Coco Gauff reaches French Open quarterfinals, Olympics

Coco Gauff
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Coco Gauff clinched the fourth and final U.S. Olympic women’s singles spot and, should she want to go to Tokyo, is set to become the youngest Olympic tennis player since 2000.

Gauff, 17, qualified after countrywoman Sloane Stephens lost in the fourth round of the French Open on Monday.

Later Monday, Gauff won her own French Open fourth-round match — 6-3, 6-1 over Tunisian Ons Jabeur — to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal. Gauff, who at Roland Garros became the youngest Grand Slam singles seed since Czech Nicole Vaidisova in 2006, is now the youngest Grand Slam quarterfinalist since Vaidisova in 2006.

“This has been the most consistent tennis I have played at this level,” said Gauff, who broke out at age 15 by reaching the Wimbledon fourth round in 2019, then made the 2020 Australian Open fourth round, beating Naomi Osaka. “Hopefully I can keep that going.”

Gauff is one of a record six first-time Grand Slam women’s quarterfinalists in the draw. She gets 33rd-ranked Czech Barbora Krejčíková next.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Novak Djokovic rallied from a two-set deficit to win for the fifth time in his career. He beat 19-year-old Lorenzo Musetti of Italy, who retired with an injury two games from defeat in the fourth round.

Musetti took a medical timeout after the fourth set, briefly left the court, and conceded after losing the next four games. The score was 6-7 (7), 6-7 (2), 6-1, 6-0, 4-0. Djokovic lost only 10 points in the third set and four in the fourth, and won the final 13 games.

Seeded No. 1, Djokovic remained in contention for his second French Open title, and his 19th at a Grand Slam. He improved to 34-10 in five-setters.

The Serb advanced to the Roland Garros quarterfinals for the 15th time. He’ll next play another Italian, No. 9-seeded Matteo Berrettini, who advanced when Roger Federer withdrew.

Gauff was far behind in Olympic qualifying when the Tokyo Games were postponed in March 2020, but she’s been consistently strong this year, especially in the clay season. Gauff overtook Madison KeysAlison Riske and Jessica Pegula in recent weeks to claim the fourth Olympic spot.

Sofia KeninSerena Williams and Jennifer Brady previously clinched the first three U.S. spots. Kenin and Brady confirmed this spring that they plan to play in Tokyo. Williams said last month that she hadn’t decided whether she will play.

If Williams declines, either Pegula or Riske will be next in line, depending on how far Riske goes in a grass-court tournament this week.

The U.S. Tennis Association can add up to two more women who can play doubles and mixed doubles in Rio.

The U.S.’ highest-ranked doubles players are Nicole Melichar (ninth in the world) and Bethanie Mattek-Sands (No. 16). Venus Williams, the most decorated Olympic tennis player in history with five medals and four golds, could also be a candidate.

LIST: U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics across all sports

Gauff is set to become the youngest Olympic tennis player since 2000, when Mario Ancic competed at 16 and Jelena Dokic at 17, according to Olympedia.org. She would be the second-youngest U.S. Olympic tennis player ever after 16-year-old Jennfier Capriati, who took gold at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Gauff said in May she’s pleased with the progress made since her breakout Wimbledon run nearly two years ago. Before that tournament, she was the 37th-highest-ranked American just starting on a senior-level career.

“During that time people were saying, it’s a fluke, it will never happen again,” Gauff said in May. “I think I’ve proved all those people wrong. I’m going to continue to prove them wrong.”

Later Monday, defending champion Rafael Nadal beat Jannik Sinner 7-5, 6-3, 6-0 to reach the quarterfinals and extend his streak of sets won at Roland Garros to 35.

The 18th-seeded Sinner had a chance to become the first player since Dominic Thiem in the 2019 final to take a set off Nadal in Paris.

But when serving for the first set at 5-4, the Italian was broken at love. He then lost the next six games to trail 4-0 in the second set.

Nadal won the next two sets to clinch his 12th title here, won all 21 sets last year as he added No. 13 and has yet to drop a set this year.

The third-seeded Spaniard faces No. 10 Diego Schwartzman in the quarterfinals, having beaten the Argentine in the semifinals last year.

Sofia Kenin lost in the fourth round to Maria Sakkari of Greece, 6-1, 6-3.

At No. 4, Kenin was the highest-seeded player left in the tournament. She was the runner-up at Roland Garros last October, and was seeking her second major title.

Sakkari, seeded 17th, advanced to her first career Grand Slam quarterfinal and earned her sixth win against a top-20 player this year.

Kenin lost serve six times and had 32 unforced errors to 15 for the steady Sakkari.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Diana Taurasi says 2024 Paris Olympics ‘on my radar’

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Diana Taurasi said immediately after winning her fifth Olympic gold medal in Tokyo that she might try for a record sixth in Paris.

