Sock beats Krajinovic to win Paris Masters

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PARIS — Jack Sock beat Filip Krajinovic 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 Sunday to win the Paris Masters and qualify for the season-ending ATP Finals.

It was the 16th-seeded American’s third title of the year, fourth overall and first at a Masters. It sends him through to the finals in London for the first time. He will break into the top 10, climbing to ninth.

“Incredible week. Hard to describe, honestly. I don’t think it’s really hit or soaked in yet,” said Sock, who was one game away from losing in the second round. “To come back from the deficit I was down and to have this trophy next to me now has been an incredible achievement.”

He sealed victory on his first match point when Krajinovic, a Serbian qualifier ranked No. 77, sent a backhand long. Sock fell onto his back with his hands on his face, then jumped into the seating area to celebrate with his team.

“I had some anxious sleep last night,” Sock said. “I was able to find that groove in the second and third (sets) and kind of turn things around.”

He is the first American winner here since Andre Agassi in 1999; and the first American winner of a Masters tournament since Andy Roddick at Miami in 2010.

“I’ve had a rough season pretty much since, since March,” Sock said. “Coming in this week I had no idea I could even make London. It wasn’t in my head. I just wanted to play some good tennis my last week and go start my offseason.”

With a wry smile, Sock said he would be celebrating the biggest win of his career with “just a water on the rocks.”

Krajinovic was the first qualifier in a Masters final since Jerzy Janowicz, also here, in 2012.

After losing, the 25-year-old Serb sat slumped in his chair, shaking his head in disappointment.

He had only played finals on the challenger circuit before, winning all five of them, and came through the qualifying rounds. He seemed to run out of energy in the third set, which Sock controlled completely.

“I was not aggressive enough. I have to be against him,” Krajinovic said. “He started to play better and better and I didn’t serve well.”

Still, he will climb to No. 33 next week.

“It’s an amazing week with a lot of good wins. From (qualifying) I beat so many good guys, better ranking than me,” Krajinovic said. “So it’s all positive coming home, finally having holidays after playing so many matches this year.”

The first set was even, with Krajinovic looking a little sharper than Sock, who is also 25.

Sock was 30-40 down in the 12th game, and Krajinovic had his first set point. He took it when Sock went for a typical cross-court winner on forehand and whipped his shot into the net.

He responded well, upping his level in the second set as the momentum started to turn.

“I lost energy,” Krajinovic said. “But it was a great week for me. Well done to him.”

Sock secured a crucial break in the third game of the decider with a superb forehand winner on the run, and then held for 3-1.

By this stage, Krajinovic was reeling and dropped his next service game when Sock hit a backhand crosscourt winner that flew past Krajinovic’s outstretched racket. He was broken again when he served to stay in the match.

Sock had nine aces and broke Krajinovic’s serve six times to compensate for the three times he dropped his.

His other titles this year were at Delray Beach, Florida and Auckland, New Zealand – both on outdoor hard courts.

This one gives him a considerably bigger winners’ check of 853,430 euros – almost $1 million – and a ticket to London.

“It’s a good Sunday for sure,” Sock said. “The only thing that would make it better would be if the Kansas City Chiefs win as well back home, my favorite NFL team.”

Tennis star Kyrgios to contest Australian assault charge

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CANBERRA, Australia – Tennis star Nick Kyrgios was due to appear in an Australian court Friday to apply to have an assault charge stemming from events two years ago dismissed on mental health grounds.

His lawyer Michael Kukulies-Smith appeared in a court in Kyrgios’ hometown of Canberra in October and asked for an adjournment so forensic mental health reports could be prepared.

Magistrate Glenn Theakston adjourned the case until Friday, when lawyers for the 27-year-old Australian are expected to apply to have the charge dismissed under a section of the local crimes law.

Kyrgios, a Wimbledon finalist last year, is set to appear in court in person for the first time since he was charged by police by summons in July last year.

His hearing was listed to start at 2:15 p.m. local time (0315 GMT).

The law gives magistrates the power to dismiss a charge if they are satisfied an accused person is mentally impaired, and if dealing with an allegation in such a way would benefit the community and the defendant.

The common assault charge, which has a potential maximum sentence of two years in prison, relates to an incident in January 2021 that was reported to local police in December that year.

The charge reportedly relates to an incident involving his former girlfriend.

Kukulies-Smith told the court his client’s mental health history since 2015 made the application appropriate, citing a number of public statements made by Kyrgios.

In February last year, Kyrgios opened up about his performance at the 2019 Australian Open, saying what appeared to be a positive time in his life had been “one of my darkest periods.”

“I was lonely, depressed, negative, abusing alcohol, drugs, pushed away family and friends,” he wrote on Instagram. “I felt as if I couldn’t talk or trust anyone. This was a result of not opening up and refusing to lean on my loved ones and simply just push myself little by little to be positive.”

Kyrgios made further references to his mental health struggles during his runs to the final at Wimbledon and the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open.

After ending Daniil Medvedev’s U.S. Open title defense in September last year to reach the quarterfinals, Kyrgios expressed pride at lifting himself out of “some really tough situations, mentally” and “some really scary places” off the court.

Theakston questioned whether Kyrgios would need to appear in court for Friday’s hearing, but Kukulies-Smith said his client wanted to attend.

Kyrgios had a career setback last month when he withdrew from the Australian Open because of an injured left knee that required arthroscopic surgery.

He was the runner-up to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon last year in singles and teamed with good friend Thanasi Kokkinakis to claim the men’s doubles championship at the 2022 Australian Open.

Kyrgios was considered the host country’s strongest chance to win a title at Melbourne Park last month before he had to pull out of the tournament. Djokovic went on to win the Australian Open singles championship for the 10th time.

Australian Open director: Novak Djokovic’s hamstring had 3-cm tear

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said Novak Djokovic played at the Grand Slam event with a muscle tear of 3 centimeters – a little more than an inch – in his left hamstring along the way to winning the championship.

“He gets a bad rap, but at the end of the day, I don’t think anyone can question his athleticism. This guy, I did see, he had a 3-centimeter tear in his hammy,” Tiley said in an interview.

“The doctors are … going to tell you the truth,” Tiley said. “I think there was a lot of speculation of whether it was true or not. It’s hard to believe that someone can do what they do with those types of injuries. But he’s remarkable.”

Djokovic won the trophy at Melbourne Park by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets for a record-extending 10th title there and record-tying 22nd Grand Slam trophy overall. Rafael Nadal is the only other man who has won that many majors.

The triumph also allowed Djokovic to return to No. 1 in the ATP rankings.

The 35-year-old from Serbia hurt his hamstring during a tune-up tournament in Adelaide ahead of the Australian Open. He wore a heavy bandage on his left thigh and was visited by trainers during matches in Week 1 in Melbourne.

He said he took “a lot” of painkiller pills and did various treatments to help the leg.

“Let me put it like this: I don’t say 100%, but 97% of the players, when you get results of the MRI, you go straight to the referee’s office and pull out of the tournament,” Djokovic’s coach, Goran Ivanisevic, said after the final. “But not him. … His brain is working different.”