Rafael Nadal into U.S. Open final with Roger Federer’s record on horizon

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NEW YORK — The last time Rafael Nadal was within one Grand Slam title of Roger Federer‘s total, there was no Federer-Nadal rivarly. They had not yet played against each other.

But Nadal has the opportunity for a 19th crown — moving one shy of Federer’s male record — in Sunday’s U.S. Open final (4 p.m. ET) against Russian Daniil Medvedev. He swept 24th seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-1 in Friday’s semifinals.

Earlier, the fifth seed Medvedev took out Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-3 to extend the most successful summer of anybody on tour. Medvedev is 20-2 since Wimbledon, with one of the losses coming in his first meeting with Nadal — a 6-3, 6-0 beating.

“He kind of, I would say, eaten me on the court,” Medvedev said. “He was only going harder, harder, faster, stronger, and I was only going down.”

Nadal, by winning a 12th French Open in June, moved within two Slams of Federer’s total for the first time since Federer had two and Nadal had zero in 2004. Afterward, he twice shrugged off questions about a record chase.

“It’s a motivation, but it’s not my obsession,” Nadal said then. “You can’t be frustrated all the time because the neighbor has a bigger house than you or a bigger TV or better garden. That’s not the way that I see the life, you know.”

But Nadal did add that he believes he lost the chance to win “15 or more” Slams due to injuries.

“But I don’t think my future will be worth any more if I equal Federer’s record,” he said. “If, at the end of my career, I am able to win a couple of more Grand Slams and be closer to Roger, will be unbelievable. If not, for me, still unbelievable, no?”

Medvedev, 23, looks to become the first man born in the 1990s to win a Slam. He is the youngest Slam finalist since Novak Djokovic at the 2010 U.S. Open.

He is also the busiest man on the ATP Tour. Medvedev has won as many matches since Wimbledon as Nadal, Djokovic and Federer combined. He has won 50 matches overall this year and made seven finals, also tops on tour.

“He’s making steps forward every single week,” Nadal said. “Will be the toughest opponent in the final.”

Does Medvedev, who endured cramps and embraced crowd boos as a sort-of villain these two weeks, have enough left to win the biggest match of his life?

“This summer’s been, I should say, so fast and long at the same time,” said the lanky, 6-foot-6 Russian who had never before made a Slam quarterfinal. “But here, this week, everything has worked out.

“I don’t want to stop.”

MORE: Roger Federer undecided on Olympics

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Olympic flame to travel by sea for Paris 2024, welcomed by armada

Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
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The Olympic flame will travel from Athens to Marseille by ship in spring 2024 to begin the France portion of the torch relay that ends in Paris on July 26, 2024.

The torch relay always begins in the ancient Olympic site of Olympia, Greece, where the sun’s rays light the flame. It will be passed by torch until it reaches Athens.

It will then cross the Mediterranean Sea aboard the Belem, a three-masted ship, “reminiscent of a true Homeric epic,” according to Paris 2024. It will arrive at the Old Port of Marseille, welcomed by an armada of boats.

Marseille is a former Greek colony and the oldest city in France. It will host sailing and some soccer matches during the Paris Olympics.

The full 2024 Olympic torch relay route will be unveiled in May.

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Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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