American teen Bellis upsets Radwanska in Dubai

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DUBAI – American teen Catherine “CiCi” Bellis captured her first career Top 10 win on Wednesday when she upset sixth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 in the third round at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

“It’s definitely, obviously, the biggest win of my career, and probably one of the best days of my life,” Bellis said.

The 17-year-old Bellis, ranked 70th, had lost her previous four matches against top 10 opponents.

Bellis is one of two teenagers in the quarterfinals with 19-year-old Ana Konjuh of Croatia beating eighth-seeded Elena Vesnina of Russia 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4).

Bellis led 2-0 in the third set before fourth-seeded Radwanska rebounded to 2-2. The Pole faded afterward with Bellis clinching 16 of the last 22 points.

“I think in the second set she started playing a little bit better,” Bellis said. “I went off a little bit. I think I was going for a little bit too much.”

Bellis plays 10th-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark in the quarterfinals.

Wozniacki lost the opening set but went on to beat Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.

“She’s a great young player and has a lot of confidence,” Wozniacki said of Bellis. “Right now I’m just going to enjoy this victory and then get ready for tomorrow.”

Earlier, Angelique Kerber reached the tournament’s quarterfinals for the first time by beating Olympic champion Monica Puig 6-2, 6-3.

The top-seeded German is 3-1 against Puig, but the last time they played the Puerto Rican beat Kerber for the gold medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

“It’s always tough to play against Monica, especially after our last match,” Kerber said. “I was really not thinking too much about our final in Rio, because it was a completely totally different match than today.”

Kerber, who started the season as the No. 1-ranked player before Serena Williams won the Australian Open to reclaim the top spot, will return to the highest ranking if she wins the Dubai title this week.

Kerber saved all five break points she faced against Puig, including in the final game of the first set when she trailed 0-40. In her final service game of the second set, she recovered from 15-40 to go ahead 5-3.

“I was feeling good from the first point,” Kerber said. “I’m really happy about how I played today.”

Kerber next plays Konjuh.

Also, seventh-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine defeated Christina McHale of the United States 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

“Didn’t do my best,” Svitolina said, “but then I’m really happy that I won today.”

Svitolina will next face unseeded Lauren Davis of the United States, who beat Ekaterina Makarova of Russia 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.

French players get life bans for fixing

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LONDON — Two low-ranked French players were banned from the sport for life after being found guilty of match-fixing by a hearing officer.

Jules Okala, a 25-year-old with a career-best ATP ranking of No. 338, and Mick Lescure, a 29-year-old with a top ranking of No. 487, “admitted multiple charges,” the International Tennis Integrity Agency announced.

Neither player is allowed to compete at – or even attend – any sanctioned event again.

Okala was found guilty of seven match-fixing charges and fined $15,000 in addition to the permanent suspension. Lescure was found guilty of eight charges and fined $40,000 on top of the ban.

The punishments come after both players were involved in law enforcement investigations in France and Belgium, according to the sport’s integrity agency.

Ash Barty wins Australia’s top sports award for second time

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Ash Barty’s Australian Open singles title in January was enough to ensure the former top-ranked player won Australia’s most prestigious annual sports award — despite retiring from the game less than two months later.

Barty has been given The Don Award, named after its most accomplished and famous cricketer Don Bradman.

Barty shocked the tennis world in March when she announced her retirement at the age of 25. The three-time major winner was the No. 1-ranked female player at the time of her retirement decision.

The Sport Australia Hall of Fame’s Don Award is given to an athlete or a team “which has provided the most inspiration to the country through performance and example in the past year.”

Barty (2019, 2022) joins Olympic gold medal-winning hurdler Sally Pearson (2012, 2014) and Olympic champion pole vaulter Steve Hooker (2008, 2009) as a multiple winner of the award.

Barty said she had decided before the Australian Open started that it would be her last major tournament.

“This year was certainly my most enjoyable Australian Open . . . because it felt free,” Barty said in a television interview. “I played without consequence, I played like a little kid. In my eyes, there was no pressure. It was just about me trying to redeem myself, in a way, and playing how I’d always wanted to play – go out there and play like the kid that fell in love with sport.”

Barty said she has no plans to return to tennis.

“In my mind there was never going to be a perfect ending, but it was my perfect ending,” Barty said of her retirement. “It was never about finishing on a win or on a really high emotional feeling. It was just about collectively, I felt it was right.

“Now (that decision) has led to nine months of just an incredible life off the court. It’s been amazing.”

Barty married her long-time partner Garry Kissick in late July. She also golfs frequently and is reported to be playing off a handicap of low single figures.