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Mirai Nagasu to skip Grand Prix, will not skate at 2022 Olympics

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NEW YORK — Mirai Nagasu is on an indefinite break from competitive figure skating. Any return would be an abbreviated one.

“I can definitely tell you that I won’t be around for another Olympics,” Nagasu said at a Manhattan event promoting new sponsor DSW on Wednesday. “After three Olympic cycles, I won’t last another Olympics, but I don’t know about competing [in non-Olympic events] right now. It’s definitely something I have to think deeply on, so I don’t have the answer you’re seeking, but I will always be part of the skating community.”

Nagasu, a two-time Olympian who in PyeongChang became the first U.S. woman to land a triple Axel at the Olympics, said she will sit out the fall Grand Prix series but could return later in the season. The International Skating Union said this week that Grand Prix assignments will be published Thursday.

The U.S. Championships are in January. The world championships are in March.

“Other people deserve the opportunity [on the Grand Prix series],” said Nagasu, who was 10th in PyeongChang and earned a team event bronze medal. “After 10 years [of senior competition], I think I deserve a break. I feel like a lot of other Olympians this year have felt the same.

“After a lifetime of skating, I feel like a little break won’t hurt me.”

Other PyeongChang medalists who either retired or said they won’t compete this fall include Adam RipponJavier FernandezPatrick ChanKaetlyn Osmond and ice dancers Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani.

Nagasu’s skates won’t collect dust. She plans to appear in non-competitive skating shows in Japan and Sun Valley, Idaho, this summer.

Nagasu, 25, is going a similar route as friend Rippon, who said earlier this month that he won’t compete this fall and probably won’t compete again.

Rippon is 28. Nagasu and Rippon are among the older elite figure skaters, but Olympic medalists have competed into their 30s.

If this is the end for Nagasu, she will go out with a U.S. title (at age 14 in 2008), a fourth-place finish at the Olympics (2010), topping the short program at a world championships (2010) and rebounding from missing the 2014 Olympic team (despite a third-place finish at those nationals) to finish second at nationals in January to get to PyeongChang.

She is the only U.S. female singles skater to make multiple Olympic teams since Sasha Cohen and Michelle Kwan at the end of the U.S.’ golden years in the event in 2006.

Nagasu said she’s a little nervous for a new venture — public speaking events at businesses.

“I’ve been on the skating scene for a long time but never really gotten to share my background story,” said Nagasu, a daughter of Japanese immigrants, who slept in the storage closet of her parents’ California restaurant when they worked at night until she was 14. “So, to tell people what a journey it’s been is something I’m really looking forward to but also a little bit afraid of. I have taken a public speaking course, but to actually put it to use is something that I haven’t done as much as I have skated.”

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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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