Robert Lewandowski joined skiing greats Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin in saluting Iga Swiatek for earning the number one ranking in women's tennis for the first time.

At the age of 20, Swiatek guaranteed she will top the WTA list after the Miami Open by beating Viktorija Golubic 6-2 6-0 in her opening match at the event.

Swiatek will replace Ash Barty, whose shock retirement will see the Australian drop off the ranking ladder entirely when it is next published on April 4.

Since a shock French Open victory in October 2020, when the unseeded Swiatek stormed through the draw without dropping a set, the Polish youngster has continued to make a major impact.

She reached at least the fourth round of all the grand slams last year and was a semi-finalist at the 2022 Australian Open, before victory at WTA 1000 events in Doha and Indian Wells propelled her to number two in the rankings.

Now she will climb a step higher, and that news has proven popular with Swiatek's supporters, who include a number of illustrious names.

Fellow Polish sporting star Lewandowski, who is rewriting goalscoring records in Germany with Bayern Munich, sent his compatriot a message on Instagram that read simply: "Congratulations Iga. Well done."

Swiatek is a huge admirer of Americans Vonn and Shiffrin, who have both landed World Championship and Olympic gold medals on the slopes, and the respect is mutual.

Vonn told Swiatek her achievement was "So deserved!!", and Shiffrin posted: "Congrats Iga!!"

Former WTA number one Kim Clijsters, who was also 20 when she first hit the top spot in 2003, felt it was a natural next step for Swiatek to move up a rung and become the 28th top-ranked player in the tour's history. Swiatek will also be the first Pole to sit at the summit.

Clijsters said: "To see Iga grow as a tennis player, it has been so beautiful for me. There's a certain type of focus that is on tennis, and tennis only. There's a drive there that I admire very much – a drive that I recognise."

Belgian Clijsters, quoted on the WTA website, added: "She's had great results in the past, but she still wants to improve. We've seen others that kind of take a step back and say, 'Oh, I've won a slam now, I've made it. There's sponsors coming in and I get treated like a princess wherever I go'.

"Just because you’re the number one player and have won slams, doesn't mean you should treat other people differently. I feel like Ash Barty did that amazingly, and I think Iga has that focus, too."

Mikaela Shiffrin was left feeling "like a joke" after her latest Beijing 2022 disappointment as the American recorded her third DNF in the women's combined.

Thursday's event provided Shiffrin with a chance to redeem herself after crashing out of the giant slalom and slalom, before finishing ninth in the super-G and 18th in the downhill.

But after recording the best time in training on Wednesday, the two-time gold medallist and reigning world champion endured yet more heartbreak on the main run.

She was fifth after the downhill in the two-event competition and well positioned to earn a fourth Winter Olympics medal heading into the slalom run.

However, Shiffrin – famed for her consistency – skied out of the slalom course at the 10th gate at the Yanqing National Alpine Ski Centre.

Switzerland's Michelle Gisin defended her combined crown by finishing more than a second ahead of team-mate Wendy Holdener, while Italy's Federica Brignone took bronze.

Asked by Discovery+ what is not working for her in Beijing, Shiffrin said: "That's the question you want to know and it's what I want to know too. 

"I don't really understand what's not working on these races. Especially today.

"Even in the GS and slalom I felt maybe I had too high intensity, I was trying too hard, and I just didn't get into my rhythm first.

"Today I was much more relaxed. Just 'Hey it's slalom, I know how to do slalom, I will take the chance to get into my tempo and start pushing each gate and build it from there.'

"I didn't want to hold back on the run just to make it to the finish – and I wasn't. But I also wasn't going 110 per cent. I was just skiing, and it still didn't work. 

"I don't have a really good explanation for it, and you can imagine how annoying that is for me, because I always want to find an explanation. Right now it's just, there isn't one."

Speaking to reporters later on Thursday, Shiffrin went further as she opened up on the hurt of falling short in each event.

"The whole shebang in sport is that you can have preparation, you can have confidence, or maybe you're not fully confident, you can have all of these pieces," she said. 

"Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I have literally no idea why we keep coming back and doing it. Especially after today.

"But I'm going to come back out tomorrow and ski some parallel GS, because I'm that much of an idiot. I don't know why we keep doing it, but making good turns feels amazing. 

"And I've been doing that these entire two weeks. I wish there was something to show for it. Right now, I just feel like a joke."

Shiffrin has one final chance to win a medal when competing for the United States in Saturday's mixed team parallel event.

Mikaela Shiffrin has two ugly DNF marks by her name so far at the Winter Olympics, but it could be third time lucky for the American on Friday.

