Novak Djokovic joins Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal in French Open semifinals

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Novak DjokovicRoger Federer and Rafael Nadal are all into the French Open semifinals. They were last in the final four, together, at a Grand Slam at this tournament seven years ago.

“It’s a different time for us now than it was five years ago now, obviously. We’re a bit older,” Djokovic said. “But, you know, we have still been enjoying some of our best tennis in biggest events, talking about Federer, Nadal, and myself. That’s great to see.

“Nadal and Federer, arguably the biggest legends of this sport and best players, successful players ever, so to be in the mix with them and to have myself successful career is quite a great feeling.”

No. 1 Djokovic and No. 4 Dominic Thiem swept quarterfinals Thursday to join No. 3 Federer and No. 2 Nadal in Friday’s semifinals. Federer plays Nadal at 6:50 a.m. ET with NBCSN coverage starting at 7 a.m. Djokovic gets Thiem after that.

Djokovic, trying to hold all four majors at once for the second time in his career, dominated young No. 5 Alexander Zverev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 in the quarters. Thiem had it even easier, dusting No. 10 Karen Khachanov of Russia 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.

Djokovic, Federer and Nadal own a combined 52 Grand Slam singles titles. Thiem, much younger at 25, is the best player on the men’s tour without a major.

It’s the first time the top four men’s seeds at a Grand Slam made the semifinals since the 2013 Australian Open. Since then, tennis’ Big Three traded turns at No. 1 and missed Slams due to injuries.

Federer went four and a half years between major titles from to 2012 to 2017. He’s playing the French for the first time since 2015, on the 10th anniversary of his lone Roland Garros title. It could be, at age 37, his last French Open.

Nadal didn’t make a Grand Slam semifinal in 2015 or 2016, ending the latter season early with a wrist injury. He overcame one of his latest sets of knee problems to make the Australian Open final in January and arrived in Paris favored for his record-extending 12th French Open crown.

Djokovic held all four Slam titles after taking the 2016 French Open. But he, too, declined and then underwent elbow surgery in January 2018, falling out of the top 20 before a comeback Wimbledon title in July. Djokovic then won the U.S. Open and Australian Open, retaking the No. 1 ranking and, with 15 majors, closing in on Nadal (17) and Federer (20).

“The presence I think of history-making is stronger than ever right now in my career,” Djokovic said. “That’s one of the greatest motivations I have, obviously.”

Earlier Thursday, American Amanda Anisimova became the first player born in the 2000s to make a Grand Slam semifinal, ousting defending champ Simona Halep. She plays the highest remaining women’s seed, No. 8 Ashleigh Barty of Australia, who denied an all-American semifinal by sweeping Madison Keys.

The other semi pits No. 26 Jo Konta against unseeded, 19-year-old Czech Marketa Vondrousova.

The men’s final four, average age 32, have a combined 80 career Grand Slam finals and 760 weeks at No. 1. The women’s final four, average age 22, have a combined zero career Grand Slam finals and zero weeks at No. 1.

Men’s Quarterfinals
(1) Novak Djokovic def. (5) Alexander Zverev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2
(4) Dominic Thiem def. (10) Karen Khachanov 6-2, 6-4, 6-2
(3) Roger Federer def. (24) Stan Wawrinka 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4
(2) Rafael Nadal def. (7) Kei Nishikori, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3

Women’s Quarterfinals
(8) Ashleigh Barty def. (14) Madison Keys, 6-3, 7-5
Amanda Anisimova def. (3) Simona Halep 6-2, 6-4
(26) Jo Konta def. (7) Sloane Stephens, 6-1, 6-4
Marketa Vondrousova def. (31) Petra Martic, 7-6 (1), 7-5

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

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Germany denied gold-medal sweep of world luge championships races

Jonas Muller
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Austrian Jonas Müller denied Germany’s bid to sweep all nine races at the world luge championships.

