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Davis Cup: US wins doubles to stay alive in quarterfinal

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BRISBANE, Australia — Late substitute Jack Sock and partner Steve Johnson kept the United States alive in its Davis Cup quarterfinal with Australia, beating Sam Groth and John Peers 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 in Saturday’s doubles.

The win on a hard court at Brisbane’s Pat Rafter Arena reduced Australia’s advantage to 2-1 ahead of Sunday’s reverse singles.

U.S. captain Jim Courier replaced scheduled doubles player Sam Querrey with Sock about an hour ahead of Saturday’s match, despite Sock having lost his singles match to Jordan Thompson on Friday.

After losing the opening set Saturday, the American pair steadily gained confidence throughout the match, defending strongly and forcing Australia to stay in long rallies. In the fifth set, the Americans broke Peers’ serve to love and outplayed the Australians to clinch the match.

On Friday in singles, Nick Kyrgios finished off John Isner with his 20th ace, beating the American 7-5, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) after Thompson upset Sock 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4 to give the hosts a 2-0 lead.

On Sunday, Kyrgios is up first and scheduled to play Sock, then Thompson is set to play Isner.

The winner of the quarterfinal will play Italy or Belgium in September. Belgium leads their quarterfinal 2-0 at home on an indoor hard court in Charleroi.

The U.S. has won the title a leading 32 times, with Australia second on 28. But the U.S hasn’t won the Davis Cup since 2007, and Australia not since 2003.

 

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.