A month after Olympic gold, Bencic and Zverev both reach U.S. Open quarterfinals

2021 US Open - Day 8
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NEW YORK — Alexander Zverev and Belinda Bencic want a trophy in their hands to go with the gold medals they had around their necks.

The Tokyo Olympics tennis champions both moved into the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open on Monday, getting a step closer to their first Grand Slam titles.

Zverev beat Jannik Sinner 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7) for his 15th straight victory. The No. 4 seed from Germany started that run in Japan, carried it through a title in Cincinnati and then kept right on going at the U.S. Open, where he was the runner-up to Dominic Thiem last year.

“I’m happy where I am, I’m happy with how things are, and I’m happy with how things were the last few months,” Zverev said. “I’m in the quarterfinals now, and from here on, the matches will definitely not get easier.”

Zverev said his gold medal is with him in New York. The 24-year-old, who has been accused by a former girlfriend of domestic abuse, joked in his on-court interview that he cuddles with the medal when he’s in bed because he doesn’t have a girlfriend.

He said keeping the medal with him is a way to remind himself of his success over the last month. He pointed to the confidence he’s gained from it as a reason he pulled out a couple of close games late in the second set, then came from behind to take the tiebreaker.

“I think that’s maybe the last few months for me, right there,” he said.

Bencic also had her best result in a major at the U.S. Open, reaching the semifinals in 2019 in her last appearance. The 24-year-old from Switzerland is a victory away from getting back there after beating 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek 7-6 (12), 6-3.

The 11th-seeded Bencic pulled out the lengthy first-set tiebreaker, then took the second set in 43 minutes — only about 20 more than the tiebreaker lasted.

“The set was so even, so I think in the tiebreak it’s always a little bit about luck,” Bencic said.

But luck doesn’t explain her results in New York, where she has reached the last eight in three of her six appearances. She was a quarterfinalist in 2014 in her debut.

Bencic will play Britain’s Emma Raducanu, who joined fellow 18-year-old Leylah Fernandez in the women’s quarterfinals by beating American Shelby Rogers 6-2, 6-1.

Raducanu reached the fourth round and Wimbledon and has now gone a step further at the year’s last Grand Slam tournament. She is the third qualifier in the professional era, which began in 1968, to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinals, joining Barbara Gerken in 1981 and Kaia Kanepi in 2017.

“Belinda is a great player who’s in great form, so I know I’m going to have to bring it on Wednesday,” Raducanu said.

Rogers beat No. 1 Ash Barty in the third round and jumped to a 2-0 lead Monday before Raducanu reeled off the next 11 games.

Zverev’s winning streak includes a victory over Novak Djokovic in the semifinals at the Olympics. He hit 17 aces Monday and will play South African Lloyd Harris, who eliminated No. 22-seeded American Reilly Opelka 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-1, 6-3.

“Winning Olympics, winning Cincinnati, and now here he’s playing well, so I think he’s serving well,” Sinner said.

The top-ranked Djokovic was in action later Monday against 20-year-old American Jenson Brooksby in the same stage where he was eliminated at last year’s U.S. Open.

It was in the fourth round that Djokovic was defaulted for accidentally hitting a line judge in the throat with a tennis ball after dropping a game in his match against Pablo Carreño Busta.

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IOC gives more time to pick 2030 Olympic host, studies rotating Winter Games

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The 2030 Winter Olympic host, expected to be Salt Lake City or Sapporo, Japan, is no longer targeted to be decided before next fall, the IOC said in announcing wider discussions into the future of the Winter Games, including the possibility of rotating the Games within a pool of hosts.

The IOC Future Host Commission was granted more time to study factors, including climate change, that could impact which cities and regions host future Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The 2030 Winter Games host is not expected to be decided before or at an IOC session next September or October.

Hosts have traditionally been chosen by IOC members vote seven years before the Games, though recent reforms allow flexibility on the process and timeline. For example, the 2024 and 2028 Games were awarded to Paris and Los Angeles in a historic double award in 2017. The 2032 Summer Games were awarded to Brisbane last year without a traditional bid race.

