Naomi Osaka exits French Open in first round, may skip Wimbledon

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Naomi Osaka lost in the French Open first round, then said she may skip Wimbledon after the WTA and ATP tours announced last week they will not award ranking points because Wimbledon is barring Russia and Belarus players.

“I didn’t even make my decision yet, but I’m leaning more towards not playing given the current circumstances, but, you know, that might change,” Osaka said in an English answer to a question in Japanese that media on site reported to be about Wimbledon. “I’m not sure why, but I feel like if I play Wimbledon without points, it’s more like an exhibition. I know this isn’t true, right? But my brain just like feels that way. Whenever I think like something is like an exhibition, I just can’t go at it 100%.”

Osaka, a four-time major champion on hard courts, made the comments after losing 7-5, 6-4 to 27th-seeded American Amanda Anisimova in the marquee first-round match at Roland Garros.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Also Monday, the women’s bottom half of the draw was blown open. Upset: No. 2 seed and defending champion Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic (in her first match since February due to an elbow injury) and No. 5 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia. With No. 6 Ons Jabeur and No. 10 Garbine Muguruza ousted Sunday, one top-10 player is left in that half: No. 4 Maria Sakkari of Greece.

In the top half, No. 1 Iga Swiatek of Poland throttled Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko 6-2, 6-0 in 54 minutes for a 29th consecutive match win, the longest women’s streak in nine years.

Rafael Nadal began his bid for a record-extending 14th French Open title by sweeping Australian Jordan Thompson 6-2, 6-2, 6-2. Nadal next gets French wild card Corentin Moutet, who dispatched 2015 Roland Garros winner Stan Wawrinka 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-3. Novak Djokovic rolled Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan 6-3, 6-1, 6-0.

Osaka, unseeded after taking two breaks last year, struggled with her serve — eight double faults, first-serve percentage of 45 — and had 29 unforced errors to 13 winners.

On Wimbledon, Osaka said she expects more “back and forth” regarding the ranking points situation before she makes her final decision. The tournament starts June 27.

She also said she’s “a bit scared” about playing on grass after previously suffering an injury on the surface.

Osaka withdrew from the 2021 French Open before her second-round match. Back then, she announced that she suffered “long bouts of depression,” one day after tennis’ Grand Slams threatened disqualification or suspension if she continued to skip press conferences, as she had announced before the event, citing mental health.

“For the most part I think I’m OK,” Osaka said last week after deciding to do a pre-tournament press conference. “When I first came here, I was very worried. … I was worried that there were people that I offended some way and I would just kind of bump into them. But I think everyone has been really positive, for the most part.”

She entered Roland Garros with a lack of match prep on clay, including withdrawing from her last tournament with an Achilles injury.

“I tried really hard, and I just feel like it was a bit unfortunate because I wasn’t able to play as many matches leading into this tournament,” Osaka, who took a painkiller before the match and felt her Achilles in the second set, said Monday. “So there were probably some really bad decisions that I made on certain points, but I think overall I wasn’t too bad.”

The two-time U.S. Open and two-time Australian Open champion’s best result at the French was making the third round in 2016, 2018 and 2019. She has never beaten a player on clay ranked as high as Anisimova.

Anisimova, who broke through in 2019 to make the French Open semifinals at age 17, is at her best ranking since September 2020.

“It’s good going into this tournament knowing that I was so close back then and just having a very good run, so I know it’s in me,” Anisimova said.

She gets former top-20 player Donna Vekic of Croatia in the second round with Sakkari potentially waiting in the third.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup
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The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule, Results

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France 74, Mali 59 Group B
4 a.m. Australia 69, Serbia 54 Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada 70, Japan 56 Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium 85, Bosnia and Herzegovina 55 Group A
11:30 p.m. Serbia 81, Mali 68 Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA 145, South Korea 69 Group A
2 a.m. France 67, Japan 53 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 95, Puerto Rico 60 Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia 75, Canada 72 Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 92, South Korea 73 Group A
11:30 p.m. China 81, Belgium 55 Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA 121, Bosnia and Herzegovina 59 Group A
2 a.m. Canada 88, Mali 65 Group B
3:30 a.m. Serbia 68, France 62 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 71, Japan 54 Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. USA vs. Serbia Quarterfinals
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Canada vs. Puerto Rico Quarterfinals
4 a.m. China vs. France Quarterfinals
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Belgium Quarterfinals
Fri., Sept. 30 3 a.m. USA vs. Canada Semifinals
5:30 a.m. Australia vs. China Semifinals
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final

