Tsitsipas beats Kukushkin to win Open 13 title

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MARSEILLE, France — Top-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas clinched his first title of the year and second of his career after beating 50th-ranked Mikhail Kukushkin 7-5, 7-6 (5) in the Open 13 final on Sunday.

The 20-year-old Greek had 14 aces and won 84 percent of his first-serve points against the 31-year-old Kazakh, whose only title was nine years ago on indoor hard courts at the St. Petersburg Open in Russia.

“Winning titles is the thing that I am working for,” Tsitsipas said. “It is the biggest satisfaction and the biggest joy in tennis.”

His career is very much in the ascendancy.

Earlier this year, Tsitsipas became the youngest Grand Slam semifinalist since 2007 when he reached the last four of the Australian Open, getting the better of 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer along the way.

Tsitsipas did not drop a set in winning the Open 13 title in southern France and also beat Kukushkin for the second time, having won their previous meeting on outdoor hard courts in Dubai last year.

“There was a lot of stress this week because I knew I had to face some good opponents,” said the 12th-ranked Tsitsipas. “When you care a lot, you tend to be more stressed than usual. I am happy that I got through that stress and played the game that I was supposed to play.”

Alcaraz, Fritz, Andreescu advance to Miami Open 3rd round

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Carlos Alcaraz picked up a straight-set win at the Miami Open on Friday to keep his world No. 1 ranking over idle Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic is not participating in the Miami Open because he still cannot travel to the United States as a foreign citizen who is not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Alcaraz, who beat Casper Ruud in the 2022 U.S. Open final for his first No. 1 ranking, defeated Facundo Bagnis 6-0, 6-2 to advance to the third round in Miami.

Rafael Nadal dropped out of the top 10 on Monday for the first time in 18 years. Alcaraz, a 19-year-old from Spain, rose into that spot a day after ending Daniil Medvedev’s 19-match winning streak by beating him in straight sets in the final at Indian Wells, California.

Ruud, who’s ranked No. 4, won his match against Ilya Ivashka 6-2, 6-3. He’ll face No. 26 Botic van de Zandschulp on Sunday in the third round.

No. 1 American and No. 9 seed Taylor Fritz began his tournament campaign with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Emilio Nava. Fritz is 17-1 in his opening rounds of hard court tournaments since the start of 2022, with his only loss coming at the 2022 U.S. Open to No. 303 Brandon Holt.

Fritz will next face No. 24 Denis Shapovalov, who defeated Guido Pella on Friday.

On the women’s side, Bianca Andreescu – the 2019 U.S. Open champion – came from a set down to oust No. 7 seed Maria Sakkari 5-7, 6-3, 6-4. Andreescu improved to 2-1 over Sakkari, with both wins coming in Miami.

Andreescu will face Sofia Kenin in the third round.

No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka beat Shelby Rogers 6-4, 6-3 and extended her record to 4-0 versus Rogers. Sabalenka will face No. 31 Marie Bouzková in the third round.

No. 5 Caroline Garcia lost to Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-3. Cirstea beat Garcia 10 days ago in the fourth round at Indian Wells, and will face Karolína Muchová next.

In other action, Varvara Gracheva defeated No. 4 Ons Jabeur 6-2, 6-2; and Jannik Sinner beat Laslo Đere 6-4, 6-2.

Coco Gauff, Jessica Pegula reach Miami Open 3rd round

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Sixth-seeded Coco Gauff opened her 2023 Miami Open with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Rebecca Marino and advanced to the third round where she will face 27th-seeded Anastasia Potapova.

After her victory, Gauff, coming off a quarterfinals appearance at Indian Wells, said in a television interview that it wasn’t her best outing, despite converting five of her nine break points.

“It was a shaky performances honestly,” Gauff said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be a straight forward match, even if I was up a break sometimes.”

Gauff came back from a break down twice in the second set to claim her second career win versus Marino. Gauff defeated Marino in the first round at Roland Garros in 2022.

Gauff said she was a bit nervous playing in her hometown – she’s a native of Delray Beach, Florida, a small city about 40 miles north of Hard Rock Stadium, where the tournament is played. Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat was among those in attendance Thursday.

“Jimmy Butler is here so I was a little bit nervous when I saw him,” Gauff said with a laugh in her post-match interview. “Playing home is something I look forward to, but it’s also a little bit of extra pressure because everyone wants you to do well here.”

Gauff’s doubles teammate, world No. 3 Jessica Pegula beat Katherine Sebov 6-3, 6-1 and advanced to the third round. She will face fellow American and No. 30 Danielle Collins next. Collins defeated Viktoriya Tomova on Thursday.

Pegula made the Miami Open semifinals in 2022 and is among the favorites to win the tournament this year after No. 1-ranked and defending champion Iga Swiatek pulled out of the tournament because of a rib injury.

No. 21 Paula Badosa won 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-2 against Laura Siegemund in a match that lasted two hours and 51 minutes. Badosa will face either Elena Rybakina, who defeated Badosa en route to the Indian Wells title, or Anna Kalinskaya.

Badosa hit with a ball kid during the match to stay warm after Siegemund called for a medical timeout and left the court for treatment, which took nearly 15 minutes.

In other action, Elise Mertens eliminated No. 8 seed Daria Kasatkina 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 to advance and face No. 29 Petra Martic next; No. 23 Qinwen Zheng picked up a 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 win over Irina-Camelia Begu; and No. 13 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia defeated Tereza Martincová 7-6 (4), 0-6, 6-0.