Jennifer Brady preps for U.S. Open by winning first tour title

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Wearing a pandemic-appropriate mask, Jennifer Brady walked over to accept the first WTA trophy of her career, making sure to apply hand sanitizer before raising the new hardware overhead.

Brady claimed her initial tour-level title at the Top Seed Open on Sunday, overcoming some shaky serving and using a five-game run to seize control for a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Jil Teichmann in the final.

It was the the first professional tennis event in the United States since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, and no spectators were allowed.

The unusual circumstances did not bother Brady at all.

“It didn’t take away anything. It didn’t take away (from) the win for me,” said the 25-year-old American, who is based in Florida and began the week ranked 49th. “I was just super happy to stand there with the trophy.”

She did not drop a set throughout the hard-court tournament and ceded only 24 games in all. It was a perfect way to prepare for the U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 31 in New York.

And now Brady, who began the season needing to qualify to get into WTA events, is in line to be seeded for the U.S. Open.

“Definitely would not have expected that if you told me that earlier this year – or that I would win a WTA title,” said Brady, who was appearing in her first final.

Against Teichmann, a 23-year-old left-hander from Switzerland with two previous titles on clay, Brady put only 33% of first serves in play during the first set.

After one double-fault, Brady slapped her left thigh with her palm three times. After another, she exclaimed: “I’ve never missed this many first serves! I don’t get it!”

But at 3-all in the first set, she saved four break points, then earned the first break of the match in the next game to lead 5-3 when the 63rd-ranked Teichmann shanked a forehand.

That was part of a stretch where Brady punished any mid-court ball from Teichmann with powerful groundstrokes and went up by a set and 2-0 in the second.

“Maybe I wasn’t using my legs enough … or the toss was coming a little bit to the left. It could have been nerves. A little bit of everything,” said Brady, who eliminated 16-year-old Coco Gauff in the semifinals. “I put a little bit more expectations on myself to perform well, so I was getting a little bit frustrated. And that obviously wasn’t helping. But I was able to reel it in and come back to reality.”

And she owns a trophy to prove it.

Tennis star Kyrgios to fight charge on mental health grounds

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CANBERRA, Australia – Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios will apply to have an assault charge dismissed on mental health grounds, his lawyer told an Australian court on Tuesday.

Lawyer Michael Kukulies-Smith appeared on behalf of Kyrgios in a court in the tennis star’s hometown of Canberra and asked for an adjournment so forensic mental health reports could be prepared.

Magistrate Glenn Theakston adjourned the case until Feb. 3, when Kyrgios’ lawyers are expected to apply to have the charge dismissed under a section of the local crimes law.

The 27-year-old Australian tennis star will appear in court in person on that date for the first time since he was charged by police by summons in July.

The law gives magistrates the power to dismiss a charge if they are satisfied an accused person is mentally impaired, and dealing with an allegation in that way would benefit the community and the defendant.

The common assault charge, which has a potential maximum sentence of two years in prison, relates to an incident in January 2021 that was reported to local police last December.

The charge reportedly relates to an incident involving his former girlfriend.

Kukulies-Smith told the court his client’s mental health history since 2015 made the application appropriate, citing a number of public statements made by Kyrgios.

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

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

Theakston questioned whether Kyrgios would need to appear in court for the February hearing, but Kukulies-Smith said his client wanted to attend.

Kyrgios was scheduled to play at the Japan Open later Tuesday against Tseng Chun-hsin of Taiwan.

Speaking in Tokyo before his matter returned to court, Kyrgios said it was “not difficult at all” to focus on tennis despite the pending charge.

“There’s only so much I can control and I’m taking all the steps and dealing with that off the court,” he told reporters. “I can only do what I can and I’m here in Tokyo and just trying to play some good tennis, continue that momentum and just try to do my job.”

Wimbledon champ Rybakova beats Keys in Ostrava opener

Agel Open Ostrava - Day One
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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakova came from a set down to defeat Madison Keys 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of the Agel Open on Monday.

Rybakova had lost to Keys this year at the French Open and Cincinnati.

In other first-round matches in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava, Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia defeated Zhang Shuai of China 6-3, 6-3, and local hope Petra Kvitova overcame American Bernanda Pera 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

Fresh from her second title of the year in Seoul last month, Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia knocked out former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.