Sports Digest: No American man in top 30 since men’s tennis started rankings in 1973


Taylor Fritz of the United States lost in the first round of the Madrid Masters to fall to No. 31 in the most recent ATP rankings. Now there is no American man ranked in the top 30. Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press

There are no American men in the ATP’s Top 30 for the first time in the nearly half-century of computerized tennis rankings.

The highest-ranked man from the U.S., Taylor Fritz, slid one place to No. 31 on Monday after a first-round loss at last week’s Madrid Masters.

Next is John Isner, who made it to the quarterfinals on the red clay in Spain and rose five spots to No. 34.

There always has been at least one man from the United States ranked in the Top 30 each week since the inception of the computer-calculated standings on Aug. 23, 1973. That includes No. 1s such as Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier and, most recently, Andy Roddick, who held the top spot for 13 weeks from Nov. 30, 2003, to Feb. 1, 2004.

That was shortly after Roddick won the 2003 U.S. Open, the last time an American man won a Grand Slam singles title. There are currently 10 players from the country in the Top 100, the same number that Italy has, although there are three Italians in the Top 30: No. 9 Matteo Berrettini, No. 18 Jannik Sinner and No. 28 Fabio Fognini.

Novak Djokovic remained at No. 1 on Monday, extending his record for most weeks leading the ATP to 320, 10 more than the previous mark set by Roger Federer. There’s a new No. 2, however: Daniil Medvedev overtook that slot from Rafael Nadal, who lost in the quarterfinals in Madrid.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Forget all that speculation about Serena Williams considering retirement after her emotional hand-to-heart gesture upon her Australian Open exit three months ago. While Williams has not played since losing to Naomi Osaka in the Melbourne semifinals in February, she has been practicing “very intensely” on clay courts and is ready to “start fresh” in her pursuit of Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles.

Preparing to return at this week’s Italian Open to gear up for Roland Garros later this month, Williams on Monday detailed her recent training regimen. There was a block of time on clay courts back home in the United States followed by 2½ weeks on the red dirt at the French academy run by her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou.

“So we had an intense several weeks of training – very intense,” Williams said. “I feel good. … I’m going to have some good matches here hopefully, and then I will be at another Grand Slam, which always makes me excited. So I think either way I’ll be ready.”

The 39-year-old Williams, who only needs one more Grand Slam title to match Court’s record, added that her fans shouldn’t read too much into the lack of tennis information she shares on social media.

COLLEGES

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Lindsay Gottlieb is returning to the Pac-12 as the head women’s basketball coach at Southern California. The school on Monday announced the hiring of Gottlieb, an assistant coach with the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers.

The 43-year-old Gottlieb spent the past two seasons with the Cavs after a successful stint as the women’s head coach at California, where she built the Golden Bears into a national power from 2011-19. Cal went 179-89 under Gottlieb and made seven NCAA Tournament appearances in her eight seasons in Berkeley, reaching the Bears’ first Final Four in 2013.

Gottlieb was hired away from Cal by Cavs Coach John Beilein in 2019, becoming the seventh female assistant coach in NBA history.

MEN’S BASKETBALL: Fairfield University assistant coach Patrick Sellers has been hired as the head men’s basketball coach at Central Connecticut, his alma mater. Sellers returns to school where he was a team captain as a player in 1991 and began his coaching career as an assistant in 1999, helping the Blue Devils to NCAA Tournament bids in 2000 and 2002.

Sellers was on Jim Calhoun’s staff at UConn from 2004-10 and has also coached at Fairleigh Dickinson, DePaul, Creighton, Hofstra and UMass before spending the last two seasons at Fairfield.

GOLF

PGA: A year ago at the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut, Dustin Johnson sank the final putt to win with fewer than 40 spectators politely clapping instead of the thousands that usually fill the bowl surrounding the 18th green at TPC River Highlands. The PGA Tour event in Connecticut was among the first sporting events in 2020 to resume in its normal spot following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, but as a TV-only experience for fans.

The world’s top-ranked player, who went on to win the Masters last year, plans to be back next month when the Travelers attempts to get back to a semblance of normalcy. The tournament will be held June 24-27, the week after the U.S. Open. It will welcome back fans but with a reduced crowd of about 10,000 each day.

