Pliskova wins Brisbane International for third time

AP Photo

BRISBANE, Australia — Karolina Pliskova won her third Brisbane International title in four years with a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 victory over Madison Keys on Sunday.

The second-ranked Pliskova is the first player, male or female, to win the Brisbane-based event three times after wins here in 2017 and last year.

Like her semifinal, when she needed nearly three hours to overcome former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka, Pliskova was made to work hard for victory, needing two hours and seven minutes to edge past Keys.

“It was my last push today, I think I spent quite a lot of time on the courts this week… so finally tomorrow’s a day off for me,” said Pliskova who said her victory would not mean much if she didn’t perform at the Australian Open starting Jan. 20 in Melbourne. “It was a great way to start the year. But of course, Grand Slam or any other tournament, it always starts on zero … there’s nobody really thinking that `oh, she won a tournament two weeks ago.”‘

Pliskova’s serve was again on rhythm as she won a tight first set and then took an early break in the second before Keys rallied to take the final to a deciding set.

In a tight third set, a backhand error by Keys handed Pliskova a chance to serve out the match, but the American broke back to 5-5.

On Keys’ next service game, Pliskova opened up another break point opportunity, which this time she took.

“I don’t think I played amazing tennis today and I was still right in that match, so a lot of very positive things to take away,” Keys said. “I was definitely very happy with, in tight, tense moments, just totally keeping my cool and moving on to the next point.”

In the women’s doubles final top-seeded Barbora Strycova and Hsieh Su-Wei rallied from a set down, and saved a match point in the second set tiebreaker, to beat top-ranked singles player Ash Barty and Kiki Bertens 3-6, 7-6 (7), 10-8.

“A couple points here and there, that’s the beauty and the beast in this kind of format,” Barty said. It’s “kind of on a knife’s edge, it can change really quickly.”

Barty lost her first singles match of the year to American qualifier Jennifer Brady in second-round – after receiving a first-round bye.

The Australian player’s run to the doubles final still earned about $45,000 despite her early singles exit. She’d earlier pledged to donate any prize money she won in Brisbane to the fundraising appeal for victims of Australia’s wildfires.

“With everything that’s been going on in Australia, the way that everyone’s come together has been incredible. All and all, I’m bloody proud to be an Aussie,” Barty said.

Gael Monfils withdraws from French Open with wrist injury

Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

PARIS — A thrilling five-set victory took a toll on Gael Monfils, whose withdrawal from the French Open handed No. 6 Holger Rune a walkover to the third round.

The 36-year-old Frenchman said he has a strained left wrist and can’t continue.

He battled Sebastian Baez for nearly four hours on Court Philippe Chatrier before beating the Argentine 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 in a first-round match that ended at 12:18 a.m. local time.

The victory was Monfils’ first at tour level this year, as the veteran was coming back from heel surgery.

“Actually, physically, I’m quite fine. But I had the problem with my wrist that I cannot solve,” he said. “The doctor say was not good to play with that type of injury. Yesterday was actually very risky, and then today definitely say I should stop.”

Monfils reached the semifinals at the French Open in 2008 and made it to the quarterfinals on three other occasions.

Mikael Ymer fined about $40K after default for hitting umpire stand with racket

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

PARIS — Swedish tennis player Mikael Ymer was docked about $40,000 after being disqualified for smashing his racket against the umpire’s chair at a tournament the week before he competed at the French Open.

An ATP Tour spokesman said Ymer forfeited about $10,500 in prize money and 20 rankings he earned for reaching the second round of the Lyon Open. Ymer also was handed an on-site fine of about $29,000.

The spokesman said the ATP Fines Committee will conduct a review of what happened to determine whether any additional penalties are warranted.

The 56th-ranked Ymer, who is 24 and owns a victory over current No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, was defaulted in Lyon for an outburst late in the first set against French teenager Arthur Fils last week.

Ymer was upset that the chair umpire would not check a ball mark after a shot by Fils landed near a line. As the players went to the sideline for the ensuing changeover, Ymer smacked the base of the umpire’s stand with his racket twice – destroying his equipment and damaging the chair.

That led to Ymer’s disqualification, making Fils the winner of the match.

After his 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 loss to 17th-seeded Lorenzo Musetti in the first round at Roland Garros, Ymer was asked whether he wanted to explain why he reacted the way he did in Lyon.

“With all due respect, I think it’s pretty clear from the video what caused it and why I reacted the way I reacted. Not justifying it at all, of course,” Ymer replied. “But for me to sit here and to explain? I think it’s pretty clear what led me to that place. I think that’s pretty clear in the video.”