Kyrgios leaves Medvedev slamming his racket

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ROME — Nick Kyrgios took full advantage of his crafty game to eliminate Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the first round of the Italian Open on Tuesday.

For his first win on clay this year, Kyrgios was full of smiles as he fired aces and passing shots seemingly at will.

Kyrgios set the tone by serving underhand to start the match, catching Medvedev off guard. There were also a bevy of drop shots and even a successful through-the-legs shot.

“I was trying to throw him off his game because I knew he loves rhythm. He’s a great player,” Kyrgios said. “Today was a lot of fun. I thought the crowd was a lot of fun. It’s very important to go out there and put on a bit of a show.”

Medvedev played better after getting his lower back massaged after the first set but had no answer for Kyrgios’ wide array of shots in the third, prompting the frustrated Russian to break his racket by slamming it on the dirt.

Kyrgios won the final game at love by serving four straight aces. He had 15 aces in all.

Also, David Goffin rallied past Stan Wawrinka 4-6, 6-0, 6-2.

Others advancing included Karen Khachanov, Marin Cilic, American qualifier Taylor Fritz, Radu Albiot, Jeremy Chardy and Diego Schwartzman.

Former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki retired due to a left leg injury after losing a first-set tiebreaker to American opponent Danielle Collins.

Wozniacki took a medical timeout when trailing 5-2 to get treatment then came back to force the tiebreaker but she quickly retired after losing the set.

Wozniacki also retired from her opening match at the Madrid Open last week.

The 30th-ranked Collins notched her fourth victory over a top-20 player this season, with the other three coming during her breakthrough semifinal run at the Australian Open.

“I’m comfortable on this surface, and making improvements within my game, and doing a little bit better than I did last year,” Collins said.

Also, French qualifier Alize Cornet beat Aryna Sabalenka 6-1, 6-4.

Maria Sakkari, Carla Suarez Navarro and Kristina Mladenovic also advanced.

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.