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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.

Djokovic wins World Sportsman of the Year at Laureus World Sports Awards

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MONACO  — Novak Djokovic, Tiger Woods, Lindsey Vonn and the France national soccer team were among the winners at the Laureus World Sports Awards, with Woods claiming the Comeback Award 19 years after he was first recognized.

Djokovic matched Usain Bolt’s record by being named World Sportsman of the Year for the fourth time after winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. He also earned the honor in 2012, 2015 and 2016.

Woods, who won the inaugural World Sportsman of the Year award in 2000, won the Tour Championship in September for his 80th PGA Tour title and his first since August 2013.

Vonn, who retired during the recent Alpine skiing world championships , took home the Spirit of Sport Award, which is given to an athlete for relentless dedication to his or her career, and France was honored for winning the World Cup in July.

Simone Biles was named World Sportswoman of the Year for winning four gold, one silver and one bronze medal at the gymnastics world championships. Naomi Osaka won the Breakthrough Award for winning the U.S. Open and Chloe Kim was named the World Action Sportsperson of the Year.

The awards were given in recognition of outstanding sports performance in 2018.

Wawrinka loses to Monfils in first final since knee surgeries

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ROTTERDAM, Netherlands — Three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka’s rebuilt knee couldn’t quite carry him to the title in Rotterdam on Sunday.

Wawrinka lost his first final since his comeback a year ago from left knee surgeries, succumbing 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 to Gael Monfils of France at the ABN AMRO World Tournament.

It was the Frenchman’s eighth career title.

“I tried a couple of times here. I lost the final in 2016,” Monfils told Dutch national broadcaster NOS courtside. He said it was special to win a tournament that his idol, Arthur Ashe, also won. Ashe won back-to-back titles in Rotterdam in 1975 and ’76.

Unseeded Wawrinka reached the final by beating top-seeded Kei Nishikori in three sets on Saturday.

But the Swiss finally ran out of steam in the final set as Monfils stepped up his game.

“In the third set I was a little bit more aggressive and I go a bit more for my shots, I served bigger and that helped me a lot,” Monfils said.

Wawrinka was going for his 17th career title and second in Rotterdam, after winning in 2015.

It was his first final since the 2017 French Open, where he previously met Monfils in the fourth round.

Monfils also needed three sets to overcome fifth-seeded Daniil Medvedev in the semifinals, but outlasted Wawrinka in a match that took 1 hour, 44 minutes.

After they shared the first two sets, Monfils was more consistent than Wawrinka in the decisive third.

Already trailing 4-2, Wawrinka hit three unforced errors to lose the seventh game and allow Monfils to serve out the match.