Serena Williams routs Maria Sharapova at U.S. Open

Serena Williams
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NEW YORK — Serena Williams‘ first match against Maria Sharapova at the U.S. Open had the same result as their last 18 meetings around the globe. A Williams victory, further cementing that it is a rivalry in every sense except the win-loss record.

Williams cruised 6-1, 6-1 in the highest-profile first-round match of her career. It marked her most lopsided win over Sharapova since the 2012 Olympic final.

“Every time I come up against her, I just bring out some of my best tennis,” Williams said, later noting that she didn’t know she had a 19-match win streak over Sharapova. “Every practice after [learning she would play Sharapova on Thursday] was super intense and super focused because it’s an incredibly tough draw.”

She was dialed in from the start Monday night, beginning her march to what she hopes is a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title and first as a mom. Williams won nearly twice as many points as Sharapova, who had 20 unforced errors and just six winners.

“If [Williams] can play seven matches like this, the U.S. Open is hers,” Chris Evert said on ESPN2.

Williams was runner-up at three of her six Slams since returning last year from life-threatening childbirth. Most memorably, she dropped the last U.S. Open final to Naomi Osaka, overshadowed by her spat with chair umpire Carlos Ramos.

It was revealed last week that Ramos would not be working any of Williams’ matches at the U.S. Open.

“I don’t know who that is,” she said when asked about that Ramos measure Monday night.

The eighth seed Williams next gets 17-year-old American wild card Caty McNally in the second round Wednesday. Williams, 37, hasn’t finished a non-major tournament this season, retiring and withdrawing from the last two with a back injury.

U.S. OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women

It’s been 15 years since Sharapova only wins against Williams, both in the Wimbledon final and at the year-end championships. Williams vowed to put the hammer down in their rivalry and has won 18 straight sets against the Russian since 2013. This marked their first meeting since 2016.

“Her game matches up really well against mine,” Williams said. “Her ball somehow lands in my strike zone. It’s just perfect for me.”

The frostiness between the two icons has been well-documented. They’ve taken jabs at each other’s personal lives. Sharapova, in her 2017 book, wrote about Williams’ private sobbing in the locker room after that 2004 Wimbledon final. Williams called what she read 100 percent hearsay.

This may well have been their last meeting, particularly due to the 32-year-old Sharapova’s recent setbacks. She is 2-5 since February shoulder surgery and will drop out of the top 100 after the U.S. Open.

“Bottom line is, I believe in my ability,” Sharapova said when asked her motivation at this point in her career. “You can write me off. There are many people that can write me off, especially after going down 6-1, 6-1 in the first round of the U.S. Open. As long as it’s not the person that’s inside of you, you’ll be OK.

“I really want to play as much as I can till the end of the year.”

Every top-10 seed in action advanced Monday, led by top-ranked defending champion Novak Djokovic. The Serb swept Spaniard Roberto Carballés Baena 6-4, 6-1, 6-4.

Djokovic, winner of four of the last five majors, saw his early draw open up when 2017 U.S. Open finalist Kevin Anderson withdrew with a right knee injury. Then potential second-round opponent Sam Querrey was upset Monday. Querrey memorably ousted Djokovic at 2016 Wimbledon. Red-hot Russian Daniil Medvedev is the only other top-16 seed left in Djokovic’s quarter of the draw.

Roger Federer, a possible semifinal opponent for Djokovic, dropped the first set to 190th-ranked Indian Sumit Nagal but overcame the rustiness to win 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.

Venus Williams matched Martina Navratilova‘s record 21 U.S. Open main-draw appearances in the Open Era. The 39-year-old swept Chinese Zheng Saisai 6-1, 6-0 to avoid losing in the first round of a third straight major for the first time in her career. Venus’ second round should be much closer against No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina.

Tuesday’s featured matches include top-ranked Osaka against Russian Anna Blinkova at 12 p.m. ET. No. 2 Rafael Nadal gets Aussie John Millman at 7 p.m. Sloane StephensSimona Halep and 15-year-old Coco Gauff also play their first-round matches.

MORE: U.S. Olympic women’s tennis qualifying already intense

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Isabeau Levito, 15, delivers in figure skating nationals short program as favorite

Isabeau Levito
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Isabeau Levito, the 15-year-old favorite, delivered in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships short program, taking the lead into Friday’s free skate.

Levito, third in her senior nationals debut last year, tallied 73.78 points in a clean short capped by a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination on Thursday in San Jose, California.

She edged the comebacking two-time U.S. champion Bradie Tennell by two hundredths of a point. Starr Andrews was third, one hundredth ahead of Amber Glenn and 1.53 points ahead of Gracie Gold.

