Ekaterina Alexandrova beats Aryna Sabalenka to reach Kremlin Cup semifinals

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MOSCOW — Aryna Sabalenka’s first tournament since testing positive for the coronavirus ended after only two matches.

The second-ranked Belarusian lost to Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the Kremlin Cup.

Alexandrova will face Maria Sakkari in the semifinals.

Sabalenka was playing in her first tournament since reaching the semifinals of the U.S. Open last month. She then missed the tournament in Indian Wells, California, after a positive test for the coronavirus.

In Moscow, Sabalenka had a first-round bye and beat Ajla Tomljanovic in the second round.

Sakkari booked her semifinal spot by beating Simona Halep 6-4, 6-4 after holding off a late surge from the Romanian, who broke back twice from 5-1 down in the second set.

Also, Garbine Muguruza was beaten 6-1, 6-1 in just 48 minutes to Anett Kontaveit after the two-time Grand Slam champion lost three consecutive service games at the end of the first set and start of the second.

Kontaveit is into her fifth semifinal of the year as she seeks to win a third title in as many months after winning the Cleveland tournament in August and Ostrava in September.

Kontaveit plays Marketa Vondrousova, who upset fourth-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-2.

In the men’s draw, local fans are guaranteed to see a Russian finalist after Aslan Karatsev and Karen Khachanov each won their quarterfinal matches in straight sets and now meet in the semifinals. Karatsev won 6-4, 6-3 against experienced Frenchman Gilles Simon and Khachanov defeated John Millman 7-6, 7-6 (4).

Two-time Kremlin Cup champion Marin Cilic swept past Pedro Martinez 6-1, 6-2 to set up a semifinal meeting with Ricardas Berankis, who beat Adrian Mannarino 6-2, 7-6 (1).

U.S. sweeps Uzbekistan, advances to group stage in Davis Cup

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The United States swept its way into the group stage of the Davis Cup Finals, getting the winning point in a 4-0 victory over Uzbekistan from the doubles team of Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek.

They beat Sergey Fomin and Sanjar Fayziev 6-2, 6-4, after Tommy Paul and Mackenzie McDonald had won singles matches in Tashkent.

Ram is No. 3 in the ATP Tour doubles rankings and partnered with Joe Salisbury to win the last two U.S. Open men’s doubles titles. But the Americans opted not to use Ram last year in the final round, when they dropped the doubles match in a 2-1 defeat against Italy in the quarterfinals.

Krajicek was making his Davis Cup debut, having reached No. 9 in the doubles rankings late last year.

“They had five great days of preparation, and as anticipated they came out really sharp and got the early break in the first set. And after that it was like two freight trains, there was no stopping them,” interim captain David Nainkin said.

Denis Kudla then beat Amir Milushev 6-4, 6-4.

The winners of the 12 qualifiers being held this weekend advance to the Davis Cup Finals group stage in September, along with reigning champion Canada, 2022 runner-up Australia and wild-card recipients Italy and Spain.

Eight teams will advance to the closing matches of the Davis Cup Finals scheduled for Nov. 21-26 in Malaga, Spain.

In other matches:

France 3, Hungary 2: On indoor hard courts in Tatabanya, Hungary, Ugo Humbert won it for the French with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Fabian Marozsan. Adrian Mannarino had forced the deciding match by beating Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (6), 6-2.

Serbia 4, Norway 0: On indoor hard courts in Oslo, the visitors, playing without top-ranked Novak Djokovic, put away the match when Filip Krajinovic and Nikola Cacic edged Viktor Durasovic and Herman Hoeyeraal 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Hamad Medjedovic then outlasted Durasovic 6-4, 6-7, 10-4.

Sweden 3, Bosnia 1: On indoor hard courts in Stockholm, Mikael Ymer sent the hosts through by beating Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.

Lesia Tsurenko to face Zhu Lin in Thailand Open final

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HUA HIN, Thailand — Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine reached her first final in four years after the top-seeded Bianca Andreescu retired with a shoulder injury during their semifinal match at the Thailand Open.

Tsurenko, in search of her fifth WTA title, was leading the 2019 U.S. Open champion 7-5, 4-0 when the Canadian stopped playing.

The former world No. 23 fought from 3-5 down to take the first set and reeled off eight straight games before Andreescu retired with a right shoulder problem.

“Bianca is such an amazing player. She is capable of hitting all kinds of shots and gave so much trouble today,” said the 33-year-old Tsurenko, now ranked 136th. “But I was just fighting and I told myself positive things that I can do it. Unfortunately, she had to retire.”

The Ukrainian last lifted a WTA trophy in Acapulco in 2018 and hasn’t been to a final since Brisbane in 2019.

She will face Zhu Lin of China in the final.

“She had some good wins in the Australian Open,” Tsurenko said. “She is one of the dangerous players in this tournament. She is going to give a good fight.”

In the all-Chinese semifinal earlier, Zhu benefited from a barrage of unforced errors from Wang Xinyu and prevailed 6-2, 6-4 for her first WTA final.

The world No. 54 player, who reached the last 16 at the Australian Open in January, relied on her solid baseline game to force errors.

“It was very windy, so I tried to be patient and keep my first serves in,” said the 29-year-old Zhu, who will team up with Wang in the doubles final against Hao-Ching Chan and Fang-Hsien Wu of Taiwan.