AP Photo

Andy Murray gets past Kyle Edmund at Citi Open

Leave a comment

WASHINGTON — Showing signs of returning to his old form, right down to the return winner on the last point, Andy Murray moved into the third round at the Citi Open by beating No. 4 seed Kyle Edmund 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-4 on Wednesday for just his third victory since having hip surgery.

Murray is a three-time major champion and former No. 1 who was sidelined for 11 months because of his right hip. He missed the second half of 2017, had an operation in January, then returned to the tour briefly in June. One of his three matches that month was a loss on a grass court to Edmund, the Australian Open semifinalist who has supplanted Murray as Britain’s highest-ranked man.

There is still work to be done by Murray, of course. He is ranked 832nd, has played only five matches in the past 12 months, and needed three sets for each of his victories in Washington’s hard-court tuneup for the U.S. Open.

After a wayward second set against Edmund, Murray collected himself in the third, all the while barking at himself after miscues, as he is wont to do. He got the measure of Edmund’s serves late, earning two break points at 4-3. Another arrived at 5-4, thanks to a defensive lob that drew a long overhead from Edmund, followed by a double-fault. That brought match point, and Murray pounded a cross-court winner of an 83 mph second serve, then let out a loud yell.

Earlier Wednesday, reigning 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 to 91st-ranked Andrea Petkovic.

Stephens was seeded No. 2 at a tournament she won in 2015 for her first WTA title. Now she’ll want to get her game going in the right direction before she begins the defense of her first Grand Slam title on Aug. 27.

“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.

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.

In other action, another local player, Denis Kudla of Arlington, Virginia, eliminated No. 12 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia 6-2, 6-3; No. 14 Jeremy Chardy was beaten 6-4, 6-4 by Marius Copil; No. 9 Denis Shapovalov defeated Daniil Medvedev 3-6, 6-1, 6-4; and No. 10 Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Jared Donaldson 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.

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.

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