Nadal beats Tsitsipas to stay in contention at ATP Finals

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LONDON — Rafael Nadal staged another comeback to stay in contention for a semifinal spot at the ATP Finals.

The top-ranked Spaniard still needs help from Daniil Medvedev to avoid an early exit.

Nadal rallied to beat already-qualified Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-5 on Friday for his second win of the round-robin stage. That still won’t be enough, though, if Alexander Zverev beats Medvedev in the last match of the group phase.

That would leave Zverev, Nadal and Tsitispas with identical 2-1 records. But Nadal would finish third in the group based on the tournament’s tiebreaker rules.

Making things worse for Nadal is that his win ended Medvedev’s chances of advancing, meaning the Russian (0-2) has only pride to play for against Zverev.

Nadal lost his opening match to Zverev and saved a match point at 5-1 down in the third set against Medvedev on Wednesday before rallying to win.

The comeback against Tsitsipas wasn’t quite as dramatic. Nadal never faced a break point in the match but lost the last three points of the first-set tiebreaker to hand the Greek the lead.

But he broke for a 5-3 lead in the second set and again to make it 6-5 in the third, then converted his first match point when Tsitsipas netted a forehand.

Regardless of whether he advances, Nadal is guaranteed to leave London with the year-end No. 1 ranking after Novak Djokovic was eliminated in the group stage on Thursday with a loss to Roger Federer.

It’s the fifth time that the 19-time Grand Slam winner ends the year atop the rankings, tied for second on the all-time list with Djokovic, Federer and Jimmy Connors. Pete Sampras did it six times.

At 33, Nadal is the oldest man to finish the year as No. 1.

However, he has never won the ATP Finals despite qualifying for a 15th year in a row. He has had to pull out of the tournament on six occasions because of injuries and reached the final only twice, the last time in 2013.

Novak Djokovic to start 2023 in Adelaide ahead of Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic will open his 2023 campaign in Adelaide as he prepares for a shot at a 10th Australian Open crown a year after having his visa revoked on the eve of his title defense.

The 21-time major winner has been granted a visa by the Australian government and has been listed to play at the Adelaide International, which starts Jan. 1.

Serbia isn’t contesting the inaugural United Cup team competition, leaving Djokovic free to play regular warmup tournaments head of the Jan. 16-29 Australian Open.

He’ll be joined in the men’s draw at Adelaide by Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada and Andy Murray.

Ons Jabeur, Aryna Sabalenka will headline the women’s draw.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles last month confirmed Djokovic had been granted a visa to compete in Australia in January. The 35-year-old Serbian had been facing a possible three-year ban after being deported last January over his stance against COVID-19 vaccination.

Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times, including the last three times he played. Rafael Nadal won this year’s title in Djokovic’s absence.

Djokovic was not vaccinated against COVID-19 when he arrived in Melbourne ahead of the 2022 tournament, but Australia has since lifted strict rules for unvaccinated travelers.

Karolina Pliskova reuniting with Sascha Bajin

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Two-time Grand Slam finalist Karolina Pliskova is reuniting with coach Sascha Bajin ahead of the 2023 season.

Pliskova posted on her website and her Twitter account about the move, which comes about six months after she and Bajin stopped working together. The pair originally teamed up in November 2020.

While Bajin was her coach, Pliskova reached the final at Wimbledon in 2021 before losing to champion Ash Barty. Pliskova also was the runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open, where she defeated Serena Williams in the semifinals before being beat by Angelique Kerber for the trophy.

After splitting from Bajin in July, Pliskova was coached by Leos Friedl. Their results together included a quarterfinal run at the U.S. Open.

Bajin has worked as a coach or hitting partner with several top tennis players, including Grand Slam title winners Williams, Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

“Thank you for having me back,” Bajin wrote on Twitter. “Let’s go get it.”

Pliskova is a 30-year-old from the Czech Republic who reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings in 2017 and finished this season at No. 31 after going 21-21 with no titles.

Her team also includes fitness specialist Jez Green and physiotherapist Martin Salvador.

Next year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, begins Jan. 16.