Angelique Kerber through to Pan Pacific Open semifinals

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OSAKA, Japan — Fourth-seeded Angelique Kerber advanced to the semifinals of the Toray Pan Pacific Open on Friday after Madison Keys retired injured in the deciding set.

Kerber led 6-4, 4-6, 2-1 when the fifth-seeded Keys retired.

“It was a really good match in the first two sets, and this is never the way that you want to win,” Kerber said. “I hope Madison will recover really soon so she is ready for the next tournaments.”

Keys recorded 39 winners against 33 unforced errors while Kerber had 18 winners and 13 unforced errors.

Kerber next faces the winner of the match between Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Misaki Doi. Pavlyuchenkova was leading 2-0 in the first set before rain stopped play for the day.

At the Korea Open in Seoul, fourth-seeded Magda Linette of Poland cruised into the semifinals with an emphatic 6-2, 6-3 victory over Kirsten Flipkens.

Linette next faces second-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova for the first time. The Russian beat Kristie Ahn of the United States 6-7 (0), 6-4, 6-4. Ahn held a 2-0 lead in the decider before losing four straight games and was unable to make a comeback.

In the other quarterfinals, Karolina Muchova beat Priscilla Hon 6-3, 6-3 to set up a match against eighth-seeded Yafan Wang, who beat Paula Badosa 6-1, 6-3.

At the Guangzhou International in China, Samantha Stosur rallied after a slow start to beat Viktorija Golubic 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-1 in the semifinals and qualified for her first WTA singles final in 2 1/2 years.

“I just tried to hang in there and find a way to start playing a bit better,” Stosur said. “She’s very tough to play against so I’m just happy to get through.”

Stosur is chasing her first title since winning at Strasbourg in 2017. Her opponent will be third-seeded Sofia Kenin after the American defeated Anna Blinkova of Russia 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-1.

Tennis star Kyrgios to fight charge on mental health grounds

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CANBERRA, Australia – Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios will apply to have an assault charge dismissed on mental health grounds, his lawyer told an Australian court on Tuesday.

Lawyer Michael Kukulies-Smith appeared on behalf of Kyrgios in a court in the tennis star’s hometown of Canberra and asked for an adjournment so forensic mental health reports could be prepared.

Magistrate Glenn Theakston adjourned the case until Feb. 3, when Kyrgios’ lawyers are expected to apply to have the charge dismissed under a section of the local crimes law.

The 27-year-old Australian tennis star will appear in court in person on that date for the first time since he was charged by police by summons in July.

The law gives magistrates the power to dismiss a charge if they are satisfied an accused person is mentally impaired, and dealing with an allegation in that way would benefit the community and the defendant.

The common assault charge, which has a potential maximum sentence of two years in prison, relates to an incident in January 2021 that was reported to local police last December.

The charge reportedly relates to an incident involving his former girlfriend.

Kukulies-Smith told the court his client’s mental health history since 2015 made the application appropriate, citing a number of public statements made by Kyrgios.

In February, Kyrgios opened up about his performance at the 2019 Australian Open, saying what appeared to be a positive time in his life had been “one of my darkest periods.”

“I was lonely, depressed, negative, abusing alcohol, drugs, pushed away family and friends,” he wrote on Instagram. “I felt as if I couldn’t talk or trust anyone. This was a result of not opening up and refusing to lean on my loved ones and simply just push myself little by little to be positive.”

Kyrgios made further references to his mental health struggles during his runs to the final at Wimbledon and the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open.

After ending Daniil Medvedev’s U.S. Open title defense last month to reach the quarterfinals, Kyrgios expressed pride at lifting himself out of “some really tough situations, mentally” and “some really scary places” off the court.

Theakston questioned whether Kyrgios would need to appear in court for the February hearing, but Kukulies-Smith said his client wanted to attend.

Kyrgios was scheduled to play at the Japan Open later Tuesday against Tseng Chun-hsin of Taiwan.

Speaking in Tokyo before his matter returned to court, Kyrgios said it was “not difficult at all” to focus on tennis despite the pending charge.

“There’s only so much I can control and I’m taking all the steps and dealing with that off the court,” he told reporters. “I can only do what I can and I’m here in Tokyo and just trying to play some good tennis, continue that momentum and just try to do my job.”

Wimbledon champ Rybakova beats Keys in Ostrava opener

Agel Open Ostrava - Day One
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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakova came from a set down to defeat Madison Keys 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of the Agel Open on Monday.

Rybakova had lost to Keys this year at the French Open and Cincinnati.

In other first-round matches in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava, Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia defeated Zhang Shuai of China 6-3, 6-3, and local hope Petra Kvitova overcame American Bernanda Pera 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

Fresh from her second title of the year in Seoul last month, Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia knocked out former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.