Kuznetsova wins a dramatic three-set match against Radwanska

Leave a comment

SINGAPORE — A physically spent Svetlana Kuznetsova claimed a draining 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 win over defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska in nearly three hours at the WTA Finals on Monday.

Kuznetsova, who saved a match point on Radwanska’s serve near the end, eventually prevailed on a third match point to break Radwanska’s serve.

“At some point I was just ready to let it go, just lay on the court and let them take me out of here,” Kuznetsova told the cheering crowd. “I was just trying to stay in there and hang in there.”

Kuznetsova was the last player to earn a berth into the eight-player, year-end championships when she defended her Moscow title on Saturday.

The Russian arrived in Singapore on Sunday afternoon after a grueling four weeks of chasing a spot in the WTA Finals for the first time since 2009.

Kuznetsova played three tournaments in China ahead of taking a wildcard into the Moscow tournament.

In a bizarre move while trailing 1-2 and down a break in the third set, Kuznetsova took a pair of scissors to the back of her head and cut off a portion of her braid during the changeover.

Kuznetsova immediately broke Radwanska’s serve after the impromptu haircut, but after dropping her serve again in the fifth game she cried into her towel on the changeover.

Still, trailing 2-4 Kuznetsova refused to surrender and climbed back into the set.

The hair Kuznetsova sheared off remained on her chair for the remainder of the match.

Serena Williams loses in 1st round at Miami Open to Osaka

Getty Images
Leave a comment

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Serena Williams lost in the first round of the Miami Open on Wednesday, still rusty in her return from pregnancy and unable to overcome a tough draw against Naomi Osaka, who won 6-3, 6-2.

The 20-year-old Osaka, who earned her first career title Sunday at Indian Wells, showed no signs of letup and overpowered the erratic Williams. Osaka had the stronger serve, and in rallies wore down Williams working her from side to side.

The matchup worthy of a final came about because both players are unseeded. Osaka is ranked a career-best 22nd, while Williams’ ranking is 491st after her layoff of more than a year.

Another new mother and former No. 1, three-time Key Biscayne champion Victoria Azarenka, defeated Catherine Bellis 6-3, 6-0.

Williams has endured a first-round defeat only four other times, most recently at the 2012 French Open. The latest loss came at a tournament she has won a record eight times and considers her hometown event.

The match was the last for Williams at Key Biscayne, 90 miles south of her home in Palm Beach Gardens. The tournament is moving next year to the Miami Dolphins’ stadium, and Williams helped with the ceremonial groundbreaking Monday.

After her defeat, she left without speaking to the media.

Because of Williams’ ranking, she entered the draw as a wild card, and looked the part. She was a step slow to balls in the corners and often late with her swing, while she put barely half her first serves in play.

Osaka, who has both American and Japanese citizenship and lives in Fort Lauderdale, was playing her idol for the first time but didn’t seem a bit fazed. She improved to 14-4 this year.

Things may get tougher for her in the second round, when she’ll face No. 4-seeded Elina Svitolina.

More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

Sock, Querrey, Isner among U.S. Davis Cup picks

Getty Images
Leave a comment

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Jack Sock, Sam Querrey, John Isner, Ryan Harrison and Steve Johnson have been picked for the U.S. Davis Cup team that will face Belgium in the quarterfinals next month in Nashville, Tennessee.

The U.S. Tennis Association announced captain Jim Courier’s roster Wednesday. Belgium’s team hasn’t been made public yet.

Sock is the highest-ranked American man at No. 11 this week, with Querrey at 14th and Isner 17th.

The matches will be played on a hard court at Belmont University from April 6-8.

The winner will face Croatia or Kazakhstan in the semifinals Sept. 14-16. The U.S. hasn’t been to the Davis Cup’s final four since 2012.

The United States holds a 4-0 record against Belgium in the Davis Cup, but the countries last played each other in 2005.