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Hopman Cup out, ATP Cup in for overhaul of Australia swing

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PERTH, Australia — The Hopman Cup international mixed team event is making way for the new ATP Cup at the start of the 2020 tennis season in Australia.

The International Tennis Federation on Thursday confirmed an early end to the licensing agreement with Tennis Australia for the Hopman Cup, which had been scheduled to continue in Perth until 2022.

The ITF issued a statement saying it still supported a combined men’s and women’s event after three decades of success, and was searching for a new venue.

“The ITF is committed to upholding the core values of the Hopman Cup in the future and is encouraged by the interest that has already been expressed,” ITF president David Haggerty said. “We will keep the Hopman Cup alive and look forward to successful future editions of this unique event.”

Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic combined to win the last two Hopman Cup titles for Switzerland. Serena Williams and Steffi Graf have also been among the winners of the tournament which started in 1989.

The international season usually gets into full swing in Australia in the weeks leading into the first major of the year at Melbourne Park in January.

But the introduction of the ATP Cup has meant an overhaul in Australia for next year, with Perth joining Brisbane as a co-host of the group stage of the men’s team tournament and Sydney hosting the finals.

“The ATP Cup will launch the global tennis season for the men – this is their event … and they’ve thrown their support behind it 100 percent,” Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said. “Four of the top 12 male players, and eight of the top 24, will play in Perth, with 24 teams competing across three cities – Perth, Brisbane and Sydney.”

The ATP Cup has 750 rankings points, $22 million in prize money. It will feature two singles and a doubles match in each head-to-head between countries, and will run alongside the Brisbane International, which remains a season-opening event on the women’s tour.

Wild-card entry Tipsarevic advances at Geneva Open

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GENEVA (AP) Former top-10 player Janko Tipsarevic used his wild-card entry to beat Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 7-5, 7-5 in the Geneva Open first round on Monday.

Now ranked No. 317, the 34-year-old Tipsarevic is back in ATP Tour main draws after missing the 2018 season for hamstring injuries to heal.

Fifth-seeded Radu Albot advanced to the second round on a day when two seeded players lost in the final week of clay-court warmups for the French Open.

Albot beat qualifier Lorenzo Sonego 7-6 (6), 7-6 (3), after 92nd-ranked Hugo Dellien beat eighth-seeded Andreas Seppi 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, and seventh-seeded Matthew Ebden lost to Nicolas Jarry of Chile 6-2, 7-6 (4).

Rain cut short play and gave former No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov a day off after playing through two qualifying rounds.

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

Pliskova wins Italian Open for biggest clay title of career

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ROME (AP) – Karolina Pliskova captured the biggest clay-court title of her career by beating Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-4 Sunday in the Italian Open final.

Adding to a very consistent year from the 2016 U.S. Open runner-up, the victory will move Pliskova up to No. 2 in the rankings and makes her one of the contenders for the French Open, which starts next weekend.

“I just hope to take the tennis I was playing here to Paris,” Pliskova said. “For sure there’s going to be a chance for me if I play this way.”

Pliskova also reached the Australian Open semifinals and the Miami Open final after opening this season with a title in Brisbane, Australia. But she lost in the second round of her previous two tournaments on clay in Stuttgart, Germany, and Madrid.

“Nobody really gave me chance for this tournament – even me,” Pliskova said. “Before the tournament, I was not super confident, not thinking about the final at all. I was just happy with every match which I played. So it’s little bit like a miracle for me.”

The unseeded Konta appeared nervous at the start, double faulting then landing a backhand into the net to hand Pliskova a break in her opening service game.

In the second set, Pliskova used a swinging forehand volley putaway to break for a 4-3 lead and never looked back.

“It’s always tough playing Karolina,” Konta said. “There’s rarely really a rhythm to the match. She plays with big shots, quite flat, and big serves. It can feel sometimes you’re fighting an uphill battle. That was the case today.”

After converting her third championship point, Pliskova went over and slapped hands with Conchita Martinez, the four-time Rome champion who she recently named her head coach. Pliskova then asked Martinez and the rest of her team to come down onto the court for her victory celebration.

“She loved clay so she knows exactly what I should do,” Pliskova said of Martinez. “There were small differences: movement, maybe to put more topspin on the balls, use drop shots – which I never use, but I start little bit, and to mix also the serves. … I know she loved this tournament. I think she prayed so I could win today.”