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Wozniacki gets first win at this year’s WTA Finals

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SINGAPORE — Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki earned her first victory at this year’s WTA Finals, beating Petra Kvitova 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 on Tuesday

Elina Svitolina earned her second straight win in the other group match, outlasting Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 2-6, 6-3. The results mean all four players are still in contention to advance to the semifinals from the White Group.

Wozniacki, who became the first Danish woman to win a Grand Slam title at this year’s Australian Open, is now 1-1, while Kvitova is 0-2.

“I played much better today,” Wozniacki said on court after the match. “I returned well. I served well. Against Petra, she’s so powerful, you have to stay on your game. I just tried to stay focused and get a lot of balls back.

“I always believe in myself and when I’m out on the court I believe I’m going to win.”

Kvitova, who won the WTA Finals title in her debut appearance at the year-end tournament in 2011, was the one taking chances on Tuesday. But Wozniacki played steadier defense and waited for the Czech to make mistakes.

Kvitova finished the match with 40 winners and 40 unforced errors. Wozniacki had 19 winners and 14 unforced errors.

Wozniacki, who broke her opponent in the first and fifth games of the deciding set, took a medical timeout to have her left knee bandaged when Kvitova was leading 3-1 in the second.

Svitolina failed to serve out the match at 5-2 in the third set but converted her third match point in the next game with a forehand winner.

The most tense moment of the match came in the third game of the first set, which lasted 15 minutes and went to deuce 10 times. Svitolina finally held after saving six break points.

“Actually, I was thinking how long we are playing this game? No more,” Svitolina said, smiling. “We were both I think a little bit struggling with our nerves.”

Svitolina only needs to win a set in her last round-robin match against Wozniacki to reach the semifinals.

Nadal gets his revenge over Tsitsipas to reach Rome final

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ROME (AP) After losing in the semifinals of three straight clay-court tournaments, Rafael Nadal looked more like his old, dominant self when he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 Saturday to reach the Italian Open final.

It was a measure of revenge for Nadal after losing to Tsitsipas in three sets at this stage in Madrid last week. The victory should also restore Nadal’s confidence as he seeks a record-extending 12th title at the French Open starting next weekend.

“I’m playing better every match, every weekend,” Nadal said.

Aiming for a ninth trophy in Rome, Nadal’s opponent in Sunday’s final will be either Novak Djokovic or Diego Schwartzman, who were playing later.

Nadal is in the middle of his longest title drought to begin a season since he came onto the scene in 2004. His last trophy came in Toronto last August.

The crowd attempted to encourage Tsitsipas with chants of “Tsi-Tsi-Tsi; Pas-Pas-Pas” but the 20-year-old Greek player couldn’t keep up with Nadal on the long rallies – even though he didn’t play a day earlier after Roger Federer withdrew from the quarterfinals.

Conditions were much slower than on the high-altitude court in Madrid, which favored Nadal and made it tougher for Tsitsipas to execute his attacking game.

Midway through the first set, Nadal produced an awesome forehand winner up the line on the run, drawing a loud roar from the packed Campo Centrale crowd.

Nadal broke Tsitsipas’ serve early in both sets.

In the women’s tournament, Johanna Konta rallied past sixth-seeded Kiki Bertens 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 in nearly three hours to reach the biggest clay-court final of her career.

Konta’s only previous final on clay came recently in Rabat, Morocco, where she lost the title match to Maria Sakkari.

Konta could get a rematch with Sakkari if the Greek qualifier beats fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova in the other semifinal.

Midway through the first set, Konta surprised Bertens with a drop shot winner during a baseline rally, causing Bertens to fall on her stomach to the clay as she rapidly changed directions. Then in the next game, Konta ran down a drop shot and produced an angled winner.

Bertens was coming off the Madrid Open title.

“She played really smart with the drop shots,” Bertens said. “I was all the time getting myself together and trying to push for more energy. But it was not there.”

The 42nd-ranked Konta served for the first set at 5-4 but was broken at love. But Bertens double faulted to let Konta serve for the second set and Konta got an early break in the third.

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John Isner out of French Open with injury

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PARIS — John Isner has pulled out of the French Open because of an injured left foot, ending his streak of 24 consecutive appearances at Grand Slam tournaments.

The 34-year-old Isner announced his withdrawal Friday on Twitter.

He is ranked No. 11, the top American man, but has not competed since hurting his foot during the Miami Open final March 31.

Isner was a Wimbledon semifinalist last year, his best Grand Slam performance. He hasn’t missed a major since the 2013 Australian Open.

He’s reached the fourth round at Roland Garros three times, including in 2018, and is one of only two men to push 11-time champion Rafael Nadal to a fifth set there.

Isner is best known for winning the longest match in tennis history, 70-68 in the fifth set against Nicolas Mahut in Wimbledon’s first round in 2010. The match lasted more than 11 hours over three days.