Getty Images

Serena Williams escapes; defending Wimbledon champion upset

Leave a comment

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Eight-time men’s champion Roger Federer and seven-time women’s champion Serena Williams moved into the third round at Wimbledon.

Defending women’s champion Angelique Kerber went out in the second.

Federer advanced as expected on Thursday, beating wild-card entry Jay Clarke 6-1, 7-6 (3), 6-2 on No. 1 Court. Williams had a bit of a tougher time at the same stadium, needing to come back to beat Slovenian qualifier Kaja Juvan 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.

No. 3 Rafael Nadal emerged from the tumult to beat mercurial Australian Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3) in a match boasting all manner of dramatics, doses of animosity and delightful play.

But unseeded American Lauren Davis pulled off the unexpected, defeating Kerber 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 on No. 2 Court.

“I told myself you’re strong, you can do it, you belong here,” said Davis, who only entered the tournament as a lucky loser.

Kerber beat Williams in last year’s final. Federer won his eighth title at the All England Club in 2017 and was eliminated in the quarterfinals last year.

Despite his pedigree at Wimbledon, Federer played his British opponent on the second biggest court on the grounds instead of his usual spot on Centre Court.

“I really enjoyed myself on Court 1 today with the roof,” Federer said. “I couldn’t really tell if it was Centre Court or Court 1, actually.”

Williams played her match with good friend Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, watching from the stands. She had a chance to serve out the match at 5-2 in the third but was broken. She made no mistakes on her second attempt, however, converting her first match point with an ace.

“I play best when I’m down sometimes,” Williams said. “I’m just a fighter and never give up.”

If the pressure is getting to Ash Barty at Wimbledon, she’s doing a great job of hiding it.

The top-ranked Australian came into the grass-court Grand Slam tournament after winning the French Open and a Wimbledon warm-up event in Birmingham. And she’s now won two in a row at the All England Club to reach the third round and stretch her winning streak to 14 straight.

Barty beat Alison Van Uytvanck 6-1, 6-3, needing only 55 minutes on No. 2 Court to advance. And it could have been even quicker but she failed to serve out the match at 5-2 in the second set — the only time she was broken.

“Pretty sharp right from the start,” the top-seeded Barty said. “I was able to implement what I wanted to right away and put the pressure straight back on her.”

Barty is playing her first tournament as No. 1 but has never been past the third round at Wimbledon. She will next face Harriet Dart, a British wild-card entry making her second appearance at Wimbledon.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, No. 9 Sloane Stephens and No. 15 Wang Qiang also advanced to third round. Kvitova beat Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 6-2, Stephens defeated Wang Yafan 6-0, 6-2, and Wang ousted Tamara Zidansek 6-1, 6-2.

Sam Querrey, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2017, reached the third round in the men’s draw. The unseeded American defeated Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-2, 6-3.

WIMBLEDON: Scores | Men’s Draw | Women’s Draw

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Without their siblings, Green and Parsons find success at figure skating nationals

Getty Images
Leave a comment

GREENSBORO, N.C. – For the first time, Caroline Green and Michael Parsons are competing at the U.S. Championships without their siblings.

Green formerly teamed with older brother Gordon, and Parsons formerly danced with younger sister Rachel. Both Green and Parsons have seen success in Greensboro. When the championships were here in 2011, the Parsons won the novice dance title. When the championships were here in 2015, the Greens won the novice dance title.

Green, 16, and Parsons, 24, finished a satisfying fifth in the rhythm dance on Friday, after performing to “Cry-Baby” and earning 77.42 points. But they believe that this new partnership, with each other, has even greater potential.

“We definitely have some goals that are long-term,” Parsons said. “We’ve made a lot of progress this year – obviously, starting from zero. Nationals has been the culmination of our work so far. We’ve got a lot more to do, for sure.”

How far do they want to take their partnership?

“As far as we possibly can,” Green said.

NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

They grew up in the same rink under the same coaches in Washington, D.C., which is part of why they were able to team and find success so seamlessly – they had the same foundation for their skills and development. When their siblings left the sport, Green and Parsons skated together while trying to figure out their next steps. Their coaches took notice, and suggested a formal partnership.

“It’s a huge advantage for us because we’ve learned to skate the same way from the same coaches,” Parsons said after Friday’s rhythm dance. “We’ve always been under the same coaches. Just a huge amount of shared experience we’ve gained throughout the years together, we can apply to our new partnership.”

“Coming into this competition is where it really started to gel,” Green said. “All of our hard work separately started to come together.”

Even 2014 Olympic ice dance champion Charlie White spoke to their ability to come together so quickly on the NBC Sports Gold broadcast of the rhythm dance (full replay here for subscribers).

“I would guess – if I didn’t know – that they had been together for a number of years,” White said. “There’s just a maturity and a talent that they both possess that happens to match up really well. … I think that they have a very, very bright future.”

They’ve had a long season so far, competing six times before nationals. As a comparison, the top couples competed as few as three times.

“Our goal this season was to compete as much as humanly possible,” Parsons said. Green added that she was thankful for the added experience.

Green competed as a junior ice dancer last season and said it was “a bit of a shock” seeing the difference between the levels of competition from junior to senior events. Just last year, she won the junior national title with her brother.

“It was [a challenge] I think I took in stride and I feel like I’ve adapted pretty well,” she said.

“I couldn’t be more proud of her, the way she stepped up to senior. I’m a very happy partner,” Parsons said.

Green and Parsons trail fourth-place Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko by 0.6 points and sit 5.17 points out of bronze medal position. The U.S. has three spots to fill at March’s world championships, though it may not necessarily be the first, second and third place finishers.

The free dance is Saturday.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: ‘Nervous’ Gracie Gold stumbles in short program, but rebuilds herself to get this far

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

WATCH LIVE: U.S. Figure Skating Championships rhythm dance, women’s free skate

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Can Bradie Tennell hold off 14-year-old Alysa Liu? The U.S. Figure Skating Championships crowns its female medalists on Friday, live on NBC Sports.

Action starts with the rhythm dance at 4:30 p.m. ET for NBC Sports Gold subscribers, with NBCSN broadcast coverage joining in at 5. The women start at 7:25 on Gold, with NBC TV coverage starting at 8.

LIVE STREAM: Rhythm dance — Gold | NBCSN | Skate Order
LIVE STREAM: Women’s free skate — Gold | NBC | Skate Order

Tennell topped Thursday’s short program with a clean slate of jumps, plus the highest artistic score.

She bettered Liu in the short program last year, too, but fell in the free skate to take silver. Liu, meanwhile, landed two triple Axels to win by 3.92 points and become the youngest U.S. champion in history.

Another skater to watch is Gracie Gold, the two-time U.S. champion competing at nationals for the first time in three years. Gold, lauded for her return from an eating disorder, depression and anxiety, struggled with jumps in the short and is in 13th place of 18 skaters.

In the rhythm dance, past U.S. champions Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue and Madison Chock and Evan Bates are expected to begin a duel that should come down to Saturday’s free dance.

Key Skate Times
5:32 p.m. — Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue
5:38 — Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker
5:44 — Madison Chock/Evan Bates
8:07 — Gracie Gold
10:03 — Karen Chen
10:11 — Amber Glenn
10:27 — Bradie Tennell
10:35 — Mariah Bell
10:43 — Alysa Liu

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.