Rafael Nadal beats Jannik Sinner in latest French Open finish ever

Rafael Nadal
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After all these years, Rafael Nadal experienced a first at the French Open in his 100th match at Roland Garros: finishing after midnight. The latest finish ever at Roland Garros, in fact.

Nadal moved two match wins shy of tying Roger Federer for the male Grand Slam singles titles record, sweeping 19-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner 7-6 (4), 6-4, 6-1 in the quarterfinals.

The match ended at 1:26 a.m. local time, but Nadal, now 98-2 at the French, gets an extra day of rest. His semifinal against 12th-seeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman is on Friday.

The French Open never had match play after 10 p.m. until this year. Now that there’s a roof installed on Court Philippe Chatrier and lights around the grounds, play can continue past sunset.

It’s come in handy with frequent rain and shorter days at this year’s tournament, postponed from its usual May-June slot due to the coronavirus pandemic.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Nadal was more concerned with the temperatures, playing Tuesday in the 50s with wind causing chattering from the flapping flags above the stadium.

“Of course, is not ideal finish, a match at 1:30 in the morning,” he said. “But the problem is the weather. Is too cold to play.

“I know [soccer] players plays under these conditions, but is little bit different. They are all the time moving. We stop. We come back. We stop on the changeovers. It is a sport that you are stopped in a lot of moments, no? I think is little bit dangerous for the body play with these very heavy conditions.”

Sinner, a promising talent playing his first French Open, gave Nadal all he could handle early on. He broke the 12-time Roland Garros champion to serve for the first set, but couldn’t consolidate and then lost the tiebreak.

After Sinner had a trainer work on his thigh, he broke Nadal again in the Spaniard’s second service game of the second set. But Nadal won nine of the last 10 games, sweeping his fifth straight opponent.

“I had actually quite a great plan,” said Sinner, who grew up near the Austrian border as a skier with a Bode Miller poster on his wall. “It worked quite well.”

Sinner was the first player to reach the French Open quarterfinals in his Roland Garros debut since a 19-year-old Nadal in 2005, the year of his first title.

If Nadal is to tie Federer’s record 20 Grand Slam titles on Sunday, he must get past Schwartzman, who beat Nadal in a clay-court event on Sept. 19.

“He’s coming with big confidence, no?” Nadal said.

Schwartzman dumped third-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem, the 2018 and 2019 French Open runner-up, 7-6 (1), 5-7, 6-7 (8), 7-6 (5), 6-2 earlier Tuesday to make his first Slam semifinal.

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

Novak Djokovic looms as a possible finalist on the other half of the draw.

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Mark McMorris breaks Winter X Games medals record with slopestyle gold

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Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris broke his tie with American Jamie Anderson for the most Winter X Games medals across all sites, earning his 22nd medal, a slopestyle gold, in Aspen, Colorado.

On the final run of Sunday’s contest, McMorris overtook Norway’s Marcus Kleveland with back-to-back 1620s on the last two jumps. McMorris’ last three Aspen slopestyle titles were all won on his final run (2019, 2022).

“It’s something I never thought would ever come to me as a kid from Saskatchewan,” McMorris, 29, said on the broadcast. “Everything’s just been a bonus since I became a pro snowboarder.”

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression of their best run over the course of a jam session rather than scoring individual runs.

McMorris won his record-extending seventh X Games Aspen men’s slopestyle title, one day after finishing fourth in big air.

“It just keeps getting crazier because I keep getting older,” he said. “People just keep pushing the limits, pushing the limits. Last night was such a downer, almost bums me out, like, dude, do I still have it? … To have one of those miracle wins where you do it on the last run and someone makes you push yourself, those are the best feelings.”

McMorris won slopestyle bronze medals at each of the last three Olympics and reportedly said last February that he was planning to compete through the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games.

Canadian Max Parrot, the 2022 Olympic slopestyle champion, is taking this season off from competition.

Anderson, a two-time Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion, is expecting her first child.

Later Sunday, U.S. Olympian Mac Forehand won men’s ski big air with a 2160 on his last run, according to commentators. It scored a perfect 50. Olympic gold medalist Birk Ruud of Norway followed with a triple cork 2160 of his own, according to commentators, and finished third.

Canadian skier Megan Oldham added slopestyle gold to her big air title from Friday, relegating Olympic champion Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland to silver.

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Ilia Malinin wins U.S. Figure Skating Championships despite quadruple Axel miss

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One year ago, Ilia Malinin came to the U.S. Championships as, largely, a 17-year-old unknown. He finished second to Nathan Chen in 2022 and was left off the three-man Olympic team due to his inexperience, a committee decision that lit a fire in him.

After the biggest year of change in U.S. figure skating in three decades, Malinin came to this week’s nationals in San Jose, California, as the headliner across all disciplines.

Though he fell on his quadruple Axel and doubled two other planned quads in Sunday’s free skate (the most ambitious program in history), he succeeded the absent Chen as national champion.

Malinin, the world’s second-ranked male singles skater, still landed two clean quads in Friday’s short program and three more Sunday. He totaled 287.74 points and prevailed by 10.43 over two-time Olympian Jason Brown, a bridge between the Chen and Malinin eras.

“I think I was just not ready to deliver at that day,” Malinin, who was bidding to become the second man to land six quads in one program after Chen, said on NBC. “I was really so confident, I think I sort of overthought everything and tried to get ahead of myself. But I think it’s all right.”

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Results

Brown, a 28-year-old competing for the first time since placing sixth at the Olympics, became the oldest male singles skater to finish in the top three at nationals since Jeremy Abbott won the last of his four titles in 2014. As usual, he didn’t attempt a quad but had the highest artistic score by 9.41 points.

Brown’s seven total top-three finishes at nationals tie him with Chen, Michael WeissBrian Boitano, David Jenkins and Dick Button for the second-most in men’s singles since World War II, trailing only Todd Eldredge‘s and Hayes Jenkins‘ eight.

“I’m not saying it’s super old, but I can’t train the way I used to,” Brown said after Friday’s short program. “What Ilia is doing and the way he is pushing the sport is outstanding and incredible to watch. I cannot keep up.”

Andrew Torgashev took bronze, winning the free skate with one quad and all clean jumps. Torgashev, who competed at nationals for the first time since placing fifth in 2020 at age 18, will likely round out the three-man world team.

Japan’s Shoma Uno will likely be the favorite at worlds. He won last year’s world title, when Malinin admittedly cracked under pressure in the free skate after a fourth-place short program and ended up ninth.

That was before Malinin became the first person to land a quad Axel in competition. That was before Malinin became the story of the figure skating world this fall. That was before Malinin took over the American throne from Chen, who is studying at Yale and not expected to return to competition.

Malinin’s next step is to grab another label that Chen long held: best in the world. To do that, he must be better than he was on Sunday.

“You always learn from your experiences, and there’s always still the rest of the season to come,” he said. “I just have to be prepared and prepare a little bit extra so that doesn’t happen again.”

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