U.S. beats Canada in women’s hockey world championship final on Hilary Knight hat trick

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Hilary Knight had a hat trick, and the U.S. scored three times in the last four minutes to beat Canada 6-3 in the world women’s hockey championship final, ending a losing streak in the rivalry.

The Americans beat the Canadians in a major final for the first time since the 2018 Olympics. Canada won the previous two world championships, plus the 2022 Olympics, and was riding a five-game win streak overall in the rivalry, matching its longest in 13 years.

Aware of that, there was a sign in the U.S. locker room that read “script.” It was upside down. Coach John Wroblewski ripped it down after the game while the team chanted “flip the script.”

Canada led 3-2 after two periods in Brampton, Ontario, but 20-year-old defender Caroline Harvey tied it five minutes into the final frame.

Then the U.S. went on a five-on-three power play with 3:52 left and got two goals from Knight in a 27-second span. She became the first American man or woman to record a hat trick in an Olympic or world championship final and ran her career total to 101 points in world championships, the most by any skater.

“I’m just so happy that we pulled it together,” Knight said in an on-ice interview, speaking loudly over Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” “This is a really young team. They say experience wins championships. We worked on it. We had our experience. We had our energy, and it was a solid team win tonight.”

Abbey Murphy and Cayla Barnes also scored for the U.S., which recorded the largest margin of victory in a major final since 2009. Only one of the last 11 gold-medal games between the rivals had been decided by more than one goal.

For Canada, Brianne Jenner scored twice in the final, just as she did at 2022 Worlds. Marie-Philip Poulin added her 10th career goal in 14 career major finals versus the U.S. dating to 2009.

The Americans made major roster changes going into these worlds.

They were without three-time Olympic medalist forwards Kendall Coyne Schofield (pregnant) and Brianna Decker (retired). Maddie Rooney and Alex Cavallini, their No. 1 goalies from the last two Olympics, didn’t make the team at a March tryout camp.

Wroblewski, who took over as coach after the 2022 Olympics, trotted out a second forward line of collegians — Taylor Heise, Hannah Bilka and Tessa Janecke.

Wroblewski also threw Aerin Frankel into the crease after she didn’t make the 2022 Olympic team and played just 20 minutes at the summer 2022 Worlds. This month, Frankel became the first U.S. women’s goalie to start five consecutive games at an Olympics or worlds in 26 years.

Harvey, who played in the 2022 Olympics before her NCAA debut, fronts the new generation. She became the second defender to ever lead the U.S. in points at an Olympics or worlds (with 14), and the first skater to lead the U.S. in points and ice time. She was the lone American to make the all-tournament team, which was headed by Canadian Sarah Fillier, the MVP.

“We came together as a group at the right time,” said Harvey, who led all 40 skaters Sunday with 23:35 of ice time, 14 months after playing 62 total seconds in the Olympic final (fewest of all 37 skaters). “We peaked at the right time.”

In the end, it came down to Knight, who made her national team debut at age 17 in 2006 and, this month, was team captain at a major tournament for the first time. She was without her longtime linemates Decker and Coyne Schofield.

For so long, she has been compared to Poulin, but on Sunday, she one-upped her Canadian contemporary, who has three times scored two goals in an Olympic final, but never had a hat trick in a gold-medal game.

“It’s hard to put into words right now,” Poulin said, according to Hockey Canada. “This one hurts, for sure, especially on home soil, but this group is very special; we’ll learn from it and move forward, but it’s a tough one to swallow.”

Knight is now 33, the only player on the team born in the 1980s and the second-oldest U.S. woman to ever play at worlds after her idol, Cammi Granato, in her finale in 2005.

“The legacy that Hilary carried on, it just trickles down, but that’s the heart of the team right there,” Wroblewski told the team in the locker room. “Your captain went out and took care of us, and everybody followed suit.”

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Iga Swiatek wins third French Open title, fourth Grand Slam, but this final was not easy

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Iga Swiatek won her third French Open title and her fourth Grand Slam overall, pushed to a third set in a major final for the first time.

Swiatek, a 22-year-old Pole, outlasted unseeded Czech Karolina Muchova 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 on Saturday at Roland Garros. Muchova tested Swiatek, the only singles player in the Open Era to win their first seven major final sets. She became the first player to take a set off Swiatek in the tournament.

Swiatek looked en route to another major final sweep, up 3-0 in the second set. She then committed 11 unforced errors (versus four winners) over the rest of the set as Muchova rallied back (with 10 winners versus 11 unforced errors).

Muchova then won the first eight points of the third set. Swiatek, under the most pressure of her career on the sport’s biggest stages, passed the test. The players exchanged breaks of serve, and Muchova had another break point for a chance to serve for the championship, but Swiatek fended her off.

“After so many ups and downs, I kind of stopped thinking about the score,” Swiatek said. “I wanted to use my intuition more because I knew that I can play a little bit better if I’m going to get a little bit more loosened up.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

No woman lower than the 14th seed has beaten both world Nos. 1 and 2 at a Grand Slam since the WTA rankings began in 1975. Muchova, ranked 43rd, nearly pulled it off.

