Cilic beats Nishikori in 2 sets to win Swiss Indoors title

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BASEL, Switzerland (AP) Marin Cilic beat Kei Nishikori in straight sets to win the Swiss Indoors title Sunday, a repeat of their 2014 U.S. Open final meeting.

The fourth-seeded Croatian raced through the first set in 25 minutes on his way to a 6-1, 7-6 (5) victory, clinching on a double fault by the third-seeded Nishikori of Japan.

Cilic’s second title of the season, and 16th of his career, strengthened his hold on the last qualifying place for the ATP Tour Finals in London.

Ranked No. 12 coming to Basel, Cilic rose above Tomas Berdych in the points race earlier this week. The eight-man Finals week lineup is decided at the Paris Masters starting Monday.

Sunday’s final was the first Basel title match in a decade that did not feature hometown favorite Roger Federer. The seven-time Basel champion ended his season early due to injury.

Cilic also won on hard courts at Cincinnati in August, and all seven of his singles titles in the past three seasons have been on that surface.

The most significant of those titles was his only Grand Slam victory, when he beat Nishikori 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 at Flushing Meadows.

Nishikori, who still holds a career mark of 7-5 over Cilic, wasted three chances to force a deciding set Sunday when he led 5-4 in the second.

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.