A French Open without Rafael Nadal can still be record-breaking

French Open

Rafael Nadal will not have the last word at this year’s French Open, but his comments in withdrawing last week set the stage for the tournament.

“Roland Garros will be always Roland Garros with or without me, without a doubt,” the record 14-time Roland Garros champion said. “Going to be one Roland Garros champion. Not going to be me. Going to be another one, and that’s life.”

At the first Nadal-less French Open since 2004, Novak Djokovic can break the record for career men’s Grand Slam singles titles. Iga Swiatek can enter Serena Williams territory. And young American men and women can build on recent strides at majors, looking to end the nation’s longest Slam singles title drought in history.

Main draw play starts Sunday, live on Peacock.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

The tournament marks Djokovic’s second attempt to take sole possession of the men’s Grand Slam singles titles record. In 2021, Djokovic entered the U.S. Open with a chance to win all four majors in the same year and break his then-tie with Nadal and Roger Federer at 20 Slams. Djokovic lost that U.S. Open final to Daniil Medvedev, then saw Nadal win the next two majors to get to 22.

Djokovic then won a seventh Wimbledon last July followed by a 10th Australian Open in January to level up with Nadal again. In Melbourne, the Serb said he didn’t like to compare himself to others, but that he also liked his chances going forward.

“Of course I am motivated to win as many Slams as possible,” he said. “At this stage of my career, these trophies are the biggest motivational factor of why I still compete.”

Djokovic, French Open champ in 2016 and 2021, hasn’t won a tournament since Australia and didn’t make it past the quarterfinals of his three clay events so far this spring.

He ceded the No. 1 ranking to Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become the youngest men’s major champ since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005. Alcaraz, 20, is now the youngest man to be the No. 1 seed at a major since Boris Becker at 1987 Wimbledon.

Alcaraz missed the Australian Open due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. He hasn’t faced Djokovic this year, but they could meet in the semifinals in Paris.

“I’m the same player than last year,” he said. “Only change that I would say is that I’m more mature. Mentally I’m better.”

As men’s tennis exits its Big Three era, that’s exactly the dynamic that has developed for the women.

Though Poland’s Swiatek is a clearer favorite than Alcaraz, she has gone a collective 1-4 this year against Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan.

Swiatek, who went 16-0 on clay last year, retired from her most recent match with a right thigh injury last week. She said Friday that she’s still recovering, but will “be good” for her opening match.

“Luckily nothing serious happened, so I had couple of days off,” she said Friday.

Swiatek has held the No. 1 ranking since Australian Ash Barty‘s sudden retirement in March 2022, but Sabalenka could dethrone her at this tournament. Swiatek, 21, 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.

Last year, American Coco Gauff went from celebrating her high school graduation in front of the Eiffel Tower to becoming the youngest Grand Slam finalist since Maria Sharapova won her first major at Wimbledon in 2004. She fell to Swiatek in the final, 6-1, 6-3. She returns this year as the No. 6 seed, but with a 4-4 record in her last four tournaments and without a full-time coach. Patrick Mouratoglou, the longtime coach of Williams, has been helping her out.

The highest-seeded American man or woman is No. 3 Jessica Pegula, the lone U.S. woman to make it past the quarterfinals of a high-level clay event this season. She lost in the quarters of four of the last five majors.

An American man made the semifinals of back-to-back majors for the first time in 16 years (Frances Tiafoe at the U.S. Open, Tommy Paul at the Australian Open), but no U.S. man has made the French Open quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003.

Either Gauff, Pegula or a totally unexpected American makes a title run in Paris, or, for the first time, the most successful nation in tennis history will go 12 majors without a men’s or women’s singles title.

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Ryan Crouser breaks world record in shot put at Los Angeles Grand Prix


Two-time Olympic champion Ryan Crouser registered one of the greatest performances in track and field history, breaking his world record and throwing three of the six farthest shot puts of all time at the Los Angeles Grand Prix on Saturday.

Crouser unleashed throws of 23.56 meters, 23.31 and 23.23 at UCLA’s Drake Stadium. His previous world record from the Tokyo Olympic Trials was 23.37. He now owns the top four throws in history, and the 23.23 is tied for the fifth-best throw in history.

“The best thing is I’m still on high volume [training], heavy throws in the ring and heavy weights in the weight room, so we’re just starting to work in some speed,” the 6-foot-7 Crouser, who is perfecting a new technique coined the “Crouser slide,” told Lewis Johnson on NBC.

Sha’Carri Richardson won her 100m heat in 10.90 seconds into a slight headwind, then did not start the final about 90 minutes later due to cramping, Johnson said. Richardson is ranked No. 1 in the world in the 100m in 2023 (10.76) and No. 2 in the 200m (22.07).

Jamaican Ackeem Blake won the men’s 100m in a personal best 9.89 seconds. He now ranks third in the world this year behind Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala and American Fred Kerley, who meet in the Diamond League in Rabat, Morocco on Sunday (2-4 p.m. ET, CNBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock).

