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Top-ranked Halep loses to Pliskova in Madrid quarterfinals

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MADRID – Top-ranked Simona Halep lost to Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 6-3 in the Madrid Open quarterfinals on Thursday.

Halep was the two-time defending champion and on a 15-match winning streak at the clay-court tournament.

But Pliskova gave the Romanian no chance, breaking her serve four times and hitting 20 winners.

“This was one of my best matches of the year,” the sixth-seeded Pliskova said. “I feel amazing since in the last six matches I lost to her. I never thought I would beat her. My serve was great and everything went my way.”

Pliskova won her 10th career title in April, when the Czech was victorious on clay in Stuttgart.

Larsson beats Riske to win Nuremberg Cup

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NUREMBERG, Germany — Swedish player Johanna Larsson won her first WTA singles title in three years by beating Alison Riske of the United States 7-6 (4), 6-4 in the final of the Nuremberg Cup on Saturday.

Her only other career singles victory was on home soil at Bastad in 2015.

Having come from a set down to win matches in the quarterfinals and semifinals, Larsson rallied from a break down in the first set and won the last four points of the tiebreaker. Larsson then won the final five games to take the match and deny Riske a second career singles title.

“When I held for 4-2, I could see some signs that she was a little bit tired,” Larsson said, “and that gave me a lot of energy to fight back.”

Pavlyuchenkova labors past Cibulkova to win at Strasbourg

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STRASBOURG, France — Third-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia won the Strasbourg International after laboring to a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (6) win against Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia on Saturday.

They spent 3 hours, 35 minutes on court in a grueling contest, which ended when Pavlyuchenkova sealed victory on her second serve.

Pavlyuchenkova won her first title of the year and 12th overall, beating Cibulkova for the fourth time in their 11 career meetings.

Fifth-seeded Cibulkova was bidding for her ninth career title.

Both players head to the French Open in Paris, where first-round play starts Sunday.

Cibulkova reached the semifinals at Roland Garros in 2009, while Pavlyuchenkova reached her only quarterfinal there in 2013.