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

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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