Flipkens forced to retire with ankle injury in Abu Dhabi

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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Belgian tennis player Kirsten Flipkens injured her ankle when she landed on an advertising board during a match against Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the second round of the Abu Dhabi Open on Friday and had to retire.

Flipkens won the first set 7-5 and was trailing 5-4 in the second when she jumped to play a shot and landed on the advertising board behind the baseline. Her left ankle twisted underneath her.

“I obviously got a little bit upset, quite emotional. We’re good friends and that’s not something you like to see. I just hope she has a speedy recovery and gets ready for Australia,” Kenin said. “This is not the way I wanted to win.”

Kenin said she had wanted to cross to Flipkens’ side of the court to help her, but couldn’t because of social distancing rules limiting contact between players during the coronavirus pandemic.

The board which Flipkens tripped over was positioned between the baseline and a line judge’s chair. Flipkens backtracked and jumped to play a lobbed shot from Kenin and fell backwards over the board into the chair before clutching her ankle in pain.

Kenin said the advertising board was too close to the court.

“I think maybe not to get rid of it but just to push it a little bit more back,” Kenin said. “This is just like an unfortunate incident that happens.”

Flipkens broke Kenin’s serve five times in the first set, including breaking the American to love in consecutive service games to take the first set after Kenin had served for the set with a 5-4 lead.

Kenin will next play 13th-seeded Yulia Putintseva. The Kazakhstani player beat Barbora Krejcikova 6-4, 7-5.

Also, fourth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka beat Ajla Tomljanovic 7-5, 6-4 to reach the third round. She will next face Australian Open quarterfinalist Ons Jabeur, who beat Kateryna Bondarenko 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.

Gilbert Klier Junior hit with 12-month doping ban

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LONDON — Brazilian Gilbert Klier Junior, a bronze medalist at the 2018 Youth Olympics, has been banned for 12 months in a doping case, the International Tennis Integrity Agency said.

The ITIA said it had accepted that Klier Junior had not deliberately doped and that the banned substance SARM S-22 had entered his body through a contaminated supplement. However, it said he bore some responsibility, especially “following other high profile cases involving Brazilian tennis players and other sports people.”

The 22-year-old Klier Junior has a career high ranking of 354th and won bronze in the singles event at the 2018 Youth Olympics.

The ban was backdated to start from last June, when Klier Junior was first suspended from competition while the case was resolved.

Croatia advances in Davis Cup as Coric beats Thiem

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Borna Coric beat 2020 U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem 7-6 (3), 6-2 to send Croatia into the group stage of the Davis Cup.

Coric helped the Croatians win their second Davis Cup title in 2018, but he was sidelined when they lost in the 2021 final while missing a year of action with a right shoulder injury.

He returned to the tour last March, winning a Masters 1000 title in August in Cincinnati, Ohio, and rejoined the Croatians when they reached the Davis Cup semifinals last year.

His victory over Thiem, who has also dealt with injuries in recent years, gave Croatia a 3-1 victory in Rijeka. The Austrians had taken the tie against the No. 1 team in the Davis Cup rankings to a fourth match when Alexander Erler and Lucas Miedler beat Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic 6-3, 7-6 (11) in the doubles match earlier Sunday.

Chile, Finland, the Netherlands, South Korea and the Czech Republic also completed victories Sunday to secure their places in the next round, which will be played in September.

On Saturday, the U.S. completed a sweep of Uzbekistan, while Serbia, France, Britain, Switzerland and Sweden also finished off victories. Those 12 countries will play in the group stage, 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.

In Sunday’s other matches:

– Finland 3, Argentina 1: On indoor hard courts in Espoo, Finland, Harri Heliovaara and Emil Ruusuvuori edged Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-4, before Ruusuvuori secured the winning point and a personal 3-0 weekend by beating Facundo Bagnis 7-5, 6-1.

– Netherlands 4, Slovakia 0: On indoor hard courts in Groningen, Matwe Middelkoop and Wesley Koolhof sent the hosts through with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Alex Molcan and Lukas Klein. Middelkoop then beat Jozef Kovalik 6-4, 6-4.

– South Korea 3, Belgium 2: On indoor hard courts in Seoul, the hosts rallied from a 2-0 deficit after the first day. Min-Kyu Song and Ji Sung Nam kept them alive with a 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) victory over Joran Vliegen and Sander Gille. Soonwoo Kwon then beat David Goffin 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 before Seong Chan Hong completed the comeback with a 6-3, 7-6 (4) victory over Zizou Bergs.

– Czech Republic 3, Portugal 1: On an indoor clay court in Maia, Portugal, Jiri Lehecka wrapped up the victory by beating Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-1.

– Chile 3, Kazakhstan 1: On an outdoor clay court in La Serena, Chile, Cristian Garin beat Alexander Bublik 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 after the hosts had taken the lead with a victory by the doubles team of Alejandro Tabilo and Tomas Barrios Vera.