Edmund beats Seppi to win New York Open title

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NEW YORK — First, there was a five-match losing streak, and later things got even worse for Kyle Edmund.

He dropped seven straight matches during a difficult 2019 that sent him tumbling down the rankings, just a year after he enjoyed his greatest success in tennis.

That’s what made Edmund appreciate his second ATP title even more.

He won it Sunday, wearing down Andreas Seppi for a 7-5, 6-1 victory at the New York Open.

“The reasons you get to right now and the trophy here and what makes it nice is because you have to experience all those downs and then it makes you realize that just can’t take the success for granted,” Edmund said.

“You get the success from having the downs because you learn from that, and the low points mentally and the disappointments of losing matches, those help you get to the happy times, the success, the winning the matches.”

Edmund won five straight games to take the first set and build a big lead in the second, seizing control with shots that seemed to get more powerful as the match went on.

The 35-year-old Seppi, 10 years older than Edmund, hung in for a while as balls kept coming back harder than he hit them, but fell short in his bid for a first title since 2012.

Edmund wouldn’t even earn his first win on tour until the next year. He eventually worked his way up to No. 14 in the rankings in 2018, when he won his first title and also reached the semifinals of the Australian Open.

Edmund battled a left knee injury that forced him to pull out of three tournaments during his subpar 2019 but had his game back on track this week in Long Island, where the No. 8 seed was stretched to three sets just once.

Neither player had much trouble holding serve in the first set until Edmund suddenly pounced in the final game. His hard, deep shots kept pressure on Seppi and set up a backhand down the line to earn the break and wrap up the set.

Edmund then broke Seppi’s next serve en route to a 3-0 lead in the second. Seppi fought off four break points for a shaky hold in the next game, but Edmund simply came right back and banged three straight aces in an easy hold for a 4-1 lead.

“He’s obviously been on the tour a long time, he’s experienced, he knows what to do on the court,” said Edmund, who wished his father in Britain a happy birthday after the match. “So it’s tough, but the way I’ve been playing I knew I would have opportunities, especially with more forehands, to get into points.”

Seppi then left the court to receive treatment and seemed to be slowed a bit by a leg injury, making it even harder to run down Edmund’s shots.

He was seeking a fourth career title. With a victory Sunday, his seven years and four months without a title would have been the longest drought to end since Robert Van’t Hof went seven years, five months between titles in the 1980s.

The road to a title at the Nassau Memorial Veterans Coliseum opened up even before the tournament began with injury absences for top-25 players Nick Kyrgios and Kei Nishikori. Then No. 1 seed John Isner and No. 2 Milos Raonic lost their opening matches, as did two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson, the 2018 tournament champion.

Seppi overcame a match point in his opening match and then got a on a good run until running into Edmund, who improved to 5-1 against him with two victories already this year.

Reilly Opelka, the 2019 singles champion, lost with partner Steve Johnson in the doubles final to Dominic Inglot and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6).

Paul, McDonald give U.S. 2-0 lead over Uzbekistan in Davis Cup

Mike Frey-USA TODAY Sports
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LONDON – Australian Open semifinalist Tommy Paul and Mackenzie McDonald, who beat Rafael Nadal at Melbourne Park, gave the United States a 2-0 lead over host Uzbekistan in Davis Cup qualifying.

Paul beat Khumoyun Sultanov 6-1, 7-6 (6) after McDonald’s Davis Cup debut produced a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Sergey Fomin on an indoor hard court in Tashkent.

The best-of-five-match series finishes with one match in doubles followed by two in singles. The Americans can clinch a spot in the group stage of the Davis Cup Finals if Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek defeat Fomin and Sanjar Fayziev in doubles.

“A sweep would be nice,” Paul said. “Bring out the broomsticks.”

Paul moved into the top 20 in the ATP rankings for the first time this week by reaching his first Grand Slam semifinal in Australia, where he lost to eventual champion Novak Djokovic. McDonald eliminated 22-time Grand Slam champion Nadal in the second round at the year’s first Grand Slam tournament.

