4-time champ Wozniacki exits Connecticut Open in 1st round

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Caroline Wozniacki entered the Connecticut Open as a wild card, hoping a tournament she has won four times would help her tune up for the U.S. Open.

Instead, the former top-ranked player from Denmark saw her struggles continue in a 7-5, 6-2 first-round loss to Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia on Monday.

“It’s been a really weird year for me, something I’m not used to,” said Wozniacki, who has dealt with injuries all year.

“It’s frustrating when you practice well and can’t really execute in the matches. … At least when I know when I’m playing my best level, if someone beats me, that’s fine. But what’s frustrating is when you’re not playing your best and then you get beat.”

Wozniacki, now ranked 51st, was coming off a second-round loss to Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic at the Olympics.

Kvitova advanced Monday night with a 1-6, 6-1, 6-3 win over American Louisa Chirico. She will next face Eugenie Bouchard, a 6-2, 6-1 winner over Annika Beck of Germany.

No. 20 Elena Vesnina also advanced with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Camila Giorgi of Italy.

Top-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska was to have met Wozniacki in the second round. Instead, Radwanska, ranked No. 5, will face Ostapenko, 19, who reached the final at Doha in February and won the Wimbledon junior girls tournament in 2014.

Against Wozniacki, Ostapenko staved off a set point in the first set, won four straight games to close out the set and never looked back.

“After that, the match turned the other way,” Ostapenko said of her service breaks. “She’s a great player … so I just played like I had nothing to lose.”

Wozniacki’s early exit leaves the tournament with four players in the WTA’s Top 20 – Radwanska of Poland, Vesnina of Russia, Kvitova of the Czech Republic and second-seeded Roberta Vinci of Italy.

In other matches Monday, Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia, Caroline Garcia of France, Evgeniya Rodina of Russia, Annet Kontaveit of Estonia and Ana Konjuh of Croatia all advanced to the second round.

Djokovic to start 2023 in Adelaide ahead of Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic will open his 2023 campaign in Adelaide as he prepares for a shot at a 10th Australian Open crown a year after having his visa revoked on the eve of his title defense.

The 21-time major winner has been granted a visa by the Australian government and has been listed to play at the Adelaide International, which starts Jan. 1.

Serbia isn’t contesting the inaugural United Cup team competition, leaving Djokovic free to play regular warmup tournaments head of the Jan. 16-29 Australian Open.

He’ll be joined in the men’s draw at Adelaide by Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada and Andy Murray.

Ons Jabeur, Aryna Sabalenka will headline the women’s draw.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles last month confirmed Djokovic had been granted a visa to compete in Australia in January. The 35-year-old Serbian had been facing a possible three-year ban after being deported last January over his stance against COVID-19 vaccination.

Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times, including the last three times he played. Rafael Nadal won this year’s title in Djokovic’s absence.

Djokovic was not vaccinated against COVID-19 when he arrived in Melbourne ahead of the 2022 tournament, but Australia has since lifted strict rules for unvaccinated travelers.

Karolina Pliskova reuniting with Sascha Bajin

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Two-time Grand Slam finalist Karolina Pliskova is reuniting with coach Sascha Bajin ahead of the 2023 season.

Pliskova posted on her website and her Twitter account about the move, which comes about six months after she and Bajin stopped working together. The pair originally teamed up in November 2020.

While Bajin was her coach, Pliskova reached the final at Wimbledon in 2021 before losing to champion Ash Barty. Pliskova also was the runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open, where she defeated Serena Williams in the semifinals before being beat by Angelique Kerber for the trophy.

After splitting from Bajin in July, Pliskova was coached by Leos Friedl. Their results together included a quarterfinal run at the U.S. Open.

Bajin has worked as a coach or hitting partner with several top tennis players, including Grand Slam title winners Williams, Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

“Thank you for having me back,” Bajin wrote on Twitter. “Let’s go get it.”

Pliskova is a 30-year-old from the Czech Republic who reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings in 2017 and finished this season at No. 31 after going 21-21 with no titles.

Her team also includes fitness specialist Jez Green and physiotherapist Martin Salvador.

Next year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, begins Jan. 16.