The 26-year-old took home one gold medal from both the 2014 Sochi Games and 2018 in Pyeongchang, and came to Beijing with high hopes of adding to that haul.

Ester Ledecka is among the rivals who will also be targeting the super-G podium, while other multiple champions in action elsewhere on Friday include Shaun White and Dario Cologna.

Here, Stats Perform previews each of the day's medal events. 

Alpine skiing

Shiffrin took super-G gold at the 2019 World Championships, so she cannot be counted out here, providing she cuts out the errors and finishes the course.

Italians Federica Brignone, Elena Curtoni and Sofia Goggia are 1-2-3 in the World Cup standings, so should be factors, while Czech star Ledecka is chasing a second extraordinary double. She took snowboard parallel giant slalom gold earlier in the Games, and after winning both that and the super-G in 2018, she cannot be ruled out.

Switzerland's Lara Gut-Behrami won the world title last year and sits fifth in the World Cup standings, but a reigning world champion has never won gold in the women's Olympic super-G.

Biathlon

Can Norway's Marte Olsbu Roeiseland upgrade from silver four years ago in the women's 7.5km sprint? Her World Cup form has been good, with two wins in the sprints, so gold is a realistic aim. She already has one gold from Beijing, in the team relay, and a bronze from the 15km individual.

Norway's Tiril Eckhoff has not shown her best form in the World Cup this year, but Roeiseland's compatriot is the reigning world champion, a two-time Olympic relay gold medallist, and could come into the equation.

Cross-country skiing

Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo won gold in the sprint and should again be a factor in Friday's men's 15km classic, but the Norwegian says Finland's Iivo Niskanen is the hottest prospect for top of the podium. 

"He's definitely the favourite I would say, together with [Alexander] Bolshunov," said Klaebo. "All of us need to have the best day we can have, and it will be tough but we're just going to give it all and hopefully manage to have a good day and to have good skis and everything and then for sure it's possible."

Swiss veteran Cologna has won this event in the last three Olympics, but a four-peat seems an unlikely prospect.

Short track speed skating

Netherlands' Suzanne Schulting competes in the women's 1,000m, looking to defend the title, which has not been achieved since Lee-kyung Chun did so in 1998. South Korea and China have won 16 of the 21 medals in this event since its Olympic debut in 1994.

Skeleton

Christopher Grotheer was star of the show as the men's skeleton began on Thursday, leading by 0.70 seconds after two runs. That is a significant gap, with the German's closest rival being his compatriot Alex Jungk.

World champion Grotheer said: "The first run was brilliant, and the second run was also really good. I have a really good first day and I hope [on Friday] I can show this performance too."

Snowboard

American White heads into the halfpipe knowing this will be his career swan song, having decided to retire. Three times a gold medallist, the 35-year-old is bidding to become the first man to win individual gold medals at four Winter Olympics.

White was fourth in qualifying, with Japan's Ayumu Hirano leading the way.

Speed skating

Sweden's Nils van der Poel has made his mark on and off the rink in Beijing, winning gold in the men's 5,000m before making a raft of accusations, claiming the dominant Netherlands team have unduly influenced racing conditions. He goes again on Friday in the men's 10,000m and is the likely champion.

Lindsey Jacobellis ended a 16-year wait for Winter Olympics gold as the United States claimed their first top spot on the podium at Beijing 2022.

Jacobellis faltered at the penultimate jump at Turin 2006, but made amends in convincing fashion as she managed gold at the Genting Snow Park in the snowboard cross on Wednesday.

That was the USA's first gold of the 2022 Games as the 36-year-old collected the only title missing from her illustrious trophy cabinet, finishing ahead of France's Chloe Trespeuch who took silver.

Meanwhile, Petra Vlhova laid down an early marker in the women's slalom and, despite a host of world-class skiers coming down after her, claimed Slovakia's first ever Alpine skiing gold.

Vlhova was eighth after the morning session, but produced the run of the day in the afternoon after inspiration from coach Mauro Pini, who revealed the words of encouragement he gave the 26-year-old.

"We were just asking Petra between the two runs to really be courageous," Pini said. "Big heart on the slope, second run. Nothing to lose, just to be in the room tonight and don't regret nothing."

"After the first run I was a bit down, angry and sad," Vlhova added. "I started to not believe in myself. But I'm lucky because I have [the] best team ever and [the] best coach."

Ruud matches Gu feat with big air triumph

Birk Ruud followed in Eileen Gu's footsteps by becoming just the second freestyle skier to win gold at both the Youth Olympic Winter Games and Olympic Winter Games with victory in the men's freeski big air.

