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U.S. Open champ Angelique Kerber replaces Serena Williams at No. 1 in rankings

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NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. Open champion Angelique Kerber officially became the oldest woman to debut at No. 1 in the WTA rankings, ending Serena Williams’ record-tying run of 186 consecutive weeks in the top spot.

Monday’s rankings are the first since February 2013 without Williams at No. 1.

The 28-year-old Kerber’s rise from No. 2 was assured when Williams lost in the semifinals at Flushing Meadows.

Kerber went on to beat Karolina Pliskova in Saturday’s final for her second Grand Slam title of the season. She defeated Williams at the Australian Open in January, then was the runner-up to the American at Wimbledon in July.

She is the first woman from Germany to be ranked No. 1 since Steffi Graf, who has been a mentor for Kerber. Graf and Williams share the mark for most weeks in a row atop the WTA.

“For sure, when I was growing up, Steffi was my idol,” Kerber said, “and this is also special that she is German. She did a lot for German tennis, as well. And now, to be the next after her, to be a German No. 1 and win Grand Slams, this is, for me, really important.”

Williams is now No. 2, followed by French Open champion Garbine Muguruza at No. 3, Agnieszka Radwanska at No. 4, Simona Halep at No. 5, and Pliskova at a career-best of No. 6. Pliskova was No. 11 before making it past the third round of a major for the first time and becoming the fourth woman to eliminate both Williams sisters during a Grand Slam tournament.

Roberta Vinci, the U.S. Open runner-up in 2015, dropped from No. 8 to No. 15 on Monday after losing to Kerber in the quarterfinals last week.

Victoria Azarenka went from No. 7 to No. 11; she skipped the U.S. Open because she is pregnant.

Novak Djokovic remained at No. 1 in the ATP rankings despite losing to No. 3 Stan Wawrinka in the men’s final at Flushing Meadows on Sunday night. Andy Murray stayed at No. 2.

Rafael Nadal gained one spot to No. 4, and Kei Nishikori moved up from No. 6 to No. 5. Roger Federer slid from No. 4 to No. 7 as he sits out the rest of 2016 while rehabbing his surgically repaired left knee.

Gael Monfils, who lost to Djokovic in the semifinals in New York, jumped from No. 12 to No. 8.

Petra Kvitova to play at French Open

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PARIS — Only two months after picking up her racket for the first time following a knife attack at her home, Petra Kvitova will be playing at the French Open.

The two-time Wimbledon champion said Friday she will make her comeback at Roland Garros, although she still lacks power and strength.

“I knew this day would come,” said Kvitova, who was attacked by an intruder last year. “I’m really happy that really here, the dream comes true.”

Kvitova has missed all season while recovering from surgery on her racket-holding left hand. She sustained damage to the tendons in her left hand, along with injuries to all five fingers and two nerves, during the attack.

Doctors initially thought she would need more time before returning to tennis. But Kvitova’s recovery was faster than expected and she said last month that she was signing up for the French Open, which begins Sunday, in hopes of being able to compete.

“It wasn’t easy, but I’m happy that I work through this and I can play tennis and I can be in the draw,” she said.

Kvitova, who won the Wimbledon title in 2011 and 2014 and climbed as high as No. 2 in the WTA rankings, was not allowed to speak about the attack itself because a police investigation is still ongoing. However, she spoke about the anxiety associated with her dreadful experience.

“I didn’t sleep well the days after, but I wasn’t really staying alone,” she said. “From the beginning I was really feeling really weird when I went in the city or somewhere. I was always staring to the guys and looking if there are no strangers there. But with the time, it’s better.”

Kvitova also provided details on the intense rehabilitation process that preceded her “last-minute” decision to try her luck in Paris.

“I worked very hard behind the scenes,” she said. “From the beginning I had this hand in a splint for two months, and even then I was practicing every day, always putting the splint away and trying to make this scar softer. So from the second day after surgery I started to work with that, which was kind of easy, just passive work with the fingers. I couldn’t move them.”

Kvitova got rid of the splint after two weeks and started to move her fingers slightly. She said she can’t still move them completely.

Kvitova also consulted with a hand specialist in the French city of Grenoble every month and she started practicing with a racket at the end of March.

“I hit a few forehands with soft balls from the net, and it felt very, very weird,” she said. “I didn’t really have touch in the hand for holding the racket. I’m happy that I didn’t have to change any techniques or something. Everything seems OK. Of course the hand doesn’t have that power and the strength yet, but I’m working on it. Hopefully one day will be everything perfect.”

Kvitova will open her campaign on the red clay against 86th-ranked Julia Boserup. She is making her ninth appearance at Roland Garros, where she reached the semifinals in 2012.

“Not many people believe that I can play tennis again. So I’m happy that I can play,” Kvitova said. “I actually already won my biggest fight. I stayed in life and I have all my fingers.”

Nishikori saves three match points in Geneva Open QF win

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GENEVA — Kei Nishikori saved three straight match points in the deciding set before outlasting Kevin Anderson 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6) in the Geneva Open quarterfinals on Thursday.

The second-seeded Nishikori was serving at 4-5, 0-40 before rallying to beat the 62nd-ranked South African, who fired 14 aces without allowing any by his opponent.

Nishikori also trailed in the tiebreaker before creating a second match-point chance with a forehand crosscourt service return for a winner. He clinched with a forehand winner off a looping net-cord ball.

The No. 9-ranked Japanese player will face 33rd-ranked Mischa Zverev of Germany in the semifinals on Friday.

The Russian-born Zverev, who came through qualifying, beat fifth-seeded Steve Johnson of the United States 6-4, 7-5.