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Coco Gauff’s Wimbledon run ends

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WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Out of escapes, out of surprises, Coco Gauff knew her captivating Wimbledon ride at age 15 was nearing its conclusion.

The thousands of spectators at Court No. 1 on Monday realized it, too, so they made sure to show their appreciation for the youngest qualifier at the All England Club in the professional era and youngest Week 2 participant since 1991.

Fans, most of whom probably hadn’t heard of Gauff until last week, rose and roared as she fended off the initial two match points she faced against 2018 French Open champion Simona Halep. It was reminiscent of the way the Gauff began a comeback victory in her previous match. This time, though, Gauff could not come through, beaten by the older, more experienced Halep 6-3, 6-3.

“It was really surprising, because you don’t really expect this kind of support when you’re in another country, not your home country. I really did feel like I was probably playing in New York. I’m just really happy that people believe in me,” said Gauff, who beat Venus Williams in the first round for quite a Grand Slam tournament debut.

“I wasn’t feeling my best, I wasn’t playing my best,” Gauff said, noting that she wasn’t sure why she needed a visit from a doctor in the second set, “but they were still supporting me, no matter what.”

While Gauff couldn’t get past former No. 1 Halep, another American, 55th-ranked Alison Riske, stopped the 15-match winning streak of the current No. 1, Ash Barty, eliminating her 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.

“Right now, Ash is playing well,” Riske said. “I believe that I am, as well.”

That’s certainly true.

She improved to 14-1 on grass courts this season and reached the first major quarterfinal of her career in 30 appearances.

It’ll come against yet another player who has topped the WTA rankings, Serena Williams, who will be participating in her 14th quarterfinal at Wimbledon alone.

Barty began perfectly, winning the first game of the match this way: 112 mph ace, 102 mph ace, 110 mph ace, 108 mph ace. She hit another pair of aces in her next service game and finished with 12. But Riske simply played so cleanly, delivering twice as many winners as unforced errors, 30-15, and won her fourth consecutive three-setter in the tournament.

“There aren’t many holes in her game, full-stop,” said Barty, who followed up her first Grand Slam championship at Roland Garros last month, then grabbed a title at a grass-court tuneup tournament.

“Today wasn’t my day. I didn’t win a tennis match; it’s not the end of the world,” she said. “It’s disappointing right now. Give me an hour or so, we’ll be all good. The sun’s still going to come up tomorrow.”

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

Tuesday’s other quarterfinal on the top half of the women’s draw will be No. 19 Johanna Konta of Britain against Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic. On the bottom half, it’ll be No. 8 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine against Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic, and Halep against Zhang Shuai of China.

The first two men’s quarterfinals set up for Wednesday are No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. No. 21 David Goffin, and No. 3 Rafael Nadal against 65th-ranked Sam Querrey. Djokovic and Nadal both put together straight-set victories over unseeded opponents, while Querrey hit 25 aces and saved all four break points he faced to get past Tennys Sandgren 6-4, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) in the first all-American men’s Week 2 matchup at Wimbledon in 19 years.

Roger Federer moved on with ease, needing less than 75 minutes to dismiss No. 17 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy 6-1, 6-2, 6-2, and faces No. 8 Kei Nishikori next.

Halep is the highest-seeded woman remaining, after Barty was joined on the way out Monday by No. 3 Karolina Pliskova, who twice served for the victory in a 4-6, 7-5, 13-11 loss to Muchova, and No. 6 Petra Kvitova, a two-time champion eliminated by Konta 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.

For Gauff, this was her seventh match in short order — three in qualifying, four in the main draw — and while she insisted she wasn’t fatigued, she looked it.

Still, with serves reaching 119 mph, a dynamic backhand that landed near lines and aggressive volleying, Gauff made an impression on anyone who watched her.

Not to mention anyone who played her.

“It’s a great performance. I think if she keeps going, she will be (in the) top 10 soon,” Halep said. “She will be a very tough opponent for everybody. If she keeps doing what she did here, she’s going to get a lot of confidence and she can win big tournaments soon.”

Now the trick will be to manage those sorts of expectations.

