Novak Djokovic ties Roger Federer record at French Open

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PARIS (AP) — Novak Djokovic equaled Roger Federer’s mark of reaching nine consecutive quarterfinals at Roland Garros by beating No. 30 seed Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

It’s also Djokovic’s 12th career trip to the round of eight in Paris, a record for the 50-year professional era. Djokovic advanced to his 40th Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Rafael Nadal can pull even with a 12th French Open quarterfinal, too, by winning on Monday.

The straightforward victory for 2016 French Open champion Djokovic was his 200th career tour-level win on clay. He’ll play unseeded Italian Marco Cecchinato in the quarterfinals. Cecchinato, who came into the French Open without a Grand Slam main-draw victory, upset No. 8 David Goffin 7-5, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 on Sunday.

No. 2 Alexander Zverev and No. 7 Dominic Thiem will play in the other bottom-half quarterfinal after fourth-round wins Sunday.

In the women’s draw, U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens and runner-up Madison Keys each made her first French Open quarterfinal.

The two young Americans are friends who have known each other for about a decade. They’re Fed Cup and Olympic teammates.

The 10th-seeded Stephens was a 6-2, 6-0 winner against No. 25 Anett Kontaveit of Estonia in 52 minutes, while No. 13 Keys beat No. 31 Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania 6-1, 6-4 in 65 minutes.

If Stephens, 23, and Keys, 25, each picks up one more victory, they will face off for a berth in the championship match.

“I always want to see Sloane do well,” Keys said. “I’d love for both of us to be able to be in the position to play each other multiple times. … I’m always cheering for her.”

Stephens monitors her pal’s progress, too.

“I mean, she’s, like, really the only person I actually watch, because I will be texting her during the match: ’Come on! What are you doing?’” Stephens joked. “She’s been playing well. Obviously in a Slam, she really gets up, so she’s going to make whoever she plays, play. And I think that’s what’s great about Maddie.”

Next up for Keys, a powerful hitter who hasn’t always loved playing on red clay, is a match against 98th-ranked Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan. Putintseva eliminated No. 26 Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-3 on Sunday.

Stephens’ quarterfinal opponent will be No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki, the reigning Australian Open champion, or No. 14 Daria Kasatkina of Russia. Kasatkina led 7-6 (5), 3-3 when play was stopped because of darkness.

Both Keys and Stephens have now managed to complete a set of quarterfinal runs at all four Grand Slam sites.

Stephens has a scrambling ability to extend points that works well on clay; it’s just that she had been 0-4 in the fourth round at Roland Garros until Sunday.

Keys’ big-hitting style makes her more of a natural fit on hard courts.

“Even though it’s still not my favorite surface, I definitely feel more comfortable on it. I feel like this year, especially, I have been finding the balance of being a little bit more patient, but also playing my game, whereas before, I feel like I would go too far one way,” Keys explained. “That’s the biggest thing: just remembering how I like to play tennis, but just maybe adding a couple more shots to each rally.”

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FRENCH OPEN: TV/Stream Schedule | Scores | Men’s Draw (PDF) | Women’s Draw

Geraint Thomas cuts Julian Alaphilippe’s Tour de France lead

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FOIX, France (AP) — When one French rider starts to fade, another comes to the fore. One way or the other, France may still be on course for its first Tour de France winner since 1985.

Dancing over his saddle, his mouth wide open and gasping for air, Thibaut Pinot launched a ferocious attack Sunday and profited from the first signs of weakness in the high mountains from French race leader Julian Alaphilippe to edge closer to the yellow jersey in the overall standings.

Ascending the last uphill finish in the Pyrenees with a display of power and fluidity that signaled that he’ll also be a major contender to win the Tour, Pinot gained time on all his rivals for the second consecutive day following his triumph at the famed Tourmalet mountain in the previous stage.

Heading to the second and final rest day Monday ahead of what promises to be a climactic final week in the Alps, the race is exquisitely poised. Six riders are all within 2 minutes, 14 seconds of each other at the top of the standings.

The six terrible ascents above 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) in the Alps, peppered over three mountain stages, will likely decide who will stand on top of the podium on the Champs-Elysees next Sunday.

TOUR DE FRANCE: TV Schedule | Full Standings

“The high mountains have only just begun,” said Alaphilippe. “The Alps are going to be a big mouthful.”

Surging from the mist and rain, Pinot crossed the finish line of Sunday’s Stage 15 in second place, 33 seconds behind Simon Yates, who posted a second stage win after a long solo raid, three days after his first stage victory in the southwestern mountain range.

