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Naomi Osaka warned of potential exclusion

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Naomi Osaka was fined $15,000 by Grand Slam organisers for boycotting a news conference following her first-round win and the world number two was also warned of possible expulsion from Roland Garros and future majors if she fails to meet her media commitments.

Osaka started her French Open campaign with a 6-4 7-6(4) win over Romanian Patricia Maria Tig but her refusal to honour her media commitments at the claycourt major has caused a stand-off with organisers.

Before the start of the slam, Osaka announced she would not attend any news conferences while in Paris to raise awareness of players’ mental well-being, saying the nature of questions from journalists is like “kicking a person when they are down”.

Austrian fourth seed Dominic Thiem, a French Open finalist in 2018 and 2019, has struggled for form in recent months and he succumbed to a five-set defeat by Spain’s Pablo Andujar.

German Alexander Zverev, who was beaten by Thiem in last year’s U.S. Open final, survived a five-set scare against compatriot Oscar Otte while former world number one Angelique Kerber suffered yet another first-round defeat.

2100 TSITSIPAS OVERCOMES SLOW START TO REACH ROUND TWO

Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas recovered from a stuttering start to beat France’s Jeremy Chardy 7-6(6) 6-3 6-1 to advance into the second round.

Tsitsipas, who won the title in Lyon last week, will next face either American Sebastian Korda or Spain’s Pedro Martinez.

1905 ZVEREV THROUGH AFTER FIVE SETTER WITH FELLOW GERMAN OTTE

German Alexander Zverev recovered from a miserable start to reach the second round with a 3-6 3-6 6-2 6-2 6-0 win against compatriot Oscar Otte.

Zverev has now won all seven of his five-set contests at Roland Garros and will next meet another qualifier, Russian Roman Safiullin.

1825 AZARENKA SURVIVES KUZNETSOVA CHALLENGE TO ADVANCE

Belarusian 15th seed Victoria Azarenka beat former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4 2-6 6-3 to move into the second round.

Azarenka had nine double faults and hit seven fewer winners than Kuznetsova but the Russian was let down by 41 unforced errors in a match where both players converted seven break points.

1655 NISHIKORI THROUGH IN FIVE SETS

Kei Nishikori was given a stern test in the opening round by Italian Alessandro Giannessi but prevailed 6-4 6-7(4) 6-3 4-6 6-4 to advance.

Nishikori, a former world number four, fired 56 winners and converted 10 break points in a match that clocked just over four hours.

1610 DIMITROV RETIRES WITH INJURY

Bulgarian 16th seed Grigor Dimitrov was leading 6-2 6-4 5-7 0-3 against American Marcos Giron before he was forced to retire with an injury.

Dimitrov was 5-1 up in the third set and had three match points before losing nine games in a row.

1600 ANDUJAR STUNS THIEM IN FIVE SETS

Unseeded Spaniard Pablo Andujar upset fourth seed Dominic Thiem of Austria 4-6 5-7 6-3 6-4 6-4 to reach the second round. Thiem made 61 unforced errors and seven double faults as he ran out of steam after claiming the opening two sets.

1545 SABALENKA DOWNS KONJUH IN STRAIGHT SETS

Third seed Aryna Sabalenka beat Croatia’s Ana Konjuh 6-4 6-3 to advance. Sabalenka made 31 unforced errors but ultimately proved too powerful, hitting 24 winners compared to Konjuh’s 12.

1530 SIMON MAKES EARLY EXIT AT HOME SLAM

Frenchman Gilles Simon was beaten 6-4 6-1 7-6(5) by Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics in the first round. Fucsovics will next face Italy’s 27th seed Fabio Fognini, who eased past Gregoire Barrere 6-4 6-1 6-4.

READ MORE:

Osaka fined after opening win, warned of expulsion from French Open

Thiem knocked out by Andujar in French Open first round

Kvitova saves matchpoint to reach second round

Sabalenka overcomes early scare to advance at Roland Garros

Venus Williams, Coco Gauff pair up to play doubles at French Open

Face the press or don’t play, Wilander tells Osaka

Same failure, different year for Kerber at Roland Garros

Panama hats, shades on as sunny French Open gets started

Osaka takes centre stage as French Open begins

French Open order of play on Monday

French Open in numbers

Another year, same question – Can anyone stop Nadal?

Swiatek faces Barty challenge in title defence

1418 EVANS KNOCKED OUT IN FIRST ROUND AGAIN

Briton Dan Evans dominated the opening set before falling 1-6 6-3 6-3 6-4 to Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic in a match that lasted more than three hours.

Evans has now lost in the first round at Roland Garros for three straight years.

1405 KVITOVA OVERCOMES MINNEN SCARE, BAUTISTA AGUT THROUGH

Two-times Grand Slam champion and 11th seed Petra Kvitova fought back from a set down to move past Greet Minnen with a 6-7(3) 7-6(5) 6-1 victory.

In the men’s draw, 11th seed Roberto Bautista Agut beat qualifier Mario Vilella Martinez 6-4 6-4 6-2.

1200 CARRENO BUSTA ADVANCES

Spain’s 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta progressed to the second round with a 6-3 6-4 6-3 win over Slovakia’s Norbert Gombos.

1059 OSAKA GETS PAST TIG IN OPENER, KERBER FALLS

World number two Naomi Osaka beat Romania’s Patricia Maria Tig 6-4 7-6(4) in their second career meeting and first since 2015 to move into the second round of the French Open where she will meet another Romanian in Ana Bogdan.

Three-times Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber, however, the 26th seed, was stunned by Ukrainian qualifier Anhelina Kalinina 6-2 6-4 on Court 14.

