Two-time champ Venus Williams receives wild card into U.S. Open

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NEW YORK — Two-time champion Venus Williams will be back at the U.S. Open after being given a wild card into the Grand Slam tournament.

The 41-year-old Williams has won seven major titles, including victories at Flushing Meadows in 2000 and 2001. But with her current WTA ranking of No. 112, she has fallen outside the top 104 who received direct entry into the women’s main draw.

Williams hasn’t missed the U.S. Open since 2006, when she was sidelined by a left wrist injury. She reached her last major semifinal there in 2017.

CoCo Vandeweghe, who also reached those semifinals, also was awarded a wild card by the U.S. Tennis Association. The former No. 9-ranked American has battled injuries and is currently No. 160.

American teenagers Caty McNally, Hailey Baptiste and Katie Volynets also received women’s wild cards, along with 20-year-old Emma Navarro, the NCAA champion at Virginia, and Ashlyn Krueger. Krueger, 17, won the USTA Girls’ 18s national championship to earn a wild-card spot.

On the men’s side, 20-year-old Americans Jenson Brooksby and Brandon Nakashima were rewarded for their strong summers with wild cards. Both are now ranked inside the top 100, which would have been good enough for direct entry when the July 19 ATP rankings were used.

Jack Sock, who was once ranked eighth but has since struggled with injuries, received a wild card along with fellow Americans Emilio Nava and Ernesto Escobedo.

NCAA singles champion Sam Riffice of Florida and USTA Boys’ 18s champion Zachary Svajda also got spots into the tournament that starts Aug. 30, along with Australians Max Purcell and Storm Sanders.

Novak Djokovic to start 2023 in Adelaide ahead of Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic will open his 2023 campaign in Adelaide as he prepares for a shot at a 10th Australian Open crown a year after having his visa revoked on the eve of his title defense.

The 21-time major winner has been granted a visa by the Australian government and has been listed to play at the Adelaide International, which starts Jan. 1.

Serbia isn’t contesting the inaugural United Cup team competition, leaving Djokovic free to play regular warmup tournaments head of the Jan. 16-29 Australian Open.

He’ll be joined in the men’s draw at Adelaide by Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada and Andy Murray.

Ons Jabeur, Aryna Sabalenka will headline the women’s draw.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles last month confirmed Djokovic had been granted a visa to compete in Australia in January. The 35-year-old Serbian had been facing a possible three-year ban after being deported last January over his stance against COVID-19 vaccination.

Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times, including the last three times he played. Rafael Nadal won this year’s title in Djokovic’s absence.

Djokovic was not vaccinated against COVID-19 when he arrived in Melbourne ahead of the 2022 tournament, but Australia has since lifted strict rules for unvaccinated travelers.

Karolina Pliskova reuniting with Sascha Bajin

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Two-time Grand Slam finalist Karolina Pliskova is reuniting with coach Sascha Bajin ahead of the 2023 season.

Pliskova posted on her website and her Twitter account about the move, which comes about six months after she and Bajin stopped working together. The pair originally teamed up in November 2020.

While Bajin was her coach, Pliskova reached the final at Wimbledon in 2021 before losing to champion Ash Barty. Pliskova also was the runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open, where she defeated Serena Williams in the semifinals before being beat by Angelique Kerber for the trophy.

After splitting from Bajin in July, Pliskova was coached by Leos Friedl. Their results together included a quarterfinal run at the U.S. Open.

Bajin has worked as a coach or hitting partner with several top tennis players, including Grand Slam title winners Williams, Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

“Thank you for having me back,” Bajin wrote on Twitter. “Let’s go get it.”

Pliskova is a 30-year-old from the Czech Republic who reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings in 2017 and finished this season at No. 31 after going 21-21 with no titles.

Her team also includes fitness specialist Jez Green and physiotherapist Martin Salvador.

Next year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, begins Jan. 16.