Novak Djokovic joins Federer, Nadal in French Open quarterfinals

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The Big Three are all into the French Open quarterfinals.

Novak Djokovic joined Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the last eight by sweeping German Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 on Monday. He hasn’t dropped a set, or even been taken to a tiebreak, in four matches against unseeded players.

“Played as closest to my best tennis on clay as I think I can be at the moment,” Djokovic said. “Everything is coming together beautifully. … But it’s still a long way to go.”

The competition level rises starting with Wednesday’s quarterfinals. Djokovic, the No. 1 seed seeking a fourth straight Grand Slam title (for the second time in his career), gets No. 5 Alexander Zverev next.

Djokovic is the first man in the Open Era to reach 10 straight French Open quarterfinals. Zverev, who beat Djokovic at the ATP Finals in November, has never advanced past a Slam quarterfinal.

A potential semifinal opponent will be seeded no lower than 10th, potentially No. 4 Dominic Thiem. Federer and Nadal, who play separate quarterfinals Tuesday, are in the other half of the draw.

Also Monday, No. 14 Madison Keys made her fifth quarterfinal in her last seven Slams, topping Czech Katerina Siniakova 6-2, 6-4. Siniakova had upset No. 1 Naomi Osaka in the third round.

American Sofia Kenin fell to No. 8 Ashleigh Barty 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, two days after upsetting Serena Williams. Keys gets Barty in the quarters.

Yet another American, Amanda Anisimova, became the first man or woman born in the 2000s to make a Grand Slam quarterfinal, four months after she became the first to make the fourth round of a Slam.

It’s the first time three or more U.S. women made a Grand Slam’s quarterfinals, without either Williams sister in that group, since the 1995 U.S. Open. Since then, it happened 26 times with a Williams sister.

Anisimova gets defending champion Simona Halep in the quarterfinals. Halep is the only woman left from the top six and one of two women left who have won a Slam, along with Sloane Stephens.

FRENCH OPEN: TV Schedule | Scores | Men’s Draw | Women’s Draw

Men’s Quarterfinals
(1) Novak Djokovic – (5) Alexander Zverev (Wednesday)
(4) Dominic Thiem – (10) Karen Khachanov (Wednesday)
(3) Roger Federer – (24) Stan Wawrinka (Tuesday)
(2) Rafael Nadal – (7) Kei Nishikori (Tuesday)

Women’s Quarterfinals
(8) Ashleigh Barty – (14) Madison Keys (Wednesday)
(3) Simona Halep – Amanda Anisimova (Wednesday)
(7) Sloane Stephens – (26) Jo Konta (Tuesday)
(31) Petra Martic – Marketa Vondrousova (Tuesday)

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Richard Callaghan, figure skating coach, banned for life

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Richard Callaghan, a figure skating coach best known for helping Tara Lipinski earn 1998 Olympic gold, was ruled permanently ineligible for violations including sexual misconduct involving a minor.

Callaghan can still appeal the sexual misconduct violation, according to the U.S. Center for SafeSport, a watchdog for U.S. Olympic sports organizations that updated Callaghan’s status Wednesday.

He was first suspended in March 2018 pending an investigation into allegations first made against him more than 20 years ago.

Earlier this month, another former skater, Adam Schmidt, said in a lawsuit that he was sexually molested as a teenager by Callaghan starting in 1999.

Callaghan was previously accused of sexual misconduct in April 1999 by Craig Maurizi, one of his former students and later an assistant to him in San Diego and Detroit.

Maurizi told The New York Times that Callaghan had engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with him beginning when he was 15 years old. The alleged misconduct had begun nearly 20 years earlier. Callaghan denied the allegations.

In March 2018, Callaghan told ABC News: “That’s 19 or 20 years ago. I have nothing to say.”

Maurizi’s previous grievance against Callaghan with the U.S. Figure Skating Association, the precursor to U.S. Figure Skating, was dismissed on procedural grounds.

He was Callaghan’s assistant at the Detroit Skating Club until they split after Lipinski turned pro, left Callaghan and decided to train with Maurizi.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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MORE: Eight matchups to watch in figure skating Grand Prix Series

Pita Taufatofua, Tonga flag bearer, finishes last in kayak debut

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Pita Taufatofua, the Tonga Olympic flag bearer who went viral in Rio and PyeongChang, began his quest to make a third straight Olympics in a third different sport with a last-place finish in his opening-round heat at the world sprint kayak championships in Hungary on Wednesday.

The start of the heat appeared delayed as Taufatofua struggled to get his kayak into position in the water. He was left at the start as the other six kayakers raced out and finished between 33 and 40 seconds. Taufatofua took 58.19 seconds, the slowest of 53 finishers among seven total heats.

“Well that was slightly better than the first time I competed in Taekwondo or skiing,” was tweeted from Taufatofua’s account. “Would have liked to start facing the right way but that’s life.”

Taufatofua, 35, was the oldest athlete in the heat by nearly a decade. He is also entered in doubles races with Tonga canoe federation president Malakai Ahokava with heats Thursday and Friday.

Taufatofua hopes to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in taekwondo, where he competed in Rio, and in sprint kayak.

But he hasn’t competed in taekwondo in three years and just started training kayak this spring. At worlds, Taufatofua told the BBC he is still having trouble staying afloat in the water.

Taufatofua said in announcing the new sport in April that it would be “largely impossible” to qualify for Tokyo. He could be the first athlete to compete in a different sport in three straight Olympics (Summer and Winter) since the Winter Games began in 1924, according to the OlyMADMen.

“It’s certainly going to be the greatest challenge that I’ve ever had to embark on,” he said then.

Taufatofua’s results at worlds this week has little bearing on his Olympic qualifying prospects. Rather, he just needed to compete in Hungary to stay eligible for the Olympics.

The key will be an Oceania qualifying event early next year, where one Olympic bid is available. He will likely have to beat the best kayakers from Australia and New Zealand to grab it. Australian Stephen Bird placed eighth at the Rio Olympics and 11th at the 2018 World Championships.

If Taufatofua fails, he could receive a special tripartite invitation sometimes offered to smaller nations like Tonga.

Taufatofua became a social-media celebrity by marching into the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony shirtless and oiled up. He then lost in the first round via mercy rule in his taekwondo tournament.

He made a quixotic bid for the PyeongChang Winter Games in cross-country skiing — and accomplished the feat, barely, in a sport that has lenient qualifying requirements for nations with a lack of Winter Games depth.

Taufatofua finished 114th out of 116 in his 15km Olympic cross-country skiing race, nearly 23 minutes behind the winner.

If Taufatofua is able to carry the Tongan flag at a third Opening Ceremony, he will definitely be shirtless again, in a similar outfit to what he wore in Rio and PyeongChang, he said last year.

MORE: Five-time Olympic kayak medalist banned four years

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