Davis Cup: France wins doubles, leads Serbia 2-1 in semis

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LILLE, France (AP) Two-time Grand Slam champions Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert beat Filip Krajinovic and Nenad Zimonjic 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (3) to give France a 2-1 lead over Serbia in the Davis Cup semifinals on Saturday.

Apart from a scare in the third set when the Serb pair won four games in a row, Mahut and Herbert were in control on the indoor clay court and put France one win away from its 18th Davis Cup final.

“We are super happy and very proud,” said Herbert, who won both Wimbledon and the U.S Open with Mahut. “It’s never easy to serve for the match, I felt weaker at the worst time.”

The French had been flawless on their service games until 5-2 in the third set when Herbert was broken after he hit a double fault. The Serbian duo broke again following two beautiful winners from Krajinovic – a perfect lob and passing shot – but the French proved stronger in the tiebreaker.

Mahut, who has been hampered by a calf injury in recent weeks, thanked the medical staff for enabling him to play.

“They did not count their hours to put me back on my feet,” he said. “This victory is also theirs.”

Friday’s singles rubbers had been played on outdoor clay but organizers decided to close the roof at the Pierre Mauroy stadium in the northern city of Lille because of forecasts of bad weather.

In Sunday’s first reverse singles, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga can clinch the tie for France with victory over Dusan Lajovic. If he fails, the tie will be decided in the final reverse singles between Lucas Pouille and Laslo Djere.

Belgium and Australia were level at 1-1 in the other semifinal ahead of the doubles match in Brussels.

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.