Sinner beats Korda in 2 tiebreakers in D.C.

Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON — Jannik Sinner beat Sebastian Korda 7-6 (3), 7-6 (3) at the Citi Open in a matchup between two youngsters considered possible future stars of men’s tennis who also happen to be doubles partners this week.

Sinner is a 19-year-old from Italy who reached the quarterfinals at the French Open last year and the fourth round there this year before losing to 13-time champion Rafael Nadal each time.

Korda is a 21-year-old from the U.S. who is only the third man in the last 50 years to reach the fourth round in his debuts at both Roland Garros, which he did in 2020, and Wimbledon, which he did last month.

The two have gotten to know each other on tour and Sinner said Korda texted him about joining up in doubles at the hard-court tournament in Washington. After facing each other on a breezy, 90-degree afternoon, they were scheduled to team up at night against Nick Kyrgios and Frances Tiafoe.

In a contest between a couple of other members of the sport’s youth movement, Jenson Brooksby of Sacramento, California, eliminated No. 2 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada 6-3, 6-4. Both are 20; Auger-Aliassime turns 21 on Sunday.

“He’s going to be dangerous in the future,” said Auger-Aliassime, a Wimbledon quarterfinalist last month.

Korda and Sinner never had played against each other – or even practiced together – until this week.

“Very similar game style,” Sinner said of the duo.

He trailed 5-2 in the second set before coming back.

“He was playing better. … I tried to find a solution as soon as possible,” Sinner said.

Korda’s father won the 1992 Australian Open, his mother was ranked in the top 30 and his two sisters are golf stars, including No. 1-ranked Nelly, who shot a 62 to take the lead in that sport at the Tokyo Olympics.

In the Washington quarterfinals, the fifth-seeded Sinner will face Steve Johnson of the U.S. Others advancing included No. 11 John Millman, who plays Brooksby next, and Denis Kudla.

Top-seeded Rafael Nadal was scheduled to meet No. 14 Lloyd Harris at night. That comes a day after the 20-time Grand Slam champion edged Jack Sock in three sets across more than three hours despite a painful left foot that had sidelined Nadal since the French Open.

Nadal practiced for 45 minutes and did not appear to favor that foot at all during the session.

Fernando Verdasco accepts 2-month doping ban

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

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.”