Sebastian Korda stuns Daniil Medvedev at Australian Open

Sebastian Korda
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American Sebastian Korda is making an Australian Open run, 25 years after his dad won the tournament.

Korda, the 29th seed, upset No. 7 seed Daniil Medvedev 7-6 (7), 6-3, 7-6 (4), knocking out the Russian who was runner-up in Melbourne the last two years.

Korda advanced to a fourth-round match with No. 10 Hubert Hurkacz of Poland in a top half of the draw that is now without three of its top six players. In the first three rounds, No. 1 Rafael Nadal, No. 11 Cameron Norrie and now Medvedev have been ousted.

Novak Djokovic, the nine-time Australian Open champion and heavy favorite, is in the other half.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men

Korda, 22, is the son of Czech Petr Korda, who won the 1998 Australian Open, and younger brother to Nelly Korda and Jessica Korda, world top 20 golfers who have won their sport’s Australian Open.

“I love playing in Australia,” Korda said on court. “My family loves playing in Australia.”

Korda’s live ranking is No. 28, which would be a career high, but, as he noted on court, still fourth-best in his family. Petr reached No. 2. His mom, retired Czech tennis player Regina Rajchrtova, reached No. 26. Nelly has been No. 1 and Jessica No. 8 in golf.

“I’m definitely the worst athlete in the family so far,” Korda joked.

Korda is the highest-ranked American man left in the draw. No. 9 Taylor Fritz was upset in the second round. No. 16 Frances Tiafoe followed his U.S. Open semifinal run last September with a defeat to 18th-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov on Friday.

The last American man to win the Australian Open, Andre Agassi in 2003, is a mentor to Korda.

In the last year, Korda was broken twice while serving for the match against Rafael Nadal, then had a match point on Novak Djokovic‘s serve earlier this month. He lost both matches. Against Medvedev, Korda regained composure after being broken while up 4-3 in the third set.

On the women’s side Friday, No. 1 Iga Swiatek, No. 3 Jessica Pegula and No. 7 Coco Gauff all advanced without dropping more than three games in a set. All will play a major champion in Sunday’s fourth round.

Swiatek, who won the U.S. Open and French Open last year, gets reigning Wimbledon champ Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan. Pegula, the highest seeded American man or woman, faces 2021 French Open champ Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic. Gauff, the 2022 French Open runner-up, plays 2017 French Open champ Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.

Swiatek and Gauff will meet in the quarterfinals if each wins her next match.

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Scotty James wins fifth X Games snowboard halfpipe title

Scotty James
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Scotty James doesn’t have Olympic gold, but he remains king of the X Games halfpipe.

James, the Australian snowboarder who took bronze and silver at the last two Olympics, earned his fifth Aspen gold, repeating as champ of the biggest annual contest under falling snow in the Colorado Rockies. Only the retired Shaun White has more X Games men’s snowboard halfpipe titles with eight.

Nobody on Friday night attempted a triple cork, which was first done in competition by Japan’s Ayumu Hirano last season en route to the Olympic title. Hirano placed sixth Friday.

“It was a tough night, pretty interesting conditions,” James said. “Had to adjust the game plan. The show goes on.”

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression over the course of a three-run jam session for the entire field rather than scoring individual runs.

Earlier, Olympic gold medalist Zoi Sadowski-Synnott of New Zealand repeated as women’s snowboard slopestyle champion, passing Olympic bronze medalist Tess Coady of Australia on the final run of the competition. Sadowski-Synnott, the only snowboarder or skier to win Olympic, world and X Games slopestyle titles, capped her finale with back-to-back 900s.

The competition lacked 2014 and 2018 Olympic champion Jamie Anderson, who announced her pregnancy last month.

Canada’s Megan Oldham landed the first triple cork in women’s ski big air competition history to beat Olympic silver medalist Tess Ledeux of France, according to commentators. Oldham, a 21-year-old ex-gymnast, was fourth at the Olympics.

Eileen Gu, the Olympic champion from China, did not compete but is entered in halfpipe and slopestyle later this weekend.

ON HER TURF: U.S. freeskier Maggie Voisin on grief, loss, finding motivation

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Isabeau Levito wins U.S. figure skating title at age 15, followed by comeback stories

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Isabeau Levito won her first U.S. figure skating title at age 15, cementing her status as the new leading American woman to open the new Olympic cycle.

Levito, the world junior champion, tallied 223.33 points between two strong programs in San Jose, California. She distanced two-time U.S. champion Bradie Tennell, who went 19 months between competitions due to foot and ankle injuries in 2021 and 2022 and scored 213.12.

Tennell was just two hundredths behind Levito after Thursday’s short but had multiple jumping errors in the free skate.

Levito followed her as last to go in the free and nailed the most pressure-packed performance of her young career, including the hardest jump combination done of the entire field. She didn’t receive a single negative mark from a judge for her 19 technical elements in her two programs.

Moments later, she was in tears backstage.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

“I was just so proud of myself for staying so calm and staying so focused, doing exactly what I aimed to do,” Levito, who hasn’t finished off the podium in more than 20 events dating to November 2016, said on NBC. “I’m ready to start bouncing off the walls.”

Amber Glenn, 23, placed third and will likely become the oldest U.S. women’s singles skater to make her world championships debut in at least 45 years. Glenn botched her 11th attempt to join the list of U.S. women to land a clean triple Axel (tally according to Skatingscores.com) but still moved up from fourth after the short program, passing Starr Andrews.

Last year, Glenn entered nationals as the fourth-ranked U.S. woman and a hopeful for the three-woman Olympic team. She placed 14th in the short program, competing unknowingly with COVID-19, then tested positive and withdrew before the free skate.

In 2021, Glenn was the U.S. silver medalist, yet passed over for a spot on the two-woman world team in favor of the more experienced Karen Chen, who finished 35 hundredths behind Glenn at those nationals.

Levito, Tennell and Glenn are expected to make up the team for March’s world championships, decided by a committee.

Gracie Gold, a two-time U.S. champion who was fifth after the short program, popped a pair of planned triple Lutzes and dropped to eighth.

None of the three 2022 U.S. Olympians competed. Alysa Liu and Mariah Bell retired. Chen is a student at Cornell and might not return.

Nationals continue Saturday with the free dance and pairs’ free skate, live on NBC Sports and Peacock.

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