Naomi Osaka has won 22 consecutive matches

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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MIAMI — Naomi Osaka might never hit a worse shot. Not that it mattered.

The world’s No. 2-ranked woman shanked a serve that sailed over her opponent’s head, but shook off the mishit to win her 22nd match in a row Friday, beating Ajla Tomljanovic 7-6 (3), 6-4 in the second round at the Miami Open.

Serving into the sun in the final game, Osaka clunked her shot off the lip of her racket, blooping the ball past an astonished Tomljanovic.

“That was actually kind of funny when I got past my frustration,” Osaka said. “The sun was like on top of a cloud, and it gave off this really weird glare effect. It was kind of my fault for being stubborn and not trying to catch my toss and wait it out.”

Other serves were much better – Osaka hit 13 aces. She hasn’t lost in more than a year, and her winning streak includes her fourth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open last month.

She needs only one more victory for her best showing in five appearances in Miami, where she has historically made early exits.

“I don’t think there’s too much you can read into them,” Osaka said. “I think there’s always a reason I haven’t done well here, and hopefully I’m able to do well this time.”

In men’s play, No. 3-seeded Alexander Zverev double-faulted three times on break point and lost to No. 83-ranked Emil Ruusuvuori, 1-6, 6-3, 6-1. Zverev was coming off a run to the title last week in Acapulco.

No. 1-seeded Daniil Medvedev needed less than an hour to beat 37-year-old Yen-hsun Lu 6-2, 6-2. Three other seeded men lost – No. 8 David Goffin, No. 9 Grigor Dimitrov and No. 30 Reilly Opelka.

Goffin, a semifinalist in 2016, was upset by James Duckworth 6-3, 6-1. Dimitrov was swept by Cameron Norrie 7-5, 7-5. No. 30 Reilly Opelka lost to Alexei Popyrin 6-4, 6-2.

In other women’s play, No. 10 Kiki Bertens was upset by Liudmila Samsonova, 6-2, 6-1, and No. 13 Jennifer Brady lost to Sara Sorribes Tormo 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. No. 4 Sofia Kenin rallied past Andrea Petkovic 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-3.

Winning in straight sets were No. 6 Karolina Pliskova, No. 8 Bianca Andreescu, No. 12 Garbine Muguruza and No. 16 Elise Mertens.

Muguruza, who won the Dubai Championships earlier this month, improved her 2021 record to 19-4 by beating wild card Xinyu Wang 6-4, 6-1.

“I was actually quite nervous, because this is a tournament that I love,” Muguruza said. “After playing well in the Middle East swing, I just wanted to keep the same energy and the same quality of tennis.”

Pliskova dropped her first service game but settled down to sweep Zheng Saisai 6-2, 6-1. Mertens was a point from trailing 4-0 but rallied past Katie Boulter 6-4, 6-1.

Fernando Verdasco accepts 2-month doping ban

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
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LONDON – Former top-10 player Fernando Verdasco accepted a voluntary provisional doping suspension of two months after testing positive for a medication for ADHD, the International Tennis Integrity Agency announced.

Verdasco, who turned 39 this month, said he was taking methylphenidate as medication prescribed by his doctor to treat ADHD but forgot to renew his therapeutic use exemption for the drug. The integrity agency said Verdasco has now been granted an exemption by the World Anti-Doping Agency moving forward.

He tested positive at an ATP Challenger tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in February.

The integrity agency said in a news release that it “accepts that the player did not intend to cheat, that his violation was inadvertent and unintentional, and that he bears no significant fault or negligence for it,” and so what could have been a two-year suspension was reduced to two months.

Verdasco will be eligible to compete on Jan. 8.

The Spaniard is a four-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, reaching that stage most recently in 2013 at Wimbledon, where he blew a two-set lead in a five-set loss to eventual champion Andy Murray.

Verdasco reached a career-best ranking of No. 7 in April 2009 and currently is No. 125.

Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov give Canada 1st Davis Cup title

Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports
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MALAGA, Spain — Felix Auger-Aliassime fell to his back behind the baseline, then waited for teammates to race off Canada’s bench and pile on top of him.

A few minutes later, the Canadians finally could lift the Davis Cup.

“I think of us all here, we’ve dreamt of this moment,” Auger-Aliassime said.

Canada won the title for the first time, beating Australia behind victories from Denis Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime.

Auger-Aliassime secured the winning point when he downed Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4 after Shapovalov opened the day by rolling past Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-2, 6-4.

Seven years after leading Canada to the top of junior tennis, Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov and their teammates finally got to lift the biggest team trophy in their sport.

“We wanted to grow up and be part of the team and try to help the country win the first title,” Shapovalov said, “so everything is just so surreal right now.”

Shapovalov had dropped both his singles matches this week and needed treatment on his back during a three-set loss in the semifinals to Lorenzo Sonego of Italy that lasted 3 hours, 15 minutes. But the left-hander moved quickly around the court, setting up angles to put away winners while racing to a 4-0 lead in the first set.

Auger-Aliassime then finished off his superb second half of the season by completing a perfect week in Spain. He twice had kept the Canadians alive after Shapovalov dropped the opening singles match, and he replaced his weary teammate to join Vasek Pospisil for the decisive doubles point.

This time, Auger-Aliassime made sure the doubles match wouldn’t even be necessary. After his teammates poured onto the court to celebrate with him, they got up and danced around in a circle.

Canada had reached the final only once, falling to host Spain in Madrid in 2019, when Rafael Nadal beat Shapovalov for the clinching point after Auger-Aliassime had lost in the opening match.

But with Auger-Aliassime having since surged up the rankings to his current spot at No. 6, the Canadians are a much more formidable team now. They won the ATP Cup in January and finally added the Davis Cup crown to the junior Davis Cup title Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov led them to in 2015.

Australia was trying for its 29th title and first since current captain Lleyton Hewitt was part of the title-winning team in 2003.

But it was finally time for the Canadians, who were given a wild card into the field when Russia was suspended because of its invasion of Ukraine.

“Look, I think we were very close today,” de Minaur said. “Just wait until the next time we get the same matchup. Hopefully we can get the win and prove that we can do it.”

But Canada will be tough to beat as long as Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov play.

Shapovalov is just 23 and Auger-Aliassime 22, but both already have been Grand Slam semifinalists and Auger-Aliassime ended 2022 as one of the hottest players on the ATP Tour. He won all of his four titles this year, including three straight weeks in October.

He also beat Carlos Alcaraz in the previous Davis Cup stage in September, just after the Spaniard had won the U.S. Open to rise to No. 1 in the rankings. That victory helped send the Canadians into the quarterfinals, which they started this week by edging Germany.

“They’re not kids anymore, that’s for sure. Not after today – well not after the last couple of years,” said Pospisil, the team veteran at 32. “They’ve been crushing it.”