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Caroline Wozniacki falls as Wimbledon upsets continue

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Five of the top eight women are out of Wimbledon with No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki‘s second-round loss amid a swarm of bugs Wednesday.

Wozniacki, the Australian Open champion, was upset by Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 1-6, 7-5.

Wozniacki went out before the third round for the fourth time in seven years, after complaining to the chair umpire about the insects that invaded No. 1 court during the second set.

In the first three days, the following women’s top-10 seeds have lost:

No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki
No. 4 Sloane Stephens
No. 5 Elina Svitolina
No. 6 Caroline Garcia
No. 8 Petra Kvitova

WIMBLEDON: Full Scores | Men’s Draw | Women’s Draw

That leaves No. 1 Simona Halep, No. 3 Garbine Muguruza, No. 7 Karolina Pliskova, No. 9 Venus Williams and No. 10 Madison Keys alive from the top 10.

Williams and Pliskova each advanced to the third round on Wednesday and could meet in the fourth round. They are the only single-digit seeds left in the bottom half of the draw.

No. 25 seed Serena Williams, also in the bottom half, beat Bulgarian qualifier Viktoriya Tomova 6-1, 6-4. She gets France’s Kiki Mladenovic in the third round with Keys potentially in the fourth round.

Also advancing was Roger Federer, who won 35 straight points on his serve in a 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 sweep of Lukas Lacko.

After serving out for the first set, Federer didn’t drop a single point on his serve in the second and kept that streak going until he was 30-0 up at 4-1 in the third — when Lacko finally sent a backhand winner down the line.

It was another dominant display by the eight-time champion, who lost just nine of 61 points on his serve in total and broke Lacko five times, including with a forehand winner to close out the match.

“On certain days it goes better than others,” Federer said. “Sometimes your serve matches up better against certain players.”

Williams was nearly as good, losing just five of 32 points on her first serve against Tomova. It was her 16th straight victory at Wimbledon, although she missed last year’s tournament while pregnant.

Wozniacki is still waiting to get past the round of 16 for the first time, despite fighting back from 5-1 down in the third set and saving four match points at 5-3. But she was broken again in the final game, becoming the fifth of the top eight women’s seeds to lose before the third round.

Five-time champion Venus Williams did better with her comeback attempt. The No. 9 seed, at 38 the oldest woman in the draw, came back to beat 141st-ranked qualifier Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania 4-6, 6-0, 6-1 after dropping the first set for a second straight match.

In the first round, she started by conceding a tiebreaker against 58th-ranked Johanna Larsson before taking 12 of the last 15 games.

“Ideally it’s two sets,” Venus said. “If it’s not two sets, then go to Plan B.”

In the men’s draw, 13th-seeded Milos Raonic and No. 11 Sam Querrey also advanced in straight sets.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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French Open: Karolina Pliskova, top player sans Slam, again exits early

Karolina Pliskova
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No. 2 seed Karolina Pliskova exited yet another Grand Slam in the early stages, falling to 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in the second round at Roland Garros on Thursday.

Ostapenko, whose only match wins at the French Open before this week came in her title run three years ago, bounced the big-serving Czech 6-4, 6-2.

Pliskova put fewer than half of her first serves in play, while Ostapenko fired 27 winners to 19 unforced errors. Pliskova was on the ropes in her first round, too, needing three sets to get past an Egyptian qualifier.

“Maybe same level as the match before, but of course [Ostapenko] is much better player,” Pliskova said. “Not much to say about this match.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Later Thursday, top-ranked Novak Djokovic had a second straight win ceding just five games, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 over Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis. Djokovic undefeated in 2020 save his U.S. Open default for smacking a ball that inadvertently struck a linesperson, next gets Colombian lucky loser Daniel Elahi Galán.

Nobody else in Djokovic’s half of the draw at the start of the tournament made a French Open semifinal before.

Pliskova is the highest-ranked player of either gender (No. 4) without a Grand Slam title, yet hasn’t made it past the fourth round at a major since the 2019 Australian Open.

She’s played six Slams as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed, one shy of Caroline Wozniacki‘s total before she broke through at the 2018 Australian Open and two shy of Simona Halep‘s total before she won the 2018 French Open.

Ostapenko, meanwhile, is having a very different career.

She won the 2017 Roland Garros title, two days after turning 20, while ranked 47th. She hasn’t gotten past the third round of a major since 2018 Wimbledon, including first-round French Open exits the last two years, and is back down to No. 43 in the WTA rankings.

“It’s hard to compare with 2017. As I said, it was like three years ago, and I was much younger, and also I was fearless. Nobody knew me,” Ostapenko said. “The world doesn’t stop with winning only one Grand Slam. Of course I want to achieve more, and I want to be back in top five, top 10.”

She dropped just nine games in four sets this week.

Ostapenko gets 87th-ranked Spaniard Paula Badosa in third round. Badosa dispatched 2018 French Open runner-up Sloane Stephens 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

MORE: Serena Williams ‘struggling to walk’

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Figure skating’s Grand Prix fields look very different this season

Nathan Chen
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Before Nathan Chen is expected to go for a historic fifth straight U.S. figure skating title in January, he will, in a first, compete against most of his top countrymen later this month.

Fields for the Grand Prix Series, figure skating’s autumn international circuit, were published Thursday. As expected, every top skater entered will compete in his or her home country, or nearest to where he or she trains, and in one of the six events.

Traditionally, skaters compete in two of the six events and are scattered among competitions in the U.S., Canada, France, Russia, China and Japan based on world rankings.

But the International Skating Union restricted travel this season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Skaters are limited to compete locally. And the Grand Prix Final at the conclusion of the Grand Prix Series has been postponed from its scheduled December setting in Beijing.

That means that Chen vies for a record-tying fourth straight Skate America crown in Las Vegas in three weeks against a field mostly made up of countrymen, including Olympic teammate Vincent Zhou and U.S. bronze medalist Tomoki Hiwatashi.

In all, there are eight U.S. men entered in Skate America, 11 women (including past national champions Bradie Tennell and Gracie Gold), six pairs and nine ice dance couples (including U.S. champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue), plus some skaters from other nations who train in the U.S.

Traditionally, a country has no more than three entries per discipline at a Grand Prix event.

GRAND PRIX FIELDS: Men | Women | Pairs | Ice Dance

Sochi Olympian Jason Brown, who trains in Toronto, is entered in Skate Canada the week after Skate America.

Two-time U.S. women’s champion Alysa Liu will not be old enough for the Grand Prix Series until the 2021-22 Olympic season.

All of the reigning Olympic champions are absent from the series.

Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan previously announced he wouldn’t compete due to virus-related travel risks. Russian Alina Zagitova extended her indefinite break from competition dating to last autumn, rather choosing to participate in a skating-themed TV series.

Ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada retired. The German pairs’ team of Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot last competed in the 2018 Olympic season.

Instead, the headliners include Chen, the two-time world champion undefeated since placing fifth in PyeongChang. And a deep crop of Russian teenage women, all of course entered in the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow in November.

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