Halep into 3rd round at Wuhan Open

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WUHAN, China — Former French Open finalist Simona Halep took less than 70 minutes to reach the third round of the Wuhan Open, advancing Monday when fellow Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu retired in the second set of their second-round match.

The No. 4-seeded Halep was leading 6-3, 2-0 when Begu retired with a back injury amid warm and humid conditions. Halep, who skipped the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo last week because of a hamstring strain, had a first-round bye at Wuhan.

In first-round matches, 2014 champion Petra Kvitova opened with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Jelena Ostapenko and set up a meeting with Elina Svitolina, who rallied from a break down in the third set to beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

“This was the fourth time we’ve played this season and I’m glad now it’s 2-2,” Kvitova said. “I know how difficult it can be to play her and how dangerous she is.”

No. 10-seeded Dominika Cibulkova had a 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 win over Alize Cornet and Yulia Putintseva was leading 6-1, 4-1 when Anastasija Sevastova retired from their match.

Johanna Konta, the 11th seed, had a 6-1, 6-2 win over Annika Beck, and Madison Brengle advanced after leading 6-3, 2-1 when British qualifier Heather Watson retired because of a stomach complaint.

Top-seeded Angelique Kerber is in action on Tuesday against Kristina Mladenovic, who had a 7-6 (5), 6-3 first-round win over CoCo Vandeweghe.

Serena Williams, who was replaced by Kerber at No. 1 in the rankings with her run to the U.S. Open title, has withdrawn from the tournaments in Wuhan and Beijing because of an injured right shoulder.

Novak 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.