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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.”

Benedetti wins 12th stage; Polanc takes Giro lead

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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.

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Tsonga rallies past qualifier to reach quarterfinals in Lyon

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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.

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