Osaka retires with injury; Bertens reaches WTA semifinals

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SINGAPORE — U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka finished her debut appearance at the WTA Finals on Friday with an injury and an 0-3 record.

Osaka was trailing Kiki Bertens 6-3 when she retired from the match with an upper left leg injury.

Bertens was awarded a straight-set victory and has advanced to the semifinals.

“I hurt my left hamstring in the first match,” Osaka said. “It was just getting worse and worse every time I played.

“I just really wanted to try because this is the last tournament, and I felt it was really unfair to everyone that came to watch.”

Sloane Stephens also advanced to the semifinals, improving to 3-0 by beating Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-3.

Osaka, the only woman from Japan to win a Grand Slam title, went off court to receive treatment on the injury after the eighth game while trailing 5-3. She lost her serve at love in the ninth game and then decided to stop.

The 21-year-old Osaka, who started the year ranked No. 68 and is now at a career-high No. 4, beat Serena Williams in the U.S. Open final and watched as the 23-time Grand Slam champion argued with the chair umpire and was penalized for it.

“It’s been a crazy year,” Osaka said. “For me, it’s just been a lot of new experiences. I’m very grateful that I was able to have the opportunities that I had.”

Bertens qualified for the season-ending WTA Finals when No. 1 Simona Halep withdrew from the tournament with a lower back injury.

“That’s how life can go sometimes,” said Bertens, who has beaten 12 top-10 players this season. “I think I was a little lucky, maybe.”

In the semifinals, Bertens will face Elina Svitolina while Stephens will take on Karolina Pliskova.

This year is the first time since the round-robin format was reintroduced in 2003 that none of the top four seeded players – No. 1 Kerber, No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 3 Osaka and No. 4 Petra Kvitova – reached the semifinals.

“I think the four of us, in our groups, we all played really well,” Stephens said of the semifinalists. “I think it’s great for us, and for the younger girls, to kind of prove ourselves.”

Giron cruises in 3rd set, beats Rybakov at Dallas Open

2023 Australian Open - Day 1
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DALLAS – Marcos Giron advanced to the second round of the Dallas Open with a 6-4, 6-7 (1), 6-1 victory over Alex Rybakov on Tuesday.

The seventh-seeded Giron, who reached the semifinals of the inaugural event a year ago, responded quickly after failing to close out the second set, winning the first five games of the deciding set.

Rybakov broke his fellow American when Giron was serving for the match in the second set. Then Rybakov won the first six points of the second-set tiebreaker.

“I’m really happy with how I was able to reset in the third and just get back to the game plan from the beginning and elevate,” Giron said. “He played well and served well and kind of hung in there.”

Eighth-seeded Adrian Mannarino of France won the final five points of a first-set tiebreaker and the last four games of the second to beat American Steve Johnson 7-6 (6), 6-2.

J.J. Wolf, the No. 6 seed, had little trouble in a 6-3, 6-3 victory over fellow American Brandon Holt.

John Isner, the fifth seed and unofficial tournament host in his hometown event, played later Tuesday. Like Giron, Isner lost in the semifinals last year.

Sock wins at Dallas Open, set to face top-seeded Fritz

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DALLAS – Wild-card entry Jack Sock opened with a 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-4 victory over Ilya Ivashka at the Dallas Open, setting up a second-round meeting with top-seeded fellow American Taylor Fritz.

Sock broke Ivashka’s serve in the final game to win the match. Ivashka fell behind 2-0 to start the final set but broke Sock to get back on serve.

Down a break early in the second set, Ivashka rallied to force the deciding set after Sock cruised in the first-set tiebreaker.

The eighth-ranked Fritz is back for the second Dallas Open after losing in the semifinals as the top seed in the inaugural edition of the indoor hard-court event last year. Defending champion Reilly Opelka isn’t in the field.