Paula Badosa feeling right at home, moves on at Miami Open

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Paula Badosa was midway through an on-court interview after another victory at the Miami Open when a thought crossed her mind.

And given where she is right now, it made a lot of sense.

“Why am I speaking English?” she asked. “I think there’s much more Spanish people than English here.”

A few words in Spanish later, the crowd – always multicultural in the melting pot that is Miami – was roaring in delight. In whatever language, Badosa is through to the fourth round at the Miami Open after rolling past Yulia Putintseva 6-3, 6-2.

It is Badosa’s deepest run at Miami, where there were more than a few fans waving Spanish flags in her honor.

“Muchas gracias,” she said.

Badosa came to Miami – the tournament was played on nearby Key Biscayne then – for the first time in 2015 and made it to the third round while being ranked 419th in the world. She was 222nd when she returned in 2016, then 316th a year later, 130th in 2019 and 71st when she arrived in Miami last year.

But the past 12 months have seen serious change in the world rankings, particularly on the women’s side, and not just after last week’s surprise retirement of Ash Barty – who will come off the rankings April 4 and be replaced by Iga Swiatek as the new No. 1 player in the women’s game.

Depending on how the rest of this tournament goes, Badosa might be poised to climb to No. 2 behind Swiatek when Miami ends. She is a full-fledged star now, even getting the celebrity treatment and her own personalized jersey when she headed to a Miami Heat game a few miles down the road last week.

“I’m really happy about the performance,” Badosa said.

Badosa will meet unseeded Linda Fruhvirtova in the fourth round, after the 16-year-old from the Czech Republic got past three-time Miami Open winner and 12th-seeded Victoria Azarenka. Fruhvirtova led 6-2, 3-0 when Azarenka – the only past Miami winner who was left in the draw – retired.

“This is what I’ve always dreamed of,” said Fruhvirtova, who entered Miami ranked 279th and will likely climb about 100 spots – more if she keeps winning.

It was not a dream for Azarenka, who quit the match very abruptly and walked off the court. Later, in a statement released through the tournament, she apologized.

“I shouldn’t have gone on the court today,” she said. “The last few weeks have been extremely stressful in my personal life. Last match took so much out of me, but I wanted to play in front of a great audience as they helped me pull through my first match. I wanted to go out there and try but it was a mistake. I hope to take a break and be able to come back.”

Swiatek, playing for the first time since clinching the world No. 1 ranking, rolled past Madison Brengle of the U.S. 6-0, 6-3.

Coco Gauff, playing about 45 minutes from her home, overcame a tough test from Zhang Shuai and won 7-6 (1), 7-5. Jessica Pegula of the U.S. also made the fourth round, the No. 16 seed beating No. 17 Elena Rybakina 6-3, 6-4. No. 21 Veronika Kudermetova advanced as well, topping Shelby Rogers of the U.S. 6-1, 7-5, and No. 28 Petra Kvitova also prevailed.

On the men’s side, Nick Kyrgios had some problems.

Luckily for him, they were just of the postmatch variety.

He was taking part in a promotion where he was supposed to hit a souvenir tennis ball into the crowd, and whoever wound up with it would win a prize from one of the tournament sponsors.

Problem was, Kyrgios’ first attempt wound up making it only to a cameraman. And his second attempt ended up between sections of seats, unable to be claimed by anyone. At that point, officials found another way to give out the prize.

Kyrgios was a bit more accurate when things mattered. He had 24 winners to just 12 unforced errors and needed only 61 minutes to beat No. 31 seed Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-4 – and has now made the fourth round at Miami in all five of his appearances at the tournament.

It’s no secret that he’s excitable. This might be a surprise: Moments before he was introduced and took the court Sunday, Kyrgios actually yawned.

“All the social media platforms hyping up the game and expecting it to be fireworks, I knew I had to go in with a calm mindset, head down and kind of let him bring all the flare and stuff today,” Kyrgios said. “I just had to keep my head down and just get on with business.”

It worked, and he was all smiles afterward.

“I love playing in front of you guys,” Kyrgios said.

So does No. 28 Frances Tiafoe of the U.S., who reached the fourth round in Miami for the fourth time after easing past Juan Manuel Cerundolo 6-3, 6-2.

Tiafoe’s next opponent may be seeking family revenge. He’ll now face Francisco Cerundolo – Juan Manuel’s brother – who got a 6-2, 6-3 win over No. 22 Gael Monfils.

No. 6 Casper Ruud had little trouble beating No. 30 Alexander Bublik 6-3, 6-2, and No. 10 Cameron Norrie frittered away seven match points before finally closing out Hugo Gaston in straight sets. No. 9 Jannik Sinner also won, topping No. 17 Pablo Carreno Busta 5-7, 7-5, 7-5.

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.”