Mikaela Shiffrin rides success into final events at world champs with more history at stake


After Mikaela Shiffrin won Monday’s super combined at the world championships, her chief rival made an acknowledgement ahead of the final two races in Cortina d’Ampezzo.

“She was perfect in super-G and also in slalom,” said Slovakian Petra Vlhova, the silver medalist. Media reported she called Shiffrin “unbeatable” in Monday’s event combining one run of each discipline.

Shiffrin, in the middle of a challenging World Cup season, rides record-breaking world championships success into her Olympic gold-medal events to finish the two-week competition. The giant slalom is Thursday. The slalom is Saturday. More history is at stake.

ALPINE WORLDS: TV Schedule | Results

Last week, she took super-G bronze in her first race in the discipline in more than one year.

She went exactly one year between putting on the longer super-G skis, getting about four days of training in the speed event. No matter: Shiffrin was even on track for gold if not for a late mistake.

She likely wouldn’t have even entered the super-G if it was held at a venue unlike Cortina, where she has years of World Cup speed racing experience.

Shiffrin also probably would have passed on the combined if the speed run was the usual downhill rather than super-G.

In Monday’s competition, Shiffrin was again third-fastest in the super-G portion. More importantly, she was fastest in the slalom by .52 of a second over Vlhova, the world’s best slalom skier over the last 13 months.

In January 2020, Vlhova beat Shiffrin in back-to-back slaloms, something no skier had done since 2017. Shiffrin acknowledged that the Slovakian was “quite far ahead.” This season, Vlhova again leads the World Cup slalom standings.

Shiffrin ranks third in the world in slalom and fifth in GS, but now she has the momentum.

“Before that gold medal in the combined, I wasn’t sure I would put Mikaela Shiffrin as an absolute medal threat in the giant slalom,” NBC Sports analyst Steve Porino said. “It’s been touch and go, but I think she’s got her mojo back, and I put her down for two more medals.”

Already in Cortina, Shiffrin became the most decorated American in worlds history, passing Ted Ligety and Lindsey Vonn with her sixth gold and eighth and ninth medals. She has another legend in her sights.

With medals in the GS and slalom, she can become the first skier to earn four medals at a single worlds since Swede Anja Pärson in 2007. She can also match Pärson’s female record of 11 career medals at standalone worlds in the modern era (since World War II).

Shiffrin is also one shy of the record for career world titles held by the Swede (again, standalone worlds in the modern era). Note Shiffrin is still just 25 years old.

She called the combined title “a release of pressure.”

“My biggest goal for the rest of the time is to keep that [carefree attitude] going even though my big events are coming,” Shiffrin said. “I started the super-G and the combined because I thought I had a chance, and I wanted to try. My priority events are coming up.”

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Taylor Fritz becomes crowd enemy at French Open

Taylor Fritz French Open

The French Open crowd was not happy with American player Taylor Fritz after he beat one of their own — indeed, their last man in the bracket — so they booed and whistle relentlessly. Fritz’s response? He told them to shush. Over and over again.

Fritz, a 25-year-old from California who is seeded No. 9 at Roland Garros, got into a back-and-forth with the fans at Court Suzanne Lenglen after his 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 comeback victory over 78th-ranked Arthur Rinderknech in the second round on Thursday night.

Rinderknech attempted a lob that landed long on the last point, and Fritz, who had been running toward the baseline to chase the ball, immediately looked up into the stands and pressed his right index finger to his lips to say, essentially, “Hush!”

He held that pose for a bit as he headed back toward the net for a postmatch handshake, then spread his arms wide, wind-milled them a bit as if to egg on the rowdiness, and yelled: “Come on! I want to hear it!”

During the customary winner’s on-court interview that followed, more jeers rained down on Fritz, and 2013 Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli kept pausing her attempts to ask a question into her microphone.

So Fritz again said, “Shhhhh!” and put his finger toward his mouth, while Bartoli unsuccessfully tried to get the spectators to lower their decibel level.

More boos. More whistles.

And the awkwardness continued as both Bartoli and a stadium announcer kept saying, “S’il vous plaît” — “Please!” — to no avail, while Fritz stood there with his arms crossed.

A few U.S. supporters with signs and flags drew Fritz’s attention from the front row, and he looked over and said to them, “I love you guys.”

But the interview was still on hold.

Bartoli tried asking a question in English, which only served to draw more boos.

So Fritz told her he couldn’t hear her. Bartoli moved closer and finally got out a query — but it didn’t seem to matter what her words were.

Fritz, who has been featured on the Netflix docuseries about tennis called “Break Point,” had his hands on his hips and a message on his mind — one reminiscent of Daniil Medvedev’s contretemps with fans at the 2019 U.S. Open.

“I came out and the crowd was so great honestly. Like, the crowd was just so great,” Fritz said, as folks tried to drown out his voice. “They cheered so well for me, I wanted to make sure that I won. Thanks, guys.”

And with that, he exited the stage.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

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French Open: Coco Gauff to face younger opponent for first time at a Grand Slam

Coco Gauff French Open

Coco Gauff‘s first 49 Grand Slam main draw singles matches were all against older opponents. Her 50th will be against a younger one.

The sixth-seeded Gauff reached the French Open third round by beating 61st-ranked Austrian Julia Grabher 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday. Gauff, 19, next plays 16-year-old Russian Mirra Andreeva in the round of 32 on Saturday.

“I don’t see age as a factor,” said Gauff, who has practiced with Andreeva. “When you step on the court, you just see your opponent, and you don’t really think about the personal side of things. You just see forehand, backhand, serve, and all the same.”

Gauff made her major debut at age 15 in 2019 by beating Venus Williams at Wimbledon. In her 15 majors, Gauff has usually been the youngest male or female singles player, including most recently at 2022 Wimbledon. She is still the lone teenager in the WTA top 49.

But that may soon change. Youngsters from the Czech Republic and Russia are on the rise. Such as Andreeva, who, at No. 143 in the world and climbing, is the highest-ranked player under the age of 18. And she doesn’t turn 17 until next April. Andreeva dropped just six games in her first two matches, fewest of any woman.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

But Gauff is still in a class of her own among her generation, having at last year’s French Open become the youngest major finalist since Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon at 17. She somehow flew somewhat under the radar into Paris this year with a 4-4 record this spring and in between full-time coaches.

She has now won back-to-back matches for the first time since March, rallying past 71st-ranked Spaniard Rebeka Masarova in the first round and then dispatching an error-prone Grabher, a runner-up at a low-level clay event last week.

The other three seeds in Gauff’s section have all lost, so she would not play a seed until the quarterfinals. And that would be No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who has won all 12 sets they’ve played, including in last year’s French Open final.

“I lost that final, and like for like a week or two, I really thought it was the worst thing ever,” Gauff said. “There’s no point in me revisiting last year. It’s in the past. It was a great tournament, but I’m looking forward for more this week.”

While the men’s draw has been upended by 14-time champion Rafael Nadal‘s pre-event withdrawal and No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev‘s loss in the first round, the top women have taken care of business.

The top four seeds — Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, American Jessica Pegula and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan — all reached the third round without dropping a set.

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