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Connecticut Open leaving New Haven

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The Connecticut Open tennis tournament is leaving New Haven after a 21-year run in the city, organizers said Friday.

The operators of the tournament have sold the sanction for the WTA event to APG, a sports and entertainment company that is planning to put on a tournament in September in Zhengzhou, China.

The financial model of the Connecticut Open was no longer viable, organizers said. The Tennis Foundation of Connecticut said it is exploring whether another professional tennis event can be drawn to the city.

“It has been an amazing 21-year run for women’s professional tennis in New Haven, and we are truly grateful to all the fans, volunteers, players, media and sponsors involved,” tournament director Anne Worcester said.

The tournament traditionally has taken place in August, the final WTA tuneup before the U.S. Open.

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp said the tournament has helped to boost the city financially and bring it global attention since it began in 1998.

“We remain hopeful that professional tennis will return to New Haven in the very near future,” Harp said.

The tournament’s finances have been tenuous for several years and it nearly moved out of state before Connecticut bought the rights to the tournament in 2013 for $618,000. In 2017, the state completed a $2.5 million renovation of the facility where the tournament is held in hopes of getting more out of the venue than just the tennis event.

“It stayed in New Haven due to efforts by many people when there was almost certainty five years ago that it would leave for another state. Five additional years of economic impact, marketing of the state around the world, and year-round community outreach programs is something to be celebrated,” said Mark Ojakian, who helped to save the tournament when he was former Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s chief of staff.

Opelka edges top-seeded Isner to reach New York Open final

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UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) Reilly Opelka edged top-seeded John Isner the same way he knocked his fellow American out of the Australian Open, winning a match full of tiebreakers Saturday night in a New York Open semifinal that set a record for combined aces in a three-set match.

Opelka fought off six match points in a marathon second set and went on to win 6-7 (8), 7-6 (14), 7-6 (4) to move within a victory of his first ATP title.

The 6-foot-11 Opelka and 6-10 Isner combined for 81 aces and there were no breaks of serve. Opelka hit 43 aces, Isner had 38, and each had only one double fault.

It was similar to their meeting in Melbourne, when Opelka beat the ninth-ranked Isner in a first-round match that went four tiebreakers.

Opelka will play Canadian Brayden Schnur, a qualifier who had never won a tour-level match before this week.

Schnur recovered after blowing a 3-0 lead and eventually the second set to beat American Sam Querrey 7-6 (7), 4-6, 6-3.

Schnur was the final alternate accepted into the tournament’s qualifying draw and was nearly gone from Long Island quickly, eventually overcoming two match points to beat No. 3 seed Steve Johnson in the second round.

There was nothing quick about the second semifinal, which lasted 2 hours, 31 minutes and went well past the previous record of 71 aces, set earlier this year in a match between Nick Kyrgios and Ryan Harrison.

Isner was in good position to win in straight sets, taking a 3-1 lead in the tiebreaker when Opelka pushed a forehand long. But he wasted a chance to win the match on his serve, and Opelka then kept erasing the rest of the match points when he served.

Isner had dropped both matches this season, part of a six-match skid dating to the end of last year, before winning his first two matches here in straight sets.

But he was stopped again by Opelka, who fell two aces shy of Ivo Karlovic’s record for most aces in a three-set match.

More AP Tennis: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Mertens upsets Halep in Qatar Open final

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DOHA, Qatar – Unseeded Elise Mertens came from a set and a break down to beat recent No. 1 Simona Halep 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the Qatar Open final and capture the biggest title of her career on Saturday.

Halep led 6-3, 2-0, then lost a service game for a third time to see the second set back on serve. Mertens continued to pressure, missing two more break chances in the seventh game but finally breaking – to love – in the ninth. The set was the first Mertens took from Halep in three matchups.

Mertens broke again to start the third set, Halep leveled at 2-2, but Mertens finished stronger and won her fifth career title.

The Belgian beat two other top-10 players this week, Kiki Bertens and Angelique Kerber.

Halep’s first final appearance since August guaranteed she will rise one spot to No. 2 in the rankings on Monday.