Barty upset by alternate Bertens at WTA Finals

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SHENZHEN, China — World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty was upset by late substitute Kiki Bertens 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 at the WTA Finals on Tuesday.

Bertens arrived at the elite tournament as an alternate, and has suddenly jumped into title contention with the other seven players in the draw. She took the place of Naomi Osaka, who withdrew from the finals on Tuesday with a right shoulder injury ahead of her second round-robin match.

The second singles of the day went in Belinda Bencic’s favor when she outlasted Petra Kvitova 6-3, 1-6, 6-4.

The Bencic win means all four players in the Red Group are still in contention for semifinals action. The standings have Bencic and Barty at 1-1, Kvitova at 0-2, and Bertens at 1-0 going into the last round-robin matches. On Thursday, Barty will play Kvitova, and Bertens will meet Bencic.

With little notice she’d be playing, Bertens earned her first career victory over Barty in five matches played.

Barty, winner of the first set, led by a break twice in the second at 2-1 and 3-2.

“When you give a player of Kiki’s caliber a chance to get back into the match not once but twice, she’s going to make you pay,” Barty said. “That’s probably the most disappointing thing. Twice in the second set I was up a break and wasn’t able to consolidate.”

Bertens came close to beating Barty in the Beijing semifinals this month, losing in a third-set tiebreaker.

The Dutchwoman arrived in Shenzhen straight from losing to Aryna Sabalenka in the Zhuhai, China, final on Sunday.

“In the beginning I was a little bit struggling,” Bertens said. “As the match was continuing, I felt better and better. The movement was getting a bit better. I was starting to feel the court. I could play a little bit more aggressive, come to the net.

“Yeah, I played pretty well in the end.”

Bertens broke serve on a fourth break point in the opening game of the third set and raced to 4-0.

Last year, she reached the semifinals in her WTA Finals debut.

Despite the loss, Barty officially secured the year-end No. 1 ranking. She’s the first Australian woman to earn that distinction.

Only Karolina Pliskova and Osaka had an opportunity to prevent Barty from finishing the season as the year-end No. 1. They both had to win the title here with a perfect record in the round-robin.

Pliskova lost to Elena Svitolina in her opening round-robin match in the Purple Group on Monday.

Bencic, in her WTA Finals debut, decisively broke Kvitova in the ninth game of the third set.

“You go into a match against Kvitova and you never have anything in your hands,” Bencic said. “I don’t think we played our best but I found my game the last few games.

“I knew if I didn’t win I’m eliminated. but I didn’t think about that.”

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.