Austrian Manuel Feller takes slalom standings lead with first World Cup win

Manuel Feller
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FLACHAU, Austria  — Manuel Feller raced through driving snow to win a World Cup slalom on Saturday after Clement Noël let a first-run lead slip away in his third straight race.

Feller rose from third fastest in the morning to edge Noël by 0.43 seconds and regain the slalom standings lead on a course named for Austrian great Hermann Maier.

Marco Schwarz was third, trailing his Austria teammate by 0.70 — and a single point in the season-long standings.

Feller’s first career win followed six runner-up finishes, including in two slaloms this season and a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships.

“It’s awesome and it feels like a miracle,” said Feller, who struggled with back injuries last season.

He wore low-ranked bib No. 26 when he was runner-up four weeks ago at Alta Badia, Italy.

Noël was a three-time winner last season, but got his first podium finish on Saturday in his fifth race of this campaign. The Frenchman also wasted a first-run lead last Sunday when Schwarz won at Adelboden, Switzerland, and 10 days ago at Zagreb, Croatia.

“I don’t know, it’s always different things,” Noël said, adding of his quick starts “it means that I can be fast. But at the end we have to do two runs.”

World Cup overall standings leader Alexis Pinturault placed ninth, rising from 20th fastest in the morning run. He extended his points lead over Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, the defending overall champion, and Marco Odermatt, who do not compete in slalom.

Kilde’s hopes to retain his title were extinguished later on Saturday.

Flachau stepped in to host its first men’s slalom for nine years after two schedule changes this week.

Switzerland’s signature venue, Wengen, was ruled out on Monday from hosting its storied Lauberhorn meeting this weekend after an outbreak of COVID-19 cases likely caused by British tourists.

Kitzbühel, which stages its classic Hahnenkamm downhill next Saturday, was then slated to host its own slalom and Wengen’s this weekend. They were then switched to Flachau to give more time for virus tests in Kitzbühel.

Flachau hosted its traditional women’s night slalom on Tuesday — won by Mikaela Shiffrin — and is a flatter slope than usual for the men’s circuit.

“The slope for sure it’s not the best but it’s OK,” Noël said. ”But we are lucky to have a race.”

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2023 French Open men’s singles draw

Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz
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The French Open men’s singles draw is missing injured 14-time champion Rafael Nadal for the first time since 2004, leaving the Coupe des Mousquetaires ripe for the taking.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Novak Djokovic is not only bidding for a third crown at Roland Garros, but also to lift a 23rd Grand Slam singles trophy to break his tie with Nadal for the most in men’s history.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Women’s Draw

But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.

Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.

Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They meet in Friday’s semifinals.

Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, was upset in the first round by 172nd-ranked Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild. It marked the first time a men’s top-two seed lost in the first round of any major since 2003 Wimbledon (Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt).

All of the American men lost before the fourth round. The last U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals was Andre Agassi in 2003.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Men’s Singles Draw

French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw

Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz set French Open semifinal showdown


Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz will play in the French Open semifinals on Friday in the most anticipated match of the tournament.

Each man advanced with a quarterfinal win on Tuesday.

Djokovic, eyeing a record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam men’s singles title, rallied past 11th-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov 4-6, 7-6 (0), 6-2, 6-4. The Serb reached his 45th career major semifinal, one shy of Roger Federer‘s men’s record.

Later Tuesday, top seed Alcaraz crushed fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (5) to consolidate his status as the favorite in Friday’s showdown.

Alcaraz, who at last year’s U.S. Open became the first male teen to win a major since Rafael Nadal in 2005, is at this event the youngest man to be the top seed at a major since Boris Becker at 1987 Wimbledon.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

The Djokovic-Alcaraz semifinal will produce the clear favorite for Sunday’s final given left-handed 14-time French Open champion Nadal is out this year with a hip injury and No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev lost in the first round. Djokovic and Nadal share the record 22 men’s major titles.

Djokovic and Alcaraz met once, with Alcaraz winning last year on clay in Madrid 6-7 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5).

“[Alcaraz] brings a lot of intensity on the court,” Djokovic said, before breaking into a smile. “Reminds me of someone from his country that plays with a left hand.”

Alcaraz and Djokovic were set to be on opposite halves of the draw — and thus not able to meet until the final — until Medvedev won the last top-level clay event before the French Open to move ahead of Djokovic in the rankings. That meant Djokovic had a 50 percent chance to wind up in Alcaraz’s half, and that’s what the random draw spit out two weeks ago.

Earlier Tuesday in the first two women’s quarterfinals, No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and 43rd-ranked Czech Karolina Muchova advanced to face off in Thursday’s semifinals.

Sabalenka, the Australian Open champion, swept Ukrainian Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-4 to complete her set of semifinals in all four Grand Slams. Sabalenka will take the No. 1 ranking from Iga Swiatek if Swiatek loses before the final, or if Sabalenka makes the final and Swiatek does not win the title.

Svitolina, a former world No. 3, returned to competition in April from childbirth.

Muchova took out 2021 French Open runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 7-5, 6-2, to make her second major semifinal after the 2021 Australian Open.

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