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Stan Wawrinka regains form to stun Grigor Dimitrov

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LONDON — Out of form and a set down to Grigor Dimitrov after just 23 minutes, Stan Wawrinka was just about the only person on Centre Court who believed he could win.

The three-time Grand Slam champion – whose ranking has fallen to 224 following knee surgery – proved himself right, rallying to defeat the sixth-seeded Dimitrov 1-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5), 6-4 at Wimbledon on Monday to claim just his second Grand Slam victory since last year’s Wimbledon.

Wawrinka received a fillip earlier when his girlfriend Donna Vekic pulled off a top-10 triumph of her own, defeating fourth-seeded Sloane Stephens 6-1, 6-3.

“It was a good day for us at the office,” Wawrinka said. “That’s for sure.”

After missing the second half of 2017 following surgery on his left knee, Wawrinka has struggled to regain his form since returning at the Australian Open in January.

The 33-year-old Swiss won just three matches across four tournaments at the start of the year, prompting him to take another three-month break.

The second edition of the comeback had been even more concerning, with just two wins in five tournaments climaxing with a thrashing from fellow long-term injury victim Andy Murray who, despite that victory, deemed himself unfit to compete at Wimbledon.

Wawrinka’s prospects at the All England Club were bleak, and appeared bleaker when he was drawn against 2014 semifinalist Dimitrov in the opening round. Wawrinka had never beaten a top-10 player on grass.

“I had to put myself together again, to try to fight, try to find (a) solution,” said Wawrinka of his thought process after dropping the first set.

He found it. The Swiss doubled his winner count and lifted his first-serve percentage to level the set score through a tiebreaker, and toughed out a high-quality third set via the same method.

Wawrinka’s serve carried him to a 5-4 lead in the fourth, before he pounced on his first opening of the set to seal victory.

Vekic said after her win over the U.S. Open champion: “I’m really happy that I was the first one today so now I can watch him a little bit. It’s not easy when there’s two matches in one day, we’re both kind of a little bit stressed but it’s good if we both win.”

Stress levels in the Wawrinka-Vekic household will be a lot lower on Tuesday.

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.”