AP

Roger Federer clarifies retirement joke at U.S. Open

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NEW YORK (AP) — Roger Federer sent something of a shock wave through the tennis world with what he thought was an obvious joke after improving to 18-0 in first-round matches at the U.S. Open.

“I’m happy I never stumbled at the first hurdle,” Federer said during his on-court interview Tuesday night. “Almost time to retire — but not yet.”

Some folks’ reaction might best be summed up as: Wait. WHAT?!

So the 37-year-old Federer was asked at his news conference to clarify his comment after the 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 victory over 117th-ranked Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Why did Federer mention retirement?

Turned out it was completely harmless.

“That was meaning, like, ‘I never lost a first-round match here at the Open. I won all my 18. You don’t want that (loss) to happen next year.’ I said, ‘Maybe I could retire now, because I protect my 18 first-round wins here.’ That’s what I meant with it,” he said. “It’s a total joke, yes.”

And, then, addressing all of the members of the media in the room, just to make absolutely sure everyone understood what he’d been thinking, Federer added with a smile: “So please don’t read into it. Don’t even write that word.”

For years, actually, Federer has dealt with questions about when he might retire. In part, that’s because elite tennis players often used to become not-so-elite by the time they passed the age of 30.

If anything, he’s looked as good as ever over the past two seasons, adding three Grand Slam titles in that span to raise his men’s record to 20.

Against Nishioka, Federer delivered 14 aces and never was in any trouble.

Federer saved the first eight break points he faced before finally faltering by pushing a forehand long on the ninth, losing serve for the only time while trying to close out the match at 5-2 in the third set. By then, the match was 1 hour, 45 minutes old — and it would last another seven minutes.

“Thankfully I wasn’t too nervous tonight. I felt good. I felt like I had a good preparation week. No hiccups there. I think that settles my nerves there. When you do walk out onto Arthur Ashe, you feel like people are there to see the show, enjoy themselves. Sure, they come for the tennis, but it’s also sort of a bucket list, wanting to be there,” Federer said.

“So, yeah, there’s pressure. But, no, never gets old,” he added. “I love coming to play here. It’s been so many years now.”

The No. 2-seeded Federer is seeking his sixth title at the U.S. Open, but first in a decade.

He could face No. 30 Nick Kyrgios in the third round and 13-time major champion Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals.

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U.S. OPEN: Scores | Men’s Draw | Women’s Draw

Chloe Dygert crashes over guard rail at world championships, has surgery

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American Chloé Dygert crashed over a guard rail at the world road cycling championships time trial, where she appeared en route to a repeat title, and underwent leg surgery as a result.

Dygert, who last year won by the largest margin in history as the youngest-ever champion, lost control of her bike while approaching a curve to the right. Her front wheel bobbled, and she collided with the barricade, flipping over into an area with grass.

Dygert, who had a left leg laceration, was tended to by several people, put on a stretcher and taken to a hospital in Bologna, Italy, about 25 miles from the worlds host of Imola.

“We are relieved that this crash was not worse than what it could have been,” USA Cycling chief of sport performance Jim Miller said in a press release. “While this crash is distressing, Chloe is young and a fighter. With Chloe’s determination, we know she will be back riding before we know it. For now, we want her to focus on healing.”

About 10 minutes after the crash, Dutchwoman Anna van der Breggen won her first time trial title.

Van der Breggen took silver the last three years behind Dygert and countrywoman Annemiek van Vleuten, who missed this year’s race after breaking her wrist last week in the Giro Rosa.

Dygert, 23, had a 26-second lead at the 14-kilometer time check of the 31-kilometer race. Full results are here.

Dygert qualified for the Tokyo Olympics when she won last year’s world time trial title. She has been bidding to make the Olympics on the road and the track.

Worlds continue Friday with the men’s time trial airing on Olympic Channel and NBC Sports Gold for Cycling Pass subscribers at 8:15 a.m. ET. A full TV schedule is here.

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MORE: USA Cycling names Olympic team finalists

2020 French Open men’s singles draw, bracket

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Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.

Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.

Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.

The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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