Alysa Liu
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Alysa Liu leads Russians after Junior Grand Prix Final short program

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Alysa Liu, the 14-year-old U.S. senior champion, landed a triple Axel in combination en route to the top short program score in the biggest international event of her young career, the Junior Grand Prix Final, on Thursday.

Liu, who in January became the youngest U.S. champion in history, hit a triple Axel-triple toe loop combo, a double Axel and a triple loop to tally 71.19 points, a personal best. She skated to Barbra Streisand‘s “Don’t Rain on My Parade” in Turin, Italy.

Liu leads by 1.04 points over Russian Daria Usacheva going into Friday’s free skate, streaming live on the Junior Grand Prix YouTube channel.

“I don’t really get nervous, and I don’t feel barely any pressure,” Liu said, according to the International Skating Union, adding that she plans two quadruple Lutzes and two triple Axels in the free. “I just tell myself it’s just another competition.”

Russians rank Nos. 2-5 at the six-skater event, looking to make it 10 straight Junior Grand Prix Final women’s titles for the nation. The top five are separated by just 3.12 points, but Liu was the only one with a triple Axel.

She looks likely to become the first U.S. woman to make a Junior Grand Prix Final podium since Hannah Miller in 2012 (silver). Perhaps the first to win since Becky Bereswill in 2008.

Liu has followed last January’s national title in her senior championships debut with an impressive first junior international campaign.

In recent competitions, she became the first U.S. woman to land any quadruple jump (a Lutz) and the first woman from any nation to couple a triple Axel with a quad.

Though Liu won both of her Junior Grand Prix Series starts, she came into the Final ranked third in the world by best total scores among juniors. She bettered Nos. 1 and 2 (Russians Kamila Valieva and Kseniya Sinitsyna) in Thursday’s short, where rules disallow quads unlike the free.

Past Junior Grand Prix Final champions include Olympic gold medalists Adelina SotnikovaYuliya Lipnitskaya and Alina Zagitova. Plus, the top two senior women this season, Alexandra Trusova and Alena Kostornaia, the last two years.

Liu will become old enough for senior international events in the 2022 Olympic season.

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MORE: Alysa Liu, with help from Olympic medalist, challenges top Russians

2020 French Open women’s singles draw, results

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If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.

Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.

Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.

If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.

Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.

The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.

Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.

The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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2020 French Open men’s singles draw, results

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Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.

Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.

Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.

The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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