Kyrgios defaulted for throwing chair onto court in Rome

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ROME — Nick Kyrgios walked off the court in a fit of rage after throwing a chair onto the red clay at the Italian Open and was defaulted Thursday from his second-round match.

First, Kyrgios kicked a water bottle in his match against Norwegian qualifier Casper Ruud. Then he picked up a white chair and flung it onto the court with his right hand.

Before he was defaulted, Kyrgios received a warning for ball abuse, then was docked a point for unsportsmanlike conduct and lost a game for more unsportsmanlike conduct.

Kyrgios, who has a history of bad behavior, was suspended by the ATP Tour in 2016 for `’tanking” a match and insulting fans during a loss at the Shanghai Masters.

The latest incident occurred on an outer court at the Foro Italico with Ruud leading 6-3, 6-7 (5), 2-1.

The men’s tour said Kyrgios will lose his $33,635 in prize money from the tournament and 45 ATP points, adding there will likely be further punishment pending an investigation.

In 2015, Kyrgios insulted Stan Wawrinka with crude remarks during a match in Montreal. He was fined $12,500 and given a suspended 28-day ban. He also attracted criticism for deciding not to play at the Olympics because of a spat with an Australian team official, and for firing back at retired players who have offered advice.

Earlier, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka all advanced in the first of their two matches Thursday.

A rainout on Wednesday backed up play, causing the title contenders to try to win their double-headers as efficiently as possible to save energy.

Federer saved all seven break points he faced to beat Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-3, then was to play Borna Coric for a spot in the quarterfinals.

“Good thing was this one was not that physical,” Federer said. “Borna is tough. I lost to him a couple of times last year.”

Compared to his attacking display in Madrid last week, Federer’s defensive game was particularly sharp.

En route to breaking Sousa midway through the first set, Federer ran down a drop shot with a perfectly timed slide and replied with a delicate, angled put away.

Federer fell behind 40-0 in the next game but then won five straight points to secure a 5-3 lead, closing out the service game with a forehand cross-court passing shot on the run from the corner – drawing a loud roar from the Foro Italico crowd.

Federer hit 25 winners to Sousa’s eight.

“I came out of the blocks well,” Federer said. “I had a good feeling. Didn’t get broken. That, on clay in a first round, is always a good sign.”

Eight-time Rome champion Nadal cruised past Jeremy Chardy 6-0, 6-1 and will next meet Nikoloz Basilashvili, while Djokovic eliminated Denis Shapovalov 6-1, 6-3 and will play either Philipp Kohlschreiber or Marco Ceccinato.

Shapovalov appeared distracted by a flyover from fighter jets performing an air show and double-faulted to hand Djokovic a 3-1 lead in the first, prompting the 20-year-old Canadian to have a word with the chair umpire.

Also, Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco rallied past fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.

The top-ranked Osaka comfortably beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 6-3 and will next face Mihaela Buzarnescu.

Osaka, who can hold onto the No. 1 ranking by reaching the quarterfinals, hit 44 winners and 12 aces.

“My serve was really good,” Osaka said. “I just tried to be really calm.”

Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova rallied past Simona Halep 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 for her second win over the Romanian this year.

Halep, who was a finalist in Rome the last two years and is preparing to defend her French Open title, took a medical timeout early in the third set and received treatment on her left leg.

Others advancing included Stefanos Tsitsipas, Kei Nishikori, Diego Schwartzman and Jan-Lennard Struff, and Kiki Bertens, Petra Kvitova, Garbine Muguruza, Johanna Konta and Kristina Mladenovic.

Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov give Canada 1st Davis Cup title

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MALAGA, Spain — Felix Auger-Aliassime fell to his back behind the baseline, then waited for teammates to race off Canada’s bench and pile on top of him.

A few minutes later, the Canadians finally could lift the Davis Cup.

“I think of us all here, we’ve dreamt of this moment,” Auger-Aliassime said.

Canada won the title for the first time, beating Australia behind victories from Denis Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime.

Auger-Aliassime secured the winning point when he downed Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4 after Shapovalov opened the day by rolling past Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-2, 6-4.

Seven years after leading Canada to the top of junior tennis, Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov and their teammates finally got to lift the biggest team trophy in their sport.

