Joel Embiid gains U.S. citizenship, mum on Olympic nationality – NBC Sports

Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid said he is now a U.S. citizen and it’s way too early to think about what nation he would represent at the Olympics.
“I just want to be healthy and win a championship and go from there,” he said, according to The Associated Press.
Embiid, 28, was born in Cameroon and has never competed in a major international tournament. In July, he gained French nationality, a step toward being able to represent that nation at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
In the spring, French media reported that Embiid started the process to become eligible to represent France in international basketball, quoting national team general manager Boris Diaw.
Embiid was second in NBA MVP voting this season behind Serbian Nikola Jokic. He was the All-NBA second team center.
What nation Embiid represents could have a major impact on the Paris Games.
In Tokyo, a French team led by another center, Rudy Gobert, handed the U.S. its first Olympic defeat since 2004. That was in group play. The Americans then beat the French in the gold-medal game 87-82.
That France team had five NBA players to the U.S.’ 12: Nicolas BatumEvan FournierTimothe Luwawu-CabarrotFrank Ntilikina and Gobert.
Anthony Davis, who skipped the Tokyo Olympics, is the lone U.S. center to make an All-NBA team in the last five seasons. In that time, Embiid made four All-NBA second teams and Gobert made three All-NBA third teams.
No Olympic team other than the U.S. has ever had two reigning All-NBA players on its roster.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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At the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic can win a men’s record-extending 10th Australian Open title and tie Rafael Nadal for the most men’s major singles titles in history.
Djokovic was PointsBet Sportsbook’s pre-tournament favorite despite being seeded fourth after missing last year’s Australian Open and U.S. Open because of his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
His stock in Melbourne has only risen after Nadal, the defending champion and top seed, was injured and ousted in the second round by American Mackenzie McDonald. The next day, the No. 2 seed, Norwegian Casper Ruud, was knocked out by American Jenson Brooksby.
Djokovic won three consecutive Australian Opens after a fourth-round defeat in 2018. He is bidding to move one shy of the overall record 11 Australian Open singles titles held by Margaret Court and become the second man to win any major 10 times.
The other man to do it is of course Nadal, who owns 14 French Open crowns. Nadal also owns the men’s record 22 Grand Slam singles titles overall, just one ahead of Djokovic.
Last year, Nadal won the Australian Open on the heels of a chronic foot injury that had him questioning coming back to tennis at all. He also overcame foot problems to win the French Open, then reach the Wimbledon semifinals before withdrawing with an abdominal muscle tear.
Starting with his U.S. Open fourth-round defeat, Nadal went 1-6 in his seven matches leading into the Australian Open. He beat Jack Draper in the first round this year, but was swept by McDonald amid a hip injury in the second round.
This is the first Australian Open since Roger Federer‘s retirement. Also missing: the injured world No. 1 and U.S. Open champion Carlos Alcaraz of Spain, who at 19 became the youngest men’s Grand Slam champion since Nadal’s first title at the 2005 French Open.
No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, a three-time Australian Open semifinalist, is now the highest seed left in the draw. He is in the half opposite of Djokovic.
MORE: Australian Open Women’s Draw
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Top-ranked Iga Swiatek‘s defeat in the fourth round blew open the Australian Open women’s singles draw.
Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan took out Swiatek, a two-time French Open champion who won the most recent major, the U.S. Open in September.
This was already the first major field without any woman with four or more Slam titles since the 2003 U.S. Open.
That’s due to Serena Williams‘ retirement after the U.S. Open, Naomi Osaka‘s pregnancy break and Venus Williams‘ withdrawal due to injury. Other multiple major winners are also absent: Simona Halep due to a provisional doping ban and Angelique Kerber due to pregnancy. Not to mention reigning champion Ash Barty‘s retirement last March.
No. 3 seed Jessica Pegula, who swept Swiatek in the United Cup earlier in January, is now the top seed left. She can end the longest U.S. women’s singles major title drought this century and longest U.S. men’s and women’s singles major drought in the Open Era (since 1968).
Coco Gauff, the runner-up to Swiatek at last year’s French Open, lost in the fourth round.
While Pegula is in the top half of the draw, the bottom half is led by No. 4 seed Caroline Garcia of France and No. 5 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
No. 2 Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, the Wimbledon and U.S. Open runner-up, was eliminated in the second round.
MORE: Australian Open Men’s Draw
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