Tauson beats Golubic to win Lyon Open for 1st career title

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LYON, France — Danish teenager Clara Tauson clinched her first career title in style, beating Viktorija Golubic 6-4, 6-1 on Sunday to win the Lyon Open without dropping a set after coming through two qualifying rounds.

As an added bonus, the 139th-ranked Tauson will break into the Top 100.

“I’m going to believe it when I see it,” Tauson said after her win. “When I play like this I think I can beat some really good players. I’ve worked so hard for this. When I came here I was a qualifier, I didn’t expect this of course.”

Feeling tense before the final, she called her father.

“He’s at home in Denmark. I spoke with him before the match to calm my nerves,” Tauson said. “It’s been a weird week. I still haven’t processed it.”

The match between the two qualifiers was even until Tauson reeled off six straight games, after Golubic had broken back to trail 5-4 when Tauson served for the first set.

The 18-year-old Tauson broke straight back to take it and was 5-0 up in the second when her Swiss opponent finally won another game.

“I think I played aggressive, I played my game even though I missed a few balls,” Tauson said. “She always gives you one more shot to play, and with my game that’s quite annoying. But in the second set when I had a short ball I finished it, and that made the difference.”

Tauson entered the final with a strong advantage in serve, too, with 25 aces compared to just one for Golubic, and she added seven more to make it 32 overall at the tournament.

Golubic broke Tauson three times, only to drop her own serve six times.

Tauson is a former Australian Open junior champion and became the first Dane to top the world junior rankings in 2019. Her performance in Lyon is even more impressive considering she faced top-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova in the first round.

The 28-year-old Golubic, ranked 130th, was in her third career final and first since losing at Linz, Austria, in October 2016. Golubic won her only career title in July that year, on home clay at Gstaad, and ended it with a career high ranking of 57.

She was two points away from defeat with second-seeded Fiona Ferro serving for the match in their semifinal on Saturday.

“It was a good week for me, a good run. (Tauson) was pretty solid in the final but I’m disappointed I couldn’t do a bit more,” Golubic said. “She was really hitting big, hitting the lines all the time.”

Linette keeps getting better; into Australian Open semis

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Two days after advancing to her first Grand Slam tournament quarterfinal, unseeded Magda Linette went one better and is into the Australian Open semifinals.

The 30-year-old Linette beat Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 7-5, adding the former No. 1 to the list of top players she has beaten at Melbourne Park during this tournament.

Linette, who had lost seven of nine previous matches against Pliskova, had defeated Anett Kontaveit, Ekaterina Alexandrova and WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia in successive rounds.

A player from Poland was favored to reach the latter stages of the tournament, but it was top-seeded Iga Swiatek that everyone would have expected – and not Linette.

“It’s so emotional I can’t really believe it,” Linette said. “I tried to stay composed and took my chances when I could.”

Linette will play No. 5 Aryna Sabalenka, who beat unseeded Donna Vekic 6-3, 6-2 in a later quarterfinal. The women’s semifinals are scheduled for Thursday night.

Vekic, who had 13 double faults against Sabalenka, had a succinct appraisal of her serve: “I mean, it was all over the place. But I think mostly in the net.”

The other women’s semifinalists were determined on Tuesday. Two-time former Australian champion Victoria Azarenka will play Wimbledon titleholder Elena Rybakina for a chance to play in Saturday night’s final. Rybakina beat Swiatek in the fourth round.

Later Wednesday, the remaining men’s semifinalists will be determined. Unseeded Americans Ben Shelton and Tommy Paul play before nine-time champion Novak Djokovic takes on Andrey Rublev.

Djokovic will be looking to qualify for his 44th Grand Slam semifinal and a win in that match on Friday would advance him on Sunday night to his 33rd major singles final.

The other men’s semifinal on Friday will see third-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas play Karen Khachanov.

Rybakina rules in Australian Open quarterfinal vs. Ostapenko

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MELBOURNE, Australia – Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina advanced to the Australian Open semifinals with a 6-2, 6-4 win over former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

The match on Rod Laver Arena featured a rare rain delay of about 20 minutes while the roof was closed. Rybakina led 3-1 and was holding a break point before the delay. On return, Ostapenko saved the first break point, but Rybakina broke on her next opportunity to go up 4-1 and won the first set 6-2.

In the second set, Ostapenko was up a break but Rybakina leveled with a break of her own. It came on her first break point when Ostapenko had been unable to convert four in the previous game.

Rybakina, who beat top-seeded Iga Swiatek in the fourth round, set up match points with aces, both of which were saved by Ostapenko. But she clinched the match with another ace, her 11th of the match and a tournament-leading 35 overall.

“I was nervous in the last game, but I managed my emotions and played very well.” Rybakina said. “The conditions were different after the roof was closed. But it can happen here, you never know, on the morning one weather and later it changes.”

Rybakina will play the winner of the night quarterfinal between American Jessica Pegula, at No. 3 the highest women’s seed remaining, and two-time champion Victoria Azarenka.

In men’s quarterfinals, 22-year-old American Sebastian Korda played the next match at Rod Laver Arena against No. 18-seeded Karen Khachanov. In a night quarterfinal, third-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas plays Jiri Lehecka. The winners of those matches will play each other in the semifinals on Friday.