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Radwanska beats Svitolina to take Connecticut Open title

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) Top-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska completed a dominating week at the Connecticut Open on Sunday, beating Elina Svitolina 6-1, 7-6 (3) in the final then spraying her coaches and friends with champagne.

The Polish star didn’t drop a set during the tournament, her 19th WTA championship. She took control of the final from the start, winning 20 of the first 27 points, jumping out to a 5-0 lead.

She ran the 21-year-old Ukrainian all over the court, chasing down shots and placing her own with pinpoint accuracy. Svitolina held off two set points in the sixth game, but Radwanska was able to serve out the set in 29 minutes.

“I was really feeling good this week,” Radwanska said. “Everything was working. I was feeling very confident on that court.”

The second set was much closer. It included three service breaks for each player and a 37-shot rally in the ninth game. Radwanska broke serve in that game to go up 5-4 and seemed to be in control, especially after Svitolina turned her ankle chasing a lob shot.

But the 10th seed rallied, breaking back and going up 6-5. Radwanska saved two set points to force the tiebreaker, and took five of the last six points to win it.

Svitolina committed 36 unforced errors, including a backhand into the net to end the match.

“Set points, they come and go in five seconds,” Svitolina said. “She served two big serves. She placed it really well.”

Radwanska had never before made it past the quarterfinals in New Haven, but had a relatively easy trip this year that included a first round bye and straight set wins over Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, lucky loser Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium and a 6-1, 6-1 semifinal victory over two-time champion Petra Kvitova.

She becomes the first top seed to win since Caroline Wozniacki did it in 2011. The title is Radwanska’s second this season after taking the Shenzhen Open in China in January.

She takes home just over $130,000 for winning in Connecticut, but also earned enough points to clinch the U.S. Open Series bonus challenge. That means a chance for up to an extra $1 million, depending on her finish in New York next week, where she will be the No. 4 seed.

“So now it’s everything in my power to do good in the U.S. Open,” she said with a big grin. “It will be worth it, right?”

Svitolina, who beat Serena Williams in the third round at the Olympics, is now 4-1 in WTA finals, but this was her first at a Premier level event. She was playing this tournament for the fourth time and had never before made it out of the first round.

She said it was a disappointing first set, but an otherwise encouraging week.

“There is no time to be sad because U.S. Open is just on Monday,” she said.

Nadal, Muguruza win ITF player of the year awards

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LONDON — Rafael Nadal and Garbine Muguruza have won the International Tennis Federation’s player of the year awards.

At 31, Nadal becomes the oldest ITF men’s world champion after a season in which he won a 10th French Open and a third U.S. Open.

The Spaniard also became the oldest player to finish the year at No. 1 since the ATP rankings began in 1973.

Muguruza dropped only one set en route to her first Wimbledon title and finished the year at No. 2 behind Simona Halep.

“Becoming ITF world champion in such a competitive year is amazing for me,” said Muguruza, who is also Spanish. “(Nadal) is a great role model for all of us, so it is a great moment for tennis in Spain.”

Kuznetsova out of Australian Open after left wrist surgery

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova has withdrawn from next month’s Australian Open after having surgery on her left wrist.

Tennis Australia on Friday said No. 12-ranked Kuznetsova and China’s Sasai Zheng, with a right knee injury, were the only players ranked in the top 100 who are confirmed as not playing the Jan. 15-28 tournament at Melbourne Park.

Serena Williams, who was pregnant while winning the 2017 Australian Open title and gave birth to her first child in September, “is anticipated to return,” Tennis Australia said.

Williams could equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles with another win at Melbourne Park. Serena Williams’ ranking has dropped to No. 22 during her break from the tour.