Mertens, Sabalenka win U.S. Open doubles title

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NEW YORK — Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka are both focused on their promising singles careers.

But if they’re going to play doubles, they may as well win a Grand Slam tournament. Mertens and Sabalenka defeated Victoria Azarenka and Ash Barty 7-5, 7-5 on Sunday at Arthur Ashe Stadium to win the U.S. Open women’s doubles championship. Mertens and Sabalenka lost only one set in the tournament and won their first Grand Slam title as a team. The fourth-seeded team faced only one other seeded team on their way to the title.

“From the start of the season, start of the year actually, we were like, we’re going to play together,” Mertens said. “We didn’t think we would achieve this big thing.”

Mertens was defeated in singles play in the quarterfinals by eventual champion Bianca Andreescu.

“Even if we lose singles, and it’s always tough, we still committed to play doubles,” Mertens said. “Of course in a Grand Slam you want to win, you want to win matches. You want to win this title. So we’re just 100 percent committed to both. Of course, singles is a priority still.”

BIG DRAW

The US Open set an attendance record for the event with 737,872 fans over the two weeks of the main draw. Arthur Ashe Stadium sold out 23 of 24 sessions.

JUNIOR ACHEIVERS

Maria Camila Osorio Serrano found out winning a championship has its perks. The U.S. Open juniors champion walked into the media room and asked, “Aca se ha sentado Federer?”

Yes, Roger Federer did sit in that same seat.

Serrano took the junior singles title with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Alexandra Yepifanova.

Asked her celebratory plans, the 17-year-old out of Colombia quipped, “party.”

“No, I’m kidding. I’m not 18 yet,” she said, smiling. “I need to be 21. I need to wait a little bit. Maybe when I get back to Colombia. Party.”

Jonas Forejtek of the Czech Republic won the other junior championship on Saturday with a 6-7 (4), 6-0, 6-2 victory over Emilio Nava.

WHEELCHAIR WINNERS

Alfie Hewett won his second straight wheelchair men’s title with a 7-6 (9), 7-6 (5) victory over Stephane Houdet. The 48-year-old Houdet became the oldest male to play in a Grand Slam singles final.

Diede de Groot beat Yui Kamiji 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 to win the women’s wheelchair Open championship.

U.S. sweeps Uzbekistan, advances to group stage in Davis Cup

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The United States swept its way into the group stage of the Davis Cup Finals, getting the winning point in a 4-0 victory over Uzbekistan from the doubles team of Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek.

They beat Sergey Fomin and Sanjar Fayziev 6-2, 6-4, after Tommy Paul and Mackenzie McDonald had won singles matches in Tashkent.

Ram is No. 3 in the ATP Tour doubles rankings and partnered with Joe Salisbury to win the last two U.S. Open men’s doubles titles. But the Americans opted not to use Ram last year in the final round, when they dropped the doubles match in a 2-1 defeat against Italy in the quarterfinals.

Krajicek was making his Davis Cup debut, having reached No. 9 in the doubles rankings late last year.

“They had five great days of preparation, and as anticipated they came out really sharp and got the early break in the first set. And after that it was like two freight trains, there was no stopping them,” interim captain David Nainkin said.

Denis Kudla then beat Amir Milushev 6-4, 6-4.

The winners of the 12 qualifiers being held this weekend advance to the Davis Cup Finals group stage in September, along with reigning champion Canada, 2022 runner-up Australia and wild-card recipients Italy and Spain.

Eight teams will advance to the closing matches of the Davis Cup Finals scheduled for Nov. 21-26 in Malaga, Spain.

In other matches:

France 3, Hungary 2: On indoor hard courts in Tatabanya, Hungary, Ugo Humbert won it for the French with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Fabian Marozsan. Adrian Mannarino had forced the deciding match by beating Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (6), 6-2.

Serbia 4, Norway 0: On indoor hard courts in Oslo, the visitors, playing without top-ranked Novak Djokovic, put away the match when Filip Krajinovic and Nikola Cacic edged Viktor Durasovic and Herman Hoeyeraal 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Hamad Medjedovic then outlasted Durasovic 6-4, 6-7, 10-4.

Sweden 3, Bosnia 1: On indoor hard courts in Stockholm, Mikael Ymer sent the hosts through by beating Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.

Lesia Tsurenko to face Zhu Lin in Thailand Open final

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HUA HIN, Thailand — Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine reached her first final in four years after the top-seeded Bianca Andreescu retired with a shoulder injury during their semifinal match at the Thailand Open.

Tsurenko, in search of her fifth WTA title, was leading the 2019 U.S. Open champion 7-5, 4-0 when the Canadian stopped playing.

The former world No. 23 fought from 3-5 down to take the first set and reeled off eight straight games before Andreescu retired with a right shoulder problem.

“Bianca is such an amazing player. She is capable of hitting all kinds of shots and gave so much trouble today,” said the 33-year-old Tsurenko, now ranked 136th. “But I was just fighting and I told myself positive things that I can do it. Unfortunately, she had to retire.”

The Ukrainian last lifted a WTA trophy in Acapulco in 2018 and hasn’t been to a final since Brisbane in 2019.

She will face Zhu Lin of China in the final.

“She had some good wins in the Australian Open,” Tsurenko said. “She is one of the dangerous players in this tournament. She is going to give a good fight.”

In the all-Chinese semifinal earlier, Zhu benefited from a barrage of unforced errors from Wang Xinyu and prevailed 6-2, 6-4 for her first WTA final.

The world No. 54 player, who reached the last 16 at the Australian Open in January, relied on her solid baseline game to force errors.

“It was very windy, so I tried to be patient and keep my first serves in,” said the 29-year-old Zhu, who will team up with Wang in the doubles final against Hao-Ching Chan and Fang-Hsien Wu of Taiwan.