New York City Marathon preview: U.S. stars are underdogs to cap epic marathon season

Galen Rupp

The fall marathon season already produced the men’s world record, the second-fastest women’s time ever and the women’s American record. And it’s not over yet.

The New York City Marathon, the world’s largest annual major marathon with more than 50,000 finishers (before COVID-19 restriction years), is Sunday.

New York City produces fewer record times due to the hilly course and lack of pacers. The world’s top marathoners, including world record holders Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, are absent.

But it once again has the most decorated American fields of the fall marathons.

It could find a way to deliver a newsworthy follow-up to September’s Berlin Marathon, where Kipchoge lowered his world record by 30 seconds, and October’s Chicago Marathon, where Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich missed the women’s world record by 14 seconds and Emily Sisson took 43 seconds off the American record.

Galen Rupp, a two-time Olympic medalist and the last American man to win a major marathon (Chicago 2017), makes his debut in the five-borough race.

Rupp, 36, placed 19th in July’s world championships in his native Oregon, stopping four or five times in the last several miles while not at his best physically. He missed training time before worlds due to a herniated disk and pinched nerve in his back. He said Thursday that he feels a lot better now but sometimes has a “bad day.”

“My leg just doesn’t work right sometimes,” Rupp said at a press conference, referencing his nerve problems. “Those are the days where it’s like, we’ve got to just back off, do some more exercises, stretch things out, get it treated. … It sounds bad, I guess, when I’m hearing myself talk about it right now, but things have really, the last couple of weeks, have been going all right.”

The last U.S. male runner to win New York City was Meb Keflezighi in 2009. This race includes four of the five fastest active American men (Rupp, Leonard Korir, Scott Fauble and Abdi Abdirahman, a 45-year-old, five-time Olympian in his final marathon.)

The favorites are Kenyans Evans Chebet, the reigning Boston Marathon champion, and Albert Korir, the defending New York City champion. Kenyan men won the first five annual major marathons this year (Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago) and on Sunday can complete the first sweep since 2011 (before Tokyo was added as a major).

U.S. women face similar long odds at a win, but their chances improved on Oct. 14. That’s when defending champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya withdrew citing an unspecified injury. On the same day as that announcement, Keira D’Amato, the second-fastest American in history, was announced as a field addition.

Still, the favorites are Kenyans (Hellen Obiri, a two-time Olympic 5000m silver medalist in her marathon debut, and 42-year-old Edna Kiplagat) and Ethiopians (world champion Gotytom Gebreslase and debutant Senbere Teferi) as well as Kenyan-born Israeli Lonah Salpeter.

D’Amato races her third marathon in the last 16 weeks. Des Linden, the last U.S. woman to win a major marathon (Boston 2018), is now 39 and looking for her first marathon top-10 since placing fourth at the February 2020 Olympic Trials. Aliphine Tuliamuk, the Olympic Trials winner, races her first marathon since dropping out of the Olympics seven months after childbirth.

“The New York City Marathon course is an equalizer,” Tuliamuk said in a press conference. “I’m not intimidated by people who have run faster than me.”

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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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