Sabalenka advances to Austria semi after opponent injured

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LINZ, Austria — Top-seeded Aryna Sabalenka advanced to the semifinals of the Upper Austria Ladies Linz after her opponent was injured and left the court in a wheelchair on Friday.

French qualifier Oceane Dodin trailed 6-3, 3-3 when she slipped on her right foot while attempting to change direction after landing from a serve. Dodin received medical treatment for her ankle and knee for several minutes. She limped back to her chair before deciding not to play on.

“She played really well, she fought for every point and it was a really tough match. I hope she will get better soon,” said Sabalenka, who won the opening set from a break down.

Sabalenka will play Barbora Krejcikova for a place in Sunday’s final, while the second-seeded Elise Mertens will take on Ekaterina Alexandrova in the other semifinal.

The 11th-ranked Sabalenka, who won in Doha and Ostrava, remained on course for her third title of the year and eighth overall.

She could join Simona Halep as the only player with three WTA titles in the shortened 2020 season.

Earlier, Krejcikova advanced to her first semifinal in three years by winning eight of the last nine games against Aliaksandra Sasnovich for a 6-3, 6-1 win.

Mertens earned her record-extending 33rd match win of the season by beating Veronika Kudermetova 6-4, 6-1.

Alexandrova, who reached her first career final here two years ago, eased past French Open semifinalist Nadia Podoroska 6-2, 6-1.

The Austrian tournament is the last WTA event of the year.

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.