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Barty KOs Ostapenko to meet Garcia in Wuhan Open final

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WUHAN, China (AP) Ashleigh Barty of Australia reached her biggest WTA final when she beat French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-0 at the Wuhan Open on Friday.

Barty will play Caroline Garcia in the final after the Frenchwoman beat qualifier Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-3, 6-2 in the other semifinal.

Ostapenko, the last surviving seed at No. 8, appeared tired. Her previous three matches, including a win over top-ranked Garbine Muguruza on Thursday, all went three sets. But Barty’s three previous matches went the distance, too, plus she reached the semifinals in doubles.

Barty took command of their match with a break for 4-2. When she served out for the set, it began a run of seven straight games to finish the match and her third win over a top-10 player this week.

Unable to get going, Ostapenko complained to her coach and asked for treatment from a trainer. Neither helped the Latvian.

Garcia was hardly threatened by Sakkari, who was more tentative than she had been all week in her first WTA semifinal.

Garcia has reached her first final of the year, and will play for her fourth career title.

“It feels good,; it was long time without a final but a lot happened this year,” Garcia said.

She has never met Barty, who won her first career title in March in Kuala Lumpur.

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.