David Nainkin is serving as interim captain for the United States, replacing Mardy Fish.

There are 12 qualifiers being held this weekend with the winners of each advancing 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 then advance to the closing matches of the Davis Cup Finals scheduled for Nov. 21-26 in Malaga, Spain.

Nick Kyrgios pleads guilty to assault, has no conviction recorded

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CANBERRA, Australia — Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios apologized for shoving a former girlfriend to the ground two years ago after he escaped conviction on a charge of common assault.

The 2022 Wimbledon runner-up pleaded guilty in the Australian Capital Territory Magistrates Court to assaulting Chiara Passari during an argument in his hometown of Canberra in January 2021.

Magistrate Beth Campbell did not record a conviction against Kyrgios for reasons including that the offense was at the low end of seriousness for a common assault, was not premeditated and he had no criminal record.

Kyrgios, who was using crutches following recent surgery on his left knee, ignored reporters’ questions as he left court but issued a statement through a management company.

“I respect today’s ruling and am grateful to the court for dismissing the charges without conviction,” Kyrgios said. “I was not in a good place when this took place and I reacted to a difficult situation in a way I deeply regret. I know it wasn’t OK and I’m sincerely sorry for the hurt I caused.

“Mental health is tough. Life can seem overwhelming. But I’ve found that getting help and working on myself has helped me to feel better and to be better,” he added.

The only media question he responded to as he was about to be driven away from the court was: “what’s next for Nick Kyrgios?”

“Just recovery and get back on court,” Kyrgios replied.

Campbell described the shove as an act of “stupidity” and “frustration.”

She assured him his celebrity was not a factor in him avoiding a criminal record.

“You’re a young man who happens to hit the tennis ball particularly well and your name is widely recognised outside this court room,” Campbell told Kyrgrios.

“I deal with you exactly the same way as any young man in this court.”

Kyrgios’ psychologist, Sam Borenstein, said in a written report and testimony by phone that Kyrgios had suffered major depressive episodes around the time of the assault and had used alcohol and drugs to cope. Kyrgios’ mental health led to impulsive and reckless behavior.

His recent knee injury had resulted in mild to moderate symptoms of depression, but his mental health was improving, Borenstein said.

“He’s doing very well,” Borenstein said. “His mental health has improved significantly.”

“Given the history, he is still vulnerable to recurrent episodes of depression depending on life circumstances,” Borenstein added.

Lawyers for Kyrgios had sought to have charge dismissed on mental health grounds but the application was unsuccessful.

In arguing against a conviction being recorded, defense lawyer Michael Kukulies-Smith cited the opinion of Kyrgios’s manager of a “strong likelihood of sanctions and impact upon sponsorship” from a conviction. Kyrgios had faced a potential maximum 2-year prison sentence if convicted.

The assault occurred when Kyrgios had been attempting to leave Passari during an argument late Jan. 10, 2021, outside her apartment in the inner-Canberra suburb of Kingston.

He called an Uber but Passari stood in the way of him closing the front passenger door. The driver wouldn’t leave with the door open.

Kyrgios eventually pushed Passari’s shoulders backward with open palms, causing her to fall to the pavement and graze her knee, according to agreed facts read to the court.

Passari signed a police statement alleging the assault 11 months later, after her relationship with Kyrgios had ended.

His current partner, Costeen Hatzi, wrote in a character reference that she had no concerns of such violence in her relationship. Hatzi was among Kyrgios’ supporters who sat behind him in court.

Kyrgios, wearing a dark suit and using the crutches for support, first spoke in court when the magistrate asked him if he could stand to enter a plea.

Kyrgios replied: “Yep, no worries, Your Honor,” as he rose to plead guilty.

In February last year, 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 last year to the final at Wimbledon and the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open.

After ending Daniil Medvedev’s U.S. Open title defense last September 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.

The 27-year-old Kyrgios had a career setback last month when he withdrew from the Australian Open because the knee injury which later required arthroscopic surgery.