Gauff is, after all, too young to drive a car. She is taking high school courses. Instead of hanging out at a mall or going to see a movie with friends or working as a camp counselor Monday, there she was at Wimbledon at 1 p.m., standing in the tunnel that leads to the court with her father, Corey.

He draped his arm around her shoulders, then parted ways by giving his daughter a peck on the cheek.

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Katie Ledecky wins race by 30 seconds, takes back No. 1 ranking

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In her last race of the year, Katie Ledecky ensured she would finish 2019 as the world’s fastest 1500m freestyler.

Ledecky clocked 15:35.98 at the U.S. Open in Atlanta, winning the longest event on the Olympic pool program by 29.97 seconds. Typical for Ledecky, who owns the nine fastest times in history. This one came in at No. 8. Full meet results are here.

Ledecky scratched the 1500m free final at the summer world championships due to illness. Italian Simona Quadarella went on to win that title in 15:40.89, which was the world’s fastest time this year until Saturday night.

“I didn’t have time on my mind at all today. I just wanted to have a consistent swim,” Ledecky, undefeated in 1500m free finals for nine years, said on NBCSN. “That’s probably the best mile that I’ve had in a while.”

The women’s 1500m freestyle debuts at the Olympics in Tokyo. Ledecky is expected to add that to her Rio Olympic individual lineup of 200m, 400m and 800m frees, assuming she is top two in each event at the June Olympic trials.

In other events Saturday, Erika Brown handed Simone Manuel a rare defeat in the 100m freestyle. Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, clocked 53.42 and lowered her personal best by .71 between prelims and the final. Brown moved from sixth to fourth in the U.S. rankings this year, upping her stock as a contender to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool via a top-six finish at trials.

Brown previously lowered her personal best in the 50m free on Thursday. She ranks third in the U.S. this year in that event.

Emily Escobedo dealt Lilly King a rare domestic defeat in the 200m breaststroke. Escobedo lowered her personal best by .87 and clocked 2:22.00, moving to seventh fastest in the world this year and remaining fourth among Americans.

In the men’s 200m breast, Olympic champion Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan was beaten by Cody Miller, the Olympic 100m breast silver medalist. Both were slower than their best times this year.

The next significant swim meet is a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., from Jan. 16-19.

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Mikaela Shiffrin runner-up in Lake Louise downhill

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LAKE LOUISE, Alberta (AP) — Here’s a scary thought for her competition: Mikaela Shiffrin is still getting comfortable with the intensity and the speed of the downhill.

That’s why podium finishes are still a little surprising even to her.

The American three-time overall World Cup champion finished runner-up to Nicole Schmidhofer of Austria in a downhill race Saturday. Schmidhofer cruised through the course in 1 minute, 49.92 seconds to edge Shiffrin by 0.13 seconds. Francesca Marsaglia of Italy wound up third.

Schmidhofer has four career World Cup wins, with three of them arriving at Lake Louise.

Known as a tech specialist, Shiffrin is steadily getting up to speed in the speed events. This was Shiffrin’s fourth career World Cup podium finish in the downhill, which includes a Lake Louise win in 2017.

So, does Shiffrin anticipate this kind of downhill success?

“No, no, no,” the 24-year-old from Colorado said. “It’s certainly not normal (for a downhill podium). Even racing downhill doesn’t feel normal. But I feel every year like I have more experience and get more comfortable.”

Shiffrin currently sits at 62 World Cup wins, which ties her with Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Proell for second-most on the women’s side. Lindsey Vonn had 82 wins before her retirement.

“I’m certainly more comfortable with the long skis,” Shiffrin said of downhill racing. “Right now, it’s enjoying it, because speed is a little bit extra for me. My goal is to be able to succeed in speed as well. It’s making the transition and trying to have fun with it.”

Czech Republic skier and snowboarder Ester Ledecka finished fourth Saturday. She was the surprise winner of Friday’s season-opening downhill, which was delayed and shortened by heavy snowfall on the mountain. The race Saturday was restored to its full length.

Next up, a super-G on Sunday.

“It’s always been a little bit tricky for me from downhill skis to super-G skis and to change the timing a little bit,” Shiffrin said. “I’m going to have fun.”

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