It’s still on her mind 17 months out of the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“It’s something that it’s on my radar,” Taurasi told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday after the first day of a USA Basketball training camp in Minnesota, her first national team activity since Tokyo. “I’m still competitive, still driven, still want to play, I still love being a part of USA Basketball.”

Taurasi will be 42 at the time of the Paris Games — older than any previous Olympic basketball player — but said if she’s healthy enough she’d like to give it a go.

“If the opportunity comes to play and be a part of it, it’s something I’ve always taken a lot of pride in,” said Taurasi, who shares the record of five Olympic basketball gold medals with the retired Sue Bird. “When you get to my age at this point in my career, you just try to win every day. Right now this is a good opportunity to be part of this team moving forward we’ll see what happens.”

She said she would have played at the FIBA World Cup last year in Australia, but had a quad strain that kept her out of the end of the WNBA season.

“I got hurt a little bit before. I had a good conversation with Coach (Cheryl) Reeve and (USA Basketball CEO Jim) Tooley. I felt like I hadn’t played enough basketball to be out there and help,” Taurasi said. “That’s the biggest thing with USA Basketball is being able to help the team win.”

Reeve said Monday that when she succeeded Dawn Staley as head coach a few months after Tokyo, she wasn’t sure whether Taurasi would play for the national team again. That was before her conversation with Taurasi.

“I look forward to having a chance to have her be around and be, as I told her, a great voice,” Reeve said. “Obviously, the competitive fire that she competes with is something that we all do well with.”

In Tokyo, Taurasi started all six games and averaged 18.8 minutes per game, sixth-most on the team (fewer than backup guard Chelsea Gray). Her 5.8 points per game were her fewest in her Olympic career, though she was dealing with a hip injury.

Taurasi is an unrestricted free agent although she is expected to return back to Phoenix where she’s spent her entire career since getting drafted No. 1 overall in 2003.

“Phoenix still has things they need to work out,” the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer said.

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Alexis Pinturault wins world championships combined; American in fourth

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France’s Alexis Pinturault won the world Alpine skiing championships combined at his home venue after defending world champion Marco Schwarz blew a lead in the final seconds of his slalom run.

Pinturault, a 31-year-old who hadn’t won a race in nearly two years (the longest drought of his distinguished career), prevailed by one tenth of a second over the Austrian Schwarz in Courchevel, France.

“I hope to enjoy it because it was pretty difficult some months ago,” Pinturault said.

Austrian Raphael Haaser took bronze in an event that combined times from a morning super-G run and an afternoon slalom run, one day after his older sister took bronze in the women’s combined.

River Radamus was fourth, a quarter of a second from becoming the first U.S. man to win an Alpine worlds medal since 2015. Radamus’ best event is the giant slalom, which is scheduled for Feb. 17 at worlds.

“It’s nice, but honestly, you don’t come to world championships hoping to get fourth,” Radamus said.

Five skiers finished within 2.98 seconds of the winner in an event that has been dropped from the annual World Cup schedule and is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

ALPINE WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Pinturault had the fastest super-G run by six hundredths over Schwarz. Schwarz, a slightly better slalom skier than Pinturault, erased that deficit early in the slalom and had a three tenths lead at the last intermediate split.

He gave it all away about six gates from the finish, slamming on the brakes. Moments later, he crossed the finish line one tenth behind Pinturault, who reacted by pumping his fists in the air.

The Frenchman earned his first race victory since the March 2021 World Cup Finals giant slalom, where he clinched his first World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing. Last season, Pinturault went winless on the World Cup for the first time since he was a teenage rookie in 2011, plus went medal-less at the Olympics.

Pinturault, who grew up in Courchevel and now co-owns the family’s five-star Hotel Annapurna there, had retirement cross his mind in the offseason, according to Eurosport. He skipped a pre-worlds Sunday press conference due to illness.

Nonetheless, Pinturault was on the front page of French newspapers this week, including L’Equipe on Tuesday. In a sports cover story for Le Figaro, Pinturault said that, given the circumstances, it would be almost a “nice surprise” to go for a medal at these worlds.

Olympic champion Johannes Strolz of Austria skied out of the slalom after tying for 29th in the super-G.

Olympic silver and bronze medalists Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway and Jack Crawford of Canada were among the speed specialists who did not start the slalom. They essentially used the event as a training run for Thursday’s super-G.

Worlds continue Wednesday with the women’s super-G, where Mikaela Shiffrin is a medal contender but not the favorite. She can tie the modern-era records for individual world championships gold medals (seven) and total medals (12).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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