Simona Halep stunned at French Open as women’s draw bursts

Simona Halep
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An already upside-down French Open took another tumble early Sunday.

The Nos. 1 and 5 women’s seeds were upset by unseeded players within a half-hour of each other to start the fourth round.

Simona Halep, the top seed and French Open favorite, was stunned by 54th-ranked Iga Swiatek of Poland.

Swiatek, 19, prevailed 6-1, 6-2, earning her first win over a top-15 player and ending Halep’s 17-match win streak dating to February.

Halep played better than the score suggests, committing just 15 unforced errors. But Swiatek had 30 winners to 20 unforced errors.

“She was everywhere,” said Halep, who trounced Swiatek 6-1, 6-0 in their only previous meeting, in the same round at the French Open last year. “It’s not easy to take it, but I’m used to some tough moments in this career. So I will have a chocolate and I will be better tomorrow.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Swiatek is into a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the first time.

“I’m more experienced, I can handle the pressure,” said Swiatek, whose father, Tomasz, rowed at the 1988 Seoul Olympics for Poland. “I [have] grown up to play a match like that and to win it.”

She next gets 159th-ranked Italian Martina Trevisan, who had to win three matches in qualifying just to reach the main draw. Trevisan dumped fifth seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-4, 6-4, leaving No. 3 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine the only seed in the top half of the draw.

Halep, the 2018 champion at Roland Garros, was the last woman in the draw who had French Open final experience.

Now, at least one woman will make her Grand Slam final debut next Saturday from a draw turned on its head by upsets in the first week. Only three seeds in the bottom half made the round of 16 — No. 4 Sofia Kenin, No. 7 Petra Kvitova and No. 30 Ons Jabeur.

Rafael Nadal continued the march of the top male players, sweeping American qualifier Sebastian Korda 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals. He hasn’t dropped a set or been pushed to a tiebreak in four matches.

The 12-time champion should next get his first test — to some degree — against promising Italian 19-year-old Jannik Sinner, who ousted No. 6 seed Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

“It will be a big challenge,” Nadal said of Sinner, who won the 2019 Next Gen Finals for players 21 and under and beat sixth-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas on clay last month. “I practice with him a couple of times. He has an amazing potential. He move the hand very quick, and he’s able to produce amazing shots.”

No. 3 seed Dominic Thiem outlasted 239th-ranked Frenchman Hugo Gaston 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 6-3 to make the quarterfinals. Thiem, runner-up to Nadal at the last two French Opens, gets 12th-seeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman on Tuesday. Schwartzman beat Nadal in a clay-court event last month.

MORE: Halep, Comaneci and the genesis of a Romanian friendship

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South Korea’s first gold medalist of 2018 PyeongChang Olympics to compete for China

Lim Hyo-Jun
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Lim Hyo-Jun, a short track speed skater who won South Korea’s first gold medal of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, has been cleared to skate for China and was reportedly named to the national team Monday.

Lim, who won the 1500m on the first day of medal competition at the PyeongChang Games, began the process of switching to China after a June 2019 incident where he pulled down a teammate’s trousers, leaving him standing, exposed, in front of female teammates.

Lim, the 2019 World overall champion, was banned from the team for a year and later found guilty of sexual harassment before the verdict was overturned on appeal.

It was reported in March 2021 that Lim was in the process of trying to gain Chinese nationality to compete at the Beijing Winter Olympics, but Lim was not cleared to switch by the International Skating Union until this July. His Chinese name is Lin Xiaojun.

Another star South Korean skater, triple 2006 Olympic gold medalist Ahn Hyun-Soo, switched to Russia after not making the 2010 Olympic team. He then won three golds for the host nation as Viktor Ahn at the 2014 Sochi Games.

China’s national team for the upcoming season reportedly does not include veterans Wu Dajing, the nation’s lone gold medalist across all sports at the 2018 Olympics, and Fan Kexin, a three-time Olympic medalist.

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Brigid Kosgei, world record holder, to miss London Marathon

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World record holder Brigid Kosgei withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon due to a right hamstring injury that has bothered her for the last month.

“My training has been up and down and not the way I would like to prepare to be in top condition,” was posted on Kosgei’s social media. “We’ve decided it’s best I withdraw from this year’s race and get further treatment on my injuries in order to enter 2023 stronger than ever.”

Kosgei, a 28-year-old Kenyan mother of twins, shattered the world record by 81 seconds at the 2019 Chicago Marathon. She clocked 2:14:04 to smash Brit Paula Radcliffe‘s record from 2003.

Since, Kosgei won the 2020 London Marathon, took silver at the Tokyo Olympics, placed fourth at the 2021 London Marathon and won this past March’s Tokyo Marathon in what was then the third-fastest time in history (2:16:02).

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa moved into the top three by winning the Berlin Marathon last Sunday in 2:15:37.

The London Marathon women’s field includes Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei, a winner in New York City (2019) and London (2021), and Yalemzerf Yehualaw, who was the Ethiopian record holder until Assefa won in Berlin.

The men’s field is headlined by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest male marathoner in history, and Brit Mo Farah, a four-time Olympic champion on the track.

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