Coco Gauff’s Wimbledon run ends

AP
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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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Joel Embiid gains U.S. citizenship, mum on Olympic nationality

Joel Embiid
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Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid said he is now a U.S. citizen and it’s way too early to think about what nation he would represent at the Olympics.

“I just want to be healthy and win a championship and go from there,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Embiid, 28, was born in Cameroon and has never competed in a major international tournament. In July, he gained French nationality, a step toward being able to represent that nation at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In the spring, French media reported that Embiid started the process to become eligible to represent France in international basketball, quoting national team general manager Boris Diaw.

Embiid was second in NBA MVP voting this season behind Serbian Nikola Jokic. He was the All-NBA second team center.

What nation Embiid represents could have a major impact on the Paris Games.

In Tokyo, a French team led by another center, Rudy Gobert, handed the U.S. its first Olympic defeat since 2004. That was in group play. The Americans then beat the French in the gold-medal game 87-82.

That France team had five NBA players to the U.S.’ 12: Nicolas BatumEvan FournierTimothe Luwawu-CabarrotFrank Ntilikina and Gobert.

Anthony Davis, who skipped the Tokyo Olympics, is the lone U.S. center to make an All-NBA team in the last five seasons. In that time, Embiid made four All-NBA second teams and Gobert made three All-NBA third teams.

No Olympic team other than the U.S. has ever had two reigning All-NBA players on its roster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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LA 2028, Delta unveil first-of-its-kind emblems for Olympics, Paralympics

Delta LA 2028
LA 2028
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Emblems for the 2028 Los Angeles Games that include logos of Delta Air Lines is the first integration of its kind in Olympic and Paralympic history.

Organizers released the latest set of emblems for the LA 2028 Olympics and Paralympics on Thursday, each with a Delta symbol occupying the “A” spot in LA 28.

Two years ago, the LA 2028 logo concept was unveiled with an ever-changing “A” that allowed for infinite possibilities. Many athletes already created their own logos, as has NBC.

“You can make your own,” LA28 chairperson Casey Wasserman said in 2020. “There’s not one way to represent Los Angeles, and there is strength in our diverse cultures. We have to represent the creativity and imagination of Los Angeles, the diversity of our community and the big dreams the Olympic and Paralympic Games provide.”

Also in 2020, Delta was announced as LA 2028’s inaugural founding partner. Becoming the first partner to have an integrated LA 2028 emblem was “extremely important for us,” said Emmakate Young, Delta’s managing director, brand marketing and sponsorships.

“It is a symbol of our partnership with LA, our commitment to the people there, as well as those who come through LA, and a commitment to the Olympics,” she said.

The ever-changing emblem succeeds an angelic bid logo unveiled in February 2016 when the city was going for the 2024 Games, along with the slogan, “Follow the Sun.” In July 2017, the IOC made a historic double awarding of the Olympics and Paralympics — to Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028.

The U.S. will host its first Olympics and Paralympics since 2002 (and first Summer Games since 1996), ending its longest drought between hosting the Games since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

Delta began an eight-year Olympic partnership in 2021, becoming the official airline of Team USA and the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Athletes flew to this year’s Winter Games in Beijing on chartered Delta flights and will do so for every Games through at least 2028.

Previously, Delta sponsored the last two Olympics held in the U.S. — the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

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