Second-seeded Kontaveit beats Begu in Cleveland final

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
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CLEVELAND  Second-seeded Anett Kontaveit of Estonia won the Tennis in the Land final Saturday for her second WTA Tour title, beating Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania 7-6 (5), 6-4.

The 30th-ranked Kontaveit entered the tournament on a four-match losing streak, then won five matches in six days in the inaugural WTA 250 event.

“It’s been a rough year, so I was really enjoying myself,” Kontaveit said. “Of course, it’s special to get a title as it’s been a while, but the main thing for me was gaining more confidence on the court. The welcome we received was so warm, it felt like home here.”

Kontaveit didn’t double-fault until the final game and completed the 115-minute contest with a forehand down the left sideline. She also won in 2017 in the Netherlands.

No. 74 Begu fell behind 5-2 in the opening set before succeeding on her fifth break point, then held serve to force the tiebreaker. She missed a drop-shot and made an unforced error, in order, to lose her first set at the tournament.

“Anett, you played amazing and you deserved to win,” Begu said. “It’s been an amazing week for me, celebrating my (31st) birthday and having so many Romanians here cheering. This has been a wonderful experience.”

Begu advanced to her first final since winning in Bucharest in her homeland in 2017. She was seeking her fifth WTA Tour title.

“It was a really, really, really, really close match,” Kontaveit said. “Putting pressure on yourself is not necessary, so I went point by point, trying to stay as calm as I could. I’m very happy with the way I pushed myself and pushed through.”

In the doubles final, top-seeded Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan beat Christina McHale of the United States and Sania Mirza of India 7-5, 6-3.

Aoyama and Shibahara won for the fifth time this year and eighth overall.

“American crowds have such a big voice, I thank you for that,” said Aoyama, who has 17 career doubles title. “And thank you Ena for playing with me.”

Kvitova upends Rybakina for women’s Miami Open title

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) Twelfth-seeded Petra Kvitova won the Miami Open in her 13th appearance, beating seventh-seeded Elena Rybakina with a marathon tiebreaker in a 7-6 (14), 6-2 victory Saturday.

The 33-year-old Kvitova, 10 years older than her opponent, snapped Rybakina’s 13-match winning streak and halted her bid to win the Sunshine Double (Indian Wells and Miami Open).

In winning with will, stalwart defense and one sensational forehand winner on the dead run that electrified the crowd in the second set, the lefty Kvitova captured her 30th WTA singles title and first one since 2018 in Madrid.

After Rybakina hit a forehand long on match point, Kvitova raised her arms and put her hands to her head. She was broken just once in the match. It was her 41st career WTA Finals appearance but first final in Miami. She also will vault into the Top 10.

“I take it as a positive I can still play with the best,’’ said Kvitova who earned a $1.26 million first prize. “I take pride, even at my age, I could win big tournaments.’’

Kvitova, who is from the Czech Republic, disagreed with the announcement Wimbledon would accept Russian players this year. Rybakina, the reigning Wimbledon champion, is from Moscow but represents Kazakhstan.

A past Wimbledon champion, the 6-foot Kvitova won the first-set epic tiebreaker 16-14 on her fifth set point. A suddenly shaky Rybakina hit a forehand long to end the 22-minute tiebreaker; she had been undefeated at 7-0 in tiebreakers in 2023.

“The tiebreaker was going to decide the whole match,’’ Kvitova said. “The tiebreaker – oh, by God – was the longest in my career. I won the tiebreaker so emotionally I was on the better side. You could see the balls after the tiebreak. They were big fluffy balls.″

Rybakina, who won at Indian Wells, admitted to fatigue after the tiebreaker from the travel. The women’s tour will shortly head to Europe for the claycourt season.

“The second set I think overall it was not easy after the first set,’’ Rybakina said. “I think the second she was also more free to hit, to maybe risk a bit more. I think that in the second I just didn’t stay disciplined and was a bit rushing.’’

The set lasted 66 minutes during which each player held serve until 4-4 then exchanged service breaks. Rybakina finished with 10 aces for the first set while setting the record for most aces in a WTA Tournament, smashing Madison Keys’ mark. Rybakina, who had 12 aces total for the match, finished the tournament with 69 for the tournament.

Kvitova broke Rybakina in second game of the second set with a backhand winner on the service return to go up 2-0 and the streak was soon over for Rybakina.

“Maybe if the first set had gone my way it would’ve been different,’’ Rybakina said. “Because I was physically tired and that’s why I didn’t have discipline.

The men’s singles final is Sunday and pits Jannik Sinner, coming off his semifinal upset of defending Miami Open champion Carlos Alcaraz, against Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev has won 23 of 24 matches and beat Sinner in the Finals last month in Rotterdam. Sinner, the 10th seed from Italy, is 0-5 against Medvedev and coming off a physical, three-set, three-hour war with Alcaraz that ended late Friday night.

In the men’s doubles final, Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin beat Austin Krajicek and Nicolas Mahut 7-6 (4), 7-5.

AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Sinner stuns top-ranked Alcaraz in Miami Open semifinals

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Tenth-seeded Jannik Sinner of Italy stunned top-ranked Carlos Alcaraz on Friday night in the Miami Open semifinals, rallying from a set down to beat the defending champion, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-2 in a three-hour thriller.

Sinner ended Alcaraz’s winning streak at 10 matches. Sinner’s powerfully steady baseline game wore down Alcaraz, who appeared to be cramping early in the decisive third set while he also dealt with an apparent finger injury. He will lose the No. 1 ranking to Novak Djokovic.

Sinner, the 21-year-old who made the Miami Open final last year but hasn’t been past the quarterfinals of a major, will face fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia in the championship match Sunday. Medvedev has beaten Sinner in all five meetings.

Alcaraz had been so dominant recently, he hadn’t lost a set since February before Sinner’s rally in the Miami humidity. The Alcaraz hype train has been so breakaway NBA stars Luka Doncic and Jimmy Butler showed up to watch the Spanish star from the teal seats.

Alcaraz also fought Sinner in Indian Wells in the semifinals, and it was a taut match but not quite like this. These two young guns are poised for a long and spectacular rivalry. Sinner’s victory ended Alcaraz’ hope of becoming the first man since Roger Federer in 2017 to win the Sunshine Double if Indian Wells and Miami.

Medvedev beat fellow Russian Karen Khachanov 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-3 on the same day Wimbledon announced Russians will be allowed back.

Medvedev has won 23 of 24 matches – the lone loss to Alcaraz – and is in his fifth straight final.

Also Friday, No. 15 seed Petra Kvitova beat unseeded Sorana Cirstea 7-5, 6-3 in the second women’s semifinal. Kvitova will face Elena Rybakina in the final.

Alcaraz prevailed in the first set in a tiebreaker but that took a lot out of Alcaraz’ 19-year-old legs. Between points in the third set, Alcaraz was stretching noticeably during the third set, trying to stave off cramps and waved to the crowd for support.

Despite Alcaraz getting the second set back on serve, Sinner stunned Alcaraz in the ninth game, breaking him at love to go up 5-4 and then closing it out. Alcaraz had won 21 straight sets.

An ATP trainer came out to attend to Alcaraz midway through the second set, examining one of his fingers before the cramps set in.