Wawrinka still struggling following knee surgery

Getty Images
0 Comments

ROME (AP) Stan Wawrinka is still struggling to regain his form following surgery on his left knee.

Playing his first match since February, the three-time Grand Slam champion lost to 55th-ranked Steve Johnson 6-4, 6-4 Sunday in the first round of the Italian Open.

Wawrinka committed 30 unforced errors to Johnson’s 17, was broken once in each set and failed to take advantage of his only two break opportunities.

Wawrinka was operated on in August – twice – and returned in January at the Australian Open, where he was eliminated in the second round by Tennys Sandgren. He then retired from a match against 193rd-ranked Ilya Ivashka in Marseille, France, in February, citing a left knee injury.

Also on the red clay of the Foro Italico, Italian wild card Lorenzo Sonego had strong fan support as he came back from a set down to defeat Adrian Mannarino 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3.

Meanwhile, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova withdrew from the tournament citing a muscular injury that occurred during a grueling three-set win over Kiki Bertens in Saturday’s Madrid Open final – her second title in two weeks after also taking the Prague Open.

“After these incredible two weeks of tennis my body needs to rest and recuperate,” Kvitova said.

The women’s tournament at the Foro Italico starts Monday.

It’s the last Masters 100 event before the May 27-June 10 French Open

More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

Novak Djokovic to start 2023 in Adelaide ahead of Australian Open

Getty Images
1 Comment

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

Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

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.