Roger Federer to skip French Open, clay season

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) — Roger Federer lost his second consecutive match and the No. 1 ranking Saturday.

Big-serving Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, a qualifier ranked 175th, rallied to upset Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) at the Miami Open.

The 36-year-old Federer had been the oldest No. 1 man ever, but he’ll lose that spot to Rafael Nadal when the new rankings come out April 2.

“I deserve it after this match,” Federer said. “That’s how I feel.”

Kokkinakis became the lowest-ranked man to beat a No. 1 player since No. 178 Francisco Clavet upset Lleyton Hewitt in 2003. That upset was also at Key Biscayne.

“Pretty crazy,” said Kokkinakis, 21. “I’m pretty happy about it.”

Federer now has lost back-to-back matches for the first time since 2014, a dip that comes after a career-best 17-0 start to the year.

He lost to Juan Martin del Potro in the Indian Wells final Sunday, a defeat that also came down to a winner-take-all tiebreaker.

Did the losses have anything in common?

“Yes, 7-6 in the third,” Federer said. “Other than that, not much.”

The 6-foot-5 Kokkinakis has long been regarded as a promising talent thanks to a thunderous serve and forehand, but has been plagued by injuries. The match was his first against Federer, although they’ve practiced together.

“I’ve always liked his game,” Federer said. “I’m happy for him that on the big stage he was able to show it. It’s a big result for him in his career, and I hope it’s going to launch him.”

Federer won’t be playing to reclaim the No. 1 spot anytime soon. He said he’ll skip the upcoming clay season for the second year in a row, including the French Open.

Federer’s match turned when he played a poor service game and was broken at love to fall behind 3-1 in the second set.

“That game I knuckled down and put pressure on him,” Kokkinakis said. “I started to dictate from there.”

Kokkinakis never broke again but held the rest of the way, consistently topping 125 mph with his serve.

“Every time I had chances, something bad happened,” Federer said. “Wrong decision-making by me, good decision-making by him. It’s disappointing. I don’t know why I couldn’t get to any level I was happy with today.”

Federer kept one exchange going by hitting a volley behind his back, but couldn’t win even that point. He laughed then — it was early in the match — but looked grim two hours later as the end neared.

On match point, Federer buried a backhand return in the bottom of the net. Kokkinakis screamed in celebration, waved his index finger and gestured for more noise from the appreciative capacity crowd.

Kokkinakis said he didn’t mind that fans were firmly in Federer’s corner during the match — and even before it.

“When I came on court there wasn’t much cheering,” Kokkinakis said with a laugh. “He came on court with a little delay and that sort of strut he does, and I was like, ‘This is pretty nuts.’ The crowd goes nuts when he does his walk onto court.”

The walk to the exit was the last at Key Biscayne for Federer, a three-time champion. The event is moving next year to the Miami Dolphins’ stadium.

Nadal will become the new No. 1 even though he missed Key Biscayne because of a hip injury that also forced him to skip Indian Wells.

Kokkinakis is healthy for a change. The tournament is just his fifth in the past seven months, but he said he thought he could beat Federer.

“When I’m playing on my terms, I don’t feel there are too many people that can go with me,” Kokkinakis said.

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MORE: Federer: Tokyo Olympics too far away for decision

12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

Chloe Covell
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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

Francesco Friedrich
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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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