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.”

Nishioka beats Shapovalov to win Korean Open

2022 US Open - Day 1
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SEOUL, South Korea – Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka claimed his second career title after beating fourth seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada 6-4, 7-6 (5) to win the Korean Open.

The 27-year-old Japanese, who beat top seed and world No.2 Casper Ruud in the quarterfinals, was impressive in defense and his counter-punching style eventually wore down his higher ranked opponent in just under two hours at the Seoul Olympic Park Tennis Center.

The unseeded Nishioka, appearing in his second championship match this year after reaching the Washington final in August, started the brighter and found his rhythm early to claim the first set.

The second set saw momentum change as Shapavolov found his range from the backcourt to take a 3-1 lead. But Nishioka rallied to take the set into a tiebreak where he held firm to win his first tournament since his maiden title at the Shenzen Open in 2018 – where he also beat Shapovalov in their only previous meeting.

The ATP Tour returned to Seoul for the first time since 1996 after the city was awarded a single-year license to stage the Korean Open.

Mayar Sherif becomes first Egyptian to win WTA Tour event

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PARMA, Italy — Mayar Sherif became the first Egyptian to win a WTA Tour event by beating top-seeded Maria Sakkari 7-5, 6-3 at the Parma Ladies Open.

Besides earning her first career title, Sherif also notched her first win over a top-10 opponent.

Along with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who reached the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals this year, Sherif is raising the profile of tennis in North Africa.

The 74th-ranked Sherif actually had to win two matches on Saturday, first overcoming sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the semifinals, which were postponed a day due to rain.

The seventh-ranked Sakkari beat Danka Kovinic 7-5, 6-2 in her semifinal earlier Saturday.