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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

Tour de France race of truth to decide champ; Peter Sagan’s run likely ends

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The stage is set to decide the Tour de France winner on Saturday.

After Soren Kragh Andersen of Denmark won Friday’s 19th stage of 21, where the overall leaders finished together, eyes turn to Saturday’s 22-mile individual time trial — otherwise known as the race of truth (6:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold).

A Slovenian is extremely likely to win a Tour title for the first time.

Primoz Roglic, a former world junior team champion ski jumper, has been in the yellow jersey for nearly two weeks. He leads countryman Tadej Pogacar by 57 seconds going into the last two stages. Sunday’s finisher is a ceremonial ride into Paris where the leaders are not expected to attack each other.

Miguel Angel Lopez of Colombia, who crashed directly into a road sign on the first stage, is in third, 1:27 behind Roglic. Lopez is 1:39 ahead of fourth-place Australian Richie Porte.

TOUR DE FRANCE: Standings | TV, Stream Schedule | Stage By Stage

Stage 20 Time Trial Notable Start Times
10:46 a.m. ET — Sepp Kuss (USA)
11:08 — Richie Porte (AUS)
11:10 — Miguel Angel Lopez (COL)
11:12 — Tadej Pogacar (SLO)
11:14 — Primoz Roglic (SLO)

Even with a finishing first-category climb, the time trial distance of 22 miles makes it difficult for Pogacar to make up 57 seconds on Roglic. Pogacar beat Roglic in the national time trial championship in June — by nine seconds on a 9.7-mile course.

“Tomorrow it’s all on me,” Roglic said, according to Cyclingnews.com. “The team has done an amazing job, I have the [yellow] jersey, but we have all worked for it.”

Pogacar, at 21, is bidding to become the youngest Tour de France podium finisher since 1909, according to ProCyclingStats.com. Last year, he became the youngest podium finisher in any Grand Tour since 1974 by placing third at the Vuelta a Espana won by Roglic.

“If I’m on a good day, it’s a course that suits me well,” Pogacar said of the time trial. “If someone told me I’d be in this position before the Tour. I would never have believed them.”

The Slovenians from different teams owned this Tour while defending champion Egan Bernal of Colombia and the formerly dominant Ineos Grenadiers struggled and eventually abandoned on Wednesday.

One competition that all but wrapped up Friday was for the green jersey going to the Tour’s top sprinter.

Sam Bennett is in line to become the second Irishman to win that title after Sean Kelly, who did so four times in the 1980s.

Bennett goes into the weekend with a 55-point lead over Slovakian Peter Sagan, who won the title in each of his last seven Tours that he has finished, a record total.

With a maximum 70 points available for one sprinter left, Bennett would clinch the title by finishing eighth on Sunday and picking up a handful of intermediate sprint points.

MORE: Slovenia’s president is all about the Tour de France

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2020 Tour de France standings

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2020 Tour de France standings for the yellow jersey, green jersey, white jersey and polka-dot jersey through stage 18 of 21 …

Overall (Yellow Jersey)
1. Primoz Roglic (SLO) — 83:29:41
2. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) — +:57
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL) — +1:27
4. Richie Porte (AUS) — +3:06
5. Mikel Landa (ESP) — +3:28
6. Enric Mas (ESP) — +4:19
7. Adam Yates (GBR) — +5:55
8. Rigoberto Uran (COL) — +6:05
9. Tom Dumoulin (NED) — +7:24
10. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) — +12:12
13. Richard Carapaz (ECU) — +17:48
15. Sepp Kuss (USA) — +35:54
17. Nairo Quintana (COL) — +57:49
30. Thibaut Pinot (FRA) — +1:56:21
36. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) — +2:11:36
DNF. Egan Bernal (COL)

Sprinters (Green Jersey)
1. Sam Bennett (IRL) — 319 points
2. Peter Sagan (SVK) — 264
3. Matteo Trentin (ITA) — 250
4. Bryan Coquard (FRA) — 173
5. Caleb Ewan (AUS) — 158

Climbers (Polka-Dot Jersey)
1. Richard Carapaz (ECU) — 74 points
2. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) — 72
3. Primoz Roglic (SLO) — 67
4. Marc Hirschi (SUI) — 62
5. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL) — 51

Young Rider (White Jersey)
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) — 83:30:38
2. Enric Mas (ESP) — +3:22
3. Valentin Madouas (FRA) — +1:35:35
4. Dani Martinez (COL) — +1:51:32
5. Lennard Kamna (GER) — +2:10:21

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TOUR DE FRANCE: TV, Stream Schedule | Stage By Stage | Favorites, Predictions