Stephen Nedoroscik wins U.S.’ first pommel horse world title


Stephen Nedoroscik did what no American has before him: win a world title on pommel horse.

The 22-year-old gymnast’s accomplishment on Saturday night in Kitakyushu, Japan, was notable for several reasons:

Of the six men’s artistic gymnastics events, the U.S. has long been weakest on pommel horse. Its only previous world medals on the apparatus are Kurt Thomas‘ silver in 1979 and Sasha Artemev‘s 2006 bronze.

Nedoroscik’s win came in a pommel horse final that, somewhat shockingly, included two Americans.

The U.S. last won a men’s world title in any event 10 years ago when Danell Leyva topped the parallel bars podium.

This was Nedoroscik’s first world championships and the biggest meet of his career to date.

Perhaps most significant, he wasn’t wearing the trademark goggles he has worn at every competition since receiving them during in a Secret Santa gift exchange his freshman year at Penn State.

He forgot them, Nedoroscik told media in Kitakyushu.

“I’m kind of in shock now,” Nedoroscik said, according to the Associated Press. “I’m so proud of what I did, all the odds were against me coming here. I’ve always thought a gold medal would be possible for me. I’ve always had confidence in myself.”

As the penultimate athlete to go in the final, Nedoroscik scored 15.266 points; he had the highest execution at 8.766.

China’s Weng Hao and Japan’s Kazuma Kaya tied for silver, earning 14.9 points.

Kaya earned the Olympic bronze medal this summer in Tokyo. The Olympic gold and silver medalists, Great Britain’s Max Whitlock and Lee Chih-kai of Chinese Taipei, did not compete at worlds.

U.S. Olympian Alec Yoder was fifth with a score of 14.766, losing a tiebreaker to Kazakhstan’s Nariman Kurbanov.

Yoder was selected to the Olympic team over Nedoroscik for a sole specialist spot this summer; he was sixth in Tokyo.

Both Americans scored higher in qualification on Wednesday when Nedoscik’s 15.366 was second and Yoder’s 15.3 third. Weng qualified in first with 15.6 points.

Olympic all-around silver medalist and vault world champion Rebecca Andrade of Brazil was arguably the most successful gymnast in Saturday’s finals.

The 22-year-old had the top score on vault with a two-vault 14.966 average for her first world title. Italian Asia D’Amato was second and all-around world champion Angelina Melnikova of Russia third.

Later in the night, Andrade was second on uneven bars, beating China’s Luo Rui in the tiebreaker. Luo’s teammate Wei Xiaoyuan won gold with 0.1 advantage.

Italy earned three men’s medals in the remaining two finals.

Nicola Bartolini won floor exercise for his country’s first world title on the apparatus, followed by Kazuki Minami of Japan and Finland’s Emil Soravuo. It was the first world medal for all three.

China’s Lan Xingyu won still rings. Marco Lodadio of Italy took silver for his third consecutive world medal in the event. Teammate Salvatore Maresca and Russian Grigory Klimentev tied for bronze; they had the same difficulty and execution scores.

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Taylor Fritz becomes crowd enemy at French Open

Taylor Fritz French Open

The French Open crowd was not happy with American player Taylor Fritz after he beat one of their own — indeed, their last man in the bracket — so they booed and whistle relentlessly. Fritz’s response? He told them to shush. Over and over again.

Fritz, a 25-year-old from California who is seeded No. 9 at Roland Garros, got into a back-and-forth with the fans at Court Suzanne Lenglen after his 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 comeback victory over 78th-ranked Arthur Rinderknech in the second round on Thursday night.

Rinderknech attempted a lob that landed long on the last point, and Fritz, who had been running toward the baseline to chase the ball, immediately looked up into the stands and pressed his right index finger to his lips to say, essentially, “Hush!”

He held that pose for a bit as he headed back toward the net for a postmatch handshake, then spread his arms wide, wind-milled them a bit as if to egg on the rowdiness, and yelled: “Come on! I want to hear it!”

During the customary winner’s on-court interview that followed, more jeers rained down on Fritz, and 2013 Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli kept pausing her attempts to ask a question into her microphone.

So Fritz again said, “Shhhhh!” and put his finger toward his mouth, while Bartoli unsuccessfully tried to get the spectators to lower their decibel level.

More boos. More whistles.

And the awkwardness continued as both Bartoli and a stadium announcer kept saying, “S’il vous plaît” — “Please!” — to no avail, while Fritz stood there with his arms crossed.

A few U.S. supporters with signs and flags drew Fritz’s attention from the front row, and he looked over and said to them, “I love you guys.”

But the interview was still on hold.

Bartoli tried asking a question in English, which only served to draw more boos.

So Fritz told her he couldn’t hear her. Bartoli moved closer and finally got out a query — but it didn’t seem to matter what her words were.

Fritz, who has been featured on the Netflix docuseries about tennis called “Break Point,” had his hands on his hips and a message on his mind — one reminiscent of Daniil Medvedev’s contretemps with fans at the 2019 U.S. Open.

“I came out and the crowd was so great honestly. Like, the crowd was just so great,” Fritz said, as folks tried to drown out his voice. “They cheered so well for me, I wanted to make sure that I won. Thanks, guys.”

And with that, he exited the stage.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

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French Open: Coco Gauff to face younger opponent for first time at a Grand Slam

Coco Gauff French Open

Coco Gauff‘s first 49 Grand Slam main draw singles matches were all against older opponents. Her 50th will be against a younger one.

The sixth-seeded Gauff reached the French Open third round by beating 61st-ranked Austrian Julia Grabher 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday. Gauff, 19, next plays 16-year-old Russian Mirra Andreeva in the round of 32 on Saturday.

“I don’t see age as a factor,” said Gauff, who has practiced with Andreeva. “When you step on the court, you just see your opponent, and you don’t really think about the personal side of things. You just see forehand, backhand, serve, and all the same.”

Gauff made her major debut at age 15 in 2019 by beating Venus Williams at Wimbledon. In her 15 majors, Gauff has usually been the youngest male or female singles player, including most recently at 2022 Wimbledon. She is still the lone teenager in the WTA top 49.

But that may soon change. Youngsters from the Czech Republic and Russia are on the rise. Such as Andreeva, who, at No. 143 in the world and climbing, is the highest-ranked player under the age of 18. And she doesn’t turn 17 until next April. Andreeva dropped just six games in her first two matches, fewest of any woman.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

But Gauff is still in a class of her own among her generation, having at last year’s French Open become the youngest major finalist since Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon at 17. She somehow flew somewhat under the radar into Paris this year with a 4-4 record this spring and in between full-time coaches.

She has now won back-to-back matches for the first time since March, rallying past 71st-ranked Spaniard Rebeka Masarova in the first round and then dispatching an error-prone Grabher, a runner-up at a low-level clay event last week.

The other three seeds in Gauff’s section have all lost, so she would not play a seed until the quarterfinals. And that would be No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who has won all 12 sets they’ve played, including in last year’s French Open final.

“I lost that final, and like for like a week or two, I really thought it was the worst thing ever,” Gauff said. “There’s no point in me revisiting last year. It’s in the past. It was a great tournament, but I’m looking forward for more this week.”

While the men’s draw has been upended by 14-time champion Rafael Nadal‘s pre-event withdrawal and No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev‘s loss in the first round, the top women have taken care of business.

The top four seeds — Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, American Jessica Pegula and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan — all reached the third round without dropping a set.

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