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Halep into 3rd round at Wuhan Open

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WUHAN, China — Former French Open finalist Simona Halep took less than 70 minutes to reach the third round of the Wuhan Open, advancing Monday when fellow Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu retired in the second set of their second-round match.

The No. 4-seeded Halep was leading 6-3, 2-0 when Begu retired with a back injury amid warm and humid conditions. Halep, who skipped the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo last week because of a hamstring strain, had a first-round bye at Wuhan.

In first-round matches, 2014 champion Petra Kvitova opened with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Jelena Ostapenko and set up a meeting with Elina Svitolina, who rallied from a break down in the third set to beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

“This was the fourth time we’ve played this season and I’m glad now it’s 2-2,” Kvitova said. “I know how difficult it can be to play her and how dangerous she is.”

No. 10-seeded Dominika Cibulkova had a 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 win over Alize Cornet and Yulia Putintseva was leading 6-1, 4-1 when Anastasija Sevastova retired from their match.

Johanna Konta, the 11th seed, had a 6-1, 6-2 win over Annika Beck, and Madison Brengle advanced after leading 6-3, 2-1 when British qualifier Heather Watson retired because of a stomach complaint.

Top-seeded Angelique Kerber is in action on Tuesday against Kristina Mladenovic, who had a 7-6 (5), 6-3 first-round win over CoCo Vandeweghe.

Serena Williams, who was replaced by Kerber at No. 1 in the rankings with her run to the U.S. Open title, has withdrawn from the tournaments in Wuhan and Beijing because of an injured right shoulder.

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.