Vandeweghe, Goerges advance to WTA Elite Trophy final

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ZHUHAI, China — Julia Goerges will take on CoCo Vandeweghe in the WTA Elite Trophy final on Sunday.

Vandeweghe advanced with a convincing 6-3, 6-3 win over rising Australian star Ashleigh Barty on Saturday, while Goerges held serve throughout in her 6-3, 6-3 victory over seventh-seeded Anastasija Sevastova.

“I think my results through my whole career have always been early exits or I go deep in tournaments,” Vandeweghe said. “I play better the more I play on the court. I like to compete. I feel more comfortable, more confident with my strokes.”

Vandeweghe is looking for her first WTA title of the year. After this tournament she will travel to Minsk to be part of the United States team at the Fed Cup final against Belarus.

Goerges has won eight straight matches, including the Kremlin Cup title in Moscow last month.

“I would say it probably helps me a bit to have played already a lot of finals this year and to just come from a tournament win,” the German said.

The tournament in Zhuhai features the leading players on the women’s tour who didn’t qualify for the WTA Finals in Singapore last week. The 12-player draw was divided into four groups of three, with the winner of each group advancing to the semifinals.

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.