The 29-year-old Pinot was irresistible when he made his move seven kilometers from the summit. Only Emanuel Buchmann and defending champion Geraint Thomas’ teammate Egan Bernal could follow. But Pinot accelerated again about 2 kilometers later to drop them for good.

Pinot moved to fourth place overall, 1 minute, 50 seconds behind Alaphilippe.

“The weather conditions and the stage were good for me, I had good sensations, I needed to make the most of it,” said Pinot. “I need to keep going up in the general classification, the most difficult stages are looming.”

While Pinot was escorted by his faithful Groupama-FDJ teammate David Gaudu in the final ascent toward Prat d’Albis, Alaphilippe was isolated without a single teammate to help him in the 12-kilometer climb and cracked, yet managed to salvage his yellow jersey.

Alaphilippe was so exhausted after his effort up the hill, where he grimaced through the rain, that he had to grip a roadside barrier afterward while he caught his breath.

“If I crack I hope he’ll carry the torch for the French,” Alaphilippe said about Pinot.

Thomas, who had already conceded time to Pinot at the Tourmalet, remained second in the general classification. He got dropped when Pinot took the lead from a reduced group of contenders but did not panic. He rode at his pace until he accelerated with 1.5 kilometers left to cut the overall gap on Alaphilippe from 2 minutes, 2 seconds to 1:35. Steven Kruijswijk of the Netherlands stood third overall, 1:47 off the pace.

Thomas said after the stage he could have tried to follow Pinot earlier but instead opted for a conservative approach because he did not want to bring back Alaphilippe to the front. Bernal was with Pinot and the Welshman would not take the risk of chasing down their common rival. Bernal, a Colombian with excellent climbing skills, remains involved in the fight for the yellow jersey, 2:02 behind Alaphilippe.

“I felt better than yesterday but I needed to try to pace it when it all kicked off,” Thomas said. “It’s a difficult one, tactics wise. I wanted to go, I had the legs to go but I wasn’t going to chase down Egan Bernal with Alaphilippe on my wheel.”

Coming right after the ascent of the Tourmalet, Stage 15 ran close to the ancient Cathar castles and was a punishing ride totaling more than 39 kilometers of climbing.

Alaphilippe was so exhausted after his effort up the hill, where he grimaced and dribbled through the rain, that he had to grip a roadside barrier afterward while he caught his breath.

“If I crack I hope he’ll carry the torch for the French,” Alaphilippe said about Pinot.

Yates, the Vuelta defending champion, was given a free reign by the peloton when he took part in an early breakaway as he was not a threat overall. He made his decisive move about 9 kilometers from the line.

“I’m very proud of that,” Yates said of his second victory at this Tour.

Watch world-class cycling events throughout the year with the NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass, including all 21 stages of the Tour de France live & commercial-free, plus access to renowned races like La Vuelta, Paris-Roubaix, the UCI World Championships and many more.

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Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce turns back the clock, wins another Diamond League

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Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce continues to show she’s just as fast as before childbirth, winning a Diamond League 100m in 10.78 seconds in London on Sunday.

Fraser-Pryce, a 32-year-old, two-time Olympic champion, beat a field that included the two fastest women of 2018, Brit Dina Asher-Smith (10.92) and Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou (10.98).

It lacked the only woman ranked higher than Fraser-Pryce this season, Rio Olympic champion Elaine Thompson, who edged her countrywoman at the Jamaican Championships on June 21.

But Fraser-Pryce has now broken 10.79 three times this season, her first time doing so since 2013. She could become the oldest woman to win an Olympic or world 100m title in Doha in two months.

“10.78 is a fabulous time,” she said. “My aim for Doha is definitely to be on the podium. For me, it’s a long season from here, so I am hoping my experience will come into play.”

Full London results are here. The meet lacked U.S. stars who are preparing for this week’s USATF Outdoor Championships, where world champs spots are at stake. The Diamond League resumes Aug. 18 in Birmingham, Great Britain.

Also Sunday, Kenyan Hellen Obiri won an anticipated head-to-head with Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan in the 5000m. Obiri, the world champion, clocked 14:20.36, the world’s fastest time in two years. Hassan, who nine days ago broke the mile world record, took third in a European record 14:22.12.

Swede Daniel Ståhl won a discus that included the world’s top three this year and the reigning Olympic and world gold and silver medalists. Stahl launched a 68.56-meter throw to overtake Jamaican Fedrick Dacres.

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