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Keys withdraws from Connecticut Open with neck injury

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Madison Keys withdrew from the Connecticut Open after injuring her neck Sunday during a practice session ahead of the tournament she planned to use as a tuneup for the U.S. Open.

Keys said she was hitting a forehand return when she felt pain on the right side of her neck. “I probably hit it late. … As soon as I finished the stroke I knew that I did something,” she said.

Keys, who is ranked No. 9 in the world and seeded third in the tournament, has had trouble with her neck in the past.

She said she would seek medical treatment and hoped to be better in time for the U.S. Open.

“Coming off a good Montreal (tournament) and having a good Olympics, I wanted to have another good week before the Open,” she said.

The 21-year-old American reached the semifinals in the Olympic women’s tennis tournament in Rio de Janeiro, losing to Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic in the bronze medal match.

Camila Giorgi of Italy replaced Keys in the Connecticut Open field as a lucky loser.

Ekaterina Makarova of Russia beat Sara Errani of Italy 7-5, 6-2 on Sunday; American Shelby Rogers topped France’s Kristina Mladenovic 6-1, 6-1; and Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine edged Daria Kasatkina of Russia 6-4, 5-7, 6-0.

Top-seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland and second-seeded Roberta Vinci of Italy have byes to the second round, while defending champion Petra Kvitova and wild-card entrants Eugenie Bouchard of Canada and Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark are scheduled to play Monday.

Czech players Barbora Strycova and Karolina Pliskova also withdrew. Strycova pulled out with an illness and has been replaced by U.S. qualifier Nicole Gibbs. Pliskova, the No. 8 seed, withdrew with a lower back injury. Her replacement in the field will be announced Monday.

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.

Maria Sharapova wins her 1st title since doping ban

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TIANJIN, China (AP) Maria Sharapova won her first WTA title since returning from a doping ban after defeating Aryna Sabalenka to win the Tianjin Open on Sunday.

The Russian, a tournament wild card, overcame Belarusian teenager Sabalenka 7-5, 7-6 (8) despite trailing heavily in both sets.

Sharapova last won a title at the Italian Open in May 2015.

The former top-ranked player and owner of five major titles, including the 2006 U.S. Open, tested positive for the newly banned drug meldonium at the Australian Open in January 2016. That led to a 15-month doping ban, which expired in April.

“Such a special, special tournament, and victory for me, one that I’ll remember forever,” Sharapova said. “Sometimes you never know when it will all come together but it happened to me this week in Tianjin.”

Sharapova displayed resilience as she came from behind in both sets to overcome her 19-year-old opponent.

Sabalenka led 4-1 in the opener and 5-1 in the second before relenting to Sharapova’s greater big-match experience. It was Sharapova’s 36th WTA singles title.

The 30-year-old Sharapova played in her first Grand Slam tournament following the ban at the U.S. Open in August, where she reached the fourth round. Sunday’s result will lift Sharapova up to No. 57 in the world rankings.