Venus Williams tumbles out of Rogers Cup in Montreal

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MONTREAL — Sixth-seeded Venus Williams tumbled out of the Rogers Cup in the third round Thursday night, falling 6-1, 6-7 (2), 6-3 to 10th-seeded Madison Keys in an all-American match.

Playing her last tournament match before the Rio Olympics, the 36-year-old Williams lost seven straight games before holding serve in the third game of the second set. After Williams rallied to tie the match, Keys found her serve in the third set, ending the match with her 12th ace.

The 21-year-old Keys won the Wimbledon tuneup event in Birmingham, England, this year for her second WTA Tour title, then reached the fourth round at Wimbledon. She’ll face 16th-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia in the quarterfinals.

Williams beat Barbora Strycova – the Czech player Keys topped in the Birmingham final – on Wednesday in her first match since losing to Britain’s Johanna Konta on Sunday in the Bank of the West Classic final. Against Keys, she struggled with her serve.

“Her first serve was definitely slower than normal,” Keys said. “But it was funny, her second serve was a lot slower, but because of the court it was bouncing a lot higher than normal. So while her first serve was a little easier to return, her second serve was really tough.”

Pavlyuchenkova beat fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland.

“It’s going to be a tough match,” Keys said about Pavlyuchenkova. “She’s always tricky because she definitely fights till the end and she’s going to hit a lot of winners.”

Pavlyuchenkova let two match points slip away while leading 5-4 in the second set and then lost the game on a double fault. She rebounded in the third set to extend her longest run at the hardcourt event.

“I think I’m still recovering from the second set,” Pavlyuchenkova said. “Basically, I thought I had the match in my pocket and lost it, so I’m happy with the mental side.”

Radwanska won in 2014 in Montreal.

The 15th-seeded Konta beat American Varvara Lepchenko 6-3, 6-2 to set up a quarterfinal against Slovakia’s Kristina Kucova, a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 winner over Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard in the late match.

Bouchard was penalized a point for racket abuse in the third set as she struggled to hit the lines to the disappointment of what had been a festive center-court crowd at Uniprix Stadium.

“I played some high-quality tennis this week – I can’t forget those two matches – but two matches is not a whole tournament,” Bouchard said. “I need to learn how to keep it going and deal with the pressure. I just felt I maybe panicked a little bit, tried to finish the points too soon.”

Second-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany beat Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4.

“I’m still improving to playing better tennis, being more aggressive and just going for it,” Kerber said. “I think today I was a little bit too excited to going for it. This is sometimes, I think, the problem.”

Kerber will face Russia’s Daria Kasatkina, a 7-5, 6-3 2 winner over seventh-seeded Roberta Vinci of Italy 7-5, 6-3.

Fifth-seeded Simona Halep of Romania, a finalist last year in Toronto, beat 14th-seeded Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-3. Pliskova, the WTA Tour ace leader, had only five in the match.

“I knew that it’s going to be tough because I don’t get rhythm from her,” Halep said. “You never know what to expect for the next point, so there’s a bit of tension. I just had to stay patient for every ball and to keep fighting because I knew that if I stay there for every ball, she can miss more than me.”

Halep will face ninth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova, a 7-6 (2), 6-3 winner over 12th-seeded Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.

Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov give Canada 1st Davis Cup title

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MALAGA, Spain — Felix Auger-Aliassime fell to his back behind the baseline, then waited for teammates to race off Canada’s bench and pile on top of him.

A few minutes later, the Canadians finally could lift the Davis Cup.

“I think of us all here, we’ve dreamt of this moment,” Auger-Aliassime said.

Canada won the title for the first time, beating Australia behind victories from Denis Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime.

Auger-Aliassime secured the winning point when he downed Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4 after Shapovalov opened the day by rolling past Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-2, 6-4.

Seven years after leading Canada to the top of junior tennis, Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov and their teammates finally got to lift the biggest team trophy in their sport.

“We wanted to grow up and be part of the team and try to help the country win the first title,” Shapovalov said, “so everything is just so surreal right now.”

