Diamond League season starts with sprint showdowns in Doha; broadcast schedule

Fred Kerley

The Diamond League track and field season starts Friday in Doha with world champion sprinters facing off on the men’s side, plus most of the top U.S. women in the 100m.

Peacock streams the meet live on Friday at 12 p.m. ET. CNBC airs coverage Sunday at 12 p.m. ET.

Several events feature clashes of Olympic and world champions, headlined by the men’s 200m: American Fred Kerley (world 100m champ) vs. American Michael Norman (world 400m champ) vs. Canadian Andre De Grasse (Olympic 200m champ).

Kerley, 27, has a bye into August’s world championships in the 100m as the reigning gold medalist. So he may be emphasizing the 200m through July’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, where the top three men will join reigning world champion Noah Lyles on the world team. Kerley was eliminated in the 200m semifinals at last summer’s worlds, saying he suffered a left leg cramp.

Norman, 25, is definitely emphasizing the 100m this season after bagging his first world title in the 400m last year. He has strong 200m credentials, too, ranking fourth in the world last year despite not contesting the event at USATF Outdoors or worlds.

De Grasse, 28, looks to rebound after withdrawing before the 200m at last summer’s worlds while recovering from a COVID-19 bout.

Lyles, who last year broke the American record to repeat as world 200m champion, is not entered in Doha. He is scheduled to race at the Atlanta City Games on Saturday.

The Doha women’s 100m has the last two world 200m champions — Jamaican Shericka Jackson and Brit Dina Asher-Smith — as well as five Americans who could make the final at USATF Outdoors.

The U.S. contingent: Melissa Jefferson (2022 U.S. champ), TeeTee Terry (anchored 2022 World 4x100m relay winners), Sha’Carri Richardson (ran wind-aided 10.57 last month, fourth-fastest all-conditions time in history), Abby Steiner (2022 U.S. 200m champ) and Teahna Daniels (top American at Tokyo Olympics in seventh).

The top American in Doha will likely cement herself as an early favorite to make the three-woman 100m team for worlds.

Here are the Doha entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

11:04 a.m. — Women’s Pole Vault
11:15 — Men’s Discus
11:32 — Men’s Triple Jump
12:04 — Women’s 400m
12:17 — Women’s 3000m Steeplechase
12:20 — Men’s High Jump
12:34 — Men’s 400m Hurdles
12:44 — Men’s Javelin
12:48 — Women’s 100m Hurdles
1 — Men’s 800m
1:12 — Women’s 100m
1:23 — Men’s 3000m
1:41 — Men’s 200m
1:50 — Women’s 1500m

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s Pole Vault — 11:04 a.m. ET
Field has the top five from last summer’s worlds, led by Americans Katie Moon and Sandi Morris, the gold and silver medalists. This year, Moon will look to become the first woman to repeat as world champ in the pole vault in 16 years, while Morris eyes her first global outdoor title after four silvers between the Olympics and worlds.

Men’s Triple Jump — 11:32 a.m. ET
Portugal’s Pedro Pichardo, Burkina Faso’s Hugues Fabrice Zango and China’s Zhu Yaming swept the medals at the Olympics and worlds. They’re all entered in Doha. As is American Christian Taylor, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic champ who missed the Tokyo Games with a ruptured Achilles. Taylor, now 32, was 18th at worlds while working his way back from the major injury. In one outing so far in 2023, he has already triple jumped farther than at any of his 10 meets in 2022.

Women’s 3000m Steeplechase — 12:17 p.m. ET
This event was rocked last month when reigning world champion Norah Jeruto of Kazakhstan was provisionally banned in a doping case involving her biological passport. The Doha field includes Olympic gold medalist Peruth Chemutai of Uganda, world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech of Kenya, American Emma Coburn, the 2017 World champion, and Mekides Abebe, the 21-year-old Ethiopian who took bronze at last year’s worlds.

Women’s 100m — 1:12 p.m. ET
While Richardson made a statement with the 10.57, it’s Jackson who leads the early world rankings among wind-legal times with a 10.82 into a slight headwind two weeks ago. Jackson, 28, may be the world’s top female sprinter across all events. She took silver behind Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 100m at last year’s worlds, then ran the second-fastest 200m time in history four days later.

Men’s 200m — 1:41 p.m. ET
While Kerley, Norman and De Grasse have gold medals, the favorite here based on 200m experience and recent success should be American Kenny Bednarek, who took silver at the Tokyo Olympics and last year’s worlds. Unlike Kerley and Norman, Bednarek does not have a bye into any event at worlds, so he must be on his game come July’s USATF Outdoors. Bednarek, world bronze medalist Erriyon Knighton and Kerley are the early favorites to join Lyles on the world team in the 200m. If Norman doesn’t make the 100m team at USATF Outdoors, he could enter the 200m and/or accept his bye into the 400m at worlds.

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


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


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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