Nathan Grube, the tournament’s director, said Travelers officials are keeping an eye on vaccination and infection rates and may adjust what protocols will or won’t be needed. As of now, they expect to ask fans to continue wearing masks on the golf course and maintain a social distance from one another.

SOCCER

CANADA WORLD CUP: Canada will play its next two World Cup qualifiers in the United States due to coronavirus travel restrictions. The Canadians’ road game against Aruba on June 5 will be played at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, the Canadian Soccer Association said Monday.

The June 8 home match against Suriname will be played at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois, the home of Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire from 2006-19 and currently of the National Women’s Soccer League’s Chicago Red Stars.

Canada opened qualifying with a 5-1 win over Bermuda on March 25 at Orlando, Florida, then routed the Cayman Islands 11-0 four days later at Bradenton. Canada leads Group B of the North and Central American and Caribbean region on goal difference over Suriname (2-0, plus-nine).

The group winner advances to a home-and-home matchup on June 12 and 15 against the Group E winner — Haiti, Nicaragua, Belize or the Turks and Caicos — for a berth in the eight-nation regional finals, which will include the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras and Jamaica.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Playing the all-English Champions League final on home soil at Wembley is proving problematic. Instead, the players and fans of Chelsea and Manchester City could be headed to Portugal.

UEFA’s hopes of playing its club showpiece in Istanbul have been scuppered for a second consecutive season, this time by Turkey being added to England’s “red list” of countries with severe coronavirus outbreaks. The British government decision that made it impossible for supporters to travel to Turkey from England came on Friday, two days after the semifinal lineup was completed. But the government immediately talked with UEFA about the possibility of moving the May 29 final to Wembley.

Discussions between UEFA and the government failed to reach a resolution on Monday with the competition organizer wanting waivers to allow media, sponsors and guests to fly in without having to quarantine, people familiar with the talks told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the talks.

UEFA has given the British government until Tuesday to decide whether authorities can offer all of the travel waivers required. If not, UEFA will consider taking the final to Portugal just like last season. While Benfica’s stadium in Lisbon was the scene of Bayern Munich’s victory over Paris Saint-Germain, Porto is one of the backup options to play this season’s final in the 50,000-capacity Estádio do Dragão.

Portugal is on England’s “green list” of 12 low-risk territories where people aren’t required to quarantine upon their return from next Monday, making it easier for thousands of City and Chelsea fans to be able to travel. Portugal would have to lift its current block on tourists from Britain.

Switzerland, where UEFA is based, is among the amber list of countries from which people arriving in England have to quarantine for 10 days, albeit organized individually rather than via the mandatory hotel isolation in place for arrivals from red-list countries.

But UEFA has already secured exemptions from quarantine for officials and media for the European Championship in England, with eight games at Wembley including the July 11 final.

HOCKEY

NWSL: The six-team National Women’s Hockey League added a third private owner Monday by approving the sale of the Connecticut Whale. The group of investors is led by Tobin Kelly, a mergers and acquisitions specialist with strong hockey ties.

The Whale are based in Danbury and were owned and operated by W Hockey Partners, which took control of the NWHL’s original four franchises for the purpose of selling the teams to private interests last year. The teams were previously operated by the league.

The push for private ownership comes in bid to increase the financial base for a league that was established in 2015 and the first to pay female hockey players a salary. Last month, the NWHL announced it was doubling the salary cap to $300,000 a team based on projections it is making strides in achieving financial stability entering its seventh season.

CYCLING

GIRL D’ITALIA: Breakaway rider Taco van der Hoorn narrowly held off the chasing pack to win the third stage of the Giro d’Italia on Monday, while Filippo Ganna held onto the pink jersey. Van der Hoorn, a Dutch rider, was the last remaining member of an early breakaway in the 190-kilometer (118-mile) route from Biella to Canale, which featured three categorized climbs. He managed to finish four seconds in front of the main pack.

Davide Cimolai crossed second, four seconds behind, and Peter Sagan was third with the same time. Ganna, who won the time trial that opened the race, is 16 seconds ahead of Tobias Foss in the overall standings. Remco Evenepoel is third, 20 seconds back.


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