Muguruza beats Kontaveit to reach semifinals at WTA Finals

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GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Garbine Muguruza ended Anett Kontaveit’s 12-match winning streak with a 6-4, 6-4 victory that propelled her into the semifinals at the WTA Finals.

Muguruza, who will be playing in her first semifinals of this tournament since 2015, needed the win to advance to the semifinals at the expense of Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova. Kontaveit was already assured of a spot in the semis before her last group-stage match.

Muguruza avenged a recent loss to Kontaveit, who beat her in just 48 minutes in the Kremlin Cup quarterfinals in Moscow last month.

“I have been improving and found myself, today I knew that it was a must win match and went out to get it”, Muguruza said. “I had to end Anett’s streak, she was like invincible in the tour and fortunately I did it.”

Muguruza had an early break and then saved two break points to take the first set against Kontaveit, who never appeared settled in the night match.

“She was not a the top of her game tonight, I could see it, maybe been already qualified to the semifinals had something to do with it,” added Muguruza.

The WTA Finals are played in a round-robin format with the top two players from each group advancing.

The semifinals will be played on Tuesday and the final is set for Wednesday at the Centro Panamericano de Tenis in Zapopan.

Pliskova rallied from a set and a break down to beat Barbora Krejcikova 0-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the earlier match to maintain a chance of reaching the semis, but was eliminated with the Muguruza win.

“Obviously horrible start, horrible first set. I think was combination of both me not playing really well and (her) playing just amazing,” Pliskova said. “I’m just proud that I was able to reset and start from zero and find a bit my game, although it was not great.”

French Open champion Krejcikova finished the singles tournament 0-3, but remains alive in the doubles along with Katerina Siniakova.

“I think I had amazing season. I was doing really well throughout the season and right now it’s very disappointing,” Krejcikova said. “I really want to do well in doubles with my partner. I’ll just keep going, stay focused.”

The WTA Finals are being played in Guadalajara for this year only, with the event scheduled to return in 2022 to Shenzhen, China.

Kasatkina knocks out Raducanu at Agel Open

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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — Fifth-seeded Daria Kasatkina defeated 2021 U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu 7-5, 6-4 to advance to the second round of the Agel Open.

Kasatkina was playing her first match since losing in the first round of the U.S. Open and will next face Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Sixth-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland rallied to eliminate former top-five player Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 6-7 (7), 6-1, while Aliaksandra Sasnovich upset eighth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-2.

American qualifiers Alycia Parks and Catherine McNally both advanced. Parks upset Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 7-6 (3) and McNally eased past Anna Blinkova 6-1, 6-2 at the indoor hardcourt event in the Czech eastern city of Ostrava.

Ruud loses, Kyrgios wins at Japan Open

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TOKYO — Top-seeded Casper Ruud lost and Nick Kyrgios won at the Japan Open.

Ruud, who reached the final at both the French Open and the U.S. Open this year, lost to Jaume Munar 6-3, 6-3.

Kyrgios, who lost in the Wimbledon final, defeated Tseng Chun-hsin 6-3, 6-1 to reach the round of 16. He will next face Kamil Majchrzak, who beat Sho Shimabukuro 7-6 (2), 6-2.

The victory for Kyrgios came on the same day that his lawyer asked an Australian court to dismiss assault charges against him on mental health grounds. Magistrate Glenn Theakston adjourned the case until Feb. 3.

The 27-year-old Kyrgios will appear in court in person on that date for the first time since he was charged by police by summons in July.

The common assault charge, which has a potential maximum sentence of two years in prison, relates to an incident in January 2021 that was reported to local police last December. The charge reportedly relates to an incident involving his former girlfriend.