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Osaka splits with coach two weeks after second major title

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Naomi Osaka surprisingly split from coach Sascha Bajin, a little more than two weeks after she won the Australian Open for a second consecutive Grand Slam title and moved to No. 1 in the WTA rankings.

“Hey everyone, I will no longer be working together with Sascha,” Osaka posted on Twitter on Monday. “I thank him for his work and wish him all the best in the future.”

Osaka’s agent confirmed to The Associated Press that Osaka would no longer be working with Bajin, the 2018 WTA Coach of the Year, but said there would be no further comment.

Less than a half-hour after Osaka’s tweet, Bajin responded to her on Twitter. He thanked her and wrote: “I wish you nothing but the best as well. What a ride that was. Thank you for letting me be part of this.”

Osaka hired Bajin before the 2018 season.

He previously worked with Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

Osaka withdrew from this week’s Qatar Open, citing a back injury.

The 21-year-old beat Petra Kvitova in three sets in the Australian Open final on Jan. 26.

That added to her championship at the U.S. Open last September, when she defeated Serena Williams in straight sets.

Those back-to-back victories made Osaka the first woman to win two major championships in a row since Williams picked up four straight in 2014-15.

Osaka became the youngest woman to make her debut at No. 1 since Wozniacki at 20 in 2010 and the first tennis player from Asia to reach the top of the women’s or men’s tennis rankings.

She was born in Japan – her mother is Japanese, her father is Haitian – and moved to the United States when she was 3. She has dual citizenship and now is based in Florida.

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.