French Open draw parts for Coco Gauff, Amanda Anisimova

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Iga Swiatek may be the overwhelming French Open favorite, but the seeds keeping dropping on the other half of the draw. That leaves Americans Coco Gauff and Amanda Anisimova as two leading contenders to make the final.

Gauff, the No. 18 seed who celebrated her high school graduation at the Eiffel Tower last week, won her first two matches in straight sets. She defeated Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck on Wednesday 6-1, 7-6 (4) to reach a third round match with Kaia Kanepi of Estonia.

Going by pre-tournament odds, Gauff is the top remaining player in the bottom half of the draw. That’s because No. 4 Maria Sakkari, the lone top-10 player in the bottom half who made it out of the first round, lost her second round match to Czech Karolina Muchova 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4).

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But the new favorite in the bottom half, based on the first two rounds, is a different American. The 27th seed Anisimova, who made the 2019 French Open semifinals at age 17, beat Naomi Osaka in the first round and then, on Wednesday, swept Croatian veteran Donna Vekic 6-4, 6-1. Anisimova gets Muchova in the third round.

Emma Raducanu, who won the U.S. Open out of qualifying, was another high seed to get bounced from the bottom half. The 47th-ranked Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus took out the 12 seed 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 on Wednesday.

The top remaining seed in the bottom half is No. 14 Belinda Bencic, who beat 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu 6-2, 6-4 in the second round later on Wednesday.

The bottom half already lost No. 2 Barbara Krejcikova, No. 5 Anett Kontaveit, No. 6 Ons Jabeur and No. 10 Garbine Muguruza in the first round.

All of the top 24 seeds in the top half advanced out of round one, led by top seed Swiatek, who is on a 29-match win streak.

Also Wednesday, No. 3 men’s seed Alexander Zverev saved a match point in the fifth set of a 2-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 7-5 win over 36th-ranked Argentine Sebastian Baez.

No. 1 Novak Djokovic swept 38th-ranked Alex Molcan of Slovakia 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (4). Molcan is coached by Djokovic’s former coach Marian Vajda.

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch
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Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

Kyle Smaine
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Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”