U.S. Classic ramps up gymnastics season; TV, live stream schedule

Leanne Wong

As U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team members from Tokyo deliberate returns to elite competition, this Saturday is an opportunity for the next generation to springboard toward August’s national championships and this fall’s world championships.

Leanne Wong, an Olympic alternate who won last October’s world championships all-around silver medal, headlines the U.S. Classic, the primary lead-up meet for the Aug. 18-21 national championships, live on CNBC and streaming on NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.

Women compete Saturday just outside Salt Lake City. The men, including Olympians Brody Malone, Yul Moldauer and Shane Wiskus, plus world pommel horse champion Stephen Nedoroscik, compete Sunday.

Top gymnasts often use the Classic to fine-tune routines ahead of the national championships, after which teams are named for worlds.

None of last year’s Olympic women’s team members are entered in Classic, though Suni LeeJade Carey and Jordan Chiles (who all compete collegiately now) said this year that they plan to return to elite, Olympic-level competition at some point before the 2024 Paris Games.

So the spotlight Saturday will be on Wong after fellow 2021 World Championships team members Kayla DiCello and Konnor McClain withdrew earlier this week. Wong, eighth in the all-around at Olympic Trials, was one of four alternates to the six-woman team in Tokyo.

Wong spent most of her Olympic experience in quarantine after roommate Kara Eaker tested positive for COVID-19. Three months later, she earned all-around silver at worlds with a score that would have placed fifth in Tokyo.

Comparing scores between those two meets isn’t quite apples to apples, but consider that Wong finished between the Olympic bronze medalist (Angelina Melnikova) and Olympic fourth-place finisher (Vladislava Urazova). The Olympic gold and silver medalists Lee and Rebeca Andrade didn’t compete in the all-around at worlds.

Wong, 18, then matriculated at the University of Florida, where she shared second in the all-around at the SEC Championships and placed fifth at the NCAA Championships as a freshman.

Later this summer, Wong will be one of the primary contenders for a spot on the five-woman world team, likely along with DiCello and McClain. So may Katelyn Jong, the 2021 U.S. junior all-around champion who moved up to senior this year, and Shilese Jones, who was 10th at Olympic Trials. Both are entered at Classic.

Classic has been a turning or launching point for star gymnasts in the past. In 2013, Simone Biles was pulled from Classic by her coach after two falls, then went on an eight-year all-around win streak surrounding a two-year break from competition from 2016-18. Her comeback meet in 2018? U.S. Classic.

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2022 U.S. Classic Broadcast Schedule

Day Event Time (ET) Platform
Saturday Junior Women 2:30-4:30 p.m. CNBC | STREAM LINK | Peacock
Senior Women 7-9 p.m. CNBC | STREAM LINK | Peacock
Sunday Men 3-5 p.m. CNBC | STREAM LINK | Peacock
Sat., Aug. 6 Highlights* 4-5 p.m. NBC | STREAM LINK

*Delayed broadcast

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