Mai Murakami wins world title, announces retirement as gymnastics worlds ends


Mai Murakami won an Olympic medal and two world championship medals in under three months — and then retired.

The 25-year-old Japanese gymnast announced she had ended her career after medaling in both women’s event finals held Sunday, the final day of the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships.

With the Olympics held in Tokyo, where she took bronze on floor exercise, and worlds in Kitakyushu, she went out with some of her greatest accomplishments taking place in her home country.

Already the 2017 world champion on floor and 2018 world all-around silver medalist, Murakami added the balance beam bronze and another floor title to her resume before calling it a career.

Eighteen-year-old Olympic teammate Urara Ashikawa won the beam gold with a score of 14.1, followed by Germany’s Pauline Schaefer-Betz, who won it four years prior, with 13.8 and Murakami’s 13.733.

American Leanne Wong, the all-around silver medalist earlier in the meet, was 0.4 off the podium in fourth. All-around bronze medalist Kayla DiCello was eighth.

Murakami later won floor gold with a score of 14.066 and the greatest difficulty, 15.8, in the final. All-around world champion Angelina Melnikova, representing the Russian Gymnastics Federation while Russia is banned from world championship events, took silver (14.0) for her third medal in Kitakyushu while Wong also returned to the podium with a score of 13.833. DiCello was fifth (13.633).

Carlos Yulo won the first men’s final of the night, adding a vault gold medal to his 2019 floor one. The Filipino’s win marked the first for his nation on vault. His 14.916 two-vault average topped Japan’s Hidenobu Yonekura (14.866) and Andrey Medvedev (14.649) of Israel, both winning their first world medals – the latter at 31.

China’s Hu Xuwei then won the final two men’s world titles, the first of his career, becoming the only two-time 2021 world champion.

His parallel bars routine scored 15.466 points, ahead of Yulo’s 15.3 and Shi Cong‘s 15.066. American Yul Moldauer, who was fourth in the all-around, was fifth with 15.0.

Hu’s high bar score of 15.166 beat out Olympic all-around champion Daiki Hashimoto (15.066) and 21-year-old Brody Malone of the U.S. (14.966), who won a tiebreaker over fourth place Carlo Macchini of Italy.

Hashimoto leaves worlds with all-around silver and high bar silver after taking gold in both events in Tokyo, plus team silver.

Malone, a relative unknown before this year, ends his long 2021 campaign with the NCAA all-around, high bar and team titles, U.S. Championships all-around and vault wins, all-around and high bar victories at Olympic Trials, fourth place on high bar at the Tokyo Olympics and now a world medal on the apparatus.

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Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz exit French Open, leaving no U.S. men

Frances Tiafoe French Open

Frances Tiafoe kept coming oh so close to extending his French Open match against Alexander Zverev: 12 times Saturday night, the American was two points from forcing things to a fifth set.

Yet the 12th-seeded Tiafoe never got closer than that.

Instead, the 22nd-seeded Zverev finished out his 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-1, 7-6 (5) victory after more than 3 1/2 hours in Court Philippe Chatrier to reach the fourth round. With Tiafoe’s exit, none of the 16 men from the United States who were in the bracket at the start of the tournament are still in the field.

“I mean, for the majority of the match, I felt like I was in control,” said Tiafoe, a 25-year-old from Maryland who fell to 1-7 against Zverev.

“It’s just tough,” he said about a half-hour after his loss ended, rubbing his face with his hand. “I should be playing the fifth right now.”

Two other American men lost earlier Saturday: No. 9 seed Taylor Fritz and unseeded Marcos Giron.

No. 23 Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina beat Fritz 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5, and Nicolas Jarry of Chile eliminated Giron 6-2, 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-3.

There are three U.S women remaining: No. 6 Coco Gauff, Sloane Stephens and Bernarda Pera.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

It is the second year in a row that zero men from the United States will participate in the fourth round at Roland Garros. If nothing else, it stands as a symbolic step back for the group after what seemed to be a couple of breakthrough showings at the past two majors.

For Tiafoe, getting to the fourth round is never the goal.

“I want to win the trophy,” he said.

Remember: No American man has won any Grand Slam title since Andy Roddick at the 2003 U.S. Open. The French Open has been the least successful major in that stretch with no U.S. men reaching the quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003.

But Tiafoe beat Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of the U.S. Open along the way to getting to the semifinals there last September, the first time in 16 years the host nation had a representative in the men’s final four at Flushing Meadows.

Then, at the Australian Open this January, Tommy Paul, Sebastian Korda and Ben Shelton became the first trio of Americans in the men’s quarterfinals in Melbourne since 2000. Paul made it a step beyond that, to the semifinals.

After that came this benchmark: 10 Americans were ranked in the ATP’s Top 50, something that last happened in June 1995.

On Saturday, after putting aside a whiffed over-the-shoulder volley — he leaned atop the net for a moment in disbelief — Tiafoe served for the fourth set at 5-3, but couldn’t seal the deal.

In that game, and the next, and later on, too, including at 5-all in the tiebreaker, he would come within two points of owning that set.

Each time, Zverev claimed the very next point. When Tiafoe sent a forehand wide to end it, Zverev let out two big yells. Then the two, who have been pals for about 15 years, met for a warm embrace at the net, and Zverev placed his hand atop Tiafoe’s head.

“He’s one of my best friends on tour,” said Zverev, a German who twice has reached the semifinals on the red clay of Paris, “but on the court, I’m trying to win.”

At the 2022 French Open, Zverev tore ligaments in his right ankle while playing Nadal in the semifinals and had to stop.

“It’s been definitely the hardest year of my life, that’s for sure,” Zverev said. “I love tennis more than anything in the world.”

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2023 French Open women’s singles draw, scores

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At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Having turned 22 on Wednesday, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, is her top remaining challenger in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula, the highest-seeded American man or woman, was eliminated in the third round. No. 4 Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, who has three wins over Swiatek this year, withdrew before her third-round match due to illness.

No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, is the best hope to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw