Muguruza, Kontaveit to play for title at WTA Finals

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GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Garbine Muguruza dominated Paula Badosa in a 6-3, 6-3 victory and will play Anett Kontaveit for the title at the WTA Finals.

Eighth-seeded Kontaveit beat Maria Sakkari 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to advance, ensuring two first-time finalists at the women’s season-ending championship.

Kontaveit lost to Muguruza in the last match of the round-robin stage, and has a 2-3 career record against the two-time major winner.

The sixth-seeded Muguruza, a losing semifinalist in 2015, is the first Spanish woman to reach the singles final since 1993, when Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario was runner-up to Steffi Graff.

“I’m very happy with my performance. It was the best match I played here in Guadalajara,” Muguruza said. “It’s the first time we encountered each other. I’m very proud of Paula, she started the year back in the rankings and made all the way to the top 10.”

The 28-year-old Muguruza now has a 13-2 record in Mexico, where she won back-to-back titles in Monterrey in 2018 and ’19.

She opened this year’s WTA Finals with a loss to third-seeded Karolina Pliskova but bounced back with victories over second-seeded Barbora Krejcikova, Kontaveit and Badosa.

“I don’t feel like a favorite, maybe on paper or for the TV, but I don’t feel like it,” Muguruza said. “I started here losing and I thought that I could be eliminated, so for me to say that I feel like a favorite for the final is complicated.”

The former No. 1-ranked Muguruza broke seventh-seeded Badosa’s serve in the third game and took the first set in 35 minutes.

In the second, Muguruza had a service break in the second game, saved a couple of break points in the third and never looked back.

Badosa finished a breakthrough season that saw her crack the top 10 for the first time.

“It was a tough day, I did not feel myself and she played good, all the credits go to her,” said Badosa, who earlier in the tournament said that Muguruza had been her tennis inspiration. “I don’t really know what happened today. I’m sad that I could not compete.”

On the way to the final, Kontaveit beat Krejcikova and Pliskova before her group-stage loss to Muguruza.

She now boasts a 29-3 record at her last eight tournaments and could rise to No. 6 in the rankings if she wins the title here.

Her win on Tuesday gave Kontaveit her 48th win of 2021, equaling Ons Jabeur for the most this season.

“I’m very excited to reach the finals. I was already so proud to make it to this tournament,” Konteveit said. “The last few months have really showed me that I can play really well and beat great players consistently and to have self-belief.

“When I came here, I had nothing to lose but then I started to win and felt like I can win.”

Sakkari now has a 3-14 record in semifinal matches, winning one of eight this season.

“It’s just very tough for me to talk about all this. Today, I have to say, was a missed opportunity,” Sakkari said. “Today I was just very close on taking that chance. I just wasted it. That’s why it hurts so much. It’s not that it was just bad luck, it’s that I threw away another chance. It hurts”.

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

Gael Monfils withdraws from French Open with wrist injury

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PARIS — A thrilling five-set victory took a toll on Gael Monfils, whose withdrawal from the French Open handed No. 6 Holger Rune a walkover to the third round.

The 36-year-old Frenchman said he has a strained left wrist and can’t continue.

He battled Sebastian Baez for nearly four hours on Court Philippe Chatrier before beating the Argentine 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 in a first-round match that ended at 12:18 a.m. local time.

The victory was Monfils’ first at tour level this year, as the veteran was coming back from heel surgery.

“Actually, physically, I’m quite fine. But I had the problem with my wrist that I cannot solve,” he said. “The doctor say was not good to play with that type of injury. Yesterday was actually very risky, and then today definitely say I should stop.”

Monfils reached the semifinals at the French Open in 2008 and made it to the quarterfinals on three other occasions.

Mikael Ymer fined about $40K after default for hitting umpire stand with racket

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

PARIS — Swedish tennis player Mikael Ymer was docked about $40,000 after being disqualified for smashing his racket against the umpire’s chair at a tournament the week before he competed at the French Open.

An ATP Tour spokesman said Ymer forfeited about $10,500 in prize money and 20 rankings he earned for reaching the second round of the Lyon Open. Ymer also was handed an on-site fine of about $29,000.

The spokesman said the ATP Fines Committee will conduct a review of what happened to determine whether any additional penalties are warranted.

The 56th-ranked Ymer, who is 24 and owns a victory over current No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, was defaulted in Lyon for an outburst late in the first set against French teenager Arthur Fils last week.

Ymer was upset that the chair umpire would not check a ball mark after a shot by Fils landed near a line. As the players went to the sideline for the ensuing changeover, Ymer smacked the base of the umpire’s stand with his racket twice – destroying his equipment and damaging the chair.

That led to Ymer’s disqualification, making Fils the winner of the match.

After his 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 loss to 17th-seeded Lorenzo Musetti in the first round at Roland Garros, Ymer was asked whether he wanted to explain why he reacted the way he did in Lyon.

“With all due respect, I think it’s pretty clear from the video what caused it and why I reacted the way I reacted. Not justifying it at all, of course,” Ymer replied. “But for me to sit here and to explain? I think it’s pretty clear what led me to that place. I think that’s pretty clear in the video.”