Diego Schwartzman outlasts Dominic Thiem in French Open epic

Diego Schwartzman
Getty Images

Diego Schwartzman outlasted Dominic Thiem in a five-hour, five-set French Open quarterfinal. Next up: 12-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal, whom Schwartzman beat three weeks ago.

Schwartzman, the undersized, 12th-seeded Argentine, dumped Thiem, the 2018 and 2019 French Open runner-up, 7-6 (1), 5-7, 6-7 (8), 7-6 (5), 6-2 on Tuesday.

Schwartzman recovered after being broken while trying to serve out the third and fourth sets to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal. He credited freshness from not dropping a set in his first four matches.

“I was perfect today,” fitness-wise, he said. “I think after two days I’m going to be perfect in semifinal.”

He plays Nadal on Friday. The Spaniard swept 19-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner in a later Tuesday quarterfinal. Novak Djokovic looms in the other half of the draw.

Schwartzman, generously listed at 5 feet, 7 inches, handed Nadal a rare, straight-sets defeat on clay at the Italian Open on Sept. 19. He lost their previous nine meetings, taking just two sets off Nadal, who is three match wins from tying Roger Federer at 20 Grand Slam singles titles.

“I know this week that I can beat him,” Schwartzman said after joking about a lack of confidence due to the 1-9 head-to-head. “Rafa is the legend here, is the owner of this place almost.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Thiem, who won his first major title at the U.S. Open two weeks ago, suffered his earliest Roland Garros exit since 2015. The third-seeded Austrian made the semis in 2016 and 2017 and lost to Nadal in the last two finals.

Thiem repeated since arriving in Paris that exhaustion from his seven-match run in New York, and everything else a major title entails, would catch up with him. He won a three-and-a-half-hour, five-set fourth-round match on Sunday against a French wild card.

“I was over the limit today,” he said Tuesday. “I still could play at quite a high level for more than five hours. But, I mean, [Schwartzman] was keeping it up until the end. He was probably a little bit fresher than me in the fifth set.”

Earlier Tuesday, 131st-ranked Argentina Nadia Podoroska became the first qualifier to reach a women’s major semifinal since Alexandra Stevenson at 1999 Wimbledon. She upset No. 3 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-2, 6-4.

Podoroska next faces 54th-ranked Pole Iga Swiatek, who dispatched 159th-ranked Italian qualifier Martina Trevisan 6-3, 6-1. Podoroska and Swiatek are ranked lower than any previous French Open women’s finalist (Jelena Ostapenko was 47th in 2017, when she won the title).

Danielle Collins set up an all-American quarterfinal on Wednesday by topping 30th seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Collins, a 2019 Australian Open semifinalist who is ranked 57th, gets No. 4 seed Sofia Kenin for a spot in the final four.

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Alpine skiing to test new format for combined race

Alpine Skiing Combined

Alpine skiing officials will test a new format for the combined event, a race that is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

French newspaper L’Equipe reported that the International Ski Federation (FIS) will test a new team format for the combined, which has been an individual event on the Olympic program since 1988. L’Equipe reported that a nation can use a different skier for the downhill and slalom in the new setup, quoting FIS secretary general Michel Vion.

For example, the U.S. could use Breezy Johnson in the downhill run and sub her out for Mikaela Shiffrin in the slalom run, should the format be adopted into senior competition.

The format will be tested at the world junior championships in January in St. Anton, Austria, according to the report.

In response to the report, a FIS spokesperson said, “Regarding the new format of the combined is correct, and our directors are working on the rules so for the moment the only thing we can confirm is that there will be this new format for the Alpine combined that has been proposed by the athletes’ commission.”

Some version of the combined event has been provisionally included on the 2026 Olympic program, with a final IOC decision on its place coming by April.

This will be the third consecutive World Cup season with no combined events. Instead, FIS has included more parallel races in recent years. The individual combined remains on the biennial world championships program.

L’Equipe also reported that the mixed team parallel event, which is being dropped from the Olympics, will also be dropped from the biennial world championships after this season.

“There is nothing definitive about that yet, but it is a project in the making,” a FIS spokesperson said in commenting on the report.

Vion said the mixed team event, which debuted at the Olympics in 2018, was not a hit at the Beijing Games and did not draw a strong audience, according to L’Equipe.

The World Cup season starts in two weeks with the traditional opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship

The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona men’s pro race, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Both entered Kailua-Kona, where the races were now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men. Chelsea Sodaro won the women’s race, ending a 20-year American victory drought.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

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