Kyrgios survives 6 match points, beats Tiafoe at Citi Open

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WASHINGTON — Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios fought off six match points during a second-set tiebreaker against hometown favorite Frances Tiafoe, then raced past him in the third set to win 6-7 (5), 7-6 (12), 6-2 at the Citi Open.

In the first-ever meeting between the players, Kyrgios allowed the first set to slip away with some mental lapses, then frustrated Tiafoe during the lengthy second-set tiebreak, which concluded with the Maryland native slamming his racket onto the court and kicking it.

“Frances put himself in every position to win the match. You know, in those moments I wasn’t really thinking too much. I was just trying to stay in the match and I survived,” Kyrgios said “Then, you know, I felt like physically I was really fresh in the third set and served well.”

The hard-court U.S. Open tune-up in Washington is the first tournament for Kyrgios since he lost in four sets to Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final. The mercurial Australian improved his match record this year to 21-7 and advanced to his fifth semifinal, where he will face Mikael Ymer, a 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 winner over Sebastian Korda.

Kyrgios won his most recent ATP title at Washington in 2019.

Because of weather delays, top-seeded Andrey Rublev played two matches on the same day, winning them both. He rallied in a second-set tiebreak to beat Maxime Cressy 6-4, 7-6 (8) in the afternoon and then dispatched American wild card J.J. Wolf 6-2, 6-3 in the evening to reach the semifinals.

“It’s part of the sport. I think that’s the fun thing about it, that you don’t know what to expect,” Rublev said. “Suddenly you will have two matches in one day.”

Rublev is seeking his fourth ATP title this year, which would draw him even with Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz for the most in 2022.

The Russian will play 96th-ranked Yoshihito Nishioka, who beat Daniel Evans 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-5.

Kyrgios also had to conclude his round-of-16 match but needed only 14 minutes to close out his 7-6 (1), 6-2 victory over Reilly Opelka.

“Playing Reilly this morning in the heat was not ideal. Came out fast and strong, got it done. Then I was able to just get some rest and eventually just pull through,” Kyrgios said. “An amazing match with Frances. I knew it was going to be crazy. I’m just glad that today’s over and I can get some rest.”

On the women’s side, U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu failed to reach her first semifinal since her out-of-nowhere triumph at Flushing Meadows, losing to Liudmila Samsonova 7-6 (6), 6-1.

Fourth-seeded veteran Victoria Azarenka struggled in her second match of the day, falling 6-1, 6-3 to 95th-ranked Xiyu Wang. Azarenka endured an 80-minute first set to beat Tereza Martincova 7-6 (7), 6-2.

World No. 88 Daria Saville of Australia also advanced to the semifinals, defeating Rebecca Marino 6-1, 7-5. Sixth-seeded Kaia Kanepi got past Anna Kalinskaya 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-3 in a match that lasted 2 hours, 33 minutes.

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.”