No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki follows No. 1 Simona Halep out of U.S. Open

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NEW YORK (AP) — All it took was two rounds at the U.S. Open for the top two seeded women to leave the draw, with No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki following No. 1 Simona Halep on the way out.

For Wozniacki, a two-time finalist at Flushing Meadows and the reigning Australian Open champion, her 6-4, 6-2 loss to 36th-ranked Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine on Thursday night was a second consecutive second-round Grand Slam exit.

Both Wozniacki and Halep, who was upset on Day 1, were beaten at the new Louis Armstrong Stadium. Two-time major champion Garbine Muguruza lost there, too, in the second round, so there’s something of a reputation already for the rebuilt arena.

“Guess Wimbledon used to have a ‘Graveyard Court,’” Wozniacki said, referring to the old Court No. 2 at the All England Club, which was infamous for upsets before it was torn down. “Maybe that is going to be the new ‘Graveyard Court.’ I think it’s a little too early to tell.”

For years, Wozniacki had to endure questions about why she was able to reach No. 1 in the rankings but wasn’t able to claim a major championship. She finally filled that gap on her resume this January in Melbourne, but if a burden was lifted, the Dane hasn’t played like it.

Wozniacki is 5-3 in Grand Slam matches since, following a fourth-round showing at the French Open with second-round departures at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, where she was the runner-up in 2009 and 2014.

She was asked whether having the Australian Open trophy makes these sorts of setbacks more acceptable.

“I don’t think it’s easier,” she replied. “I don’t think it ever gets easier.”

Tsurenko, meanwhile, has never been past the fourth round at any Grand Slam tournament.

“I was really brave, I think, today,” she said.

Things didn’t look good for her at the outset, when she shook her right forearm and had a trainer come out to massage it at changeovers. Tsurenko said she hurt it Monday and the pain returned when she served early in Thursday night’s match. From that moment on, Tsurenko decided she would just hit soft serves, instead of flat ones, to try to help her arm.

Essentially, she just wanted to put the ball in play. That worked: Wozniacki wound up her own undoing in many ways, producing 35 unforced errors and only six winners.

“She was playing smarter than me. She played the game that I was supposed to be playing. She got a lot of balls back. She played with the angles. She waited for the short ball. When the short ball came, she played aggressive. She went back and kept the ball in play when she had to,” Wozniacki said. “I should have made better adjustments. I just didn’t.”

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

Chicago Marathon features Emily Sisson’s return, Conner Mantz’s debut, live on Peacock

Emily Sisson
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At Sunday’s Chicago Marathon, Emily Sisson makes her return, nearly three years after Olympic Trials disappointment. Conner Mantz makes one of the most anticipated U.S. men’s debuts in 26.2-mile racing.

It is not the norm, but an American will be one of the spotlight runners in both the men’s and women’s elite races at a major marathon. Peacock airs live coverage at 8 a.m. ET.

Sisson, 30, starts her first mass marathon since dropping out of the Olympic Trials on Feb. 29, 2020, her legs “destroyed” on the hilly Atlanta course where she started as arguably the favorite. She ran the virtual New York City Marathon later in 2020, but that was solo (and not in New York City). Her 2:38:00 isn’t recorded in her official results on her World Athletics bio.

Since, Sisson won the Olympic Trials 10,000m on the track and was the top American in Tokyo in 10th place. She moved back to the roads, winning national titles at 15km and the half marathon and breaking the American record in the latter.

Sisson vaulted into the elite group of U.S. female marathoners in 2019, when she clocked the second-fastest debut marathon in American history, a 2:23:08 on a windy day in London, where the early pace was slow.

At the time, it was the 12th-best U.S. performance all-time. In the last two years, Keira D’Amato, 37, and Sara Hall, 39, combined to run seven faster marathons. At Chicago, a flat course that produced a world record three years ago, Sisson can answer them and perhaps get close to D’Amato’s American record 2:19:12.

“I’m hoping sub-2:20,” coach Ray Treacy said, according to LetsRun.com. “With the [super] shoes and the training behind her, I would think that’s [worth] at least three minutes.”

It is less likely that Sisson can challenge for the win on Sunday given the presence of Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich, the 2019 World champion and defending champion in the Windy City. The 28-year-old mom is the fifth-fastest woman in history with a personal best of 2:17:08. And Ethiopian Ruti Aga, a podium finisher in Berlin, New York City and Tokyo with a best time of 2:18:34, though she has one marathon finish since the pandemic (a seventh place).

Like Sisson, Mantz has shown strong recent road racing form. The American men’s debut marathon record of 2:07:56 (Leonard Korir) is in play. If he can break that, Mantz will be among the five fastest U.S. marathoners in history.

Rarely has a U.S. male distance runner as accomplished as Mantz moved up to the marathon at such a young age (25). At BYU, he won NCAA cross-country titles in 2020 and 2021 and placed fifth in the Olympic Trials 10,000m, then turned pro and won the U.S. Half Marathon Championships last December.

“If everything goes as planned, I think sub-2:08 is realistic,” Mantz said in a Citius Mag video interview last month. “If everything goes perfect on the day, I think a sub-2:07, that’s a big stretch goal.”

The men’s field doesn’t have the singular star power of Chepngetich, but a large group of East Africans with personal bests around 2:05. The most notable: defending champion Seifu Tura of Ethiopia and 2021 Boston Marathon winner Benson Kipruto of Kenya.

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Alpine skiing to test new format for combined race

Alpine Skiing Combined
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Alpine skiing officials will test a new format for the combined event, a race that is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

French newspaper L’Equipe reported that the International Ski Federation (FIS) will test a new team format for the combined, which has been an individual event on the Olympic program since 1988. L’Equipe reported that a nation can use a different skier for the downhill and slalom in the new setup, quoting FIS secretary general Michel Vion.

For example, the U.S. could use Breezy Johnson in the downhill run and sub her out for Mikaela Shiffrin in the slalom run, should the format be adopted into senior competition.

The format will be tested at the world junior championships in January in St. Anton, Austria, according to the report.

In response to the report, a FIS spokesperson said, “Regarding the new format of the combined is correct, and our directors are working on the rules so for the moment the only thing we can confirm is that there will be this new format for the Alpine combined that has been proposed by the athletes’ commission.”

Some version of the combined event has been provisionally included on the 2026 Olympic program, with a final IOC decision on its place coming by April.

This will be the third consecutive World Cup season with no combined events. Instead, FIS has included more parallel races in recent years. The individual combined remains on the biennial world championships program.

L’Equipe also reported that the mixed team parallel event, which is being dropped from the Olympics, will also be dropped from the biennial world championships after this season.

“There is nothing definitive about that yet, but it is a project in the making,” a FIS spokesperson said in commenting on the report.

Vion said the mixed team event, which debuted at the Olympics in 2018, was not a hit at the Beijing Games and did not draw a strong audience, according to L’Equipe.

The World Cup season starts in two weeks with the traditional opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria.

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