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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.

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Yevgenia Medvedeva leads after short program at Autumn Classic

Yevgenia Medvedeva
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Olympic silver medalist and two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva leads after Thursday’s short program at her season opener, the Autumn Classic International. In her first competition since moving to Toronto to train under Brian Orser, Medvedeva scored 70.89 points.

Olympic team event bronze medalist Bradie Tennell sits in second place heading into Friday’s free skate with 69.26 points. Tennell, the reigning U.S. national champion, was joined by countrywoman Starr Andrews in Ontario. Andrews scored 56.70 points and finished fifth in the short program.

France’s Mae Berenice Meite rounds out the top three with 58.23 points.

Earlier on Thursday, Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres from France scored 73.81 points to build their lead over the pairs’ field. Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro from Canada were second with 64.73 points, followed by the two American teams: Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier (61.91) and Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson (50.25), who competed internationally as new partners for the first time.

Competition at the Autumn Classic continues this weekend. Friday features the rhythm dance, men’s short program, and the pairs’ and ladies’ free skates. Saturday concludes competition with the free dance and men’s free skate. The event will stream live on Skate Canada’s Dailymotion page.

Elsewhere in the world of figure skating this weekend, Rika Kihira took the ladies’ short program at the Nepela Trophy in Bratislava. The reigning world junior champion attempted her triple Axel to open her “Clair de Lune” program but fell and was awarded -5 Grades of Execution across the board. She tallied 70.79 points and leads Kazakhstan’s Elizabet Tursynbaeva by just 0.8 points. Russian Stanislava Konstantinova is third with 65.03 points.

Russian men lead the field after the short program in Bratislava. Mikhail Kolyada scored 96.82 points while Sergei Voronov earned 81.77 points. Japan’s Keiji Tanaka currently sits third with 77.53 points.

Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc have a three-point lead on the pairs’ field after the short program with 65.68 points. Deanna Stellato and Nathan Bartholomay, the other Americans in the field, are third with 59.60 points in their first competition of the season.

Competition continues at the Nepela Trophy this weekend with the rhythm dance and pairs’ free skate on Friday and the ladies’ free skate, free dance, and men’s free skate on Saturday.

MORE: Olympic gold medalist Alina Zagitova delays season opener by one week

Despite protests, Russias anti-doping agency reinstated

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The World Anti-Doping Agency declared Russia’s scandal-ridden drug-fighting operation back in business Thursday, a decision designed to bring a close to one of sports’ most notorious doping scandals but one bitterly disputed by hundreds of athletes and described as “treachery” by the lawyer for the man who exposed the corruption.

On a 9-2 vote, the executive committee took the advice of the agency’s compliance review panel and declared RUSADA as having satisfied conditions of reinstatement that were gradually softened over the summer.

In most tangible ways, the decision doesn’t change much: RUSADA has been up and running for a while, bringing one of the world’s largest testing programs back on line with the help of officials from Britain and elsewhere. And Russia’s Olympic committee was brought back into the fold after the Pyeongchang Olympics, where athletes who could prove they were clean were able to compete as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.”

But RUSADA’s reinstatement now clears the country to again bid for major international events — although soccer’s World Cup was held there this summer despite that restriction.

It also clears a major hurdle for Russia’s track team to be declared compliant by that sport’s international governing body, one of the few to take a strong, consistent stand against doping.

Perhaps most importantly, hundreds of athletes and dozens of world anti-doping leaders see it as a stinging rebuke to the ideal of fair play.

“WADA’s decision to reinstate Russia represents the greatest treachery against clean athletes in Olympic history,” said Jim Walden, the attorney for Grigory Rodchenkov, the former Moscow lab director who exposed much of the Russian scheme.

WADA had been telegraphing the move since Sept. 14, when it released the recommendation of its compliance review committee. Olympic champion Beckie Scott resigned from that committee afterward.

“I’m profoundly disappointed,” Scott said to Canadian broadcaster CBC after the decision. “I feel this was an opportunity for WADA, and they have dealt a devastating blow to clean sport. I’m quite dismayed.”

Even in Russia, where the news was welcomed, it came with a sense that there’s still work to be done.

“These questions will always follow us,” said RUSADA CEO Yuri Ganus, whose appointment to the job was part of the housecleaning at the agency that WADA demanded. “These aren’t the kind of skeletons which can lie unnoticed in the closet. These are the skeletons which will be banging on the closet door all the time.”

The two biggest roadblocks to RUSADA’s reinstatement involved the country accepting findings from a report by investigator Richard McLaren that concluded the government had engineered the doping scandal to win medals at the Sochi Olympics. It also involved Russia agreeing to hand over a trove of data and samples that could be used to corroborate potential doping violations that stemmed from the cheating.

Over a summer’s worth of correspondence between WADA leaders and Russia’s sports minister about how to bridge the gap, a pattern emerged of WADA backing down from its initial requirements and, at one point, essentially asking Russia what it would be willing to say in a letter designed to satisfy the WADA review committee.

“We think that a small addition to the letter, if acceptable to you, could ensure that the letter is well received … and that a positive recommendation is provided,” WADA CEO Olivier Niggli wrote to sports minister Pavel Kolobkov in May in a letter obtained by BBC Sport .

In the end, Russia agreed to accept findings of an IOC-commissioned report that put less onus on the Russian government for the scheme, a move that Rodchenkov said earlier this week was done “for the pure purpose of protecting their top-level apparatchiks who destroyed the Olympic Games in Sochi.”

Russia also agreed to hand over the samples and data by Dec. 31. If it does not, RUSADA will again be declared noncompliant.

“Without this pragmatic approach, we would continue with the impasse and the laboratory data could have remained out of our reach indefinitely,” WADA president Craig Reedie said after Thursday’s executive committee meeting in Seychelles.

Critics said reinstating RUSADA before obtaining the data only amounts to accepting another promise from a country that hasn’t kept many over the five-year course of the scandal.

Travis Tygart, the CEO for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, called the decision “bewildering and inexplicable,” and urged a full revamping of WADA; Reedie also serves as a member of the IOC, which is one of the many conflicts of interest that bother critics of the agency.

“Let’s be clear: Absolutely nothing will be off the table for how we, the anti-doping community, begin the work of reforming WADA,” Tygart said.

Reedie said “WADA understands that this decision will not please everybody.”

“Clean athletes were denied places at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as other major events, and others were cheated of medals,” he said. “It is entirely understandable that they should be wary about the supposed rehabilitation of offenders.”