Kyrgios wins Citi Open again; Samsonova takes women’s title

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WASHINGTON — As Nick Kyrgios rambled through a lengthy list of people he wanted to thank after ending a three-year title drought by claiming the trophy at the site of his last triumph, the Citi Open, he made a mention of the match officials.

Then, catching himself, the Wimbledon runner-up added with a knowing smile: “The relationship’s still rocky with the umpires.”

Kyrgios extended the best stretch of his career and gave another performance that will make him someone to take seriously at the U.S. Open, saving the only break point he faced in the final along the way to a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Yoshihito Nishioka at the Citi Open.

“I feel like my motivation is a lot higher than it used to be. … There is a small window; I should capitalize on it,” said Kyrgios, who dropped to his back on the blue court when the match ended, then headed back out into that stadium in the evening to team with Jack Sock for a doubles trophy, too, defeating French Open finalists Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek 7-5, 6-4.

“I don’t care about what people say about my tennis, like, `Always disrespectful to the sport,’ all this, all that,” said Kyrgios, the first man to win Washington’s singles and doubles events in the same year. “I know that, deep down, I try really hard to do it my own way. I know that I inspire millions of people, and I’m just playing for them.”

Earlier Sunday, Liudmila Samsonova won her second career WTA title by coming back to beat sixth-seeded Kaia Kanepi 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the Citi Open women’s final.

Kyrgios’ seventh career tour-level singles championship came where his sixth did in 2019 – on the hard courts of the American capital in a tuneup for Flushing Meadows.

As usual when Kyrgios is on his game, the serve led the way: He hit 12 aces and won 22 of 25 first-serve points. He won all nine of his service games against Nishioka, making him 64 for 64 in the tournament, wrapping up the week by saving all 10 of his opponents’ break points. The only one Kyrgios had to deal with came at 3-2 in the first set, and Kyrgios dismissed it via a volley winner.

“I couldn’t figure out his service game,” said Nishioka, who ranked Kyrgios No. 1 on tour in that category and also praised the 27-year-old Australian for being “more focused” than earlier in his career.

Kyrgios managed to break Japan’s Nishioka, who is ranked 96th and eliminated top-seeded Andrey Rublev in the semifinals, three times – in the opening game of each set and again in the match’s final game.

This marks quite a bit of unusual consistency for Kyrgios, coming off a run to his first Grand Slam final at the All England Club, where he lost to Novak Djokovic. Kyrgios did not get any rankings points for that showing – there were no points awarded to anyone at Wimbledon – but the singles title in Washington will push him from 63rd to 37th, within shouting range of a possible seeding at the U.S. Open.

“Hopefully,” Kyrgios said, “I can keep this momentum going.”

Play begins at Flushing Meadows on Aug. 29. That is less than a week after a court hearing in Australia is scheduled for a common assault allegation against Kyrgios.

Samsonova is a 23-year-old Russian who reached a career-best ranking of 25th in May but is currently 60th after needing to sit out part of the season, including Wimbledon, because of her country’s attack on Ukraine. She used a powerful serve that reached 119 mph against Kanepi to make her way through the bracket at the hard-court tournament, including a victory over reigning U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu.

Samsonova’s other championship came last year at a grass-court tournament in Berlin. Kanepi, a 37-year-old from Estonia, was seeking her first trophy since 2013. She left the court for a medical timeout in the third set because of what she said was an abdominal muscle problem.

“I guess a lot of matches and a lot of serving this week,” Kanepi said.

Kyrgios’ victory was shown on Tennis Channel, which shunted the women’s final off its main station and instead aired pickleball – because, tournament chairman Mark Ein said, of a prior commitment.

This was big-serve, quick-strike tennis between a pair of women with similar playing styles on a humid, 90-degree Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) afternoon. Some spectators held umbrellas to provide shade; portable electric fans were placed next to sideline seats to offer a bit of respite to the players during changeovers; Samsonova held a plastic bag filled with ice atop her head.

Unseeded Parks beats top-seeded Garcia for her 1st title

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LYON, France — Unseeded American Alycia Parks secured a stunning 7-6 (7), 7-5 upset win over WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia in the Open Metropole de Lyon final to clinch her first career title.

“I think France has a special part in my heart right now,” Parks said. “I’ll be back next year.”

The 22-year-old Parks, who is ranked 79th, had 15 aces and saved all four break points against the top-seeded Garcia.

Parks secured the only break of a tight contest to win the match.

The fifth-ranked Garcia, a U.S. Open semifinalist last year, was seeking a 12th career title.

“Congrats on a great tournament,” Garcia told Parks in English. “If you keep playing like this for sure you’re going to keep going up (the rankings).”

Parks has a career-best ranking of 75th.

The 29-year-old Garcia, who grew up in Lyon, took time to thank her home crowd – this time in French.

“It means a lot to play here, thanks for being here,” Garcia said. “You supported me from the first point to the last. Thanks for all your encouragement.”

Zhu beats Tsurenko to win Thailand Open

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HUA HIN, Thailand — Zhu Lin of China won her maiden career title after beating Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Thailand Open.

In a match lasting one hour and 45 minutes, both players exchanged nail-biting baseline rallies before Zhu finally found a way past her determined opponent.

The 29-year-old Chinese player managed a break to go up 5-3 in the first set. Although she was broken to love in the following game, Zhu returned the favor straight back, also to love, to take the opening set in 46 minutes.

The second saw players trade breaks with Zhu eventually securing her first match point at 5-3. She sprayed a shot wide to miss the chance but capitalized on her third in the 10th game with a backhand winner.

“I’m so happy to finally win my first tour title. All the hard work finally paid off,” said the No. 54-ranked Zhu, who will crack the top 50 when the new WTA rankings are updated.

Zhu has started the season strongly, reaching the quarter-finals in Auckland and the last 16 at the Australian Open.

The victory also allowed Zhu to avenge her loss to the Ukrainian at the WTA Dubai Championships back in 2019.

Despite the loss, the No. 136-ranked Tsurenko, 33, will return to the top 100.