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Wimbledon first round sees record number of top-10 upsets

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Seven top-10 singles seeds lost in Wimbledon’s first round, a record number of Grand Slam opening-round upsets in the Open Era.

No. 6 Caroline Garcia and No. 8 Petra Kvitova and No. 7 Dominic Thiem and No. 10 David Goffin all went out Tuesday after No. 4 Sloane Stephens and No. 5 Elina Svitolina and No. 6 Grigor Dimitrov were ousted Monday.

The previous record for top-10 upsets in the first round was six, last happening at the 1998 French Open.

Meanwhile, major champions Rafael NadalNovak Djokovic, Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza all swept through the first round.

The biggest stunner Tuesday had to be Kvitova, picked by many to win her third Wimbledon.

The Czech was stunned by 50th-ranked Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-4, 4-6, 6-0.

Kvitova was coming off a grass-court title at Birmingham, England, last month and entered Tuesday with a tour-leading 38 victories this season.

Sasnovich came in with a 2-3 career record at Wimbledon, including a first-round loss a year ago, and a 9-13 Grand Slam mark.

Nadal, twice a Wimbledon champion, moved into the second round with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 win over Dudi Sela of Israel.

The second-seeded Nadal hadn’t played a match since claiming his 11th French Open title last month, but showed little sign of rust as he cruised to victory.

Nadal is seeking a first Wimbledon title since 2010, which would also make him just the second man to do the French Open-Wimbledon double three times.

He will next face Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan.

Djokovic equaled John McEnroe’s number of matches won at Wimbledon by beating American Tennys Sandgren 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 for his 59th match victory at the All England Club.

That puts him level with McEnroe in fifth place on the all-time list, behind only Roger Federer, Jimmy Connors, Boris Becker and Pete Sampras. Djokovic is looking for his fourth Wimbledon title, while Sandgren — who reached the Australian Open quarterfinals — was making his debut in the tournament.

Top-ranked Halep eased into the second round with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Kurumi Nara of Japan.

The French Open champion was playing her first match since winning her first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros but showed no signs of rust as she broke Nara four times to wrap up the win in 78 minutes.

“It was a big challenge to come and win the first round — it’s not easy after winning a Grand Slam, I knew it was going to be a tough match,” Halep said. “I felt OK. I didn’t think too much that I didn’t have any matches on grass (before Wimbledon). I thought I had enough power to adjust myself. Grass is really tough and every match can go either way. I have no expectations.”

Halep made the semifinals at the All England Club in 2014 but lost in the quarterfinals the past two years.

Defending champion Muguruza advanced with a 6-2, 7-5 victory over British wild card Naomi Broady.

The No. 3-seeded Spaniard overcame a partisan crowd as she fulfilled the reigning women’s champion’s honor of opening proceedings on Centre Court.

Muguruza faced only one break point in the match, but her failure to convert the regular chances she created on Broady’s delivery made for a competitive second set.

However, the two-time Grand Slam champion maintained her focus to close out the match and set up a second-round meeting with Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium.

American Jack Sock, seeded 18th, continued his poor year by losing to Italian Matteo Berrettini in five sets.

Another American, former junior star Frances Tiafoe, notched his first win over a seeded player at a Grand Slam, ousting No. 30 Fernando Verdasco in four sets.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

MORE: Serena Williams says it is unfair she gets drug tested more

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Transgender track and field athletes now face same standard that has kept out Caster Semenya

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Transgender athletes will have to reduce their testosterone level to the same level applied to Caster Semenya and other athletes with Differences of Sex Development (DSD), under a new policy enacted by World Athletics (formerly the IAAF).

As with DSD athletes, the threshold for middle-distance runners has been lowered from 10 nanomoles per liter to 5.

“These Regulations have been drafted to align with the Eligibility Regulations for the Female Classification (Athletes with Differences of Sex Development) and include updates to reflect current medical standards and the legal framework,” World Athletics said in announcing the latest IAAF Council decisions.

The IAAF claimed a similar basis in medical standards last year when it announced its updated policy on DSD athletes: “No female would have serum levels of natural testosterone at 5 nmol/L or above unless they have DSD or a tumour.”

