The Lilly King–Yulia Efimova rivalry is back on, but this time the Russian is wagging her finger.
Efimova missed the 100m breaststroke world record by .01 in the semifinals at the world swimming championships in Budapest on Monday.
Efimova celebrated her time by finger wagging, an homage to King’s famous move in the ready room at the Rio Olympics. She and King will go head to head in the final as the top two seeds on Tuesday after King won her later semifinal in a personal-best time .17 slower than Efimova.
“I’m always looking at the results from the heat before,” King told media in Budapest, adding that she wasn’t shaved for Monday’s semifinals. “I saw a little finger wag. I saw it. It’s just motivating me more, so that’s OK.”
King, who criticized Efimova’s presence in Rio after serving a doping ban, beat the Russian in the Olympic 100m breaststroke final last year.
Efimova served a 16-month ban for testing positive for the banned steroid DHEA in 2013. She again tested positive in February 2016 for meldonium, though she said she stopped taking it before it became a banned substance Jan. 1 and was absolved along with other athletes.
“You’ve been caught for drug cheating, I’m just not a fan,” King memorably said in Rio, adding last fall, “[Doping] was on all of our minds. We had team meetings talking about what it was going to be like. We were going to be racing dopers, and we all knew it.”
No. 1 Iga Swiatek of Poland is favored to claim a third French Open title, a year after beating American Coco Gauff in the final. She bids to join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win the French Open three or more times since 2000.
Two Americans are ranked in the top six in the world — No. 3 Jessica Pegula and Gauff.
The last American to win a major singles title was Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought matches the longest in history (since 1877) for American men and women combined.
But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.
Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.
Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.
Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, was upset in the first round by 172nd-ranked Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild. It marked the first time a men’s top-two seed lost in the first round of any major since 2003 Wimbledon (Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt).
No. 9 Taylor Fritz, No. 12 Frances Tiafoe and No. 16 Tommy Paul are the highest-seeded Americans, all looking to become the first U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003. Since then, five different American men combined to make the fourth round on eight occasions.