Djokovic finally wins French Open, beating Murray in final

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PARIS (AP) Novak Djokovic became the first man in nearly a half-century to win four consecutive major championships and finally earned an elusive French Open title to complete a career Grand Slam, beating Andy Murray 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 on Sunday.

This was the top-seeded Djokovic’s 12th appearance at Roland Garros, and his fourth final, and after being stymied over and over in years past, he managed to cast aside a shaky opening set to dominate No. 2 Murray the rest of the way, buoyed by a supportive crowd that repeatedly chanted his nickname, “No-le!”

When his victory was over, Djokovic took a racket to etch a heart in the red clay that had given him such heartache in the past and dropped down on his back.

Since losing the 2015 final in Paris, Djokovic has won 28 Grand Slam matches in a row, from Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year, to the Australian Open in January, and now, at long last, the French Open.

The last man to hold all four major titles simultaneously was Rod Laver in 1969, when he earned a calendar-year Grand Slam. Djokovic now can set his sights on that ultimate tennis achievement, because he is halfway there.

The 29-year-old Serb’s first French Open trophy goes alongside six from the Australian Open, three from Wimbledon and two from the U.S. Open to give him a total of 12. Among men, only Roger Federer (with 17), Rafael Nadal (14) and Pete Sampras (14) own more.

On Sunday – the weather overcast but dry, unlike so much of the rainy past two weeks – the first choruses of “No-le! No-le!” accompanied Djokovic’s entrance to the court. They returned when an announcer introduced Djokovic during the warmup period. And again when he skipped from sideline to baseline to receive in the opening game – and, louder still, when Djokovic broke two-time major champion Murray to start.

All in all, it sounded as if this were Belgrade, rather than a neutral site.

Sharapova, Puig heading to Puerto Rico for hurricane relief

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) Maria Sharapova and Monica Puig will head to Puerto Rico next week to help with recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria.

Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion, and Puig, who won Puerto Rico’s first Olympic gold medal in any sport at the Rio de Janeiro Games last summer, will go to the island Monday to distribute portable stoves, medicine and other supplies.

The agency that represents both players said Wednesday that Puig has raised more than $125,000 to help storm victims, while Sharapova is donating proceeds from her candy company for the rest of 2017.

The storm swept across Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, causing at least 48 deaths, according to the official tally. It caused widespread flooding and knocked out the entire power grid for the island of 3.4 million people.

 

Sharapova loses to Rybarikova at Kremlin Cup

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MOSCOW (AP) Maria Sharapova was beaten by Magdalena Rybarikova 7-6 (3), 6-4 in the first round of the Kremlin Cup on Tuesday, ending her bid for a second title in two weeks.

Sharapova, who won the Tianjin Open two days ago, brought her usual power but lacked accuracy with some wild swings on key points.

“I felt fine physically, to be honest, especially after having played five matches in five days (in Tianjin). That was a big surprise,” Sharapova said. “Maybe I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been … Maybe if this tournament hadn’t been in Moscow, I wouldn’t have played it.”

Sharapova was under pressure on serve from the start and saved six break points before finally being broken to 6-5. She responded by breaking Rybarikova, but Sharapova’s double fault at 4-3 in the tiebreaker handed the Slovakian the momentum to close out the set.

Rybarikova, seeded eighth, sealed the match after saving two break points to lead 5-4, then breaking Sharapova in the next game. Rybarikova will play Alize Cornet in the second round.

Six months after she returned from a 15-month doping ban, Sharapova is still trying to move back up the rankings from her current position of 57th. Her first tour appearance in Moscow in a decade drew a large and enthusiastic crowd despite taking place on a Tuesday afternoon.

Also Tuesday, seventh-seeded Julia Goerges beat Russian qualifier Polina Monova 6-0, 6-3 to set up a second-round meeting with Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.

In the men’s Kremlin Cup tournament, sixth-seeded Damir Dzumhur defeated Thomas Fabbiano 6-3, 0-6, 6-2.