“We wanted to grow up and be part of the team and try to help the country win the first title,” Shapovalov said, “so everything is just so surreal right now.”

Shapovalov had dropped both his singles matches this week and needed treatment on his back during a three-set loss in the semifinals to Lorenzo Sonego of Italy that lasted 3 hours, 15 minutes. But the left-hander moved quickly around the court, setting up angles to put away winners while racing to a 4-0 lead in the first set.

Auger-Aliassime then finished off his superb second half of the season by completing a perfect week in Spain. He twice had kept the Canadians alive after Shapovalov dropped the opening singles match, and he replaced his weary teammate to join Vasek Pospisil for the decisive doubles point.

This time, Auger-Aliassime made sure the doubles match wouldn’t even be necessary. After his teammates poured onto the court to celebrate with him, they got up and danced around in a circle.

Canada had reached the final only once, falling to host Spain in Madrid in 2019, when Rafael Nadal beat Shapovalov for the clinching point after Auger-Aliassime had lost in the opening match.

But with Auger-Aliassime having since surged up the rankings to his current spot at No. 6, the Canadians are a much more formidable team now. They won the ATP Cup in January and finally added the Davis Cup crown to the junior Davis Cup title Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov led them to in 2015.

Australia was trying for its 29th title and first since current captain Lleyton Hewitt was part of the title-winning team in 2003.

But it was finally time for the Canadians, who were given a wild card into the field when Russia was suspended because of its invasion of Ukraine.

“Look, I think we were very close today,” de Minaur said. “Just wait until the next time we get the same matchup. Hopefully we can get the win and prove that we can do it.”

But Canada will be tough to beat as long as Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov play.

Shapovalov is just 23 and Auger-Aliassime 22, but both already have been Grand Slam semifinalists and Auger-Aliassime ended 2022 as one of the hottest players on the ATP Tour. He won all of his four titles this year, including three straight weeks in October.

He also beat Carlos Alcaraz in the previous Davis Cup stage in September, just after the Spaniard had won the U.S. Open to rise to No. 1 in the rankings. That victory helped send the Canadians into the quarterfinals, which they started this week by edging Germany.

“They’re not kids anymore, that’s for sure. Not after today – well not after the last couple of years,” said Pospisil, the team veteran at 32. “They’ve been crushing it.”

Australia beats Croatia 2-1 to reach Davis Cup final

Day Four - Davis Cup Finals 2022
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MALAGA, Spain – Australia had to fight back twice to reach its first Davis Cup final in 19 years after beating Croatia 2-1.

Lleyton Hewitt’s team recovered from losing the first singles. Then the Australian doubles pair battled back from a set down in the decider.

Australia won its 28th and last title in 2003. It has finally got back to the final.

“I am so proud. Australia has a really rich history in this competition,” said Hewitt, who played a record 43 Davis Cup ties for Australia from 1999-2018.

“We have been fortunate to win it all on a number of occasions a long time ago. And I know what it meant to me as a player to play a final, and I am glad these guys can play it.”

Borna Coric put Croatia ahead by beating Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4, 6-3, but Alex de Minaur leveled after defeating Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-2 to send it to the doubles.

Jordan Thompson and Max Purcell then secured the semifinal win against Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic by 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-4.

“This is what this team is about, that never-say-die attitude,” De Minaur said.

Canada will face Italy on Saturday in the other semifinal.

In the opener, Kokkinakis struck 11 aces, but Coric was able to break him once in each set.

“On my serve, I felt like it was an ace or he put it back on my toes,” Kokkinakis said.

Cilic, who was on the Croatia team that won the title in 2018, committed 10 double faults. That erratic serve helped De Minaur break Cilic four times and level his head-to-head record with the former U.S Open winner at two wins each.

Thompson and Purcell bettered the more experienced pair of Mektic and Pavic, both ranked in the top 10 in doubles. Thompson and Purcell combined for 13 aces, broke the Croats twice, and never dropped a service game to come back after losing the first-set tiebreaker.

Two-time winner Croatia was the runner-up last year.

“It proved too difficult on the court today,” Cilic said. “(But) for us it has been a great year again after the finals last year to reach the semis.”

The final is on Sunday on the indoor court in Malaga.