U.S. Open finalist Leylah Fernandez to sit out Billie Jean King Cup

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TORONTO — U.S. Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez will not be part of Canada’s team for the Billie Jean King Cup finals next month.

Tennis Canada confirmed that Fernandez pulled out of the team’s roster for the Nov. 1-6 matches in Prague and is being replaced by Carol Zhao.

The other members of the country’s squad are Rebecca Marino, Gabriela Dabrowski and Francoise Abanda.

Canada is scheduled to open the finals by facing 2019 champion France and Russia. The 2020 edition of the event was called off because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Fernandez is set to play for the Orange County Breakers in World TeamTennis, which runs Nov. 13-28 at Indian Wells, California. She was eliminated in singles and doubles from the hard-court combined ATP and WTA tournament there this week.

“It’s been a long season,” she said after her loss Tuesday at the BNP Paribas Open. “We’re just going to see what the body says, what the mind says, and we’ll go from there.”

The 19-year-old Fernandez turned in a breakthrough performance at the U.S. Open, making it all the way to the final before losing to another unseeded teenager, Emma Raducanu.

Fernandez arrived at Flushing Meadows ranked No. 73 and left at a career-best No. 28 after beating defending champion Naomi Osaka in the third round, followed by 2016 champion Angelique Kerber and top-five seeds Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka.

Sonego beats Bublik at Moselle Open to win 1st title of 2022

Winston-Salem Open - Day 5
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METZ, France – Lorenzo Sonego clinched his first title of the season by beating Alexander Bublik 7-6 (3), 6-2 in the Moselle Open final on Sunday.

The 27-year-old Italian did not drop a set all tournament as he won the third title of his career and first on hard courts.

The unseeded Sonego recovered from 0-40 down in the fifth game of the match and secured victory when the seventh-seeded Bublik sent a backhand return long.

He then danced on court as he celebrated a perfect tournament where he also beat defending champion Hubert Hurkacz in the semifinals.

Sonego’s win will move him up 21 places in the ATP rankings and into 44th place.

Samsonova beats Zheng to win 3rd WTA title in 2 months

Toray Pan Pacific Open - Day Seven
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TOKYO – Liudmila Samsonova of Russia extended a remarkable summer run by clinching her third title in two months after beating rising Chinese player Zheng Qinwen 7-5, 7-5 at the Toray Pan Pacific Open on Sunday.

No. 30-ranked Samsonova won in Washington and Cleveland in August and also reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open. The 23-year-old has now won 18 of her last 19 matches and didn’t drop a set in Tokyo.

“It’s amazing. I think I need a little bit of time to realize it, but it’s unbelievable,” Samsonova said. “It was like a nervous match today. I was really prepared physically but I was tired mentally because I was playing singles and doubles every day. I’m very happy with the way I managed the pressure.”

Samsonova added that the exclusion of Russian players from Wimbledon had helped her game though she stopped short of supporting the move.

“Wimbledon for me is the best tournament. I love it. The news really impacted me. I had one month without a tournament so I thought let’s work,” she said, adding: “I don’t agree that politics should be involved in sports because it’s unfair.”

The match between two power hitters with big serves was close throughout but Samsonova was striking the ball cleaner and stronger.

Zheng, who ousted top-seeded Paula Badosa and No. 4-seeded Veronika Kudermetova, was broken in the first set after giving up her first double fault on deuce in the 11th game.

Samsonova, who defeated Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the first round and former world No. 1 Garbine Muguruza in the quarterfinals, then sent a perfect forehand that landed in the right-hand corner of the court to break the 19-year-old and go 6-5 up. She took the first set with another strong service game that included her third ace.

Zheng was the first to crack in the second set when she handed Samsonova free points with two double-faults in the fifth game. A double-fault by the Russian saw her drop to 0-40 in the next game and the No. 36-ranked Chinese broke back to level at 3-3.

As in the first set, Zheng was broken in the 11th game. A long forehand at deuce gave Samsonova a breakpoint and she converted it with a crosscourt forehand that sent her opponent the wrong way. Samsonova then won her next game to love after three errors by Zheng, clinching the match 7-5, 7-5.

Samsonova has now won all of the finals she has appeared in.

In reaching the final, Zheng became the youngest Chinese finalist at a tour-level event, beating the mark set by Peng Shuai.