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Shapovalov shoots up the rankings with Italian Open win over Berdych

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ROME – Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov pulled off another big win, overcoming a slow start to beat 15th-seeded Tomas Berdych 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5) in the first round of the Italian Open on Tuesday.

Also on the red clay of the Foro Italico, three-time Rome champion Maria Sharapova defeated 16th-seeded Ashleigh Barty 7-5, 3-6, 6-2.

The 19-year-old Shapovalov is coming off a semifinal appearance in last week’s Madrid Open, where he beat fellow Canadian Milos Raonic in the Round of 16.

Already up to a career-high ranking of 29th this week, the victory over Berdych will move Shapovalov ahead of No. 22 Raonic when next week’s rankings come out – making him the top Canadian.

Shapovalov is already the youngest player in the top 30 since Richard Gasquest reached No. 17 in 2005 at the age of 19.

Showing off his crafty game, Shapovalov made an audacious foray to the net to conclude one point with an overhead smash as he ran out to a 4-0 lead in the decisive tiebreaker.

Berdych came back to make it 5-5 but the left-handed Shapovalov then drew his opponent into the net and unleashed a wicked one-handed backhand passing shot down the line.

On his first match point, Shapovalov wrong-footed Berdych with another shot down the line that his opponent couldn’t get back.

The risk-taking Shapovalov committed twice as many unforced errors as Berdych but also hit more than three times as many winners.

On a day in which the start of play was delayed and then interrupted by rain, 14th-seeded Diego Schwartzman eliminated Chilean qualifier Nicolas Jarry 6-4, 6-1, and 16th-seeded Lucas Pouille held off Italian wild card Andreas Seppi before a partisan crowd, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (3)

Greek qualifier Stefanos Tsitsipas, who reached the final of the Barcelona Open last month, advanced when Borna Coric retired while trailing 4-1.

In the women’s tournament, 11th-seeded Angelique Kerber defeated Kazakh qualifier Zarina Diyas 6-2, 7-6 (6), and 14th-seeded Daria Kasatkina beat Australian qualifier Ajla Tomljanovic 6-0, 6-4.

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Stephens beats Osaka in three sets at WTA Finals

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SINGAPORE — In a match between the last two U.S. Open champions, Sloane Stephens came out on top.

The 2017 champion beat Naomi Osaka 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 Monday at the WTA Finals, the season-ending tournament for the top eight players in the world.

Both players are making their debut appearances at the tournament, but Stephens appeared to be more composed while Osaka, who became the first Japanese citizen to win a Grand Slam title last month in New York, never seemed comfortable.

“I’m just really happy to get through and play a good competitive match,” Stephens said on court after the match. “I never gave up. I knew she’s been playing well and I’d have to play really good tennis to beat her.”

Both players struggled to hold serve. Osaka was broken on seven of 19 break-point opportunities, while Stephens was broken on four of 12.

Stephens entered the tournament with 33 wins this season, the least of any of the eight qualifiers. She reached her second career Grand Slam final at this year’s French Open, and won the Miami title.

Osaka continually showed her frustration during the match. When she failed to capitalize on four break points in the fourth game of the second set, she made a visible shrugging gesture with both hands.

Stephens gifted the second set to Osaka when she double-faulted on a second set point in the 10th game. But Osaka appeared to be mentally fatigued and only managed to hold serve in the third game of the final set.

Stephens is now 1-0 in the Red Group, while Osaka is 0-1. Angelique Kerber and Kiki Bertens are also in the group.

Tsitsipas wins Stockholm Open; becomes first Greek to claim ATP title

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STOCKHOLM — Stefanos Tsitsipas became the first Greek tennis player to win an ATP World Tour title when he beat Ernests Gulbis 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Stockholm Open on Sunday.

The 20-year-old Tsitsipas tossed his racket in the air and put both hands to his head when Gulbis put a forehand into the net after 1 hour, 21 minutes.

Tsitsipas had lost his previous two finals, both times to Rafael Nadal. The No. 145-ranked Gulbis was an easier proposition, though, and Tsitsipas won 80 percent of his service points and didn’t have his serve broken.

“Of course I feel happy because I’m the first Greek (to win an ATP title),” said 16th-ranked Tsitsipas, who became the 12th first-time title-winner on the ATP Tour this year. “Hopefully many Greek players can achieve something like this. I would be super-happy to see them achieve something like this in the future.”

Gulbis had won all six of his finals at ATP tournaments. This was his first since 2014, having beaten top-seeded John Isner in the semifinals.

It was still a great week for Gulbis, who only had four tour-level wins this season before coming to the Swedish capital.

“He played a really good match. He had a great week,” Gulbis said. “I know it’s a big deal to win your first ATP title, so enjoy it. I wish that it’s not the last one.”