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Coco Gauff gets U.S. Open wild-card entry

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Coco Gauff will get a chance to try for an encore: The 15-year-old from Florida received a wild-card entry Tuesday for the U.S. Open’s main draw.

It will be Gauff’s second Grand Slam tournament. She made a magical run to the fourth round at Wimbledon last month after getting a wild card into the qualifying rounds there.

Ranked just 313th at the time, Gauff became the youngest player to qualify for Wimbledon, upset five-time champion Venus Williams in the first round and wound up losing at the All England Club to eventual title winner Simona Halep.

Gauff is currently No. 140 in the WTA rankings. She initially made a mark at age 13 by becoming the youngest U.S. Open junior finalist in history; she won the French Open junior title at 14.

Age restrictions set up by the women’s professional tour limit the number of tournaments someone who is 15 can enter and the number of wild-card invitations she can be offered – and Gauff already has accepted three wild cards elsewhere. But according to the WTA, the U.S. Tennis Association – which runs a Grand Slam tournament, and so is not overseen by the WTA or ATP tours – essentially can choose to ignore the eligibility rule and offer Gauff a wild card.

“I want to thank the USTA for the opportunity to participate in my home slam,” Gauff said in a statement emailed by her agent. “I look forward to playing my first main draw at the U.S. Open.”

Among the other players receiving wild cards from the USTA on Tuesday for the women’s field at Flushing Meadows in New York City were 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur – an Australian who was granted that country’s reciprocal berth – and 17-year-old Caty McNally, an American who won the doubles title with Gauff and reached the singles semifinals at the Citi Open in Washington this month.

Gauff and McNally have said they plan to play doubles together at Flushing Meadows; that event’s wild-card entries will be announced later. The pair won the U.S. Open junior doubles trophy together a year ago.

The draw for the U.S. Open is Aug. 22, and play in the year’s last major tennis tournament begins Aug. 26.

Other women’s wild cards went to Francesca Di Lorenzo, Whitney Osuigwe, Kristie Ahn and Katie Volynets of the U.S., along with 16-year-old Diane Parry of France, who got her country’s reciprocal invitation.

Di Lorenzo, a 22-year-old from Ohio, is a past NCAA doubles champion now ranked 128th. Osuigwe, a 17-year-old from Florida, won a French Open junior title and is ranked 105th. Ahn, a 27-year-old from New Jersey, finished first in the USTA’s wild-card challenge, while Volynets, a 17-year-old from California, won the 18s national championship.

Nine wild cards for women’s qualifying were also awarded, including to five-time Grand Slam doubles champion Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 14-year-old Reese Brantmeier of Wisconsin, Vicky Duval, Shelby Rogers and Pan Am Games medalist Caroline Dolehide.

Juan Martin del Porto, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, pulled out of the tournament Tuesday because he is still recovering from surgery on his right kneecap. That allowed Denis Kudla, a 26-year-old from Virginia who was the highest-ranked man to miss out on making the field via direct acceptance, to get into the main draw just hours after he was announced as a wild-card recipient.

So the USTA announced that Kudla’s wild card would now go to Chris Eubanks, a 23-year-old from Georgia. Others getting into the main draw include Americans Jack Sock, Bjorn Fratangelo, Marcos Giron, USTA wild-card challenge winner Ernesto Escobedo and 18s national champion Zachary Svajda, along with Antoine Hoang, who got France’s reciprocal entry. The Australian federation has not announced who will get its men’s wild-card invitation.

Men awarded wild cards for qualifying include Sebastian Korda, the son of 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda, as well as last year’s 18s national champion, Jenson Brooksby.

Djokovic loses in Cincinnati

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MASON, Ohio (AP) Ashleigh Barty’s chance to move back to No. 1 was only one victory away. At the end of an up-and-down week, she didn’t have another comeback left.

Neither did Novak Djokovic, who went away with yet another disappointment in Cincinnati.

