Heated Medvedev wins QF for Russia; Australia beats Britain

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SYDNEY — Daniil Medvedev was docked a point for twice banging the umpire’s chair with his racket in a heated second set before he recovered to secure Russia’s semifinal spot at the ATP Cup with a win over Argentine opponent Diego Schwartzman.

The fourth-ranked Medvedev blamed the meltdown on jet lag from Russia’s cross-continental journey from Perth to Sydney – including an overnight stop in Melbourne – between the group stage and the quarterfinals.

He said he expected to get a fine for the code violation but otherwise was satisfied to win the “super tough match” 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 on Thursday to secure Russia’s win over Argentina before the doubles. Karen Khachanov had given Russia the lead when he beat Guido Pella 6-2, 7-6 (4).

“I didn’t have anything near me to hit at than the chair … so just hit one thing with the racket,” he said. “I got a code violation which I deserve – the second one is no question. Then we moved on.”

There were some other positives, Medvedev said, listing the fact that the he didn’t damage the chair, injure anybody or break his racket when he hit Mohamed Lahyani’s chair in a heated exchange after dropped serve in the seventh game of the second set.

The Russians spent the afternoon watching the broadcast of Australia’s 2-1 win over Britain in the first of the quarterfinal matches, when Alex de Minaur and Nick Kyrgios combined to edge Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury 3-6, 6-3, 18-16 on their fifth match point.

Kyrgios gave Australia the lead with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Cam Norrie in the opening singles but de Minaur lost to Dan Evans 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (2), meaning the result would hinge on the doubles.

The tension in the night matches started at the end of the first set. Medvedev had set point on serve but was broken in a game lasting 8+ minutes. He broke back to win the set but then exchanged words with Schwartzman as both players went to their team zones at each end of the court.

Lahyani got out of his umpire’s chair to get between the players, and later gave Medvedev a code violation for unsporting conduct for going on with the verbal exchange.

Seven games later, Medvedev approached the chair to get clarification on the code violation. He tapped the umpire’s chair and was warned for it, and then hit again and got a point penalty, meaning Schwartzman started the next game with a 15-0 lead.

Medvedev said he got the second code violation for arguing about the first one, “because I didn’t hear it.”

“I will probably talk to Mohamed to see why I got it, because I don’t know why I got it,” Medvedev said.

Schwartzman held on to his break and leveled the match on his fifth set point. But Medvedev, who lost an almost five-hour U.S. Open final to Nadal last year, regained his composure in the third set, cut down his errors and got the vital break in the eighth game.

Russia team captain Marat Safin said the tennis was “high-class” and commended Medvedev for blocking out the distractions.

“It was important for him to stay mentally strong. Just hold on to what he can,” Safin said. “Give the best and see what’s going to come. And not to go too crazy, and not to rush with the approach shots, or hitting the ball too hard.

“You have to be smart, and sometimes squeeze yourself together and maintain self calm.”

Medvedev went 3-0 in his singles matches as Russia swept all three group games in Perth, but had a tougher time against Schwartzman, who produced the win against Croatia on Wednesday in Sydney that propelled Argentina into the quarterfinals.

Now the Russians will meet the winner of Friday’s quarterfinal between Serbia and Canada.

Australia will play either Spain or Belgium on Saturday, progressing after team captain Lleyton Hewitt gambled on sending his two singles players back out for the doubles.

A euphoric Kyrgios lifted de Minaur over his shoulder and carried him off the court after the doubles win, then told the crowd he would celebrate with a red wine.

Fair enough. De Minaur spent five hours on court in back-to-back matches, saving four match points before losing his singles to Evans in a 3-hour, 23-minute encounter, and then saving four match points before winning the deciding doubles in a super tiebreaker.

“It was unreal. You know, the adrenaline has kind of worn off and I’m exhausted,” Kyrgios said. “But it was awesome. It was honestly – today was one of the best moments in my career, definitely.”

Australia’s unbeaten run through the new team tournament has come at a time when the country needs some good news amid catastrophic wildfires that have claimed at least 26 lives since September, killed millions of animals and destroyed more than 2,000 homes.

Britain had four match points in the doubles. The one that Murray won’t forget was at 11-10, when he had an almost open court in front of him but somehow sent a backhand long.