Italy hosts the 2026 Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

There are three interested parties for the 2030 Winter Olympics, the IOC said Tuesday without naming them. Previously, Salt Lake City, Sapporo and Vancouver were confirmed as bids. Then in October, the British Columbia government said it would not support a Vancouver bid, a major setback, though organizers did not say that decision ended the bid. All three cities are attractive as past Winter Games hosts with existing venues.

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee officials have said Salt Lake City is a likelier candidate for 2034 than 2030, but could step in for 2030 if asked.

The future host commission outlined proposals for future Winter Olympics, which included rotating hosts within a pool of cities or regions and a requirement that hosts have an average minimum temperature below freezing (32 degrees) for snow competition venues at the time of the Games over a 10-year period.

The IOC Executive Board gave the commission more time to study the proposals and other factors impacting winter sports.

The IOC board also discussed and will continue to explore a potential double awarding of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Olympic hosts.

Also Tuesday, the IOC board said that Afghanistan participation in the 2024 Olympics will depend on making progress in safe access to sports for women and young girls in the country.

On Monday, Human Rights Watch urged the IOC to suspend Afghanistan until women and girls can play sport in the country.

In a press release, the IOC board expressed “serious concern and strongly condemned the latest restrictions imposed by the Afghan authorities on women and young girls in Afghanistan, which prevent them from practicing sport in the country.” It urged Afghanistan authorities to “take immediate action at the highest level to reverse such restrictions and ensure safe access to sport for women and young girls.”

The IOC board also announced that North Korea’s National Olympic Committee will be reinstated when its suspension is up at the end of the year.

In September 2021, the IOC banned the North Korean NOC through the end of 2022, including banning a North Korean delegation from participating in the Beijing Winter Games, after it chose not to participate in the Tokyo Games.

North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was the only one of 206 National Olympic Committees to withdraw from Tokyo. The country made its choice in late March 2021, citing a desire “to protect our athletes from the global health crisis caused by the malicious virus infection.”

The IOC said in September 2021 that it “provided reassurances for the holding of safe Games and offered constructive proposals to find an appropriate and tailor-made solution until the very last minute (including the provision of vaccines), which were systematically rejected by the PRK NOC.”

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Olympic champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe leaves moguls for another skiing discipline

Justine Dufour-Lapointe
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Justine Dufour-Lapointe, the 2014 Olympic moguls champion, is leaving the event to compete in freeriding, a non-Olympic skiing discipline.

“After three Olympic cycles and 12 years on the World Cup circuit, I felt that I needed to find a new source of motivation and had to push my limits even more so I can reach my full potential as a skier,” the 28-year-old Montreal native said in a social media video, according to a translation from French. “Today, I am starting a new chapter in my career. … I want to perfect myself in another discipline. I want to connect with the mountain differently. Above all, I want to get out of my comfort zone in a way I’ve never done before.”

Dufour-Lapointe said she will compete on the Freeride World Tour, a series of judged competitions described as:

There‘s a start gate at the summit and a finish gate at the bottom. That’s it. Best run down wins. It truly is that simple. Think skiers and snowboarders choosing impossible-looking lines through cornices and cliff-faces and nasty couloirs. Think progressive: big jumps, mach-speed turns and full-on attack. Think entertaining.

Dufour-Lapointe has retired from moguls skiing, according to a Freeride World Tour press release, though she did not explicitly say that in social media posts Tuesday.

At the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Dufour-Lapointe denied American Hannah Kearney‘s bid to become the first freestyle skier to repeat as Olympic champion. Older sister Chloé took silver in a Canadian one-two.

Dufour-Lapointe also won the world title in 2015, then Olympic silver in 2018 behind Frenchwoman Perrine Laffont.

Chloé announced her retirement in September. A third Dufour-Lapointe Olympic moguls skier, Maxime, retired in 2018.

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