Petra Vlhova, Alexis Pinturault win Alpine skiing World Cup overall titles


Slovakian Petra Vlhova and Frenchman Alexis Pinturault won their first Alpine skiing World Cup overall titles, while Mikaela Shiffrin finished second in the slalom standings on Saturday.

Vlhova became the first person from her nation to win ski racing’s biggest annual prize by placing sixth in the women’s slalom at the World Cup Finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

“It means a lot because I made history. I cannot believe it,” Vlhova said on ORF, noting being disappointed with the slalom result while acknowledging the difficulty of doing all 30 races so far this season. “This, for us, was main goal for this season.”

Vlhova needed to finish 15th or better to mathematically clinch over Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami with one race remaining, a giant slalom on Sunday.

Vlhova, who last year supplanted Shiffrin as the world’s best slalom skier, was overtaken in this season’s final slalom standings by Austrian Katharina Liensberger.

Liensberger, the 23-year-old gold medalist at last month’s world championships, won on Saturday by 1.24 seconds over Shiffrin, denying the American a seventh slalom season title. Liensberger came into the season with a best World Cup race finish of third, yet in the last month won worlds and two World Cups all by seven tenths of a second or more.

“I couldn’t expect anything,” before the season, said Liensberger, who steadily rose in the slalom standings in her 20s, from 14th to seventh to third last year. “I knew just from the last seasons that I’m just getting better.”

ON HER TURF: Alpine skiers explain: ‘What Mikaela Shiffrin taught me’

Shiffrin, who went 300 days between races in 2020, needed to finish higher than Liensberger to have a chance at the crystal globe.

“There’s a lot of things that went totally different this season, and I had a lot of uncertainty personally,” Shiffrin said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “It’s been quite successful, even if it’s comparatively not as successful as other seasons. It’s a really good stepping stone for me.”

Earlier, Pinturault won a men’s giant slalom and clinched the overall on his 30th birthday. Pinturault finished second or third in the overall standings on five previous occasions. He began Saturday with 33 World Cup race victories, the most for any man yet to win an overall.

“I worked so hard for so many years,” he said. “I was always searching for, pushing for [titles].”

Pinturault went into the World Cup Finals leading Swiss Marco Odermatt by 31 points. After the downhill and super-G were canceled due to weather, he was in position to win the overall by finishing ahead of Odermatt in the GS.

Pinturault not only won the GS race, but he also claimed his first season title in that discipline after placing second or third the previous eight years, usually behind Marcel Hirscher, Ted Ligety or both.

The World Cup Finals finish Sunday. A full TV and live stream schedule is here.

ON HER TURF: U.S. skier details eating disorder treatment

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Novak Djokovic breaks record he shared with Rafael Nadal at French Open

Novak Djokovic French Open

Novak Djokovic broke a tie with rival Rafael Nadal by reaching the French Open quarterfinals for the record 17th time, never truly in trouble during a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Juan Pablo Varillas on Sunday.

Djokovic is closing on bettering Nadal in a more prestigious category: Grand Slam singles championships. Both currently sit at 22. For Djokovic, that total includes two at Roland Garros, in 2016 and 2021, and he can become the first man to own at least three trophies from each major tournament.

Nadal is a 14-time champion in Paris but is missing this time because of a hip injury; he had arthroscopic surgery Friday night.

Against the 94th-ranked Varillas, who had never won a Slam match until this event and then took three in a row in five sets, Djokovic was, not surprisingly, at his dominant best at Court Philippe Chatrier on a warm, sunny day.

The 36-year-old from Serbia finished with more than twice as many winners, 35-15, and fewer unforced errors. He went 15 for 17 on trips to the net. He put in 80% of his first serves. He converted 6 of 12 break points while dropping his serve only once.

All in all, a no-drama showing in under two hours from Djokovic, who hasn’t ceded a set yet through four matches. He’s had his less-than-amiable back-and-forths with some spectators over the past week in Paris, but when this one ended, Djokovic gestured as though to hug everyone as he heard some chants of his two-syllable nickname, “No-le!”

In his 55th career major quarterfinal — Roger Federer, who retired with 58, is the only man to reach more — and 14th in a row at Roland Garros, the No. 3-seeded Djokovic will face No. 11 Karen Khachanov on Tuesday.

Khachanov, who is 1-8 against Djokovic, made it this far at a Slam for the fifth time by defeating Lorenzo Sonego 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7), 6-1.

The other men’s fourth-round matches Sunday were No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz vs. No. 17 Lorenzo Musetti, and No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. Sebastian Ofner.

Two unseeded women moved into quarterfinals and will play each other next: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the 2021 runner-up at Roland Garros, and Karolina Muchova.

Pavlyuchenkova, who missed last year’s tournament as part of a lengthy absence with a knee injury, got past a third consecutive seeded opponent, No. 28 Elise Mertens, by a 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3 score.

Muchova was a 6-4, 6-4 winner against Elina Avanesyan, who lost in qualifying but got into the main draw when another player withdrew.

The other women’s matches scheduled for later: No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka vs. 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, and No. 9 Daria Kasatkina vs. Elina Svitolina.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

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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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