“I missed that shot basically on top of the net, which was ridiculous,” Murray said. “That will hurt. I’ll probably never miss it again in my career. But today I missed it, and that cost us.”

Jabeur bounces back at French Open, Ruud and Andreeva advance

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PARIS — Ons Jabeur got a do-over on Court Philippe Chatrier at the French Open and won this time.

A year after her first-round exit, the No. 7 seed Jabeur beat Lucia Bronzetti 6-4, 6-1 to help erase some bad memories and answer questions about a recent calf injury.

The Tunisian, a crowd favorite in Paris, smiled and expressed relief in not repeating last year’s mistake, when she lost to Magda Linette of Poland.

“I’m very happy to win my first match on Philippe Chatrier – because I’ve never won here,” Jabeur said on court about the clay-court tournament’s main stadium.

Now she can focus on trying to win her first major. She was runner-up at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year.

The 28-year-old Jabeur has also battled injuries this season. She had knee surgery after the Australian Open, and was then sidelined with a calf injury. She had stopped playing against top-ranked Iga Swiatek at the clay-court tournament in Stuttgart, Germany, in late April and then pulled out of the Madrid Open.

“It was a very difficult period for me after Stuttgart,” said Jabeur, adding that she’s beginning to find her rhythm.

Jabeur struck 27 winner’s to Bronzetti’s seven, though with 24 unforced errors she’ll have room to improve.

Mirra Andreeva had a memorable Grand Slam debut by dominating Alison Riske-Amritraj 6-2, 6-1. Andreeva’s older sister – 18-year-old Erika – was facing Emma Navarro later in the day.

Later, Swiatek gets her French Open title defense started against Cristina Bucsa, who is ranked 70th.

On the men’s side, No. 4 seed Casper Ruud beat qualifier Elias Ymer 6-4, 6-3, 6-2, to remind the higher-profile tournament favorites that he was runner-up to Rafael Nadal last year at Roland Garros.

New mom Elina Svitolina beats seeded player at French Open in 1st Slam match in 16 months

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PARIS — So much has changed for Elina Svitolina, who played – and won – her first Grand Slam match in nearly 1 1/2 years at the French Open, eliminating 2022 semifinalist Martina Trevisan 6-2, 6-2.

For one thing, she’s now a mother: Svitolina and her husband, French tennis player Gael Monfils, welcomed their daughter, Skaï, in October. For another, Svitolina is now ranked 192nd, nowhere near the career high of No. 3 she first reached in 2017, back in the days when she was regularly reaching the second weeks of major tournaments – including a pair of semifinal runs. Away from the courts, her home country of Ukraine was invaded by Russia last year, and the war continues.

“Everything,” she said, “is kind of old and new for me right now.”

In sum, Svitolina is juggling a lot nowadays.

She hadn’t played at a Slam since a third-round exit at the Australian Open in January 2022. She hadn’t played a match anywhere since March 2022, when she was still ranked 20th.

“It was always in my head … to come back, but I didn’t put any pressure on myself, because obviously with the war going on, with the pregnancy, you never know how complicated it will go,” the 28-year-old Svitolina said.

The work to return to the tour after giving birth began this January; her initial WTA match came at Charleston, South Carolina, in April. She won her first title since returning to action, at a smaller event on red clay in Strasbourg, France.

At Roland Garros, she used her big forehand to compile a 20-12 edge in winners and never faced a single break point against Trevisan, who was seeded 26th.

Trevisan cried as she spoke after the match about a problem with her right foot that made it difficult to even walk and prompted her to stop playing during her quarterfinal last week at the Morocco Open, where she was the defending champion.

Still, she gave Svitolina credit.

“Even though she’s just coming back from having a daughter, she’s a champion,” Trevisan said. “And she’s coming off a title, so she’s confident.”

Svitolina talked about feeling “awful when you’re pregnant, especially the last months,” but getting into a position now where she thinks she’s stronger than before – in more ways than one.

“I feel that I can handle the work that I do off the court and, match by match, I’m getting better. Also mentally, because mental (state) can influence your physicality, as well,” she said. “I tried to find the balance, and I feel like I’m seeing (things) a little bit again differently as well after the break. Everything is getting there. The puzzles are getting slowly into place.”