While Djokovic, Williams wait, Wawrinka gets going in Paris

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PARIS — Thanks to rain, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams must wait an extra day to start their bids for history at the French Open.

The two No. 1-seeded players originally were slated to play first-round matches on Monday, the second day of the clay-court Grand Slam tournament.

But the schedule already is being shuffled because of showers that created a delay of more than 2 1/2 hours in the afternoon and returned to halt all play in the early evening, allowing a total of only 10 out of 32 matches to be completed.

So the soonest Djokovic – who is trying to complete a career Grand Slam and become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win four consecutive major titles – and Williams – hoping to equal Steffi Graf’s Open-era record of 22 major championships – will get started is Tuesday, which is Day 3 at Roland Garros.

Instead, some of the players considered possible challengers will be in action on Monday. If the weather holds up, that is, because there is more rain in the forecast for Day 2.

Among those scheduled to play Monday: No. 3 Stan Wawrinka, the defending champion, who beat Djokovic in the 2015 French Open final.

“Novak is the favorite, for sure,” Wawrinka said. “But I think it’s going to be interesting to see what’s going to happen with the other players.”

Wawrinka is coming off a confidence-boosting title last week on red clay in Geneva, where he defeated his first opponent in Paris, Lukas Rosol, in the semifinals.

That victory made Wawrinka 4-0 against Rosol, a player best known for stunning Rafael Nadal in the second round of Wimbledon in 2012.

Here’s a look at what else is happening at the French Open on Monday:

MURRAY STARTS: No. 2-seeded Andy Murray’s first-round match comes against Radek Stepanek, who qualified for the main draw at the age of 37. They’ve played eight times in the past, dating to 2005, and Murray is 6-2 in those matches. Murray is coming off a clay title at the Italian Open, where he defeated Djokovic in the final. Murray is also without a full-time coach at the moment, having recently split with Amelie Mauresmo. “I had the impression that we’d reached the end of what we could do professionally together,” Mauresmo said in an interview with L’Equipe magazine. “Andy is complex. On a court, he can be the opposite to how he is in life. It can be disconcerting.” As for when he’ll hire a replacement, Murray said: “Things obviously are going well just now, so no need to sort of rush into anything.”

TOP WOMEN: Some past Grand Slam runners-up who hope to supplant Williams as the champion in Paris get their tournament started, including No. 2 Agnieszka Radwanska against 120th-ranked Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia, No. 4 Garbine Muguruza against 38th-ranked Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia, and No. 6 Simona Halep against 71st-ranked Nao Hibino of Japan. Radwanska lost to Williams in the Wimbledon final in 2012, Muguruza did the same last year, and Halep lost to Maria Sharapova in the French Open final in 2014.

RESUMING: The half-dozen matches that were suspended in progress Sunday are to resume Monday. Those involve players such as No. 5 Kei Nishikori, who has a two-set lead against Simone Bolelli; No. 23 Jack Sock, headed to a fifth set against Robin Haase of the Netherlands; and 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, up a break at 3-1 in the third set against Yaroslava Shvedova.

 

Nakashima takes first ATP Tour title at San Diego

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SAN DIEGO – Brandon Nakashima earned his first ATP Tour victory in his hometown, beating friend and fellow Southern Californian Marcos Giron 6-4, 6-4 in the San Diego Open final.

“It’s super-special, something you dream of, but to have it happen in my hometown with all my friends and family here, it’s a moment I’ll never forget,” said Nakashima, who had two previous finals appearances. “I hope there are many more moments like this to come.”

Nakashima, a 21-year-old who grew up in San Diego and trained extensively at the event’s site as a junior, clinched the opening set in only 30 minutes. The second set, filled with lengthy rallies, took nearly an hour.

Giron, the No. 5 seed and former NCAA title winner from UCLA, wasn’t able to fend off Nakashima’s persistent ground strokes and well-placed serves. Nakashima had eight aces, six in the first set.

Serving at 5-4 in the second set, Nakashima tallied the match’s deciding two points when Giron pushed an easy volley into the net, followed by Nakashima’s second-serve ace.

He earned $93,090, about half of what received for reaching the third round of the U.S. Open in early September.

Nakashima, who was ranked No. 69 on the ATP Tour, moved up to 48, his highest ranking in nearly three years on tour. Despite the loss, Giron moved up to 53 from 58.

Not only was the singles title claimed by an American, the doubles title also taken by an American duo as the second-seeded pair of Nathaniel Lammons and Jackson Withrow defeated Australians Jason Kubler and Luke Saville 7-6 (5), 6-2.

