U.S. Speedskating

Joey Mantia wins Mass Start at World Single Distance Championships

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INZELL, Germany — Two-time Olympian Joey Mantia took gold in the men’s Mass Start event at the World Single Distance Championships on Sunday in at Max Aicher Arena in Germany.

In the final event of the four-day championships, Mantia sprinted the final 100m to win the title in 7:35.66. It’s his first gold medal this season, but not his first win in this event. He won the Mass Start at the 2017 World Single Distance Championships as well.

“I decided I was going to go into the last corner wide, I didn’t hear anybody coming on the inside, and I took advantage of them bumping into each other and that’s all she wrote,” Mantia said through U.S. Speedskating.

Full results are here.

The two skaters who bumped were South Koreans Cheonho Um and Jaewon Chung, who finished second and third in the race in 7:36.11 and 7:36.30, respectively.

“This year started out a little rough for me, but I’ve been training hard this last month and a half,” Mantia continued. “You train as hard as you can, and you try to put yourself in a position to take advantage of whatever the race presents, and I was able to do that today.”

Also on Sunday, Mantia finished eighth in the men’s 1500m.

Earlier Sunday, Brittany Bowe took home a bronze medal in the ladies’ 1500m with her time of 1:53.37.

The Netherlands’ Ireen Wuest set a new track record with her gold medal-winning time of 1:52.81 while Miho Takagi of Japan claimed the silver in 1:53.32.

“I’ve got some work to do on the last lap, but I’m happy with how I executed it,” Bowe said. “It’s probably my best time in Europe in a really long time, so I’m pleased.”

Americans Mia Manganello-Kilburg and Kimi Goetz raced in the ladies’ Mass Start on Sunday and placed eighth and 18th, respectively.

MORE: Brittany Bowe wins 1000m gold at World Single Distance Championships

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Naomi Osaka, Coco Gauff set Australian Open duel

Naomi Osaka, Coco Gauff
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Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff will meet in the third round of a second straight Grand Slam, this time at the Australian Open on Friday.

Osaka, the defending champion and world No. 4, and Gauff, the 15-year-old American phenom, each won second-round matches in Melbourne to reach the final 32.

Osaka swept Chinese Zheng Saisai 6-2, 6-4 on a windy Wednesday afternoon. Later, Gauff followed her first-round win over Venus Williams by eliminating Romanian veteran Sorana Cirstea 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.

“I know what to expect,” Gauff said. “I’m excited.”

Osaka beat Gauff 6-3, 6-0 in the U.S. Open third round on Aug. 31. In the most memorable moment of that night, Osaka urged Gauff to share the on-court victor’s interview at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“It’s better than going into the showers and crying,” Osaka told Gauff in front of a packed crowd. “Let these people know how you feel.”

Gauff obliged after at first declining.

“I’m not the type of person who wants to cry in front of everyone,” she said later. “I didn’t want to take that moment away from [Osaka], as well.”

Gauff, ranked No. 684 at this time last year, is now No. 67. She broke through by beating Williams in the Wimbledon first round, then reaching the round of 16.

Gauff won a lower-level WTA Tour event in October and now ranks fifth in U.S. Olympic singles qualifying. The top four after the French Open qualify for the Tokyo Games, though Gauff has fewer than half the points as No. 4 Alison Riske.

“It’s been really cool to watch her grow because it’s happened so fast,” Osaka said.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women

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John Isner leaning toward skipping Olympics again

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John Isner, the highest-ranked U.S. male singles tennis player, is considering skipping the Olympics for a second straight time.

“I haven’t put a ton of thought into it, but as of right now, I think I’m leaning towards not playing,” the 19th-ranked player said at the Australian Open on Tuesday. “It’s about scheduling. I know the Olympics, it’s a fantastic honor. There’s no doubt about that. … Right now, at this stage in my career, it’s not a huge priority for me. So that’s probably the main reason I won’t be going. I certainly love playing in the summer in America, and I’m going to focus on that.”

The Tokyo Games take place the same week as a lower-level ATP Tour event in Atlanta that Isner, a former University of Georgia star, has won five times.

Other notable male players already said they will pass on Tokyo, including Sam Querrey, the top American in Olympic qualifying standings.

Austrian Dominic Thiem, a two-time French Open finalist, is prioritizing an ATP event in Kitzbühel the week of the Olympics. The U.S. doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan are not planning to play the Olympics in their final season before retirement, their manager said in November.

“The Olympics is very tough on the schedule … especially with Davis Cup,” Isner said in 2016, according to USA Today. “I think the fact that they have no [ATP ranking] points [at the Olympics], to be honest, was a pretty big factor as well. Obviously the Olympics is not about the money, but no points I think hindered me a bit.”

Isner, who turns 35 on April 26, is likely giving up his last chance to play Olympic singles. In his only Olympic participation, he reached the quarterfinals of the 2012 London Games, plus lost an opening-round doubles match there with Andy Roddick.

The top four U.S. men qualify for Tokyo, assuming they are among the top 60 overall qualifiers (maximum four per country) after this spring’s French Open.

Taylor FritzReilly Opelka, Steve Johnson and Tommy Paul are the U.S. men currently in Olympic qualifying position if excluding Querrey and Isner.

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