The next major meet is the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in early July, when the top three in most individual events qualify for August’s world championships.

Richardson will bid to make her first global championships team, two years after having her Olympic Trials win stripped for testing positive for marijuana and one year after being eliminated in the first round of the 100m at USATF Outdoors.

LA GRAND PRIX: Full Results

Also Saturday, Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico won the 100m hurdles in 12.31, the fastest time ever this early in a year. Nigerian Tobi Amusan, who at last July’s worlds lowered the world record to 12.12, was eighth in the eight-woman field in 12.69.

Maggie Ewen upset world champion Chase Ealey in the shot put by throwing 20.45 meters, upping her personal best by more than three feet. Ewen went from 12th-best in American history to third behind 2016 Olympic champion Michelle Carter and Ealey.

Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic ran the fastest women’s 400m since the Tokyo Olympics, clocking 48.98 seconds. Paulino is the Olympic and world silver medalist. Olympic and world champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas is on a maternity break.

Rio Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphy won the 800m in 1:44.75, beating a field that included most of the top Americans in the event. Notably absent was 2019 World champion Donovan Brazier, who hasn’t raced since July 20 of last year amid foot problems.

CJ Allen won the 400m hurdles in a personal best 47.91, consolidating his argument as the second-best American in the event behind Olympic and world silver medalist Rai Benjamin, who withdrew from the meet earlier this week.

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Primoz Roglic set to win Giro d’Italia over Geraint Thomas

106th Giro d'Italia 2023 - Stage 20
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Primož Roglič all but secured the Giro d’Italia title on Saturday by overtaking leader Geraint Thomas on the penultimate stage despite having a mechanical problem on the mountain time trial.

Roglič started the stage 26 seconds behind Thomas — who was trying to become the oldest Giro champion in history — but finished the route 40 seconds quicker than the British cyclist after the demanding climb of the Monte Lussari.

That saw Roglič move into the leader’s pink jersey, 14 seconds ahead of Thomas going into the race’s mainly ceremonial final stage.

Roglič was cheered on all the way by thousands of fans from just across the border to his native Slovenia. They packed the slopes of the brutal ascent up Monte Lussari, which had an elevation of more than 3,000 feet and gradients of up to 22%.

The 33-year-old Roglič celebrated at the end with his wife and son, who was wearing a replica of the pink jersey.

“Just something amazing, eh? It’s not at the end about the win itself, but about the people, and the energy here, so incredible, really moments to live and to remember,” said Roglič, who had tears in his eyes during the post-stage television interview, which he did with his son in his arms.

It will be a fourth Grand Tour victory for Roglič, who won the Spanish Vuelta three years in a row from 2019-2021

Roglič also almost won the Tour de France in 2020, when he was leading going into another mountain time trial on the penultimate stage. But that time it was Roglič who lost time and the race to compatriot Tadej Pogačar in one of the most memorable upsets in a Grand Tour in recent years.

It appeared as if the Jumbo-Visma cyclist’s hopes were evaporating again when he rode over a pothole about halfway through the brutal climb up Monte Lussari and his chain came off, meaning he had to quickly change bicycles.

His teammates and staff had their hands over their heads in disbelief.

Despite that setback, Roglič — who had been 16 seconds ahead of Thomas at the previous intermediate time check — went on to increase his advantage.

“I dropped the chain, I mean it’s part of it,” he said. “But I got started again and I just went … I had the legs, the people gave me extra (energy).”

The 33-year-old Roglič won the stage ahead of Thomas. Joao Almeida was third, 42 seconds slower.

For Thomas, his bad luck at the Giro continued. In 2017, he was involved in a crash caused by a police motorbike, and three years later he fractured his hip after a drinks bottle became lodged under his wheel – being forced to abandon both times.

Thomas turned 37 on Thursday. The Ineos Grenadiers cyclist had seemed poised to become the oldest Giro winner in history — beating the record of Fiorenzo Magni, who was 34 when he won in 1955.

“I could feel my legs going about a kilometer and a half from the top. I just didn’t feel I had that real grunt,” Thomas said. “I guess it’s nice to lose by that much rather than a second or two, because that would be worse I think.

“At least he smashed me and to be honest Primoz deserves that. He had a mechanical as well, still put 40 seconds into me so chapeau to him. If you’d told me this back in (February), March, I would have bit your hand off but now I’m devastated.”

Thomas and Roglič exchanged fist bumps as they waited their turn to ride down the ramp at the start of the 11.6-mile time trial.

The Giro will finish in Rome on Sunday, with 10 laps of a seven-mile circuit through the streets of the capital, taking in many of its historic sites.

“One more day to go, one more focus, because I think the lap is quite hard, technical. So it’s not over til it’s finished,” Roglič said. “But looks good, voila.”

The route will pass by places such as the Altare della Patria, the Capitoline Hill, the Circus Maximus and finish at the Imperial Forums, in the shadow of the Colosseum.

The Tour de France starts July 1, airing on NBC Sports and Peacock.

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