Müller, a 25-year-old who was not on Austria’s Olympic team, won the men’s event by .104 of a second over German Max Langenhan at worlds in Oberhof, Germany, combining times from two runs. Another Austrian, 2018 Olympic champion David Gleirscher, earned bronze.

Three-time Olympian Tucker West was the top American in 13th. Chris Mazdzer, the 2018 Olympic silver medalist, skipped worlds as he raced a limited schedule this season.

Germany won the first seven of eight singles and doubles races on Friday and Saturday, including sprint events that aren’t on the Olympic program. After its defeat in the men’s event, it won the team relay to close the championships later Sunday with golds in eight of the nine events.

Its last gold-medal sweep at worlds was in 2013, when there were four events on the program. Germany also swept the Olympic golds in 2014 and 2022.

Müller, the 2020 World silver medalist who dropped out of Austria’s top three men last season, said his sled broke in a crash at a World Cup two weeks ago in Sigulda, Latvia.

“I flew home the next day and unpacked the old sled again,” he said, according to the International Luge Federation. “As you can see, the old sled doesn’t seem so bad.”

While Germany has dominated women’s and doubles events, this marked the third consecutive worlds with a non-German men’s winner, its longest drought since the mid-1990s.

Johannes Ludwig retired after winning last year’s Olympics. Felix Loch, a two-time Olympic champion and record six-time world champion, placed fourth on Sunday.

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Mikaela Shiffrin barely denied in first bid to tie Alpine skiing World Cup wins record

Mikaela Shiffrin
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Mikaela Shiffrin was denied in her first bid to tie the Alpine skiing World Cup wins record by six hundredths of a second.

Shiffrin, trying to tie Ingemar Stenmark‘s 86 World Cup victories, led by 67 hundredths over German Lena Duerr after the first of two slalom runs in Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic, on Sunday.

The last racer to go in the second run, Shiffrin’s lead over Duerr dwindled as she neared the finish line. It was down to 15 hundredths at the last intermediate split with 10 seconds left of the course.

Shiffrin crossed the finish line, saw that she ended up six hundredths behind, opened her mouth, rocked her head and put her hand to her helmet. It was the closest slalom defeat of her career, which has included a record 52 World Cup slalom victories.

“I felt like the first run I skied really well, and I actually skied quite well in the second as well,” Shiffrin told Austrian broadcaster ORF. “Six tenths is not actually so much time. … Lena has been strong all season, and she deserves to win.”

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Duerr, 31, earned her second World Cup win, 10 years to the day after her first. Shiffrin won 82 World Cup races in that span.

“It took me a while,” Duerr said. “Crazy that today’s the day.”

Shiffrin’s next bid to tie Stenmark, the Swedish legend of the 1970s and ’80s, won’t be until March.

Next up are the world championships in France, starting Feb. 6, which are separate from the World Cup.

Shiffrin’s next planned World Cup races are either speed races in Kvitfjell, Norway, the first weekend of March or a giant slalom and slalom in Stenmark’s home nation at Åre, Sweden, from March 10-11 ahead of her 28th birthday on March 13.

“I don’t have any expectations going into it,” said Shiffrin, whose first World Cup win came in Åre in 2012. “It’s just like every race of the season, just trying to take it all in and enjoy my skiing, enjoy when the other athletes are skiing better, too, because there’s always some to learn from that.”

Shiffrin began last week tied with Lindsey Vonn for second place on the career wins list at 82. She then rattled off victories on Wednesday and Thursday in giant slaloms in Kronplatz, Italy, and Saturday in the first slalom in Spindleruv Mlyn, site of her World Cup debut in 2011 at age 15.

She has 11 wins in 23 starts this season, her best campaign since her record 17-win 2018-19 season.

She did break one record on Sunday — clinching her seventh World Cup slalom season title with two races left in the discipline.

She broke her tie with Vreni Schneider, a Swiss star of the 1980s and ’90s, for most women’s World Cup slalom season titles. Stenmark won eight and is tied with Vonn (downhill) for the most season titles in any discipline.

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