Hubbell/Donohue nearing in on fourth Skate America win, but Chock/Bates nipping at their heels

ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating - Skate America
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LAS VEGAS — After nearly an entire figure skating season without crowds – thanks to Covid-19 – the raucous applause and partial standing ovations at the Orleans Arena are what stood out the most to the top ice dancers.

“The thing that sticks out in my mind from this performance was really being aware while it was happening of how the crowd was reacting,” Madison Hubbell, who leads with partner Zachary Donohue following the rhythm dance at Skate America, said. “Very often we feel that energy come through at the bow or at the end of the performance. I would say this wasn’t the most applause we’ve gotten ever, but it felt like it. I really noticed it at the entry of our lifts. It was very welcome after a year of mostly silence.”

Hubbell and Donohue are halfway to their fourth consecutive Skate America victory in as many years. U.S. teammates and training mates Madison Chock and Evan Bates are nipping at their heels, though.

“You could really feel the crowd’s energy,” Chock also commented. “We had a wonderful time performing for each other, but also for the crowd because they were just so receptive to what we were giving to them and it was great to hear the response. When they clap along to your music, it’s the best feeling.”

In a season of hip-hop and blues rhythm dances, Hubbell and Donohue’s Janet Jackson medley to “Nasty,” “Rope Burn” and “Rhythm Nation” garnered 83.58 points.

Chock and Bates’ Billie Eillish program to “My Boy,” “Therefore I Am” and “Bad Guy” scored 82.55.

The Canadian team of Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorenson are in third after their George Michael medley – which included “Careless Whisper,” “I Want Your Sex” and “Freedom! ’90” – earned 75.33 points.

After living in Canada for 11 years and skating for the nation since the 2018-2019 season, Sorenson officially became a citizen on Aug. 10 of this year, making him and Fournier Beaudry eligible to be one of three Canadian ice dance teams selected for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

“It’s nice to have that weight off my shoulders because it was definitely stressful” Sorenson said. “I did the swearing in on Zoom. … I cried.”

All three of the top teams’ scores were less than what they earned earlier in the season at lower-level competitions.

Hubbell and Donohue scored 0.48 points higher to win the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic, Chock and Bates 1.17 at their silver-medal performance to four-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron at Finlandia Trophy and Fournier Beaudry and Sorenson 1.31 better when they took silver at Lombardia Trophy.

“I would say that coming in to this competition and seeing some of the levels that were given at Finlandia last week, we were kind of expecting a very tough panel [of judges],” Hubbell said when asked about the judging in Vegas. “Zach and I, in going to Skate America, there were a few things we wanted to use to our advantage for experience. One being some of the panel being back for the Olympics, and also competing against Madison and Evan so early, which is not our typical course of events.”

Hubbell and Donohue and Chock and Bates have been among the top ice dance teams in the country and the world since both pairs teamed up before the 2011-2012 season. They typically meet for the first time on the ice at the Grand Prix Final in December.

“We definitely left a lot of points on the table,” Hubbell added. “We’re hoping with those extra technical points we can get closer to 90.”

The winning rhythm dance scores at the last two world championships was 88.42 and 88.15.

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2023 French Open men’s singles draw, scores

French Open Men's Draw
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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 could meet in the 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

Coco Gauff, Iga Swiatek set French Open rematch

Coco Gauff French Open

Coco Gauff swept into the French Open quarterfinals, where she plays Iga Swiatek in a rematch of last year’s final.

Gauff, the sixth seed, beat 100th-ranked Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 7-5, 6-2 in the fourth round. She next plays the top seed Swiatek, who later Monday advanced after 66th-ranked Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko retired down 5-1 after taking a medical timeout due to illness.

Gauff earned a 37th consecutive win over a player ranked outside the top 50, dating to February 2022. She hasn’t faced a player in the world top 60 in four matches at Roland Garros, but the degree of difficulty ratchets up in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.

Swiatek won all 12 sets she’s played against Gauff, who at 19 is the only teenager in the top 49 in the world. Gauff said last week that there’s no point in revisiting last year’s final — a 6-1, 6-3 affair — but said Monday that she should rewatch that match because they haven’t met on clay since.

“I don’t want to make the final my biggest accomplishment,” she said. “Since last year I have been wanting to play her, especially at this tournament. I figured that it was going to happen, because I figured I was going to do well, and she was going to do well.

“The way my career has gone so far, if I see a level, and if I’m not quite there at that level, I know I have to improve, and I feel like you don’t really know what you have to improve on until you see that level.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Also Monday, No. 7 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia dispatched 36th-ranked American Bernarda Pera 6-3, 6-1, breaking all eight of Pera’s service games.

Jabeur, runner-up at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year, has now reached the quarterfinals of all four majors.

Jabeur next faces 14th-seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia, who won 6-7 (3), 6-3, 7-5 over Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo, who played on a protected ranking of 68. Haddad Maia became the second Brazilian woman to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal in the Open Era (since 1968) after Maria Bueno, who won seven majors from 1959-1966.

Pera, a 28 year-old born in Croatia, was the oldest U.S. singles player to make the fourth round of a major for the first time since Jill Craybas at 2005 Wimbledon. Her defeat left Gauff as the lone American singles player remaining out of the 35 entered in the main draws.

The last American to win a major singles title was Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought matches the longest in history (since 1877) for American men and women combined.

In the men’s draw, 2022 French Open runner-up Casper Ruud reached the quarterfinals by beating 35th-ranked Chilean Nicolas Jarry 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-5. He’ll next play sixth seed Holger Rune of Denmark, a 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7) winner over 23rd seed Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina.

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