“The feeling is a little bitter because I felt it was very close,” she said. “But overall, I mean, to call myself Grand Slam finalist, it’s amazing achievement.”

The French Open finishes Sunday with the men’s final. Novak Djokovic faces Casper Ruud, eyeing a 23rd major title to break his tie with Rafael Nadal for the men’s singles record. NBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock air live coverage at 9 a.m. ET.

Go back to the fall 2020 French Open. Swiatek, a 54th-ranked teen, won the tournament without dropping a set for her first tour-level title.

Since, she climbed to the top of the rankings (and has stayed there for 62 weeks running), tied the longest WTA win streak in 32 years (37 matches in a row in 2022) and won majors on clay and hard courts.

She beat challengers from different categories in major finals: a Slam champ (Sofia Kenin), a teen phenom (Coco Gauff), an emerged rival (Ons Jabeur) and now an unseeded (because of injuries)-but-dangerous veteran in Muchova. Swiatek is the youngest woman to reach four major titles since Serena Williams in 2002.

Yet this French Open began with talk of a Big Three in women’s tennis rather than singular dominance. Since last year’s French Open, Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka and Russian-born Kazakh Elena Rybakina both won their first major and beat Swiatek multiple times.

Swiatek faced neither in Paris but still called it “a pretty stressful tournament,” noting a right thing injury that forced her to retire during her last match before the tournament.

Sabalenka was stunned by Muchova in Thursday’s semifinals, the erratic serving and nerves of her past reappearing. Rybakina had to withdraw earlier in the tournament due to illness.

Next up: the grass court season and Wimbledon, where Swiatek hasn’t made it past the fourth round in three tries. She did win the 2018 junior title at the All England Club. but Sabalenka and Rybakina have had more recent success there.

If Swiatek can lift the Venus Rosewater Dish, she will be an Australian Open shy of a career Grand Slam. Her chances of adding an Olympic gold medal to that collection are very high, given Roland Garros hosts tennis at the 2024 Paris Games.

“I’m not setting these crazy records or goals for myself,” she said. “I know that keeping it cool is the best way to do it for me.”

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Novak Djokovic into French Open final with records at stake after beating Carlos Alcaraz

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Novak Djokovic heads into Sunday’s French Open final with all sorts of history at stake after eliminating a cramping Carlos Alcaraz in a showdown semifinal.

Djokovic faces Casper Ruud, eyeing a 23rd major title to break his tie with Rafael Nadal for the men’s singles record. NBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock air live coverage at 9 a.m. ET.

On Friday, Djokovic took out the top seed Alcaraz 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1, but the match was even when Alcaraz began showing signs of right leg cramping. The 20-year-old Spaniard attributed it to the “tension” of the match, saying he was nervous for his first time facing Djokovic at a major.

“I have never felt something like I did today,” he said, adding that it was full-body cramps. “If someone says that he get into the court with no nerves playing against Novak, he lies.”

Alcaraz stopped play at 1-all in the third set and had trouble walking. He forfeited the next game, stipulated by the rules for receiving medical treatment for severe muscle cramping when not at a change of ends or end of a set.

Djokovic then won the next nine games. Alcaraz played with limited mobility and without the charismatic magic that’s charmed the tennis world.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

“First and foremost, I have to say tough luck for Carlos. I feel for him. I feel sorry,” Djokovic said to begin an on-court interview. “I told him at the net he knows how young he is. He’s got plenty of time ahead of him, so he’s going to win this tournament, I’m sure, many, many times.”

Djokovic was told of Alcaraz’s reasoning for the cramps.

“I have experienced that several times,” he said. “Early in my career I was struggling quite a bit physically. I can understand the emotions and circumstances that affect you mentally and emotionally.”

The semi was billed as perhaps the greatest inter-generational match in men’s tennis history, the first time that Alcaraz played a member of the Big Three at a major.

Their 16-year age gap was the largest to take place for men this deep in a major since the 1991 U.S. Open (Jim Courier d. Jimmy Connors) and the largest age gap for any major match between Slam champs since 2006 Wimbledon (Rafael Nadal d. Andre Agassi).

Unlike Friday, most of the previous torch-passing meetings took place when one man was not yet at his peak or the other was past his prime.

Typically, the younger player wins these types of duels. Djokovic, by prevailing over a foe 16 years younger this late in a major, broke the Open Era men’s age gap record of 14-plus years set by Roger Federer, who beat Hyeon Chung at the 2018 Australian Open.

Now, Djokovic heads to Sunday’s final as an overwhelming favorite against the Norwegian Ruud, a 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 winner over German Alexander Zverev in the later semifinal. Ruud was runner-up to Nadal at last year’s French Open and runner-up to Alcaraz at last year’s U.S. Open.

Djokovic can become the first man to win all four majors at least three times. He can break Nadal’s record as the oldest French Open singles champion.

“I’ve been very fortunate that most of the matches in tournaments I’ve played in the last few years, there is history on the line,” he said. “The motivation is very high, as you can imagine.”

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