Shapovalov had dropped both his singles matches this week and needed treatment on his back during a three-set loss in the semifinals to Lorenzo Sonego of Italy that lasted 3 hours, 15 minutes. But the left-hander moved quickly around the court, setting up angles to put away winners while racing to a 4-0 lead in the first set.

Auger-Aliassime then finished off his superb second half of the season by completing a perfect week in Spain. He twice had kept the Canadians alive after Shapovalov dropped the opening singles match, and he replaced his weary teammate to join Vasek Pospisil for the decisive doubles point.

This time, Auger-Aliassime made sure the doubles match wouldn’t even be necessary. After his teammates poured onto the court to celebrate with him, they got up and danced around in a circle.

Canada had reached the final only once, falling to host Spain in Madrid in 2019, when Rafael Nadal beat Shapovalov for the clinching point after Auger-Aliassime had lost in the opening match.

But with Auger-Aliassime having since surged up the rankings to his current spot at No. 6, the Canadians are a much more formidable team now. They won the ATP Cup in January and finally added the Davis Cup crown to the junior Davis Cup title Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov led them to in 2015.

Australia was trying for its 29th title and first since current captain Lleyton Hewitt was part of the title-winning team in 2003.

But it was finally time for the Canadians, who were given a wild card into the field when Russia was suspended because of its invasion of Ukraine.

“Look, I think we were very close today,” de Minaur said. “Just wait until the next time we get the same matchup. Hopefully we can get the win and prove that we can do it.”

But Canada will be tough to beat as long as Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov play.

Shapovalov is just 23 and Auger-Aliassime 22, but both already have been Grand Slam semifinalists and Auger-Aliassime ended 2022 as one of the hottest players on the ATP Tour. He won all of his four titles this year, including three straight weeks in October.

He also beat Carlos Alcaraz in the previous Davis Cup stage in September, just after the Spaniard had won the U.S. Open to rise to No. 1 in the rankings. That victory helped send the Canadians into the quarterfinals, which they started this week by edging Germany.

“They’re not kids anymore, that’s for sure. Not after today – well not after the last couple of years,” said Pospisil, the team veteran at 32. “They’ve been crushing it.”

Australia beats Croatia 2-1 to reach Davis Cup final

Day Four - Davis Cup Finals 2022
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MALAGA, Spain – Australia had to fight back twice to reach its first Davis Cup final in 19 years after beating Croatia 2-1.

Lleyton Hewitt’s team recovered from losing the first singles. Then the Australian doubles pair battled back from a set down in the decider.

Australia won its 28th and last title in 2003. It has finally got back to the final.

“I am so proud. Australia has a really rich history in this competition,” said Hewitt, who played a record 43 Davis Cup ties for Australia from 1999-2018.

“We have been fortunate to win it all on a number of occasions a long time ago. And I know what it meant to me as a player to play a final, and I am glad these guys can play it.”

Borna Coric put Croatia ahead by beating Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4, 6-3, but Alex de Minaur leveled after defeating Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-2 to send it to the doubles.

Jordan Thompson and Max Purcell then secured the semifinal win against Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic by 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-4.

“This is what this team is about, that never-say-die attitude,” De Minaur said.

Canada will face Italy on Saturday in the other semifinal.

In the opener, Kokkinakis struck 11 aces, but Coric was able to break him once in each set.

“On my serve, I felt like it was an ace or he put it back on my toes,” Kokkinakis said.

Cilic, who was on the Croatia team that won the title in 2018, committed 10 double faults. That erratic serve helped De Minaur break Cilic four times and level his head-to-head record with the former U.S Open winner at two wins each.

Thompson and Purcell bettered the more experienced pair of Mektic and Pavic, both ranked in the top 10 in doubles. Thompson and Purcell combined for 13 aces, broke the Croats twice, and never dropped a service game to come back after losing the first-set tiebreaker.

Two-time winner Croatia was the runner-up last year.

“It proved too difficult on the court today,” Cilic said. “(But) for us it has been a great year again after the finals last year to reach the semis.”

The final is on Sunday on the indoor court in Malaga.