0911 PLAY UNDER WAY

Play began under clear skies at Roland Garros, with the temperature hovering around 18 degrees Celsius.

The claycourt major will initially welcome up to 1,000 fans at each of the three main showcourts, while the smaller courts will be able to admit 35% of their capacity during the first 10 days due to COVID-19 restrictions in France.

 

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar, Simon Jennings and Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Clare Fallon)

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Penny Oleksiak back to lead Canada in Tokyo pool

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Penny Oleksiak, the first Canadian to win four medals at a Summer Olympics, will lead a Canadian swimming team eager to build on their efforts in Rio de Janeiro at next month’s Tokyo Games.

Swimming Canada unveiled a 26-member squad (16 women, 10 men) on Thursday that is a mix of experience and youth that officials hope is capable of improving on the six medals won in Rio, the country’s best haul in the pool since the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

“I think the mix of veteran leaders and new faces is awesome,” said Kylie Masse, a bronze medallist in the 100 metres backstroke in Rio and one of 10 returning Olympians. “That’s kind of how sport works, there are always older and younger athletes, and it’s a great dynamic to have.”

Leading the charge at the 2016 Rio Games was Oleksiak, who became Canada’s youngest Olympic champion winning gold in the 100m freestyle as a 16-year-old, while also grabbing silver in the 100m butterfly and two relay bronze.

The stage is set for a new star to emerge in Tokyo in 14-year-old Summer McIntosh, who edged Oleksiak in the 200m freestyle at the trials and breezed to victory in the 800m free.

At the other end of the experience and age spectrum is 37-year-old Brent Hayden, who came out of retirement to earn a spot on his fourth Olympic team, becoming the oldest Canadian Olympic swimmer in history.

Bronze medallist in the 100m freestyle at the 2012 London Olympics, Hayden clinched his spot with a win in the 50m freestyle at the Canadian trials that wrapped up on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis)

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Sinclair to lead Canadian women’s team in her fourth Olympics

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Christine Sinclair, the all-time international goal-scoring record holder, was named to her fourth Olympic squad on Wednesday and will headline a Canadian roster at the Tokyo Games that features a mix of veterans and youth.

Led by Sinclair, whose 186 goals for her country are the most by a female or male soccer player worldwide, Canada won medals at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and was the only nation to make the podium in both competitions.

“I am looking forward to doing whatever I can to help take this team back to the podium and make history again,” said Canadian captain Sinclair. “Our team is in a good spot, we are excited, we are hungry and we are ready to go.”

The 18-player roster features 12 members of the squad that competed at the 2016 Rio Games while a quintet including Vanessa Gilles, Jayde Riviere, Julia Grosso, Adriana Leon, and Evelyne Viens will be making their Olympic debuts.

Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan travelled to Rio in 2016 as an alternate.

Canada will kick off their Tokyo 2020 journey when they face Japan on July 21 and continue Group E play against Chile on July 24 and Britain on July 27.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)

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Which of the Canadians Picked in the 2021 NFL Draft Will Thrive This Season?

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It was a good NFL Draft for Canadian players in 2021.

Some four stars from north of the border were selected by NFL franchises in the free agency pick ‘em, and that is tied as the highest number of Canadians drafted in the 85-year history of the event.

Of course, the hope is that these young talents are more than just filler and roster depth, but can any of the quartet make the breakthrough into the big time?

Here’s a look at which of the NFL’s newest Canadian additions can shine in 2021/22.

Jevon Holland

The defensive back was the number 36 pick in the Draft by the Miami Dolphins, who beat off a number of rivals in the hunt for the Coquitlam native.

A versatile defender, Holland is a former Jim Thorpe Award semi-finalist thanks to his exploits in the NCAA back in 2019 with the University of Oregon.

He sat out the 2020 campaign, but representatives from dozens of NFL teams were in town to watch Holland go through his paces at the Oregon Pro Day.

The 21-year-old is following in the footsteps of his father Robert, who turned out for the Detroit Lions, and he is expected to force his way into the starting line-up at the Dolphins. And, who knows, maybe Holland could go all the way in his first season, with Miami priced at +2500 in the Super Bowl 2022 American football odds.

Benjamin St-Juste

When you’re six foot three, 205 pounds and still able to run 40 yards in 4.51 seconds, it goes without saying that you have the physical credentials to succeed in the NFL.

Benjamin St-Juste is the man that can, and he will bolster the roster at a Washington Football Team that will be looking to improve upon their playoff showing in 2020.

The 23-year-old may only have been a third-round pick, but he comes with a burgeoning reputation thanks to a successful time at the University of Minnesota. An All-Big Ten special mention in 2019, more than 50 NFL recruitment personnel attended the college’s pro day – largely to catch a glimpse of St-Juste going through his paces.

Both Brian Gutekunst and Jon Robinson made the trip but, in the end, it was Washington who snapped up the powerhouse from the Draft.

Chuba Hubbard

The third Canadian to be drafted in 2021 was Chuba Hubbard, who became the first Canadian running back to be selected from the Draft in 25 years.

It’s the Carolina Panthers who have taken a chance on the 22-year-old and with his credentials, you can see why. Hubbard finished eighth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy in 2019 after a stellar campaign – he served up 2,094 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns, an NCAA best. He was named the Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Year.

While running backs are not the hottest of properties in the Draft, Hubbard provably has the talent to cross into the end zone with regularity – the Panthers might just have got their hands on an unheralded gem here.

With these three Canadians taking the step up to the NFL, the future of the sport north of the border looks in safe hands.

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