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Patrick Chan retires from figure skating

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Patrick Chan, a three-time Olympic medalist and three-time world champion, has, as expected (and previously reported in Canadian media), announced his retirement from figure skating after earning his first gold medal in the team event in PyeongChang.

“I have fulfilled my dreams and aspirations in competitive skating, and it is now time to move on to new challenges and opportunities,” Chan said in a Skate Canada press release Monday.

Chan, 27, dominated the Sochi Olympic cycle with world titles in 2011, 2012 and 2013, then took silver at the Sochi Olympics behind Japanese Yuzuru Hanyu. Chan also earned silver in the team event’s debut in Sochi.

He took one season off, then competed the last three seasons, racking up his eighth, ninth and 10th Canadian titles with an eye on helping Canada to the team event title in PyeongChang. He was ninth individually in PyeongChang, no longer able to match the world’s best in quadruple jumps.

“It wouldn’t have been fair to end after 2014, because I didn’t really have a good understanding of who I was and what my aspirations were and what I wanted from the sport,” Chan said ahead of Monday’s announcement, according to the Canadian Press. “It just didn’t feel fulfilling, skating didn’t fulfil me completely.

“Now I basically have three highlights to my life: doing [figure skating] shows, getting familiar with the commercial real estate world, which has been a lot of fun, and finally the third dream would be to have the skating rink going and building a skating program.”

Chan was a teen phenom, winning two Grand Prix titles at 17 and 2009 World Championships silver behind Evan Lysacek at 19. He was then fifth at his first Olympics in Vancouver in 2010.

“My last two Olympics, I got off the ice disappointed,” Chan said before PyeongChang, according to NBC Olympic Research, “because my expectations were based on things I can’t control. Like, ‘I’ve got to win the gold medal in Canada, or I’m the reigning [world] champion going into Sochi, so I must win.’”

Chan was Canada’s latest hope to win the nation’s first Olympic men’s figure skating title after fellow world champions Brian OrserKurt Browning and Elvis Stojko.

Chan said in August 2016 that he planned to retire after the 2017-18 season.

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Naomi Osaka, Coco Gauff set Australian Open duel

Naomi Osaka, Coco Gauff
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Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff will meet in the third round of a second straight Grand Slam, this time at the Australian Open on Friday.

Osaka, the defending champion and world No. 4, and Gauff, the 15-year-old American phenom, each won second-round matches in Melbourne to reach the final 32.

Osaka swept Chinese Zheng Saisai 6-2, 6-4 on a windy Wednesday afternoon. Later, Gauff followed her first-round win over Venus Williams by eliminating Romanian veteran Sorana Cirstea 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.

“I know what to expect,” Gauff said. “I’m excited.”

Osaka beat Gauff 6-3, 6-0 in the U.S. Open third round on Aug. 31. In the most memorable moment of that night, Osaka urged Gauff to share the on-court victor’s interview at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“It’s better than going into the showers and crying,” Osaka told Gauff in front of a packed crowd. “Let these people know how you feel.”

Gauff obliged after at first declining.

“I’m not the type of person who wants to cry in front of everyone,” she said later. “I didn’t want to take that moment away from [Osaka], as well.”

Gauff, ranked No. 684 at this time last year, is now No. 67. She broke through by beating Williams in the Wimbledon first round, then reaching the round of 16.

Gauff won a lower-level WTA Tour event in October and now ranks fifth in U.S. Olympic singles qualifying. The top four after the French Open qualify for the Tokyo Games, though Gauff has fewer than half the points as No. 4 Alison Riske.

“It’s been really cool to watch her grow because it’s happened so fast,” Osaka said.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women

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John Isner leaning toward skipping Olympics again

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John Isner, the highest-ranked U.S. male singles tennis player, is considering skipping the Olympics for a second straight time.

“I haven’t put a ton of thought into it, but as of right now, I think I’m leaning towards not playing,” the 19th-ranked player said at the Australian Open on Tuesday. “It’s about scheduling. I know the Olympics, it’s a fantastic honor. There’s no doubt about that. … Right now, at this stage in my career, it’s not a huge priority for me. So that’s probably the main reason I won’t be going. I certainly love playing in the summer in America, and I’m going to focus on that.”

The Tokyo Games take place the same week as a lower-level ATP Tour event in Atlanta that Isner, a former University of Georgia star, has won five times.

Other notable male players already said they will pass on Tokyo, including Sam Querrey, the top American in Olympic qualifying standings.

Austrian Dominic Thiem, a two-time French Open finalist, is prioritizing an ATP event in Kitzbühel the week of the Olympics. The U.S. doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan are not planning to play the Olympics in their final season before retirement, their manager said in November.

“The Olympics is very tough on the schedule … especially with Davis Cup,” Isner said in 2016, according to USA Today. “I think the fact that they have no [ATP ranking] points [at the Olympics], to be honest, was a pretty big factor as well. Obviously the Olympics is not about the money, but no points I think hindered me a bit.”

Isner, who turns 35 on April 26, is likely giving up his last chance to play Olympic singles. In his only Olympic participation, he reached the quarterfinals of the 2012 London Games, plus lost an opening-round doubles match there with Andy Roddick.

The top four U.S. men qualify for Tokyo, assuming they are among the top 60 overall qualifiers (maximum four per country) after this spring’s French Open.

Taylor FritzReilly Opelka, Steve Johnson and Tommy Paul are the U.S. men currently in Olympic qualifying position if excluding Querrey and Isner.

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