Kudermetova, Kovinic set for Volvo Car Open final

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CHARLESTON, S.C. — Veronikia Kudermetova of Russia and Danka Kovinic of Montenegro will play for their first WTA title in the Volvo Car Open championship.

Kudermetova, the 15th seed, rolled past Spain’s Paula Badosa 6-3, 6-3, continuing a run at the year’s opening clay-court tournament where she hadn’t lost a set in four matches this week.

Kudermetova, 23, reached the final of the Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open in January before losing to Aryna Sabalenka.

Kudermetova said she’ll try not to think much about that defeat three months ago. “I’d just like to try and work and play the final here and have fun,” she said. “It’s an amazing atmosphere here.”

Badosa, who outsed top-ranked Ashleigh Barty in the quarterfinals, tried to scratch back in the match. After losing the opening set and down 2-0 in the second, she won the next two games to tie.

That’s when the two played a 12-minute game where Kudermetova saved two break points to pull ahead. She won four of the final five games.

Kudermetova said she was nervous entering the match, but called on her emotions to pull her through. “I liked it very much,” she said.

Kovinic, unseeded and ranked 91st in the world, defeated her third seeded opponent in Jabeur to make the final. She topped No. 3 seed and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova on Thursday, then dropped the opening set against 11th seeded Yulia Putintseva in the quarterfinals before rallying to victory.

Kovinic was tied with Jabeur at 3-all in the opening set, then won seven straight games to take control. It is Kovinic’s first finals’ appearance in a WTA tournament since a clay-court event in Instanbul, Turkey in 2016.

Kovinic, 26, had no illusions that would change when the week began. “To be honest, I didn’t feel 100 percent confident” entering this tournament, she said. “Match by match, my game improved and my confidence raised a little bit and everything came together. I’m in the final right now.”

Kudermetova and Kovinic have met just once previously, the Russian taking a qualifying round match for the Shenzhen Open in China in December 2018.

Gael Monfils withdraws from French Open with wrist injury

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PARIS — A thrilling five-set victory took a toll on Gael Monfils, whose withdrawal from the French Open handed No. 6 Holger Rune a walkover to the third round.

The 36-year-old Frenchman said he has a strained left wrist and can’t continue.

He battled Sebastian Baez for nearly four hours on Court Philippe Chatrier before beating the Argentine 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 in a first-round match that ended at 12:18 a.m. local time.

The victory was Monfils’ first at tour level this year, as the veteran was coming back from heel surgery.

“Actually, physically, I’m quite fine. But I had the problem with my wrist that I cannot solve,” he said. “The doctor say was not good to play with that type of injury. Yesterday was actually very risky, and then today definitely say I should stop.”

Monfils reached the semifinals at the French Open in 2008 and made it to the quarterfinals on three other occasions.

Mikael Ymer fined about $40K after default for hitting umpire stand with racket

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

PARIS — Swedish tennis player Mikael Ymer was docked about $40,000 after being disqualified for smashing his racket against the umpire’s chair at a tournament the week before he competed at the French Open.

An ATP Tour spokesman said Ymer forfeited about $10,500 in prize money and 20 rankings he earned for reaching the second round of the Lyon Open. Ymer also was handed an on-site fine of about $29,000.

The spokesman said the ATP Fines Committee will conduct a review of what happened to determine whether any additional penalties are warranted.

The 56th-ranked Ymer, who is 24 and owns a victory over current No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, was defaulted in Lyon for an outburst late in the first set against French teenager Arthur Fils last week.

Ymer was upset that the chair umpire would not check a ball mark after a shot by Fils landed near a line. As the players went to the sideline for the ensuing changeover, Ymer smacked the base of the umpire’s stand with his racket twice – destroying his equipment and damaging the chair.

That led to Ymer’s disqualification, making Fils the winner of the match.

After his 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 loss to 17th-seeded Lorenzo Musetti in the first round at Roland Garros, Ymer was asked whether he wanted to explain why he reacted the way he did in Lyon.

“With all due respect, I think it’s pretty clear from the video what caused it and why I reacted the way I reacted. Not justifying it at all, of course,” Ymer replied. “But for me to sit here and to explain? I think it’s pretty clear what led me to that place. I think that’s pretty clear in the video.”