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Garbine Muguruza suffers earliest exit for defending Wimbledon champ in 24 years

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LONDON (AP) — Garbine Muguruza insisted she wasn’t thinking about attempting to collect a second consecutive Wimbledon championship. She was adamant that she was not focusing on defending her title.

“It doesn’t really matter,” she would say, “what happened in 2017.”

Well, it seems safe to say she’ll really want to forget what happened at the All England Club in 2018. Muguruza was stunned in the second round 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 by 47th-ranked Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium on Thursday, the earliest exit for a defending women’s champion since Steffi Graf in 1994.

“It’s a little bit sad,” Muguruza said. “But today didn’t go my way.”

That’s become a familiar refrain for prominent women at this topsy-turvy Wimbledon.

Only two of the top eight seeded women are still in the field after four days of action.

No. 3-seeded Muguruza joined No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 4 Sloane Stephens, No. 5 Elina Svitolina, No. 6 Caroline Garcia and No. 8 Petra Kvitova on the way out so far, along with five-time major champion Maria Sharapova.

“I mean, anyone, on a good day, can beat anyone,” Van Uytvanck said. “That’s what I think. I still think the top players, their average level is higher than, let’s say, sub-top players. But anyone on a good day can beat anyone, for sure.”

Sure seems that way, particularly this week.

Among the men, too.

Resumes and past performances do not matter. At all.

Marin Cilic, for example, entered his second-round match with all sorts of advantages in experience and success over his opponent, including a runner-up finish at the All England Club a year ago and a U.S. Open title in 2014.

So when Cilic took a two-sets-to-none lead against a guy who began the week with records of 0-2 at Wimbledon and 6-15 at all majors, it appeared the No. 3 seed was on his way to a straightforward victory and a step closer to a potential semifinal rematch against defending champion Roger Federer.

Hold that thought. The outcome that seemed obvious vanished, and Cilic is gone from the field, giving away a big edge in a 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3), 7-5 loss to 82nd-ranked Guido Pella of Argentina in a match completed Thursday after being suspended midway through the third set because of rain the evening before.

Cilic called it a “big disappointment.”

“Just didn’t feel so good. I was not as accurate as yesterday,” he said. “I was just missing some balls, giving him chance to keep playing.”

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

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First Olympic women’s aerials champion Cheryazova dies at 50

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MOSCOW (AP) Lina Cheryazova, the first woman to win an Olympic aerials skiing gold medal, has died. She was 50.

Officials in the Russian city of Novosibirsk, where Cheryazova was living for the last two decades, said she died “following a lengthy illness,” without giving further details.

Competing for Uzbekistan, Cheryazova won gold with a triple flip when aerials skiing debuted on the Olympic program in 1994 in Lillehammer.

Shortly after winning, she learned her mother died three weeks before.

Cheryazova’s career was derailed later that year when she suffered a serious head injury while training in the United States, and spent days in a coma. She retired after failing to qualify for the 1998 Winter Olympics.

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Clare Egan notches first World Cup podium in biathlon season finale

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In the final biathlon event of the 2018-19 season, American Clare Egan recorded her first career World Cup podium finish, placing third in the mass start in Oslo, Norway. She hit 19 of 20 targets and crossed the finish line 10.4 seconds behind winner Hanna Oberg of Sweden. Norway’s Tiril Eckhoff finished second.

Egan, 31, made her Olympic debut at the 2018 PyeongChang Games, but considered retiring from biathlon at the end of the last season. “I decided that I wanted to do one more year, just for fun, just to see how much I could learn and how good a biathlete I could become,” Egan said in a U.S. Biathlon press release.

Her decision to continue has paid off: since the start of the 2018-19 season, Egan has posted the top eight finishes of her career (including three top-10 results). She concludes the season ranked 18th in the overall World Cup standings.

“I skied much faster this year than I have in the past and I think that was due to finally finding a good balance in my training, between working hard and resting. I did not train more, but the quality was much higher. I’m very excited for the next season,” Egan told U.S. Biathlon.