Controversial as he is, Sun Yang is very arguably the greatest freestyle swimmer of all time.
The Chinese superstar won his ninth career world title — all individual freestyle golds — by taking the 200m free in Budapest on Tuesday. So exhausted, he emerged from the Danube Arena pool to lay on the deck for several seconds before coming to his feet.
Sun clocked 1:44.39, while American Townley Haas took silver in 1:45.04 for his first individual medal at a major international meet. Russian Aleksandr Krasnykh picked up the bronze.
Sun was next to last after 50 meters but burst to the lead by the 150-meter mark. He had the fastest final 100 meters by .66 of a second.
Sun, 25, won the 200m free at worlds for the first time, one year after his first Olympic 200m free title. Sun has now won Olympic and world gold medals at every freestyle distance from 200m to 1500m. Only one other swimmer can boast that — Katie Ledecky.
Sun trails only Michael Phelps (15) and Ryan Lochte (10) in individual world titles. Sun can tie Lochte if he wins the 800m free in Budapest on Wednesday.
But Sun is not universally admired in swimming. He served a silent three-month doping ban in 2014. The next year, Sunshockingly did not show up for the 1500m free final at worlds. Sun said in a post-meet press conference that it was due to a heart problem and declined to comment when asked about a reported warm-up altercation with a Brazilian swimmer.
Haas, 20, was a revelation in 2016. He won the Olympic Trials 200m free and had the fastest split by .71 in the Olympic 4x200m free relay but was fifth in the individual 200m final in Rio.
Men’s 200m Freestyle Results Gold: Sun Yang (CHN) — 1:44.39 Silver: Townley Haas (USA) — 1:45.04 Bronze: Aleksandr Krasnykh (RUS) — 1:45.23 4. Duncan Scott (GBR) — 1:45.27
5. James Guy (GBR) — 1:45.36
6. Dominik Kozma (HUN) — 1:45.54
7. Mikhail Dovgalyuk (RUS) — 1:46.02
8. Park Tae-Hwan (KOR) — 1:47.11
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.
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.