Olympic wrestler Frank Molinaro retires at Trials by leaving shoes on mat

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Frank Molinaro, a Cinderfella of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trials, took off his shoes and placed them on the center of the mat after being eliminated from Olympic contention at the Trials for Tokyo on Friday, the sport’s symbolic act of retirement.

Molinaro, 32, first retired in March 2020, after the Tokyo Games were postponed to 2021, but made a surprise return for the Olympic Trials in Fort Worth, Texas.

He won his first match over Evan Henderson 10-1, then lost to Yianni Diakomihalis 10-0 in the 65kg freestyle challenge tournament quarterfinals on Friday.

Molinaro, an assistant coach at Arizona State, fully committed to Trials after the Pac-12 Championships ended Feb. 28. He said he had to lose 28 pounds, including 15 pounds in the last week, to make weight.

He hoped to compete at one last Olympic Trials at his alma mater, Penn State, but the Trials were moved from that location, the originally planned 2020 host site, to Fort Worth, announced earlier in February.

“I didn’t want to retire in my basement over Covid,” Molinaro said. “I think I would have regretted it more if I didn’t try.

“I’m happy with my career. I reached all my goals. No regrets.”

MORE: Olympic Wrestling Trials broadcast schedule

Molinaro’s plans post-second retirement?

“I’m going straight to Buffalo Wild Wings after this tournament and eating 50 buffalo wings,” he said.

In 2016, Molinaro made a stunning run as the No. 9 seed at Trials, knocking off top seed Brent Metcalf in the quarterfinals. He lost the opening match in the best-of-three finals to 19-year-old Bellator MMA signee Aaron Pico, then rallied to win the tournament.

Molinaro still needed to qualify for the Olympics, though. He failed at both international qualifiers but received an Olympic spot after several spots were reallocated due to meldonium doping violations. The initially banned athletes were later reinstated, but the U.S. was allowed to keep its spot.

In Rio, Molinaro was famously bitten by Andriy Kvyatkovskyy of Ukraine in a repechage match that he won. Molinaro then lost the following bronze-medal match to world champion Frank Chamizo of Italy.

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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.

“This match, everyone wants to watch,” Alcaraz said. “I really wanted to play this match as well. I always say that if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

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.

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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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