Serena Williams rolls ankle, opponent as U.S. Open challengers upset

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NEW YORK — Serena Williams‘ chances of winning a seventh U.S. Open increased before she began playing Sunday, when No. 2 seed Ash Barty was upset.

Went up again during her fourth-round match, as No. 3 Karolina Pliskova was eliminated. Then climbed even more with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over No. 22 Petra Martic to reach the quarterfinals for the 11th straight time here. A nice birthday present for daughter Olympia, who turned 2 on Sunday.

“She was in my arms by now,” in 2017, Williams remembered in an on-court interview. “I think she was born around 11:30ish. It was, like, the best day of my life.”

Williams rebounded well from a brief scare at 2-all in the second set, when she twisted her right ankle, dropped to the court and took a medical timeout to have the already wrapped ankle looked at. Williams injured her left ankle at the Australian Open in January.

“I was volleying, and it just went over,” she said. “That was a little frustrating, but I wanted to get it compressed really fast. … It affected me a little mentally because I had a rough year with injuries. I was like, oh my god, not again.”

Williams, seeded eighth and seeking a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title, is one of two women left who have won a major. The other, whom Williams would not meet until the final, is top-ranked, defending champion Naomi Osaka.

A rematch of last year’s controversial final is looking more and more likely.

Especially after Osaka played her best match in months Saturday night, sweeping 15-year-old Coco Gauff 6-3, 6-0. Especially after Barty, the French Open winner, fell to No. 18 Wang Qiang 6-2, 6-4 on Sunday. And even more so after No. 16 Jo Konta rallied past Pliskova 6-7 (1), 6-3, 7-5.

Williams gets Wang in Tuesday’s quarters. The other top-15 seed left in her half of the draw is No. 5 Elina Svitolina, who took out No. 10 Madison Keys 7-5, 6-4 on Sunday night.

First she can see Olympia, who may have noticed Sunday’s result.

“Now that she’s getting a little bit older, she’s starting to understand,” Williams said. “She sees me on TV, and she says momma. Sometimes she sees [older sister] Venus, and she says momma. But that’s OK because Venus and I share everything.”

U.S. OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women

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Oleksandr Abramenko, Ukraine’s top Winter Olympian, tears knee, career in question

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Aerials skier Oleksandr Abramenko, who won both of Ukraine’s medals over the last two Winter Olympics, is out for the season after a knee ligament tear and said he might not return to competition at all, according to Ukrainian media.

Abramenko, 34, won gold at the 2018 Olympics — Ukraine’s second-ever individual Winter Olympic title after figure skater Oksana Baiul in 1994 — and silver last year.

He competed once this season, placing 10th at a World Cup in Finland on Dec. 4, and then flew with the Ukrainian national team to stay in Utah ahead of World Cups in Canada in January and at the 2002 Olympic venue in Park City this weekend. The area also hosted many Ukraine winter sports athletes this past summer.

Abramenko missed the competition in Canada two weeks ago due to injury and then wasn’t on the start list for today’s aerials event in Park City. He is set to miss the world championships later this month in Georgia (the country, not the state).

Abramenko said he needs surgery, followed by a nine-month rehabilitation process, similar to an operation on his other knee six years ago, according to Ukraine’s public broadcaster. He said he will see how the recovery goes and determine whether to return to the sport at age 35, according to the report.

Abramenko is already the oldest Olympic men’s aerials medalist and come the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games will be older than all but one male aerialist in Olympic history, according to Olympedia.org.

At last year’s Olympics, Abramenko, Ukraine’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony, was hugged after the aerials final by Russian Ilya Burov, who finished one spot behind Abramenko for a bronze medal. A week later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

A week after that, Abramenko posed for a photo sitting on a mattress in a Kyiv parking garage with his wife and 2-year-old son published by The New York Times.

“We spend the night in the underground parking in the car, because the air attack siren is constantly on,” Abramenko texted, according to the newspaper. “It’s scary to sleep in the apartment, I myself saw from the window how the air defense systems worked on enemy missiles, and strong explosions were heard.”

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Freestyle skiers in World Cup action on NBC Sports, Peacock

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Olympic gold medalists David Wise and Alex Hall headline World Cup freestyle skiing and snowboarding stops in the U.S. this weekend, airing on NBC Sports and Peacock.

Wise, who last Sunday won his fifth X Games Aspen ski halfpipe title, led the qualifiers into the final at the Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix in California.

He’s joined in the 10-man final by U.S. Olympic teammates Aaron Blunck and Birk Irving. The women’s ski halfpipe final includes the top three from last week’s X Games — Brit Zoe Atkin, Canadian Rachael Karker and American Svea Irving. Olympic champion Eileen Gu of China is out after suffering a knee injury in an X Games training crash.

The ski slopestyle finals include the reigning men’s and women’s Olympic gold medalists — Hall, plus Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland.

The marquee snowboarders in Mammoth finals are Olympic big air silver medalist Julia Marino (slopestyle) and X Games silver medalist Maddie Mastro (halfpipe). Two-time Olympic champion Chloe Kim is taking the season off, and another double Olympic champion, Jamie Anderson, is pregnant.

Aerials and moguls skiers are competing in their lone U.S. World Cup stop in Park City, Utah.

The moguls fields including Olympic gold medalists Walter Wallberg of Sweden, Mikael Kingsbury of the U.S., Perrine Laffont of France and Jakara Anthony of Australia. Olympic silver medalist Jaelin Kauf is the standout American.

The aerials include every member of the U.S. team that took gold at last year’s Olympics — Ashley Caldwell, Chris Lillis and Justin Schoenefeld.

Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding World Cup Broadcast Schedule

Day Event Time (ET) Platform
Saturday Moguls 11 a.m. CNBC, Peacock
Ski Halfpipe 3 p.m. NBC, Peacock
Sunday Ski Slopestyle 12 p.m. CNBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 12 Aerials, Dual Moguls 2 p.m. NBC, Peacock
Snowboard Halfpipe 2 p.m. CNBC, Peacock

All NBC and CNBC coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

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