U.S. into FIBA World Cup semifinals after trailing, triple-double watch

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SYDNEY — Alyssa Thomas and her United States teammates were tested for the first time in the World Cup by a physical Serbia team.

After a slow start, the Americans used a dominant run spanning the half to take control of the game and reach the semifinals again.

Thomas had 13 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists to help the U.S. beat Serbia 88-55 in the quarterfinals of the women’s World Cup on Thursday.

“I think you expect every team’s best punch in the first quarter,” Thomas said. “We just had to settle into the game and once we settled in, then we were really able to break away.”

Kelsey Plum scored 17 points and A’ja Wilson added 15 to lead the Americans (6-0) into the semifinals.

“They played super physical, more physical than we’ve seen the entire tournament,” Plum said. “Credit to them. I felt that early-on their pressure bothered us a little bit, but we were able to kind of get under control.”

MORE: FIBA World Cup Schedule, Results

The Americans had run through pool play, winning by 46.2 points per game and hadn’t faced any kind of challenge. Serbia (3-2) wasn’t afraid though, going right at the U.S. The Serbians scored the first basket of the game — marking the first time the Americans trailed in the tournament.

It was back-and-forth for the first 17 minutes, with the U.S. failing to go on any major run. Then, with 2:59 left in the half and the U.S. up by five, Kahleah Copper drove to the basket and was fouled. She landed hard on her hip and had to be helped off the court by the U.S. training staff. Copper, who has been a sparkplug for the U.S. in her first tournament, didn’t return.

“It’s too early to tell,” Reeve said of the extent of Copper’s injury. “We’re getting her some imaging and we’ll have information later.”

Plum replaced Cooper and hit the two free throws, starting a 12-0 run to close the half as the Americans led 50-33 at the break. Thomas had 13 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals in the opening 20 minutes.

The U.S. extended its run to 20 straight points in the third quarter before Serbia finally ended a nearly 8 1/2 minutes drought with a 3-pointer by Yvonne Anderson. That cut the deficit to 22 points. Serbia didn’t get much closer after that.

Anderson led Serbia with 14 points.

Betnijah Laney went down hard early in the fourth quarter on a put-back. She left the game and sat on the bench for the rest of the game.

“She took a hard fall,” Reeve said. “She was in the locker room afterwards and I think in her case it was a little more of it took the wind out of her.”

The victory was the 28th in a row in World Cup play for the Americans, who haven’t lost since the 2006 semifinals against Russia. The Soviet Union holds the World Cup record with 56 straight wins from 1959-86.

After going unbeaten in pool play again, the U.S. reached at least the semifinals for the 12th consecutive tournament, dating to 1975. That year completed a cycle in which the Americans lost 14 games combined in four tournaments. They’ve only lost five games since.

PICASSO IT WAS NOT

The U.S. had dominated the paint even without Brittney Griner, outscoring its opponents by an average of 60.8-24.4 in pool play. Serbia held a 20-16 advantage at the half and ended up outscoring the Americans 28-26 in the game by constantly having two or three players inside to clog up the middle.

“It’s one of those things you got to live with,” Wilson said. “Hopefully these next couple of games we can get back to owning the paint. Serbia did a great job of locking it down.

TRIPLE-DOUBLE WATCH

Thomas, who had a triple-double in each of the last two games in the WNBA Finals, fell just short again of getting the first one at the World Cup since Erika Dobrovicova in 1994 for the Slovak Republic against Spain. Assists and rebounds weren’t kept before 1994. Thomas had 14 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in the opener against Belgium.

TIP-INS

Jewell Loyd returned to the U.S. starting lineup a game after resting according to the team. She had eight points.

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