AP Photo

France-Belgium 2-2 in Davis Cup final after Goffin wins

Leave a comment

LILLE, France (AP) David Goffin kept alive Belgium’s hopes of winning its first Davis Cup title by beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-2 in the first reverse singles match on Sunday to level the final at 2-2.

Goffin, who also won his opening singles without dropping a set, delivered a superb performance to defeat France’s top player.

Belgium’s Steve Darcis will be up against Lucas Pouille in the final match. Darcis has won all five decisive matches he has played in the Davis Cup so far.

Tsonga served extremely well in the first set and had six chances to break Goffin, but his Belgian rival weathered some blistering groundstrokes and showed nerves of steel on important points.

Goffin saved a set point with a forehand winner at 6-5 and sealed the tiebreaker on his first chance, with a backhand winner down the line.

“I missed several chances in the first set, I should have been more opportunistic,” Tsonga said. “After, it was complicated, he played more relaxed and there was not much I could do.”

The seventh-ranked Goffin broke for a 4-2 lead in the second set after Tsonga double faulted, and broke twice in the third set after pressuring the Frenchman into many mistakes.

Goffin has been in terrific form recently and was runner-up at the ATP Finals last week in London, where he defeated both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Despite fatigue and an ailing knee, Goffin carried his London form into the northern French city of Lille, where he demolished Pouille on Friday before Tsonga leveled at 1-1 with a straight-set win over Darcis. The French won Saturday’s doubles.

Goffin treated the raucous Belgian fans to some stunning shots, and effectively ended Tsonga’s resistance early in the second set when he saved another break point with a fine drop-shot volley. Goffin then hit a big serve and an ace to stay in control.

Tsonga, who received treatment on his neck after the opening set, looked more and more discouraged as the match progressed and made two straight unforced errors to trail 4-1 in the third set.

Tsonga and France captain Yannick Noah were furious at deuce in the sixth game when umpire James Keothavong refused to allow a video challenge. Tsonga thought Goffin’s shot was out – and stopped playing – but he failed to raise his hand to signal the ball was out.

The match resumed after several minutes amid boos and whistles from the crowd. Tsonga saved two match points in the seventh game but could not prevent Goffin from closing out the match on his next service game.

Top-ranked Halep wins tough 3-setter in Miami

Getty Images
Leave a comment

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Top-ranked Simona Halep of Romania struggled to post a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 second-round win over French lucky loser Oceane Dodin at the Miami Open on Thursday.

In the first career meeting between the players, Halep allowed the 98th-ranked Dodin to break her serve on six of seven opportunities she presented in the match, which lasted more than two hours.

Halep broke Dodin’s serve for the seventh time at 4-4 in the third set before closing it out.

Halep played in her third career Grand Slam final at the Australian Open in January, but has yet to secure a Grand Slam trophy.

Halep’s best Miami Open was reaching the 2015 semifinals.

Also Thursday, former No. 1 Angelique Kerber of Germany advanced to the third round with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Johanna Larsson of Sweden.

Kerber is 19-4 this year and has reached at least the quarterfinals of all five tournaments she’s played.

Kerber, the 2016 Australian Open and U.S. Open champion, won her first tournament since that U.S. Open at Sydney in January. She also reached the Australian Open semifinals.

Serena Williams loses in first 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