AP Photo

Stan Wawrinka out in first round in Washington

Leave a comment

WASHINGTON — Stan Wawrinka’s surgically repaired left knee is just fine. What’s missing now for the three-time major champion as he goes through a rough season is the self-belief that comes with success.

Wawrinka’s latest quick exit came Tuesday night at the Citi Open, a 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3) loss against 234th-ranked qualifier Donald Young of the U.S. in the first round of the hard-court tournament.

“I was missing a lot. Not feeling the way I wanted. I’m looking for confidence, for sure,” said Wawrinka, who has been ranked No. 3 but is merely 198th at the moment on account of a 6-11 record in 2018 after two knee operations last year. “It’s tough to not win a lot of matches. Then you start to think too much on the court.”

This was Wawrinka’s first match since bowing out of Wimbledon in the second round in early July; his ranking is so low that he needed a wild-card entry just to get into qualifying for his next event, in Toronto.

The only other time Wawrinka entered the U.S. Open tuneup in Washington, in 2010, he also lost his opener.

Right now, his issue is the doubt can creep up at key points in a match.

“I feel I’m really close but, at the same time, really far. The positive right now is that physically, I’m feeling good. Tennis-wise, I’m practicing well. I can put (in) a lot of work on the court,” said Wawrinka, who has won the U.S. Open, Australian Open and French Open once apiece. “I know and I’m sure I will get where I want to be. It’s just tough. It’s a long process and you have to accept (it).”

He and Young, who came into the day with just a 2-10 record this year, were supposed to play Monday night. But because of rain delays and a lengthy match before theirs, they only made it onto the court to warm up at 1 a.m., and then a downpour arrived, so the contest was postponed.

Wawrinka got broken in the first game Tuesday by dumping a forehand into the net; that turned out to be the match’s only break. Wawrinka then was two points from losing at 5-3 in the second-set tiebreaker. But a series of miscues by Young, including a double-fault at 5-4, sent them to a third set. This time, Young held on, and he’ll face 2014 U.S. Open runner-up Kei Nishikori on Wednesday.

“Fought a lot of nerves there, but I’m happy the end result was a `W,”‘ Young said. “Closing matches is kind of like a skill you get from winning and I haven’t done that – but I was able to do that.”

No. 1 seed and defending champion Alexander Zverev was scheduled to face Malek Jaziri in the main stadium’s final match Tuesday.

In earlier action, local product Denis Kudla – who is staying at his parents’ home in nearby Arlington, Virginia, this week – collected his first victory in seven attempts at the Citi Open, coming back to beat Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-4.

“This is always a place that I’ve wanted to win and I’ve always struggled here. My record was pretty awful coming into today,” said Kudla, who had been 0-4 in main-draw matches and 0-2 in qualifying at the tournament. “Today it just came together.”

Marcos Baghdatis, the 2010 runner-up, advanced with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 victory over Benoit Paire, who drew boos from spectators after a racket-breaking tantrum. Vasek Pospisil, a finalist in 2014, lost to 19-year-old Alex de Minaur 6-7 (6), 6-2, 6-3.

Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki pulled out of the women’s draw because of an injured right leg, while defending champion Ekaterina Makarova lost her first-round match to Ana Bogdan 7-6 (2), 6-3.

No. 2 seed Sloane Stephens, the reigning U.S. Open champion, moved into the second round with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

Benedetti wins 12th stage; Polanc takes Giro lead

AP Photo
Leave a comment

PINEROLO, Italy (AP) Cesare Benedetti won the 12th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Thursday for his first victory as a professional while Jan Polanc took the overall leader’s pink jersey from UAE Emirates teammate Valerio Conti.

Benedetti, an Italian with the Bora team who has been a support rider for his entire career, was part of an early breakaway then accelerated from a select group of riders in a sprint finish.

“I’ve worked a lot for the others in the past but today I got my opportunity,” Benedetti said. “I’m not (usually) a winner.”

Benedetti required 3 hours, 41 minutes to complete the 158-kilometer (98-mile) leg from Cuneo to Pinerolo, which featured one major climb and another shorter but steeper ascent just before the finish.

Damiano Caruso crossed second and Eddie Dunbar came third, each with the same time as Benedetti. Polanc, a Slovenian who was also in the breakaway, finished 25 seconds behind.

In the overall standings, Polanc leads Primoz Roglic by 4 minutes, 7 seconds. Vincenzo Nibali, one of the pre-race favorites, is fifth overall, 5:51 behind.

“It was a team tactic that I would go in the breakaway so we could have a better control over the race,” Polanc said. “It was also a way to keep the pink jersey in the team.”

Mikel Landa and Miguel Angel Lopez attacked on the first-category climb to Montoso and gained about 30 seconds on the other overall favorites.

Before the stage began, sprinters Caleb Ewan and Elia Viviani withdrew from the race. Ewan won two stages, including the 11th leg a day earlier, while Viviani posted three second-place finishes.

Stage 13 on Friday is one of the race’s toughest, with two category one climbs and one category ascent, along with an uphill finish at the end of the 196-kilometer leg from Pinerolo to Ceresole Reale.

The Giro ends June 2 in Verona.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Tsonga rallies past qualifier to reach quarterfinals in Lyon

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LYON, France (AP) Former champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga rallied past Canadian qualifier Steven Diez on Wednesday to reach the quarterfinals and extend his perfect record at the Lyon Open.

Tsonga, the 2017 champion, came within two points of losing but finally prevailed 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3 on his sixth match point after 2 hours, 42 minutes.

The clay-court event serves as a warmup for the French Open, which starts Sunday in Paris.

“It was good for me to play a long match like this,” Tsonga said. “I haven’t played a match this long for a while. I am not playing my best level, but I am giving everything mentally and that gives me confidence.”

Tsonga will next take on top-seeded Nikoloz Basilashvili, who beat lucky loser Tristan Lamasine 7-5, 7-5.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports