Australian Open: Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka rally into quarterfinals

Serena Williams
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Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka each needed three sets (and Osaka saved match points) to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals.

Williams, now three match wins from a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title, overcame poor serving to beat Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.

“Even games that I lost, I was so close to winning,” Williams said. “Not all games, but probably most of those games. I just needed to play better on the big points. I knew that I could. I still hadn’t reached my peak. I was like, OK, Serena, you got this, just keep going.”

It marked the 10th seed Williams’ first match against a top-10 player in 17 months. Sabalenka, the power-playing seventh seed, won 18 of her prior 19 matches going into her first meeting with Williams.

Williams next gets a major champion: No. 2 seed Simona Halep, who also needed three sets to get past 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Later, Novak Djokovic beat Milos Raonic 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 to reach the quarters. Djokovic said after Friday’s third round that he tore a muscle in his abdominal area and might withdraw from the tournament he has won a record eight times. Djokovic gets No. 6 Alexander Zverev next.

“If it’s any other tournament than a Grand Slam, I would retire, withdraw from the event, that’s for sure,” Djokovic said. “I didn’t know before I finished my warm-up today, three hours before I entered the court against Milos here whether I’m going to play or not. When it warmed up it was fine. Obviously, during the match today it was kind of on and off. It’s not ideal, but I cannot complain.”

AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men

Earlier Sunday, pre-tournament favorite Osaka came back from the brink to beat two-time major champion Garbine Muguruza 4-6, 6-4, 7-5. In the third set, Muguruza had two match points on Osaka’s serve before Osaka won the last four games.

“Today was just a battle. Like if I can just describe it in one word,” Osaka said. “Maybe a year ago — definitely a year ago — I probably wouldn’t have won this match. There are so many things that I was thinking about on the court that just would have blocked me from trying to win the match or trying to problem solve.”

Osaka, a two-time U.S. Open champ and 2019 Australian Open winner on an 18-match win streak, next plays 71st-ranked Hsieh Su-wei.

Hsieh, 35, became the oldest woman to make her first major quarterfinal in the Open Era (since 1968) by beating No. 19 seed Marketa Vondrousova 6-4, 6-2. Hsieh has an unorthodox game that frustrates top players.

“She’s one of those players that, for me, if it was a video game, I would want to select her character just to play as her,” Osaka said. “Because my mind can’t fathom the choices she makes when she’s on the court.”

No. 3 Dominic Thiem became the highest seed in either singles draw to exit. No. 18 Grigor Dimitrov took him out 6-4, 6-4, 6-0, after which the 2020 U.S. Open winner said he had “some little physical issues,” declining to specify.

Dimitrov, who in 2017 reached the Australian Open semifinals and a career-high ranking of No. 3, next gets 114th-ranked Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev.

Karatsev prevailed 3-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 over 20th-seeded Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in both players’ first five-set match. Karatsev, 27, is the first man to reach the quarterfinals in his Grand Slam main draw debut since German Alex Rădulescu at 1996 Wimbledon.

Monday’s fourth-round matches include No. 1 Ash Barty and No. 2 Rafael Nadal.

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Paris 2024 Olympic marathon route unveiled

Paris 2024 Olympic Marathon
Paris 2024
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The 2024 Olympic marathon route will take runners from Paris to Versailles and back.

The route announcement was made on the 233rd anniversary of one of the early, significant events of the French Revolution: the Women’s March on Versailles — “to pay tribute to the thousands of women who started their march at city hall to Versailles to take up their grievances to the king and ask for bread,” Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet said.

Last December, organizers announced the marathons will start at Hôtel de Ville (city hall, opposite Notre-Dame off the Seine River) and end at Les Invalides, a complex of museums and monuments one mile southeast of the Eiffel Tower.

On Wednesday, the rest of the route was unveiled — traversing the banks of the Seine west to the Palace of Versailles and then back east, passing the Eiffel Tower before the finish.

The men’s and women’s marathons will be on the last two days of the Games at 8 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET). It will be the first time that the women’s marathon is held on the last day of the Games after the men’s marathon traditionally occupied that slot.

A mass public marathon will also be held on the Olympic marathon route. The date has not been announced.

The full list of highlights among the marathon course:

• Hôtel de ville de Paris (start)
• Bourse de commerce
• Palais Brongniart
• Opéra Garnier
• Place Vendôme
• Jardin des Tuileries
• The Louvre
• Place de la Concorde
• The bridges of Paris
(Pont de l’Alma; Alexandre III;
Iéna; and more)
• Grand Palais
• Palais de Tokyo
• Jardins du Trocadéro
• Maison de la Radio
• Manufacture et Musées
nationaux de Sèvres
• Forêt domaniale
des Fausses-Reposes
• Monuments Pershing –
Lafayette
• Château de Versailles
• Forêt domaniale de Meudon
• Parc André Citroën
• Eiffel Tower
• Musée Rodin
• Esplanade des Invalides (finish)

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International Boxing Association lifts ban on Russia, Belarus

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The International Boxing Association (IBA) lifted its ban on amateur boxers from Russia and Belarus over the war in Ukraine that had been in place since early March.

“The IBA strongly believes that politics shouldn’t have any influence on sports,” the federation said in a press release. “Hence, all athletes should be given equal conditions.”

Most international sports federations banned athletes from Russia and Belarus indefinitely seven months ago, acting after an IOC recommendation. It is believed that the IBA is the first international federation in an Olympic sport to lift its ban.

The IOC has not officially changed its recommendation from last winter to exclude Russia and Belarus athletes “to protect the integrity of the events and the safety of the other participants.”

Last week, IOC President Thomas Bach said in an interview with an Italian newspaper that Russian athletes who do not endorse their country’s war in Ukraine could at some point be accepted back into international sports, competing under a neutral flag.

IBA, in lifting its ban, will also allow Russia and Belarus flags and national anthems.

“The time has now come to allow all the rest of the athletes of Russia and Belarus to participate in all the official competitions of their sports representing their countries,” IBA President Umar Kremlev, a Russian, said in a press release last week. “Both the IOC and the International Federations must protect all athletes, and there should be no discrimination based on nationality. It is the duty of all of us to keep sports and athletes away from politics.”

In 2019, the IOC stripped the IBA — then known as AIBA — of its Olympic recognition following an inquiry committee report into finance, governance, refereeing and judging. The IOC ran the Tokyo Olympic boxing competition.

The IBA will not run qualifying events for the 2024 Paris Games, but it does still hold world championships, the next being a men’s event in Uzbekistan next year.

Boxing, introduced on the Olympic program in 1904, was not included on the initial program for the 2028 Los Angeles Games but can still be added. The IBA must address concerns “around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes,” Bach said last December.

On Sept. 23, the IBA suspended Ukraine’s boxing federation, citing “government interference.” Ukraine boxers are still allowed to compete with their flag and anthem.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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