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U.S. athletes react to Russia Olympic decision

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The immediate reaction from many athletes after the International Olympic Committee’s decision was this: Will Russia compete at all?

Russia was likely to be a medal factor in Pyeongchang in several sliding sports, primarily men’s bobsled, men’s skeleton, women’s skeleton and men’s luge.

U.S. veteran luger Chris Mazdzer said many Russians on the World Cup circuit had told him in recent weeks that they expected a full ban, and he’s wondering if President Vladimir Putin could decide to boycott.

“Putin could just say, ‘You can’t compete,’ and they won’t,” Mazdzer said.

Erin Hamlin, a 2014 Olympic luge bronze medalist, said she wouldn’t be surprised if Russians weren’t in Pyeongchang at all.

“Russia is such a proud nation,” Hamlin said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if they were not allowed to.”

Olympic skeleton bronze medalist Matt Antoine was wrong, and was thrilled.

The American has been very outspoken in his criticism of how the IOC and the World Anti-Doping Agency has handled sanctioning Russia and its athletes for their roles in the state-sponsored doping scandal in Sochi.

He was “truly in shock” when he heard the IOC ruling that will bar Russia from Pyeongchang and allow clean Russian athletes to compete under the Olympic Flag.

“It is without a doubt the correct decision and the only option that allows for athletes, nations, and fans to continue to believe in the Olympic movement,” Antoine said.

Antoine said the decision was bold, and that athletes are celebrating the IOC’s stance.

“Dedicated athletes around the world thank you,” Antoine said.

More reactions from U.S. Olympic hopefuls are below.

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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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