Serena, Djokovic on U.S. Open entry list but might not play

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The singles entry lists are a formality, and they include all players who are eligible based purely on this week’s WTA and ATP rankings. Williams is on there by virtue of a special ranking granted to her because she missed so much time due to injury; her first match in a year came last month at Wimbledon, where she lost in the first round to Harmony Tan.

Asked after that defeat whether she would play again, the 40-year-old Williams said she didn’t know. When she was asked specifically about returning to the U.S. Open, where she has won six of her 23 Grand Slam singles trophies, Williams replied: “There’s definitely lots of motivation to get better and to play at home.”

She missed the hard-court tournament in New York last year after hurting her leg at Wimbledon. But Williams made it to at least the semifinals in each of her 11 most recent appearances at the U.S. Open.

Djokovic, a 35-year-old from Serbia, missed the Australian Open in January after being deported from that country over his vaccine status and has said since that he will not get COVID-19 shots just to be able to participate in tournaments.

The United States does not allow unvaccinated noncitizens to enter the country, which is why Djokovic needed to sit out big events in Indian Wells, California, and Miami earlier this season, and can’t compete at the Cincinnati Masters next month or the U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 29.

In its news release announcing the entry lists, the U.S. Tennis Association said: “The U.S. Open does not have a vaccination mandate in place for players, but it will respect the U.S. government’s position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-U.S. citizens.”

Djokovic was able to play in the French Open, where he lost in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Rafael Nadal, and at Wimbledon, which he won for his 21st Grand Slam title.

Only Nadal, with 22 major championships, has more among men in the history of tennis.

After his triumph at Wimbledon, where he beat Nick Kyrgios in the final, Djokovic said that he “would love” to enter the U.S. Open, but added: “I’m not planning to get vaccinated.”

Djokovic has won three championships at Flushing Meadows and has been the runner-up a half-dozen times, including a year ago. His loss in the 2021 final to Daniil Medvedev prevented Djokovic from becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win a calendar-year Grand Slam.

Fernando Verdasco accepts 2-month doping ban

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LONDON – Former top-10 player Fernando Verdasco accepted a voluntary provisional doping suspension of two months after testing positive for a medication for ADHD, the International Tennis Integrity Agency announced.

Verdasco, who turned 39 this month, said he was taking methylphenidate as medication prescribed by his doctor to treat ADHD but forgot to renew his therapeutic use exemption for the drug. The integrity agency said Verdasco has now been granted an exemption by the World Anti-Doping Agency moving forward.

He tested positive at an ATP Challenger tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in February.

The integrity agency said in a news release that it “accepts that the player did not intend to cheat, that his violation was inadvertent and unintentional, and that he bears no significant fault or negligence for it,” and so what could have been a two-year suspension was reduced to two months.

Verdasco will be eligible to compete on Jan. 8.

The Spaniard is a four-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, reaching that stage most recently in 2013 at Wimbledon, where he blew a two-set lead in a five-set loss to eventual champion Andy Murray.

Verdasco reached a career-best ranking of No. 7 in April 2009 and currently is No. 125.

Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov give Canada 1st Davis Cup title

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MALAGA, Spain — Felix Auger-Aliassime fell to his back behind the baseline, then waited for teammates to race off Canada’s bench and pile on top of him.

A few minutes later, the Canadians finally could lift the Davis Cup.

“I think of us all here, we’ve dreamt of this moment,” Auger-Aliassime said.

Canada won the title for the first time, beating Australia behind victories from Denis Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime.

Auger-Aliassime secured the winning point when he downed Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4 after Shapovalov opened the day by rolling past Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-2, 6-4.

Seven years after leading Canada to the top of junior tennis, Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov and their teammates finally got to lift the biggest team trophy in their sport.

“We wanted to grow up and be part of the team and try to help the country win the first title,” Shapovalov said, “so everything is just so surreal right now.”

Shapovalov had dropped both his singles matches this week and needed treatment on his back during a three-set loss in the semifinals to Lorenzo Sonego of Italy that lasted 3 hours, 15 minutes. But the left-hander moved quickly around the court, setting up angles to put away winners while racing to a 4-0 lead in the first set.

Auger-Aliassime then finished off his superb second half of the season by completing a perfect week in Spain. He twice had kept the Canadians alive after Shapovalov dropped the opening singles match, and he replaced his weary teammate to join Vasek Pospisil for the decisive doubles point.

This time, Auger-Aliassime made sure the doubles match wouldn’t even be necessary. After his teammates poured onto the court to celebrate with him, they got up and danced around in a circle.

Canada had reached the final only once, falling to host Spain in Madrid in 2019, when Rafael Nadal beat Shapovalov for the clinching point after Auger-Aliassime had lost in the opening match.

But with Auger-Aliassime having since surged up the rankings to his current spot at No. 6, the Canadians are a much more formidable team now. They won the ATP Cup in January and finally added the Davis Cup crown to the junior Davis Cup title Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov led them to in 2015.

Australia was trying for its 29th title and first since current captain Lleyton Hewitt was part of the title-winning team in 2003.

But it was finally time for the Canadians, who were given a wild card into the field when Russia was suspended because of its invasion of Ukraine.

“Look, I think we were very close today,” de Minaur said. “Just wait until the next time we get the same matchup. Hopefully we can get the win and prove that we can do it.”

But Canada will be tough to beat as long as Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov play.

Shapovalov is just 23 and Auger-Aliassime 22, but both already have been Grand Slam semifinalists and Auger-Aliassime ended 2022 as one of the hottest players on the ATP Tour. He won all of his four titles this year, including three straight weeks in October.

He also beat Carlos Alcaraz in the previous Davis Cup stage in September, just after the Spaniard had won the U.S. Open to rise to No. 1 in the rankings. That victory helped send the Canadians into the quarterfinals, which they started this week by edging Germany.

“They’re not kids anymore, that’s for sure. Not after today – well not after the last couple of years,” said Pospisil, the team veteran at 32. “They’ve been crushing it.”