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Defending women’s champ Kerber out in 1st round at US Open

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NEW YORK — Angelique Kerber is gone from the U.S. Open, the first defending champion eliminated in the first round in 12 years.

The sixth-seeded German is out of the tournament and on her way out of the top 10 after being beaten by Naomi Osaka of Japan 6-3, 6-1 in one of the only completed matches on a rainy Tuesday.

Not since Svetlana Kuznetsova lost in the first round in 2005 had the defending U.S. Open women’s champion been ousted so early.

But perhaps it wasn’t so surprising after Kerber played so poorly following her breakthrough 2016, when she also won the Australian Open and lost to Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final.

This year, she fell in the first round of the French Open, that first time that had ever happened to the women’s No. 1 seed in that tournament.

Kerber and Osaka had the stage to themselves after play was suspended on all courts other than Arthur Ashe Stadium, which has a retractable roof that was closed midway through No. 1 Karolina Pliskova’s 6-2, 6-1 victory over Magda Linette of Poland.

Kerber then took the same court where she beat Pliskova for the title last year and took another stinging defeat in what’s been a season-long slump since winning her second Grand Slam title.

The left-hander fell to 25-18 with no titles in 2017 after she was No. 1 last year. She needed to make it to at least the round of 16 to stay in the top 10 and couldn’t get close. She had been in the top 10 since Oct. 5, 2015, a run that would total 101 weeks before she falls out.

Osaka broke for a 5-3 lead in the first set, then seized control when she broke twice in the second set to open a 4-1 cushion. She finished off the 65-minute victory when Kerber dumped a forehand into the net on match point before quickly departing for the locker room.

It was Osaka’s first victory over a top-10 opponent after she was oh-so-close to beating a top player here last year, blowing a 5-1 lead in the third set and losing to Madison Keys in the third round.

With No. 2 Simona Halep’s loss to Maria Sharapova on Monday night and seventh-seeded Johanna Konta also falling, three of the top-seven seeds on the women’s side were gone by the mid-day Tuesday – with Williams not playing because she’s pregnant.

Wozniacki upsets Muguruza to reach Pan Pacific Open final

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TOKYO — Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki upset top-ranked Garbine Muguruza 6-2, 6-0 to advance to the final of the Pan Pacific Open on Saturday.

Wozniacki, a champion here in 2010 and 2016, converted six of seven break points to reach her seventh final of 2017.

Playing in her first tournament since earning the WTA’s top ranking, Wimbledon champion Muguruza had 29 unforced errors to drop the final 10 games of the match.

“I didn’t feel that fresh,” Muguruza said. “In the long rallies, I was struggling a little bit. I felt my energy was a little bit low, but I think she just had a good match. I didn’t make the important shots in the important moments so the match went to her side very fast.”

Sixth-ranked Wozniacki will face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Sunday’s final. Pavlyuchenkova rallied from being down 3-0 in the final set to beat former No. 1 Angelique Kerber 6-0, 6-7 (4), 6-4.

Pavlyuchenkova, who is aiming for her third title of 2017, broke serve seven times and won six of the final seven games.

Pavlyuchenkova admitted her slow start in the final set had her thinking about the next tournament in China.

“I was already thinking about going to Wuhan,” Pavlyuchenkova said. “In my head I was booking flights. But at the same time, I always fight to the last point.”

Fognini, Dzumhur meet in St. Petersburg Open final

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ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Fabio Fognini will play for his second ATP title of the year and Damir Dzumhur for the first of his career in the final of the St. Petersburg Open.

The third-seeded Fognini eliminated top-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 2-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5 (5) in 2 1/2 hours in the semifinals on Saturday. The Italian broke Bautista Agut only once, in the second set.

Fognini also beat Bautista Agut in July at Gstaad, where he won his fourth career title, all on clay. St. Petersburg, where he was a finalist in 2012, is on an indoor hard-court.

The unseeded Dzumhur defeated eighth-seeded Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany 6-3, 7-5. In a match of vulnerable servers, Struff was the least effective in winning less than 30 percent of his second serves and losing his serves five times.

“I was making him play more, because he likes fast points,” Dzumhur said. “I won because I didn’t give him easy balls that he likes.”

Dzumhur, of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is at a career-high ranking of 55 after reaching his first career final last month in Winston-Salem.

He has a 0-2 win record against Fognini.