The Norwegian, aged 21 years and 313 days, is the youngest to earn an Olympic medal in freestyle skiing for his country, and he did it in some style as well.

The 21-year-old, who skipped last month's X Games to play it safe amid coronavirus, secured top spot before his final run, which he completed draped in a Norwegian flag at Big Air Shougang.

The big air champion credited the victory to his father Oivind, who died of cancer of April 2021.

"I'm just thankful to be in this position and I'm thankful for all the time I had with my dad," Ruud said after his win. "I still have my family, and I have a lot of people that support me, and I'm very thankful for that."

Arlt and Wendl make luge history

Tobias Arlt and Tobias Wendl created luge history as they became the first ever athletes to win the luge doubles three times – earning their fifth Olympic gold.

That equals the Olympic best in the sport set by their countrywoman Natalie Geisenberger, while no other men have ever claimed more first-place finishes than the pair when representing modern-day Germany at the Games.

Wendl and Arlt also joined speed skaters Lidia Skoblikova and Eric Heiden as the only athletes to claim at least five gold medals at the Olympic Winter Games without ever winning silver or bronze.

The German duo also extended their record as the oldest gold medallists in the event (both 34), as Germany continued their dominance in luge events at Beijing 2022.

Shiffrin slips away from record-medal haul chance

Vlhova may have secured her piece of history with Slovakia's maiden Alpine skiing title, but American pre-Games favourite Mikaela Shiffrin had a day to forget.

Shiffrin, a double Olympic and six-time world champion, fouled on the fifth gate just two days after her surprise early exit from the giant slalom.

The 26-year-old has another chance in Friday's super-G event, but admitted she is starting to doubt herself after consecutive failures.

"It's not the end of the world and it's so stupid to care this much, but I feel I have to question a lot now," Shiffrin said. 

"I will try to reset again. Maybe try to reset better this time but I also don't know how to do better because I just don't. I have never been in this position before and I don't know how to handle it." 

Mikaela Shiffrin will try to "reset" after suffering a second consecutive disqualification at the Winter Olympics.

The American missed a gate in her first run in the women's slalom on Wednesday, compounding her woes after skiing out of Monday's giant slalom.

Shiffrin, the overall World Cup leader and heavily fancied in both events, had only failed to finish 14 times in 229 starts across all disciplines at World Cup, Olympic and World Championship events ahead of competing in Beijing.

But these two setbacks have left the two-time Olympic gold medal winner questioning herself.

"I was pushing and maybe it was just past my limit," she said.

"I feel that I have to question a lot now. I will try to reset again and maybe try to reset better this time.

"But I also don't know how to do it better. Because I just don't – I've never been in this position before, and I don't know how to handle it."

Shiffrin struggled to fight back tears as she reflected on a dismal start to the Games, where she had started with hopes of medals in five events.

"It's so stupid to care this much,” she said. "It feels like a really big let-down.

"There were some people who expected I might win, maybe hoped I might win.

"I know that, for the people working closest to me, we were all crossing our fingers, and also doing all the work I could possibly do to give myself the best chance.

"We came all this way. And we're not done yet. But GS and slalom, those were my biggest focuses. It really feels like a lot of work for nothing."

The 26-year-old can still salvage medal glory in her remaining events – the super-G, downhill and combined.

Mikaela Shiffrin was disqualified from the giant slalom on Monday as her Winter Olympics began in disappointing fashion.

The defending champion missed a gate and fell on her hip only five turns into her first run at the challenging course known as the Ice River.

It was a rare error from the United States star, who has three Winter Olympic medals including two golds. She is bidding to become the first American to win three golds at the Games in alpine skiing.

Shiffrin has only failed to finish 14 times in 229 starts across all disciplines at World Cup, Olympic and world championship events and was top of the overall World Cup standings coming into Beijing.

"I won't hide the disappointment, but I'm not going to dwell on it because that won't help me," she said.

"I felt that I was pushing really quite well and attacking. But there was just one turn, I had a small, small mistiming when I really went to push on my edges and that makes all the difference.

"I have been really working on the right timing of my turns and really never thought this was going to be part of the issue. But it wasn't because I was holding back, so I can be proud of that. But it's five turns into the Olympic GS, there's disappointment for sure."

In total, there were 19 DNFs among the 80 starters in round one alone, including last year's World Cup winner Marta Bassino.

Sweden's Sara Hector took gold at the end of the second run, ahead of Federica Brignone and Lara Gut-Behrami.

Shiffrin, who will compete for five more medals at these Games, will next be involved in the slalom on Wednesday.

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