Donavan Brazier wins 800m as American records fall at New Balance Grand Prix


World 800m champion Donavan Brazier was one of three runners to break an American record at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix on Saturday, kicking off the Olympic year.

Brazier took .01 off his American indoor 800m record, winning in 1:44.21 on Staten Island in New York City.

Brazier, looking to become the first American to win an Olympic 800m since hat-wearing Dave Wottle in 1972, is undefeated in races he has finished at that distance since June 2019.

“[Coach] Pete [Julian] wanted me to go out and die,” Brazier said of his pace. “I was just trying to see what kind of shape I was in.”

Full meet results are here.

U.S. athletes are preparing for the Olympic Trials in June in Eugene, Oregon, where the top three in most events are in line to go to Tokyo. The next top-level international track meets are outdoors, with the Diamond League starting in late May.

In other events, world champion Noah Lyles won the 200m in 20.80 seconds in his first time running the event indoors in four years. Lyles, who wore a cheetah-like-design singlet and Dunder Mifflin socks, was not pleased with the time.

“Time wasn’t all that,” said Lyles, the fourth fastest outdoor 200m runner in history with a personal best of 19.50 seconds. “I’m really strong right now, but my speed isn’t all there.”

Michael Norman, the fastest 400m runner in this Olympic cycle, edged training partner Rai Benjamin — 45.34 to 45.39. Benjamin is the world 400m hurdles silver medalist.

Trayvon Bromell, who re-emerged from injuries last year to become an Olympic 100m medal contender, won the 60m in 6.50.

Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas won the 400m in 50.21. She defeated a field that included the top American at each of the last two world championships — Wadeline Jonathas (fourth in 2019) and Phyllis Francis (world champion in 2017). Miller-Uibo might not race the 400m in Tokyo in favor of the 200m.

Teahna Daniels, the reigning U.S. 100m champion, failed to finish her preliminary heat in the women’s 60m. Aleia Hobbs, the 2018 U.S. 100m champion, false started out of the final. Jamaican 18-year-old phenom Briana Williams did not start the final. After all that, Kayla White won in 7.15.

Keni Harrison, the world-record holder in the 100m hurdles, won the 60m hurdles in 7.82 seconds.

Harrison, who lowered that world record in 2016 after failing to make the Olympic team, will bid to make one of the deepest U.S. teams for Tokyo. The U.S. boasted seven of the top 10 women in the world in 2019, though reigning Olympic champion Brianna McNeal is currently provisionally suspended.

Elle Purrier took 8.07 seconds off Jenny Simpson‘s American indoor two-mile record. Purrier lowered the American indoor mile record last year.

Bryce Hoppel, fourth in the 2019 Worlds 800m, broke the U.S. indoor 1000m record by .49 by clocking 2:16.27.

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French Open doubles team disqualified after tennis ball hits ball girl

2023 French Open

French Open doubles player Miyu Kato and her partner were forced to forfeit a match when Kato accidentally hit a ball girl in the neck with a ball after a point on Sunday.

In the second set on Court 14 at Roland Garros, Kato took a swing with her racket and the ball flew toward the ball kid, who was not looking in the player’s direction while heading off the court.

At first, chair umpire Alexandre Juge only issued a warning to Kato. But after tournament referee Remy Azemar and Grand Slam supervisor Wayne McEwen went to Court 14 to look into what happened, Kato and her partner, Aldila Sutjiadi of Indonesia, were disqualified.

That made Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic and Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain the winners of the match.

“It’s just a bad situation for everyone,” Bouzkova said. “But it’s kind of something that, I guess, is taken by the rules, as it is, even though it’s very unfortunate for them. … At the end of the day, it was the referee’s decision.”

Bouzkova said she did not see the ball hit the ball girl, but “she was crying for like 15 minutes.”

She said one of the officials said the ball “has to do some kind of harm to the person affected” and that “at first, (Juge) didn’t see that.”

Bouzkova said she and Sorribes Tormo told Juge “to look into it more and ask our opponents what they think happened.”

During Coco Gauff’s 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-1 singles victory over Mirra Andreeva on Saturday, Andreev swatted a ball into the Court Suzanne Lenglen stands after dropping a point in the first set. Andreev was given a warning by the chair umpire for unsportsmanlike conduct but no further penalty.

“I heard about that. Didn’t see it,” Bouzkova said. “I guess it just depends on the circumstances and the given situation as it happens. … It is difficult, for sure.

In the quarterfinals, Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo will face Ellen Perez of Australia and Nicole Melichar-Martinez of the United States.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

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Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz exit French Open, leaving no U.S. men

Frances Tiafoe French Open

Frances Tiafoe kept coming oh so close to extending his French Open match against Alexander Zverev: 12 times Saturday night, the American was two points from forcing things to a fifth set.

Yet the 12th-seeded Tiafoe never got closer than that.

Instead, the 22nd-seeded Zverev finished out his 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-1, 7-6 (5) victory after more than 3 1/2 hours in Court Philippe Chatrier to reach the fourth round. With Tiafoe’s exit, none of the 16 men from the United States who were in the bracket at the start of the tournament are still in the field.

“I mean, for the majority of the match, I felt like I was in control,” said Tiafoe, a 25-year-old from Maryland who fell to 1-7 against Zverev.

“It’s just tough,” he said about a half-hour after his loss ended, rubbing his face with his hand. “I should be playing the fifth right now.”

Two other American men lost earlier Saturday: No. 9 seed Taylor Fritz and unseeded Marcos Giron.

No. 23 Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina beat Fritz 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5, and Nicolas Jarry of Chile eliminated Giron 6-2, 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-3.

There are three U.S women remaining: No. 6 Coco Gauff, Sloane Stephens and Bernarda Pera.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

It is the second year in a row that zero men from the United States will participate in the fourth round at Roland Garros. If nothing else, it stands as a symbolic step back for the group after what seemed to be a couple of breakthrough showings at the past two majors.

For Tiafoe, getting to the fourth round is never the goal.

“I want to win the trophy,” he said.

Remember: No American man has won any Grand Slam title since Andy Roddick at the 2003 U.S. Open. The French Open has been the least successful major in that stretch with no U.S. men reaching the quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003.

But Tiafoe beat Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of the U.S. Open along the way to getting to the semifinals there last September, the first time in 16 years the host nation had a representative in the men’s final four at Flushing Meadows.

Then, at the Australian Open this January, Tommy Paul, Sebastian Korda and Ben Shelton became the first trio of Americans in the men’s quarterfinals in Melbourne since 2000. Paul made it a step beyond that, to the semifinals.

After that came this benchmark: 10 Americans were ranked in the ATP’s Top 50, something that last happened in June 1995.

On Saturday, after putting aside a whiffed over-the-shoulder volley — he leaned atop the net for a moment in disbelief — Tiafoe served for the fourth set at 5-3, but couldn’t seal the deal.

In that game, and the next, and later on, too, including at 5-all in the tiebreaker, he would come within two points of owning that set.

Each time, Zverev claimed the very next point. When Tiafoe sent a forehand wide to end it, Zverev let out two big yells. Then the two, who have been pals for about 15 years, met for a warm embrace at the net, and Zverev placed his hand atop Tiafoe’s head.

“He’s one of my best friends on tour,” said Zverev, a German who twice has reached the semifinals on the red clay of Paris, “but on the court, I’m trying to win.”

At the 2022 French Open, Zverev tore ligaments in his right ankle while playing Nadal in the semifinals and had to stop.

“It’s been definitely the hardest year of my life, that’s for sure,” Zverev said. “I love tennis more than anything in the world.”

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