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Sloane Stephens loses to Andrea Petkovic at Citi Open

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens continued her tendency for all-or-nothing showings at tournaments, losing 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the second round of the Citi Open to 91st-ranked Andrea Petkovic on Wednesday.

Stephens was seeded No. 2 at the hard-court event, which she won in 2015 for her first WTA title. It’s a tuneup for the year’s last major, the U.S. Open, where she will begin the defense of her first Grand Slam title later this month.

“Hopefully,” Stephens said, “some things connect in the next couple of weeks.”

Her best results this season were a runner-up finish at the French Open and a title at the Miami Open. But take away those tournaments, and the American is 10-11 in 2018, including first-round exits at Wimbledon last month and the Australian Open in January.

Against Petkovic, Stephens put only 59 percent of her first serves in play and was broken four times.

“I didn’t serve great, but that’s not what lost me the match,” Stephens said. “She just played better than me.”

Stephens’ loss leaves the Citi Open women’s draw without either of its top two seeds; No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki withdrew Tuesday because of a leg injury.

In men’s action, 13th-seeded Frances Tiafoe picked up his first victory at his hometown ATP tournament, beating 120th-ranked Hubert Hurkacz of Poland 6-2, 6-4 with the help of 10 aces.

Tiafoe, a 20-year-old who grew up in nearby Hyatsville, Maryland, called his performance “nice, quick, efficient.”

He showed up to his postmatch news conference wearing a red T-shirt with the words, “Rep your city,” after needing just 75 minutes to win in front of a crowd that included his parents, brother and “couple aunts, couple uncles.”

Tiafoe entered the day 0-2 at the Citi Open.

He was scheduled to play doubles later Wednesday alongside another local player, Denis Kudla of Arlington, Virginia, who also won in singles, eliminating No. 12 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia 6-2, 6-3.

Another seeded player lost when No. 14 Jeremy Chardy of France was beaten 6-4, 6-4 by Marius Copil of Romania.

No. 15 Mischa Zverev of Germany moved into the third round by defeating Tim Smyczek of the U.S. 6-2, 7-6 (7). Zverev’s next match could be against his younger brother, No. 1 seed and defending champion Alexander. It would be their first main-draw meeting on the ATP tour. Alexander Zverev was scheduled to resume his match against Malek Jaziri later Wednesday; it was suspended because of rain Tuesday night after Zverev took the first set 6-2.

No. 5 seed Nick Kyrgios withdrew because of an injured left hip that he said he hurt “after a sudden movement” during last week’s tournament in Atlanta. Kyrgios said he didn’t want to risk aggravating the injury ahead of bigger tournaments than the Citi Open, such as next week’s Toronto Masters and the U.S. Open.

Rafael Nadal will play in new Davis Cup format

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MADRID — Gerard Pique is not worried about the possible absence of some top players in the revamped Davis Cup, especially since Rafael Nadal has said he will play in the new-look competition when it debuts next year.

The Barcelona defender, who spearheads the company behind the new format of the Davis Cup, said Wednesday that Nadal has told him he will play as long as he is not injured.

“If the No. 1 in the world is playing, that’s more than enough,” Pique said in the official presentation of Madrid as host of the Davis Cup finals for the next two years. “Rafa is very positive about this event, especially because it is taking place in Madrid.”

The new event was developed in a partnership between the International Tennis Federation and the investment group Kosmos, which was founded by the Barcelona and Spain player.

Pique said he knows it will not be easy to have all top-ranked players participating.

“This is a team event, so it’s impossible to have all the top players involved. Some teams won’t qualify, not everybody will be able to play anyway,” Pique said. “Of course we would like to have the top players, but we want to focus on the teams.”

Stars such as Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have already hinted they don’t intend to play. Djokovic said the tournament could be competing with the ATP’s World Team Cup, while Federer said the revamped Davis Cup didn’t seem to be designed for him.

Pique said he already didn’t expect Federer to be playing, noting the Swiss veteran has limited his tournament schedule in recent years and might not “have the legs” to play in the Davis Cup again. He said he still hoped to convince Djokovic, though.

“I have a lot of confidence that we can negotiate and the top players will play,” Pique said.

The new format of tennis’ top team event will be a season-ending, 18-team tournament, but teams will still play matches in February to advance to the championship in November. The Davis Cup has previously been played over four weekends throughout the year.

The first championship will be held next year from Nov. 18-24 on an indoor hardcourt at the Magic Box arena, which already hosts the Madrid Masters. The ITF said players will compete for prize money that will rival what is offered in Grand Slams.

Pique said there is no “perfect date” for the tournament as the tennis calendar is very tight, but he was happy with the week they picked.

“We’ve spoken with everybody,” he said. “We think this is a week that won’t affect any of the other tournaments. We want to be well seen in the tennis world. We are here to help. We think this will be a magical week for the world of tennis.”

The 2018 Davis Cup semifinalists – Croatia, France, Spain and the United States – have already secured their spot in next year’s tournament, along with Argentina and Britain.

Defending champion France will host Croatia in the last Davis Cup final in the current format from Nov. 23-25 in Lille.

Stephens, Pliskova both lose at Kremlin Cup

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MOSCOW — Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova were both eliminated from the Kremlin Cup on Wednesday, with the latter result ensuring that Elina Svitolina has qualified for the WTA Finals.

The fifth-ranked Pliskova lost to Russian veteran Vera Zvonareva 6-1, 6-2, holding serve only once in the match.

Because of the loss, Svitolina will play in the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore. Pliskova can still qualify, but she could also be overtaken by Kiki Bertens.

The 34-year-old Zvonareva, a former Wimbledon and U.S. Open finalist, will next face Anastasija Sevastova in the quarterfinals. The Latvian beat Yulia Putintseva 7-5, 4-6, 6-4.

Stephens lost to Tunisian qualifier Ons Jabeur 6-3, 6-2. The third-seeded American, who had a first-round bye, lost her opening service games in each set.

Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, secured qualification for the WTA Finals last week after a strong season which included reaching the French Open final.

Jabeur will next face Anett Kontaveit in the quarterfinals. The eighth-seeded Estonian beat Kristina Mladenovic 6-2, 7-6 (3).

In the men’s draw, Ricardas Berankis beat Aljaz Bedene 3-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) to reach the quarterfinals.