Eight Olympic medalists highlight U.S. men’s volleyball team for Tokyo

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The 12 players who will seek the United States’ first consecutive Olympic men’s volleyball medals in nearly three decades were named on Monday.

The squad is led by opposite/outside hitter Matt Anderson and middle blocker David Smith, who will compete at their third Olympic Games. At 36, Smith is the oldest member of the team.

Anderson, whose first child – son Jamie – was born last year, has been the U.S. men’s leading scorer every season for the past decade. The 34-year-old has also racked up several international accolades including MVP of the 2019 Volleyball Nations League and best opposite at the 2018 VNL and 2018 World Championship.

Unlike the U.S. women’s team, which was named last week and included eight first-time Olympians, the men’s is more seasoned with eight returning Olympians.

In addition to Anderson and Smith, the following six athletes return from the team that earned bronze in Rio five years ago: setters Micah Christenson and Kawika Shoji, middle blocker Max Holt, outside hitters Thomas Jaeschke and Taylor Sander, and libero Erik Shoji (Kawika’s brother).

Making their Olympic debut in Tokyo next month are opposite Kyle Ensing, outside hitters T.J. DeFalco and Garrett Muagututia, and middle blocker Mitch Stahl. DeFalco, the youngest of the squad at 24, competed in beach volleyball at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games before joining the indoor national team the following year.

2016 Olympic bronze medalist Aaron Russell and Ben Patch, the team’s leading scorer in 2019 Volleyball Nations League play, were named alternates, along with Jeff Jendryk, Brenden Sander (Taylor’s brother), Josh Tuaniga, Taylor Averill, Dustin Watten and Kyle Russell.

“We had some really difficult decisions to make,” head coach John Speraw said. “Team USA over the last four or five years has become deeper. The discussions about whom to take on this team involved the performances during VNL as well as what these players bring as teammates and competitors.”

Speraw led the team to the bronze medal in 2016. He will be joined in Tokyo by assistant coaches Brian Thornton, a 2012 Olympian, Matt Fuerbringer, a former beach player, and Mike Wall, who with Fuerbringer also held the role in Rio.

The last time the U.S. men won back-to-back Olympic medals was when they claimed two golds and a bronze from 1984 to 1992.

They continued a medal-winning trajectory after Rio, collecting bronze medals at the 2018 World Championship, 2018 VNL and 2019 World Cup, plus the silver at the 2019 VNL.

Returning to play this year following the pandemic, however, has led to a tumultuous season.

Still ranked third in the world behind Brazil and Poland, the U.S. is currently 10th in the VNL standings with a 4-5 record. Six matches remain before the Final.

Anderson returned to national team play on June 4 for the first time in 21 months.

The U.S. men begin Olympic play on July 24, a day after the Opening Ceremony, with their first Pool B game against world No. 4 France.

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Iga Swiatek sweeps into French Open final, where she faces a surprise


Iga Swiatek marched into the French Open final without dropping a set in six matches. All that stands between her and a third Roland Garros title is an unseeded foe.

Swiatek plays 43rd-ranked Czech Karolina Muchova in the women’s singles final, live Saturday at 9 a.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.

Swiatek, the top-ranked Pole, swept 14th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 6-2, 7-6 (7) in Thursday’s semifinal in her toughest test all tournament. Haddad Maia squandered three break points at 4-all in the second set.

Swiatek dropped just 23 games thus far, matching her total en route to her first French Open final in 2020 (which she won for her first WTA Tour title of any kind). After her semifinal, she signed a courtside camera with the hashtag #stepbystep.

“For sure I feel like I’m a better player,” than in 2020, she said. “Mentally, tactically, physically, just having the experience, everything. So, yeah, my whole life basically.”

Swiatek can become the third woman since 2000 to win three French Opens after Serena Williams and Justine Henin and, at 22, the youngest woman to win four total majors since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Muchova upset No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus to reach her first major final.

Muchova, a 26-year-old into the second week of the French Open for the first time, became the first player to take a set off the powerful Belarusian all tournament, then rallied from down 5-2 in the third set to prevail 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 7-5.

Sabalenka, who overcame previous erratic serving to win the Australian Open in January, had back-to-back double faults in her last service game.

“Lost my rhythm,” she said. “I wasn’t there.”

Muchova broke up what many expected would be a Sabalenka-Swiatek final, which would have been the first No. 1 vs. No. 2 match at the French Open since Williams beat Maria Sharapova in the 2013 final.

Muchova is unseeded, but was considered dangerous going into the tournament.

In 2021, she beat then-No. 1 Ash Barty to make the Australian Open semifinals, then reached a career-high ranking of 19. She dropped out of the top 200 last year while struggling through injuries.

“Some doctors told me maybe you’ll not do sport anymore,” Muchova said. “It’s up and downs in life all the time. Now I’m enjoying that I’m on the upper part now.”

Muchova has won all five of her matches against players ranked in the top three. She also beat Swiatek in their lone head-to-head, but that was back in 2019 when both players were unaccomplished young pros. They have since practiced together many times.

“I really like her game, honestly,” Swiatek said. “I really respect her, and she’s I feel like a player who can do anything. She has great touch. She can also speed up the game. She plays with that kind of freedom in her movements. And she has a great technique. So I watched her matches, and I feel like I know her game pretty well.”

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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. He can also become the first man to win all four majors at least three times and, at 36, the oldest French Open men’s or women’s singles champion.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Women’s Draw

Djokovic took out No. 1 seed Carlos Alcaraz in the semifinals, advancing to a final against 2022 French Open runner-up Casper Ruud of Norway.

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