Semenya, a two-time Olympic champion at 800 meters, challenged that limit in the Court of Arbitration for Sport but lost her case in May. Given a brief reprieve by a Swiss court, she ran the fastest 800-meter time of the year (1:54.98), but a higher court overruled her appeal. She did not compete in the recent world championships.

MORE: Semenya laments lack of support

Another athlete affected by the DSD policy, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Margaret Wambui, told the Olympic Channel she was struggling to find a new direction after the rule was passed.

“It affected me a lot,” Wambui said. “I didn’t want to train or do anything. …

“Caster has fought for us. She has done her level best. She has tried, but we failed.”

VIDEO: Wambui: “No one chose to be born the way they are”

Transgender athletes have not yet been prominent in international track and field, though controversies have arisen at other levels, particularly in a Connecticut case in which high school athletes filed a Title IX complaint after losing to transgender athletes. The athletes who filed the claim said they were potentially at a disadvantage in terms of earning college scholarships.

The new World Athletics policy insists that its stipulations for transgender athletes are actually generous. “The decision limit also takes into consideration that, for clinical purposes, the Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline for Endocrine Treatment of Gender-Dysphoric/Gender-Incongruent Persons recommends that transgender females should have serum testosterone levels of less than 50 ng/dL (i.e. approximately 1.7 nmol/L).”

But while DSD and transgender athletes face different issues, Semenya and other DSD athletes have set a precedent by withdrawing from competition rather than bring their levels down to the 5 nmol/L standard. In CAS proceedings, Semenya said she experienced regular fevers, night sweats, significant weight gain and constant abdominal pain while taking medication to meet the previous standard of 10 nmol/L.

The International Olympic Committee also put a 10 nmol/L limit in place for both transgender and DSD athletes in 2015. Some athletes have complained that transgender athletes still have an unfair advantage under that policy.

The World Athletics policy also addresses transgender men, granting them permission to take regulated testosterone supplements to bring levels within a typical range for men.

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U.S. men’s volleyball extends medal streak with bronze in World Cup

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With its medal-winning streak in jeopardy, the defending champion U.S. men’s volleyball team beat Egypt 22-25, 25-16, 25-14, 25-13 on Tuesday in Hiroshima, Japan. Poland beat Iran later in the day to slip past the U.S. for silver behind unbeaten Brazil.

The experienced U.S. men have claimed a medal in the last four major international tournaments — gold in the 2015 World Cup, bronze in the 2016 Olympics, bronze in the 2018 world championships and bronze in this year’s World Cup. The men also placed second in the 2019 Nations League and third in the first Nations League in 2018, though the team failed to medal in the last two editions of the World League in 2016 and 2017.

Most importantly for next year, the U.S. men swept their Olympic qualification tournament in August.

Micah Christenson was named best setter of the tournament, as he was in the 2015 tournament and in the 2018 world championships. Middle blocker Max Holt was also named to the tournament “Dream Team.

VIDEO: U.S.-Egypt highlights

The U.S. team’s World Cup started with a five-set loss to Argentina, which went on to finish fifth. The U.S. rebounded to beat Italy, world champion Poland, host Japan, Tunisia and Iran before losing to eventual champion Brazil. Border rival Canada took the U.S. to five sets, but sweeps against Australia and Brazil put the team in position to clinch its medal.

Heading into next year’s Olympics, the U.S. team has several internationally accomplished players. In addition to Christenson’s multiple awards, Matt Anderson was named the best opposite hitter in the world championship and Nations League in 2018, and Aaron Russell was named to the Dream Team in the 2016 Olympics. Russell, playing for Italian team Trentino, also was named MVP of the World Club Championship in December.

The U.S. women’s team also won two medals this year gold in the Nations League, silver in the World Cup and swept its own qualification tournament.

This success comes despite the lack of a professional league in the United States. USA volleyball announced last week it has processed paperwork for 257 women and 82 men to play in foreign leagues for the 2019-20, with more players to follow.

The World Cup is contested every four years, the year before the Olympics. The world championship takes place in even non-Olympic years. Qualification for the World Cup is more difficult — only 12 teams reach the tournament, while 24 teams take part in the world championship. 

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