A committee selects the three-woman team for March’s world championships shortly after the free skate.

“I was kind of aiming for this placement,” Levito said on USA Network.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Levito, a New Jersey native who started skating at 3 and a half and has been with the same coach since age 4, developed a steely reputation as a competitor. That mixes with her artistic comparisons to 2006 Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen and her inspiration, Johnny Weir. She hasn’t missed a podium at a competition she has completed at any level since November 2016.

It’s seemed like Levito has been destined to be the leading U.S. woman in the 2026 Olympic cycle, leading up to the Winter Games in her mom’s hometown of Milan. She was too young for last year’s Olympics, but would have just missed the team had she been age-eligible.

None of the three 2022 U.S. Olympians are competing this season — Alysa Liu and Mariah Bell retired; Karen Chen is studying at Cornell — paving the way for Levito to ascend.

That she did, winning April’s junior worlds to become the first U.S. woman to win a global title — junior or senior — since 2008.

Then this past fall, Levito placed second in her first two senior Grand Prix starts, then placed a surprising second at December’s Grand Prix Final, which gathered the world’s top six women from across the series.

Granted, the Final was her lowest point total of her five international events this season. All six skaters had multiple jumping errors in the free skate.

Levito ranks fifth in the world by best total score this season, fourth among seniors and a whopping 18.13 points better than the No. 2 American. Note the absence of Russia, which has dominated women’s skating for the last decade.

Levito won’t be worrying about her international standing while sitting on an overnight lead. She has work left in Friday’s free skate to win what could be the first in a series of national titles.

Tennell, 24, had her best short program since coming back from a 19-month competition break due to foot and ankle injuries. She was unable to defend her national title last year, ruling her out of Olympic contention.

“Even just making it back onto the ice again was a struggle,” Tennell said while in the arena where she made her Olympic team in 2018. “I stepped on the ice today and I looked up and I closed my eyes and I took a deep breath, and I was like, ‘You can do this,’ which is the exact same thing I did five years ago.”

Andrews, 21, is coming off a fall Grand Prix Series where she became the first Black U.S. skater to win a medal on the circuit.

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2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships scores, results

2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships
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Full scores and results from the 2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose …

Women’s Short Program
1. Isabeau Levito — 73.78
2. Bradie Tennell — 73.76
3. Starr Andrews — 68.97
4. Amber Glenn — 68.96
5. Gracie Gold — 67.44
6. Lindsay Thorngren — 62.64
7. Clare Seo — 61.48
8. Ava Ziegler — 61.09
9. Audrey Shin — 60.76
10. Ting Cui — 57.11
11. Josephine Lee — 55.60
12. Lindsay Wang — 52.19
13. Sonja Hilmer — 51.16
14. Michelle Lee — 46.71
15. Gabriella Izzo — 45.73
16. Alexa Gasparotto — 45.00
17. Elsa Cheng — 44.36
18. Hanna Harrell — 42.84

Pairs Short Program
1. Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier — 81.96
2. Emily Chan/Spencer Howe — 66.86
3. Ellie Kam/Danny O’Shea —- 65.75
4. Valentina Plazas/Maximiliano Fernandez — 63.45
5. Sonia Baram/Danil Tioumentsev —- 63.12
6. Katie McBeath/Nathan Bartholomay —- 56.96
7. Nica Digerness/Mark Sadusky — 50.72
8. Maria Mokhova/Ivan Mokhov —- 46.96
9. Grace Hanns / Danny Neudecker — 46.81
10. Linzy Fitzpatrick/Keyton Bearinger — 45.27
11. Nina Ouellette/Rique Newby-Estrella — 43.99

Rhythm Dance
1. Madison Chock/Evan Bates — 91.90
2. Caroline Green/Michael Parsons — 81.40
3. Emilea Zingas/Vadym Kolesnik — 78.18
4. Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko — 77.37
5. Lorraine McNamara/Anton Spiridonov — 76.23
6. Emily Bratti/Ian Somerville — 75.91
7. Eva Pate/Logan Bye — 75.52
8. Isabella Flores/Ivan Desyatov — 73.91
9. Oona Brown/Gage Brown — 72.80
10. Katarina Wolfkostin/Jeffrey Chen — 69.05
11. Angela Ling/Caleb Wein — 68.53
12. Leah Krauskopf/YuanShi Jin — 52.59
13. Cara Murphy/Joshua Levitt — 50.88
14. Caroline Depietri/TJ Carey — 48.28
WD. Raffaella Koncius/Alexey Shchepetov

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Broadcast Schedule | New Era for U.S.

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