The $612,00 event was held at Barnes Tennis Center, which next hosts the $757,900 WTA 500 San Diego Open, Oct. 8-16. That will feature 16 of the world’s top-ranked 20 women pros, led by No. 1 Iga Swiatek.

Frances Tiafoe lifts Team World to 1st Laver Cup win

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LONDON — The last to arrive, befitting his reputation in the locker room, Frances Tiafoe strutted into the post-match news conference after clinching Team World’s Laver Cup victory over Roger Federer’s star-studded Team Europe and shouted, “Champs are here!”

Then the 24-year-old from Maryland joined his teammates at the table where the silver trophy was resting Sunday night, put down a bottle of water, pulled a Budweiser out of his red jacket and smiled that wide smile of his.

Performing with the same infectious showmanship and crunch-time success he displayed en route to his first Grand Slam semifinal at the U.S. Open earlier this month, Tiafoe staved off four match points and came back to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 1-6, 7-6 (11), 10-8, giving Team World its first triumph in five editions of an event founded by Federer’s management company.

“I don’t like losing,” said Federer, a 20-time major champion whose final match before retirement was a loss alongside Rafael Nadal in doubles against Tiafoe and Jack Sock on Friday night. “It’s not fun. It just leaves not the best taste.”

When Tsitsipas put a forehand into the net to end Sunday’s contest – and the three-day competition – Tiafoe dropped his racket and fell to his back on the court, where teammates piled atop him. After getting on his feet, Tiafoe cupped a hand to his ear, asking spectators for more noise, then pointed to his chest and yelled, “I’m him! I’m him!”

“When it becomes a circus out here, and I’m just using the crowd and acting like a little kid and having a bunch of reactions … I end up playing really well and I start building momentum off it,” Tiafoe said. “I’m able to play and function in that better than my opponents, it seems.”

Using the nickname other players gave Tiafoe to reflect the way he embraces big moments, Team World captain John McEnroe said: “Frances is `Prime Time.’ He loves this stuff.”

McEnroe had been 0-4 while leading his squad against his former playing rival, Team Europe captain Bjorn Borg; both indicated they would be back for the 2023 Laver Cup in Vancouver, but that might be their last go-round.

This one served as a celebration of Federer and the 41-year-old Swiss star’s career.

Tiafoe responded with a quip when asked whether he might owe Federer some form of “I’m sorry” for beating him in his finale or for defeating his team, which also included Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray for a total of 66 major singles titles. That, incidentally, is 66 more than Team World, a collection of 20-somethings (Sock turned 30 on Saturday).

“”I’m not going to apologize to him. He’s got a lot to apologize for after the last 24 years – after beating everybody on the tour,” said Tiafoe, who went 0-3 against Federer in singles head-to-head. “I will say thank you for having me in this amazing event, what he’s done for the game. He’s a class act. Happy to know him, happy to call him a friend, happy to call him a colleague, and best wishes in his second act. But I will not apologize.”

Team Europe entered Sunday at O2 Arena with an 8-4 lead; the first team to 13 points would win.

Each match on Day 3 was worth three points, and Team World went ahead thanks to a pair of victories by Felix Auger-Aliassime, a 22-year-old from Canada. He beat Djokovic 6-3, 7-6 (3), after partnering with Sock to edge Murray and Matteo Berrettini 2-6, 6-3, 10-8 in doubles.

Tiafoe then made it 13-8, but it wasn’t easy.

He went a tournament-record 8-0 in tiebreakers at Flushing Meadows this month and was just as resilient Sunday.

“It’s been a long time that Frances has been playing the big guys close and losing a lot of close battles. It’s great to see lately he’s been winning,” said Taylor Fritz, an American who is the same age as Tiafoe and has known him for years. “It’s about time that he steps up and the matches go the other way. Today was a joke.”

That’s because Tiafoe was a single point from losing to Tsitsipas four times in their second-set tiebreaker, but somehow got through that. Then, at 4-all in the concluding match tiebreaker – first to 10, win by two – Tiafoe sprinted from behind the baseline to near the net and barely got to a drop shot by Tsitsipas, somehow lunging to flick an angled winner.

While most of the 16,365 fans went wild, Tiafoe went around the net and stood still, hands on his hips, relishing the atmosphere.

“We put him in the slot that he was in today for a reason,” said Team World’s Tommy Paul, another 24-year-old American, “and he stepped up for us, big time.”