Barty lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open on Saturday. Djokovic ended the day with another stunner, getting overwhelmed by Daniil Medvedev’s serve as the Russian pulled out a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory.

It’s been that kind of week in Cincinnati, with top players in both brackets either struggling or hurt heading into the U.S. Open.

The women’s bracket has a lot questions with New York just around the corner. No. 1 isn’t one of them.

Barty’s seven-week run atop the field ended when Naomi Osaka edged ahead of her in the latest ranking. A victory Saturday would have moved Barty back ahead for the U.S. Open. Instead, she dropped the opening set for the third straight match and this time, there was no digging out.

“A week that we battled through,” Barty said. “I think at times I played some good stuff. At times, I played some pretty awful stuff.”

Which will it be for Barty at the Open? And will Osaka be in good enough shape to defend her title?

Osaka dropped out of her semifinal match Friday with discomfort in her left knee that caused her worry. She still plans to play in New York, but it’s unclear whether the knee will be a problem.

And then there’s Serena Williams, who retired in the finals at Toronto last Sunday because of back spasms. She also withdrew from Cincinnati before her first match, but stuck around to cheer sister Venus until her loss in the quarterfinals.

A resurgent Kuznetsova gave Barty no openings, knocking off a top-five player for the second time this week to reach her first final of the season. The 153rd-ranked player is recovering from seven-month layoff because of a knee injury.

In her ninth tournament of the season, she got her game together, winning her first Premier-level semifinal since 2017 at Madrid.

“Well, sometimes in life it’s like this,” Kuznetsova said. “It’s like really small things change everything. Definitely it’s different momentum I have now.”

She’ll face Madison Keys , who beat Sofia Kenin 7-5, 6-4 with the help of 14 aces. Keys ended her streak of failing to make it past the second round of her last three tournaments, playing through heat and humidity all week without problem.

“I feel really good” she said. “Every day I’m kind of waking up, hoping that everything still feels like it’s in one piece and it feels really good.”

In the men’s bracket, Djokovic overcame concerns about his right elbow but couldn’t prevail over Medvedev’s 14 aces. Djokovic got the muscles around his right elbow rubbed during his quarterfinal win on Friday night and showed no sign of a problem a day later.

Djokovic won the tournament for the first time last year, getting the only Masters 1000 title that had eluded him. This one slipped away in the second set.

Medvedev reached the final at Montreal last week and lost to Rafael Nadal. He’s back to a title match again after fighting off a break point midway through the second set and closing with a flurry, winning 12 of the last 14 points to even the match and take the momentum.

He’ll face David Goffin, who reached his first Masters 1000 final by beating Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-4 . Goffin also is on an upswing after falling to No. 33 in the ATP rankings on June 10, his lowest since September 2014.

“Of course, it was a tough period there,” Goffin said. “I was coming back from injuries. I had some trouble with my confidence. I couldn’t find my rhythm, my game. So it’s great now. I’m feeling great. I’m back at my best tennis.”

The men’s bracket also took several notable hits throughout the week.

Originally billed as a reunion of the Big Four – Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray together for the first time since January – it quickly lost its luster. Nadal dropped out after winning the Rogers Cup, citing fatigue. Murray played singles for the first time since hip surgery in January and lost his opening match.

And Federer, the seven-time champion, failed to reach the weekend, losing in the quarterfinals.

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Barty upset in Cincy semifinals, misses top spot for U.S. Open

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MASON, Ohio — Ashleigh Barty was upset by Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-4 in the Western & Southern Open semifinals, missing her chance to return to the No. 1 ranking ahead of the U.S. Open.

Barty dropped an opening set Saturday for the third straight match, but couldn’t overcome the slow start this time. A resurgent Kuznetsova earned her third win over a Top 10 player this week and reached the final for the first time this season.

Barty had slipped behind Naomi Osaka in the latest rankings. She would have jumped back ahead by winning Saturday. Osaka, the defending U.S. Open champion, withdrew in the quarterfinals with a sore knee.

Serena Williams dropped out during her first match of the tournament because of back spasms.