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Australia downs U.S. in Davis Cup quarterfinals

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BRISBANE, Australia — Australia advanced to the Davis Cup semifinals after Nick Kyrgios beat late substitute Sam Querrey of the United States 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-4 in the first reverse singles match on Sunday, clinching the quarterfinal 3-1.

On a hard court at Pat Rafter Arena, Kyrgios and his singles partner Jordan Thompson gave Australia a 2-0 lead on Friday before the American team staved off elimination on Saturday when Jack Sock, who lost to Thompson on Friday, and partner Steve Johnson beat Sam Groth and John Peers 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.

Querrey was supposed to be Johnson’s doubles partner, but American captain Jim Courier, who said it would take “monstrous effort” for the Americans to win the tie, pulled a swap, putting Sock into doubles and allowing Querrey to be fresh for Kyrgios.

That worked for a while during an evenly-played first set, but Kyrgios gradually overpowered the American with his strong serves and backhand. Querrey broke Kyrgios’ serve in the fourth game of the third set, and held to lead 4-1.

But Kyrgios stepped it up a notch and won the last five games of the match, jumping up and hugging Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt and his teammates when the match ended.

The often-volatile Kyrgios was mostly at his best behavior and won both his singles matches in straight sets, although the final two sets against John Isner on Friday were in close tiebreakers, 7-5 each time, after Kyrgios prevailed in the opening set 7-5.

Australia will play either Belgium or Italy in September’s semifinals, with Belgium leading that quarterfinal 2-1 ahead of Sunday’s reverse singles. If Belgium wins, they will host the semifinal, if Italy comes back to claim victory, they will have to travel Down Under.

The U.S. has won the title a leading 32 times, with Australia second with 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.