2014 and 2015 World freestyle titles and 2016 Olympic gold at 86kg.

Sadulayev hasn’t competed since Rio but is believed to be shifting to 97kg for the Russian Championships. The news spread Sunday.

Snyder, a 21-year-old from Maryland, owns the 97kg division. He is the reigning Olympic and world champion but does not quite carry Sadulayev’s reputation. No man does.

Snyder is 13-3 internationally since Rio. He also showed grit to cap an undefeated college season, repeating as national champion for Ohio State by overcoming a rib injury and pain-killing shots at NCAAs.

Snyder is training for the U.S. trials for the world championships in two weeks, when he’ll have a bye into the final. But that preparation was interrupted Sunday when Snyder saw the Sadulayev news on Twitter.

“I know as much as, like, anybody else,” Snyder said by phone Monday evening. “I just saw it on Twitter, and people were confirming it, pretty reliable sources. Not 100 percent sure, but I’m pretty sure.

“My gut reaction is excited, happy. When I first saw it, I smiled because this is like an exciting match for the wrestling community, wrestling fans, and it’s an exciting match for me. It motivates me to continue to grow and continue to improve in wrestling.”

Snyder calls Sadulayev the world’s best pound-for-pound wrestler, ranking ahead of Turkey’s Taha Akgul, also a 2014 and 2015 World champion and 2016 Olympic gold medalist.

Snyder has interacted with a fake Sadulayev Twitter account, but never spoken with the Russian. He believes they have shaken hands, though.

Better is Snyder’s familiarity with Sadulayev’s wrestling. He first dreamed of facing him in 2014, while watching the world championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on a web stream.

There, an 18-year-old Sadulayev manhandled men up to 11 years older, winning four of five matches by the 10-point mercy rule.

Snyder has watched all four of Sadulayev’s matches from Rio, where the Russian bulldozed to gold by a combined 28-1 margin. Snyder was 28-8 across his four wins.

“[Sadulayev] has got a very good stance,” Snyder said. “It’s very difficult to get to his legs and to break his positioning. He’s a very good finisher once he gets your leg, and he’s very good on top.”

Snyder compared the challenge of facing Sadulayev to that of another Russian, Abdusalam Gadisov, the 2014 World champion whom Snyder edged in the 2015 Worlds 97kg final.

Except Gadisov is six years older than Snyder and such a stalwart that Snyder had been watching Gadisov’s film since the seventh grade. And Gadisov didn’t make Russia’s Olympic team.

Snyder knows one American who has faced Sadulayev in competition and maybe another one or two who grappled with him in training.

Sadulayev reportedly suffered a partial knee tear months before the Olympics. He hasn’t competed since Rio, taking time off for marriage, according to USA Wrestling.

“I know that he was hurt after the Olympics, and he’s had a lot of recovery and treatments,” Snyder said.

The possibility of facing Sadulayev is so enticing that Snyder doesn’t mind discussing it despite the fact neither wrestler is guaranteed a worlds spot.

Snyder goes into the U.S. trials in two weeks as a decided favorite, though. His biggest domestic competition the previous two years was 2012 Olympic champion Jake Varner, who Snyder said won’t be at trials.

“I’m a better wrestler than I was last year,” Snyder said. “No matter how many titles I get, I don’t think I’ll ever feel pressure to win because I care more about competing hard and wrestling hard and trying to score a lot of points than I do winning.”

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Fred Kerley wins 100m at Rabat Diamond League in early showdown

Fred Kerley
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World champion Fred Kerley won the 100m in an early season showdown at a Diamond League meet in Rabat, Morocco, on Sunday.

Kerley clocked 9.94 seconds, beating a field that included Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala, who remains the world’s fastest man this year (9.84 from May 13) and world bronze medalist Trayvon Bromell. Omanyala was third in 10.05 on Sunday, while Bromell was fifth in 10.10.

Kerley has run three 100m races this year and broke 9.95 in all of them, a promising start as he bids to repeat as world champion in Budapest in August.

Full meet results are here.

The Diamond League season continues with a meet in Florence, Italy, on Friday, live on Peacock. The headline event is the men’s 100m including Kerley and Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs of Italy. Kerley and Jacobs were due to go head to head in Rabat, but Jacobs withdrew last Thursday due to nerve pain.

Earlier, Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway comfortably took the 1500m in 3:32.59. American Yared Nuguse surged to place second in a personal best 3:33.02 in his Diamond League debut after running the world’s second-fastest indoor mile in history in February.

Jamaican Rasheed Broadbell ran down world champion Grant Holloway in the 110m hurdles, prevailing 13.08 to 13.12 into a headwind. Holloway remains fastest in the world this year at 13.03.

Kenyan Emmanuel Korir, the Olympic and world champion, finished eighth in the 800m won by countryman Emmanuel Wanyonyi. Wanyonyi, 18, is the world’s fastest in 2023.

American Shamier Little won the 400m hurdles in 53.95, becoming second-fastest in the world this year behind countrywoman Britton Wilson. Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the Olympic and world champion and world record holder, has yet to compete this outdoor season and so far has strictly committed to flat 400m races in future meets. McLaughlin-Levrone has a bye into the world championships 400m hurdles but may run the flat 400m there instead.

In the 400m, Olympic champion Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas won in 44.70, while world bronze medalist Matthew Hudson-Smith of Great Britain pulled up about 50 meters into the race.

Also Sunday, world bronze medalist Anna Hall improved from No. 3 to No. 2 on the U.S. all-time heptathlon list with 6,988 points to win the Hypo Meeting in Götzis, Austria. Only Jackie Joyner-Kersee, the world record holder at 7,291, has scored higher among Americans.

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2023 French Open women’s singles draw, bracket

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At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

Main draw play began Sunday, live on Peacock.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Turning 22 during the tournament, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her most recent match with a right thigh injury last week and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula and No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, are the best hopes to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw