Nishikori, Pliskova win Brisbane International titles

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BRISBANE, Australia — Kei Nishikori won his first ATP title since Memphis in 2016 with a dominating final set to beat Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 in the Brisbane International final on Sunday.

The 2014 U.S. Open finalist served for the match at 5-1 in the third set, but Medvedev earned a temporary reprieve when he broke the Japanese player’s serve to extend the match.

But Nishikori, who had lost nine consecutive ATP finals over 52 tournaments in nearly three years, broke the Russian player’s serve on four consecutive points in the final game to clinch the match in just 2 hours, 6 minutes, at Pat Rafter Arena.

Earlier, Karolina Pliskova won her second Brisbane title, beating Lesia Tsurenko 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 after coming within just two points of defeat.

Serving for the title at 5-4 Sunday, Tsurenko lost 13 straight points. It came after Tsurenko rolled her ankle in the second game of the deciding set.

Tsurenko was 4-0 in her previous WTA finals. Pliskova won her first Brisbane title two years ago.

Pliskova improved her record in Brisbane to 13-2 and joined Victoria Azarenka (2009, 2016) and Serena Williams (2013-14) as the third woman to win the tournament twice.

Djokovic to start 2023 in Adelaide ahead of Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic will open his 2023 campaign in Adelaide as he prepares for a shot at a 10th Australian Open crown a year after having his visa revoked on the eve of his title defense.

The 21-time major winner has been granted a visa by the Australian government and has been listed to play at the Adelaide International, which starts Jan. 1.

Serbia isn’t contesting the inaugural United Cup team competition, leaving Djokovic free to play regular warmup tournaments head of the Jan. 16-29 Australian Open.

He’ll be joined in the men’s draw at Adelaide by Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada and Andy Murray.

Ons Jabeur, Aryna Sabalenka will headline the women’s draw.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles last month confirmed Djokovic had been granted a visa to compete in Australia in January. The 35-year-old Serbian had been facing a possible three-year ban after being deported last January over his stance against COVID-19 vaccination.

Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times, including the last three times he played. Rafael Nadal won this year’s title in Djokovic’s absence.

Djokovic was not vaccinated against COVID-19 when he arrived in Melbourne ahead of the 2022 tournament, but Australia has since lifted strict rules for unvaccinated travelers.

Karolina Pliskova reuniting with Sascha Bajin

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Two-time Grand Slam finalist Karolina Pliskova is reuniting with coach Sascha Bajin ahead of the 2023 season.

Pliskova posted on her website and her Twitter account about the move, which comes about six months after she and Bajin stopped working together. The pair originally teamed up in November 2020.

While Bajin was her coach, Pliskova reached the final at Wimbledon in 2021 before losing to champion Ash Barty. Pliskova also was the runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open, where she defeated Serena Williams in the semifinals before being beat by Angelique Kerber for the trophy.

After splitting from Bajin in July, Pliskova was coached by Leos Friedl. Their results together included a quarterfinal run at the U.S. Open.

Bajin has worked as a coach or hitting partner with several top tennis players, including Grand Slam title winners Williams, Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

“Thank you for having me back,” Bajin wrote on Twitter. “Let’s go get it.”

Pliskova is a 30-year-old from the Czech Republic who reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings in 2017 and finished this season at No. 31 after going 21-21 with no titles.

Her team also includes fitness specialist Jez Green and physiotherapist Martin Salvador.

Next year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, begins Jan. 16.