American Stephens beats Ostapenko for Miami Open title

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens won her hometown tournament, beating Jelena Ostapenko 7-6 (5), 6-1 in Saturday’s final at the Miami Open.

Stephens, a South Florida native who lives in Fort Lauderdale, won the last women’s final on Key Biscayne. The tournament will move next year to the Miami Dolphins’ stadium.

Seeded 13th, Stephens won with defense, repeatedly extending rallies until Ostapenko would make a mistake. Ostapenko had a 25-6 advantage in winners but committed 48 unforced errors to 21 by Stephens.

Stephens was the surprise champion at the U.S. Open last September and then endured a long slump she ended at Key Biscayne. She improved to 6-0 in finals, and will break into the top 10 for first time next week at No. 9.

John Isner tries for the biggest title of his career Sunday when he faces Alexander Zverev in the men’s final. Isner could give the United States its first sweep at Key Biscayne since 2004 when Andy Roddick and Serena Williams won.

Stephens and the No. 6-seeded Ostapenko, last year’s French Open champion, battled almost exclusively from the baseline, and the quality of play was often ragged. The finalists traded breaks for four games, and Stephens was broken twice more when serving for the first set.

She wobbled again leading 6-2 in the pivotal tiebreaker, hitting unforced errors to lose consecutive set points. But Ostapenko dumped an easy backhand into the net to lose the set, and the Latvian appeared to tire after that.

Stephens swept the final six games, and on championship point Ostapenko sent a forehand wide. Stephens celebrated by pumping both fists to cheers from her hometown crowd.

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Tennis star Kyrgios to fight charge on mental health grounds

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CANBERRA, Australia – Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios will apply to have an assault charge dismissed on mental health grounds, his lawyer told an Australian court on Tuesday.

Lawyer Michael Kukulies-Smith appeared on behalf of Kyrgios in a court in the tennis star’s hometown of Canberra and asked for an adjournment so forensic mental health reports could be prepared.

Magistrate Glenn Theakston adjourned the case until Feb. 3, when Kyrgios’ lawyers are expected to apply to have the charge dismissed under a section of the local crimes law.

The 27-year-old Australian tennis star will appear in court in person on that date for the first time since he was charged by police by summons in July.

The law gives magistrates the power to dismiss a charge if they are satisfied an accused person is mentally impaired, and dealing with an allegation in that 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 last December.

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, 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 last month 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 the February hearing, but Kukulies-Smith said his client wanted to attend.

Kyrgios was scheduled to play at the Japan Open later Tuesday against Tseng Chun-hsin of Taiwan.

Speaking in Tokyo before his matter returned to court, Kyrgios said it was “not difficult at all” to focus on tennis despite the pending charge.

“There’s only so much I can control and I’m taking all the steps and dealing with that off the court,” he told reporters. “I can only do what I can and I’m here in Tokyo and just trying to play some good tennis, continue that momentum and just try to do my job.”

Wimbledon champ Rybakova beats Keys in Ostrava opener

Agel Open Ostrava - Day One
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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakova came from a set down to defeat Madison Keys 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of the Agel Open on Monday.

Rybakova had lost to Keys this year at the French Open and Cincinnati.

In other first-round matches in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava, Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia defeated Zhang Shuai of China 6-3, 6-3, and local hope Petra Kvitova overcame American Bernanda Pera 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

Fresh from her second title of the year in Seoul last month, Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia knocked out former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.