Kerber defeats Pliskova for U.S. Open title

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The Latest on U.S. Open (all times local):

6:27 p.m.

Angelique Kerber won her first U.S. Open title and the second Grand Slam trophy of her breakthrough season, beating Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 on Saturday.

The No. 2-seeded Kerber came back to win five of the last six games after trailing by a break at 3-1 in the third set.

Kerber already was assured of making her debut at No. 1 in the WTA rankings on Monday, ending Serena Williams‘ record-tying 186-week stay at the top.

Never a Grand Slam finalist before 2016, Kerber beat Williams for the Australian Open title in January, then lost to the American in the Wimbledon final in July.

They seemed to be on course for a third meeting in the final at Flushing Meadows, but the 10th-seeded Pliskova eliminated Williams in the semifinals, after beating her sister Venus in the fourth round.

5:46 p.m.

Karolina Pliskova has taken the second set of the U.S. Open final against Angelique Kerber, sending the match to a third.

Pliskova broke Kerber for the first time Saturday to go up 4-3 in the second set, then took it 6-4.

Kerber had won the opening set 6-3.

The 10th-seeded Pliskova, who eliminated both Williams sisters in the tournament, is bidding for her first Grand Slam title. She had never been past the third round at a major.

Kerber is seeded No. 2, but already is assured of overtaking Serena Williams at No. 1 in the rankings on Monday, regardless of the outcome of the final. Kerber beat Williams in the Australian Open final in January for the first Grand Slam trophy of the German’s career.

5:05 p.m.

Angelique Kerber is one set from her second major title of 2016.

Kerber won the first set of Saturday’s U.S. Open final 6-3 over Karolina Pliskova. The big-serving Pliskova was broken just once in her last two matches combined, but Kerber got breaks in the first and last games of the set.

Kerber is 44-0 this season when she wins the first set.

Pliskova got in just 53 percent of her first serves, and Kerber was all over her second serves, winning 71 percent of those points. Pliskova made 17 unforced errors to three for Kerber.

Kerber, who is taking over the No. 1 ranking for the first time, is in her third major final of the year, while this is the first of Pliskova’s career. Kerber won the Australian Open title and was the runner-up at Wimbledon.

4:20 p.m.

Angelique Kerber and Karolina Pliskova are playing for the U.S. Open championship.

Kerber, who is taking over the No. 1 ranking for the first time, is in her third major final of the year, while this is the first of Pliskova’s career. Kerber won the Australian Open title and was the runner-up at Wimbledon. Pliskova had never even made a Grand Slam round of 16 before this tournament, but she upset Serena Williams in the semifinals to advance to Saturday’s championship match.

Pliskova beat Kerber in the final at Cincinnati nearly three weeks ago for a breakthrough title for the 24-year-old Czech, and she’s been riding that momentum ever since. Kerber was coming off a tiring run to the Olympic gold-medal match then and dealing with the pressure of her first chance to ascend to the top of the rankings.

2:05 p.m.

Jamie Murray of Britain and Bruno Soares of Brazil won the U.S. Open doubles championship Saturday for their second Grand Slam title this year, beating Spaniards Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-2, 6-3.

The No. 4-seeded Murray and Soares, who won the Australian Open in January, are the first winners of multiple major men’s doubles titles in a season since Bob and Mike Bryan won three in 2013.

They dropped only one service game and won 71 percent of first-serve points against their unseeded opponents. The duo only teamed up late last year.

“It’s a great feeling,” Murray said in his post-match interview when reminded he’s accomplished something his more famous younger brother, Andy, has not by winning two major titles this year. “I’m starting to move out of the shadows.”

Murray and Soares reached the final after taking out the top-seeded team, defending champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.

Tennis star Kyrgios to fight charge on mental health grounds

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CANBERRA, Australia – Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios will apply to have an assault charge dismissed on mental health grounds, his lawyer told an Australian court on Tuesday.

Lawyer Michael Kukulies-Smith appeared on behalf of Kyrgios in a court in the tennis star’s hometown of Canberra and asked for an adjournment so forensic mental health reports could be prepared.

Magistrate Glenn Theakston adjourned the case until Feb. 3, when Kyrgios’ lawyers are expected to apply to have the charge dismissed under a section of the local crimes law.

The 27-year-old Australian tennis star will appear in court in person on that date for the first time since he was charged by police by summons in July.

The law gives magistrates the power to dismiss a charge if they are satisfied an accused person is mentally impaired, and dealing with an allegation in that way would benefit the community and the defendant.

The common assault charge, which has a potential maximum sentence of two years in prison, relates to an incident in January 2021 that was reported to local police last December.

The charge reportedly relates to an incident involving his former girlfriend.

Kukulies-Smith told the court his client’s mental health history since 2015 made the application appropriate, citing a number of public statements made by Kyrgios.

In February, Kyrgios opened up about his performance at the 2019 Australian Open, saying what appeared to be a positive time in his life had been “one of my darkest periods.”

“I was lonely, depressed, negative, abusing alcohol, drugs, pushed away family and friends,” he wrote on Instagram. “I felt as if I couldn’t talk or trust anyone. This was a result of not opening up and refusing to lean on my loved ones and simply just push myself little by little to be positive.”

Kyrgios made further references to his mental health struggles during his runs to the final at Wimbledon and the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open.

After ending Daniil Medvedev’s U.S. Open title defense last month to reach the quarterfinals, Kyrgios expressed pride at lifting himself out of “some really tough situations, mentally” and “some really scary places” off the court.

Theakston questioned whether Kyrgios would need to appear in court for the February hearing, but Kukulies-Smith said his client wanted to attend.

Kyrgios was scheduled to play at the Japan Open later Tuesday against Tseng Chun-hsin of Taiwan.

Speaking in Tokyo before his matter returned to court, Kyrgios said it was “not difficult at all” to focus on tennis despite the pending charge.

“There’s only so much I can control and I’m taking all the steps and dealing with that off the court,” he told reporters. “I can only do what I can and I’m here in Tokyo and just trying to play some good tennis, continue that momentum and just try to do my job.”

Wimbledon champ Rybakova beats Keys in Ostrava opener

Agel Open Ostrava - Day One
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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakova came from a set down to defeat Madison Keys 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of the Agel Open on Monday.

Rybakova had lost to Keys this year at the French Open and Cincinnati.

In other first-round matches in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava, Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia defeated Zhang Shuai of China 6-3, 6-3, and local hope Petra Kvitova overcame American Bernanda Pera 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

Fresh from her second title of the year in Seoul last month, Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia knocked out former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.