NHK Trophy favorites upstaged in short programs

Yelim Kim

World champions Kaori Sakamoto and Shoma Uno and three-time world medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates all surprisingly trail after the first day of NHK Trophy, the fifth of six stops on figure skating’s Grand Prix Series.

Yelim Kim led the women’s short program with a clean, 72.22-point performance. Kim, trying to become the second South Korean to win a Grand Prix after 2010 Olympic champion Yuna Kim, has a 4.15-point lead over Sakamoto going into Saturday’s free skate (live on Peacock).

Sakamoto, skating in front of a home crowd in Japan, under-rotated the second half of her triple flip-triple toe loop combination.

“All my jumps were unsatisfactory,” Sakamoto said, according to the International Skating Union (ISU). “This is one of the major events in Japan, and this makes me nervous. In Japan there are still restrictions in place – you cannot cheer loudly, and in the performance it hit me, ‘I am skating in Japan.’ Nationals is the one I am really nervous at, and the NHK Trophy is almost the same.”

Americans Starr Andrews and Amber Glenn, who earned their first Grand Prix podiums this season, are fifth and 11th, respectively. They likely need to finish in the top three to qualify for December’s six-skater Grand Prix Final.

NHK TROPHY: Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Sota Yamamoto, eighth at last season’s Japan Championships, is the surprise men’s leader after countryman Uno fell on a quad toe loop.

Yamamoto tallied 96.49 points, distancing Uno by 4.83. Both men are in position to qualify for the Grand Prix Final, which is an anticipated showdown between Uno and American Ilia Malinin (who can qualify next week).

Chock and Bates are also in position to qualify for the Final, but they also trail after Friday’s rhythm dance. Canadians Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sørensen, who were ninth at the Olympics, outscored them on technical elements and totaled 85.66 points, edging the Americans by .66.

“I walked out and saw our name on top, and I couldn’t really believe it,” Sørensen said, according to the ISU.

The one favorite to top the standings Friday was the world’s top-ranked pairs’ team, Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara of Japan.

They scored 78.25 points and take a comfortable 13.63-point lead over Americans Emily Chan and Spencer Howe into Saturday’s free skate. Both pairs are in position to qualify for the Grand Prix Final, where world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier await.

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Fred Kerley wins 100m at Rabat Diamond League in early showdown

Fred Kerley

World champion Fred Kerley won the 100m in an early season showdown at a Diamond League meet in Rabat, Morocco, on Sunday.

Kerley clocked 9.94 seconds, beating a field that included Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala, who remains the world’s fastest man this year (9.84 from May 13) and world bronze medalist Trayvon Bromell. Omanyala was third in 10.05 on Sunday, while Bromell was fifth in 10.10.

Kerley has run three 100m races this year and broke 9.95 in all of them, a promising start as he bids to repeat as world champion in Budapest in August.

Full meet results are here.

The Diamond League season continues with a meet in Florence, Italy, on Friday, live on Peacock. The headline event is the men’s 100m including Kerley and Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs of Italy. Kerley and Jacobs were due to go head to head in Rabat, but Jacobs withdrew last Thursday due to nerve pain.

Earlier, Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway comfortably took the 1500m in 3:32.59. American Yared Nuguse surged to place second in a personal best 3:33.02 in his Diamond League debut after running the world’s second-fastest indoor mile in history in February.

Jamaican Rasheed Broadbell ran down world champion Grant Holloway in the 110m hurdles, prevailing 13.08 to 13.12 into a headwind. Holloway remains fastest in the world this year at 13.03.

Kenyan Emmanuel Korir, the Olympic and world champion, finished eighth in the 800m won by countryman Emmanuel Wanyonyi. Wanyonyi, 18, is the world’s fastest in 2023.

American Shamier Little won the 400m hurdles in 53.95, becoming second-fastest in the world this year behind countrywoman Britton Wilson. Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the Olympic and world champion and world record holder, has yet to compete this outdoor season and so far has strictly committed to flat 400m races in future meets. McLaughlin-Levrone has a bye into the world championships 400m hurdles but may run the flat 400m there instead.

In the 400m, Olympic champion Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas won in 44.70, while world bronze medalist Matthew Hudson-Smith of Great Britain pulled up about 50 meters into the race.

Also Sunday, world bronze medalist Anna Hall improved from No. 3 to No. 2 on the U.S. all-time heptathlon list with 6,988 points to win the Hypo Meeting in Götzis, Austria. Only Jackie Joyner-Kersee, the world record holder at 7,291, has scored higher among Americans.

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2023 French Open women’s singles draw, bracket

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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.

Main draw play began Sunday, live on Peacock.

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.

Turning 22 during the tournament, 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 most recent match with a right thigh injury last week 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, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula and No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, are the best hopes 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