Serena, Djokovic differ on issue of equal pay in tennis

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Some of the top players in tennis expressed disgust Tuesday with the comments made by the now-former director of the BNP Paribas Open tournament in Indian Wells, with Serena Williams also disagreeing with fellow No. 1 Novak Djokovic on the issue of equal pay.

Raymond Moore, the former chief operating officer and tournament director, resigned late Monday, a day after telling reporters that female players should be thankful to their male counterparts “because they ride on the coattails of the men.”

“If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport,” he added. Moore later apologized, but stepped down 24 hours later.

Players, both men and women, quickly denounced the comments and that continued Tuesday at the Miami Open. But there was also concern raised about comments Djokovic made suggesting the men should seek more money because their matches tend to attract more spectators.

“I think that our men’s tennis world, ATP world, should fight for more, because the stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men’s tennis matches,” Djokovic said earlier this week. “I think that’s one of the reasons why maybe we should get awarded more.”

Williams disagreed when asked about the comments.

“If I have a daughter and she plays tennis, and I have a son who plays tennis, I wouldn’t say that my son deserves more money because he’s a man,” she said. “I would say they deserve the same amount of money.

“I think (Djokovic) is entitled to his opinion,” she added. “But if he has a daughter – I think he has a son right now – I think he should talk to his daughter and tell her his son deserves more money than you because he’s a boy.”

Andy Murray, ranked No. 2 in the world, believes in equal pay.

“I think there should be equal pay, 100 percent, especially at all combined events,” Murray said. “The timing of it was just so strange. It was right before you had a great women’s final with like 16,000 people sitting in the stadium.

He also noted that interest and attendance differs depending on the matches, saying a Williams match in Miami will pack a stadium more than many men’s matches.

“Men’s tennis has been lucky over the last 10 years because of the quality of players,” he said. “But the whole of tennis should capitalize on that and not just the men’s game, in my opinion.”

WTA chief executive officer Steve Simon, who came to the WTA last fall after being the tournament director of the BNP Paribas Open, released a statement related to Moore’s departure on Tuesday.

“Raymond Moore has taken full responsibility for the unacceptable comments he has made,” Simon said. “It is the right decision for him to step down. The BNP Paribas Open has supported the payment of equal prize money to all players since 2009. The WTA looks forward to working with Mr. (Larry) Ellison and the Indian Wells team on continued efforts in making the sport better and equal for all players.”

American John Isner also expressed his disappointment over the Moore incident.

“I think those comments were in a bit of poor taste,” Isner said. “It has caused somewhat of a controversy now. As far as our tour is concerned, the ATP is fighting for what we think we’re worth and the WTA is doing that as well.”

U.S. sweeps Uzbekistan, advances to group stage in Davis Cup

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The United States swept its way into the group stage of the Davis Cup Finals, getting the winning point in a 4-0 victory over Uzbekistan from the doubles team of Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek.

They beat Sergey Fomin and Sanjar Fayziev 6-2, 6-4, after Tommy Paul and Mackenzie McDonald had won singles matches in Tashkent.

Ram is No. 3 in the ATP Tour doubles rankings and partnered with Joe Salisbury to win the last two U.S. Open men’s doubles titles. But the Americans opted not to use Ram last year in the final round, when they dropped the doubles match in a 2-1 defeat against Italy in the quarterfinals.

Krajicek was making his Davis Cup debut, having reached No. 9 in the doubles rankings late last year.

“They had five great days of preparation, and as anticipated they came out really sharp and got the early break in the first set. And after that it was like two freight trains, there was no stopping them,” interim captain David Nainkin said.

Denis Kudla then beat Amir Milushev 6-4, 6-4.

The winners of the 12 qualifiers being held this weekend advance to the Davis Cup Finals group stage in September, along with reigning champion Canada, 2022 runner-up Australia and wild-card recipients Italy and Spain.

Eight teams will advance to the closing matches of the Davis Cup Finals scheduled for Nov. 21-26 in Malaga, Spain.

In other matches:

France 3, Hungary 2: On indoor hard courts in Tatabanya, Hungary, Ugo Humbert won it for the French with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Fabian Marozsan. Adrian Mannarino had forced the deciding match by beating Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (6), 6-2.

Serbia 4, Norway 0: On indoor hard courts in Oslo, the visitors, playing without top-ranked Novak Djokovic, put away the match when Filip Krajinovic and Nikola Cacic edged Viktor Durasovic and Herman Hoeyeraal 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Hamad Medjedovic then outlasted Durasovic 6-4, 6-7, 10-4.

Sweden 3, Bosnia 1: On indoor hard courts in Stockholm, Mikael Ymer sent the hosts through by beating Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.

Lesia Tsurenko to face Zhu Lin in Thailand Open final

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HUA HIN, Thailand — Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine reached her first final in four years after the top-seeded Bianca Andreescu retired with a shoulder injury during their semifinal match at the Thailand Open.

Tsurenko, in search of her fifth WTA title, was leading the 2019 U.S. Open champion 7-5, 4-0 when the Canadian stopped playing.

The former world No. 23 fought from 3-5 down to take the first set and reeled off eight straight games before Andreescu retired with a right shoulder problem.

“Bianca is such an amazing player. She is capable of hitting all kinds of shots and gave so much trouble today,” said the 33-year-old Tsurenko, now ranked 136th. “But I was just fighting and I told myself positive things that I can do it. Unfortunately, she had to retire.”

The Ukrainian last lifted a WTA trophy in Acapulco in 2018 and hasn’t been to a final since Brisbane in 2019.

She will face Zhu Lin of China in the final.

“She had some good wins in the Australian Open,” Tsurenko said. “She is one of the dangerous players in this tournament. She is going to give a good fight.”

In the all-Chinese semifinal earlier, Zhu benefited from a barrage of unforced errors from Wang Xinyu and prevailed 6-2, 6-4 for her first WTA final.

The world No. 54 player, who reached the last 16 at the Australian Open in January, relied on her solid baseline game to force errors.

“It was very windy, so I tried to be patient and keep my first serves in,” said the 29-year-old Zhu, who will team up with Wang in the doubles final against Hao-Ching Chan and Fang-Hsien Wu of Taiwan.