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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Novak Djokovic to start 2023 in Adelaide ahead of Australian Open

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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

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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.