Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro
AP/Getty Images

WATCH LIVE: French Open men’s semifinals on NBC Sports, streaming

Leave a comment

Rafael Nadal is two wins from his 11th French Open title, but his semifinal opponent knows what it’s like to topple the great Spaniard on sport’s biggest stage.

Argentine Juan Martin del Potro will take a swing at becoming the first man to beat Nadal in the final four of Roland Garros. That’s right, Nadal is 20-0 in his career in French Open semifinals and finals.

NBC Sports coverage of the men’s semifinals starts at 11 a.m. across all time zones on NBC and 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT on NBCSN.

The Nadal-del Potro winner gets Austrian Dominic Thiem in Sunday’s final. The No. 7 seed Thiem, who handed Nadal his last two losses on clay (and is 3-5 vs. Nadal on the surface since the start of 2016), beat 72nd-ranked Italian Marco Cecchinato 7-5, 7-6 (10), 6-1 in Friday’s early semifinal.

WATCH LIVE: French Open men’s semifinals — STREAM LINK

Two of del Potro’s biggest career wins came against Nadal in semifinals — en route to his only Grand Slam title at the 2009 U.S. Open (dominating 6-2, 6-2, 6-2) and at the Rio Olympics (5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (5).

But none of del Potro’s five wins in 14 matches against Nadal have come on clay. Their only meeting on the surface came at the 2007 French Open, when Nadal swept 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 before del Potro’s breakthrough two years later.

Ted Robinson handles play-by-play for NBC’s coverage, joined by analysts John McEnroe and Mary Carillo. This is NBC’s 36th straight year broadcasting the French Open.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

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

Asbel Kiprop, Olympic 1500m champ, banned four years

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kenyan Asbel Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic 1500m champion and a three-time world champ, was banned four years after testing positive for EPO in November 2017, according to track and field’s doping watchdog organization.

The ban is backdated to Feb. 3, 2018, when the 29-year-old was provisionally suspended after the failed test.

Kiprop repeatedly denied doping since last May, when he first acknowledged the positive test. Most recently, a 3,000-word defense from his lawyer was posted on Kiprop’s Facebook page.

Kiprop’s defenses included saying he was a victim of extortion and that he was offered “a reward” of becoming an anti-doping ambassador if he admitted guilt. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the IAAF’s independent organization to monitor doping and corruption, denied the latter last May.

A disciplinary panel dismissed six defenses from exonerating him, including the possibility his sample was spiked, in handing out the four-year ban.

Kiprop, the pre-eminent 1500m runner of the last decade, can appeal the ban.

At 19, he finished second in the Beijing Olympic 1500m but was upgraded to gold a year later after Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi failed a drug test. He is the youngest Olympic 1500m medalist of all time, according to the OlyMADMen.

Kiprop went on to earn three straight world titles in the 1500m in 2011, 2013 and 2015, matching the feats of retired legends Noureddine Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj.

He struggled in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, finishing last in the London final with a hamstring injury and sixth in the Rio final won by American rival Matthew Centrowitz.

Kiprop has targeted El Guerrouj’s world record of 3:26:00, missing the mark by .69 of a second in 2015.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Maggie Nichols is second woman in 20 years to repeat as NCAA all-around champ

Maggie Nichols
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Oklahoma junior and world champion gymnast Maggie Nichols became the first woman to repeat as NCAA all-around champion in 12 years, returning from a heel injury to compete on all four events for the first time since January on Friday.

Nichols, a Rio Olympic hopeful before being beset by a torn meniscus in 2016, joined 2004 Olympic silver medalist Courtney Kupets as the only women to win back-to-back NCAA all-arounds in the 2000s.

A junior, Nichols can next year join Jenny Hansen as the only women to three-peat in NCAA history.

Oklahoma goes for a third team title in four years on Saturday night against UCLA (featuring Olympic champions Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross), LSU and Denver.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Individual Results
All-Around
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma) — 39.7125
2. Lexy Ramler (Minnesota) — 39.6625
2. Kyla Ross (UCLA) — 39.6625
4. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 39.65
5. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 39.6

Vault
1. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 9.95
1. Derrian Gobourne (Auburn)
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)

Uneven Bars
1. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 9.95

Balance Beam
1. Natalie Wojcik (Michigan) — 9.95

Floor Exercise
1. Alicia Boren (Florida) — 9.95
1. Lynnzee Brown (Denver)
1. Brenna Dowell (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)