Suddenly consistent Nick Kyrgios moves into Citi Open final

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WASHINGTON — Nick Kyrgios found the consistency that has long eluded him, reaching a second consecutive tournament final for the first time in his career with a 7-6 (4), 6-3 victory over Mikael Ymer at the Citi Open.

Kyrgios, the runner-up at Wimbledon to Novak Djokovic, has adjusted well to the hot, humid conditions at this hard-court U.S. Open tune-up. He won an uncharacteristic 24-shot rally on Ymer’s serve to go ahead 5-4 in the first-set tiebreak and served it out from there.

In the second set, Krygios secured the only service break of the match on a cross-court half-volley from no-man’s land to move ahead 5-3.

“He’s an incredible athlete and I really wasn’t expecting him to be that fast,” Kyrgios said. “Maybe next time I might have a couple different tactics when I play him, maybe not to try and out-rally him, maybe come forward a little bit more. But it was a tough-fought semifinal and I’m just happy to be in the final once again.”

Nishioka had not won a tour-level match since Miami in March, but knocked off Jenson Brooksby, Alex de Minaur, Karen Khachanov and Daniel Evans in Washington before frustrating Rublev. He won his lone ATP title at Shenzhen, China in 2018.

Kyrgios is 3-0 against Nishioka, most recently winning in 2019 in Washington.

“We’ve played many times, but he beat me every time since (we were) 16 years old. It is really tough to play against him,” Nishioka said.

In the women’s draw, Kaia Kanepi moved within one victory of her first title in nine years, overwhelming Daria Saville 6-3, 6-1.

Kanepi, a 37-year-old from Estonia, won the last of her four WTA titles in 2013 in Brussels. But she has enjoyed a resurgence this year, reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, and credits smart scheduling for her continued good form.

“It was amazing, actually, for me. I never thought I would make quarters in Australia. I thought it’s not just my place,” said Kanepi, who previously reached the quarterfinals in the other three Grand Slam tournaments. “But I played really well, and then I continued playing well. I actually didn’t put any pressure on myself to achieve something special.”

Kanepi’s match record this year is 19-10, her most victories since 2013, and she is ranked No. 37. She plans to play two more hard-court tournaments before the U.S. Open, which starts Aug. 29.

In the final, Kanepi will face 60th-ranked Liudmila Samsonova, who breezed past Xiyun Wang 6-1, 6-1. The 23-year-old Samsonova is seeking her second WTA singles title. She won a hard-court event at New Haven, Connecticut, in 2017.

Sonego beats Bublik at Moselle Open to win 1st title of 2022

Winston-Salem Open - Day 5
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METZ, France – Lorenzo Sonego clinched his first title of the season by beating Alexander Bublik 7-6 (3), 6-2 in the Moselle Open final on Sunday.

The 27-year-old Italian did not drop a set all tournament as he won the third title of his career and first on hard courts.

The unseeded Sonego recovered from 0-40 down in the fifth game of the match and secured victory when the seventh-seeded Bublik sent a backhand return long.

He then danced on court as he celebrated a perfect tournament where he also beat defending champion Hubert Hurkacz in the semifinals.

Sonego’s win will move him up 21 places in the ATP rankings and into 44th place.

Samsonova beats Zheng to win 3rd WTA title in 2 months

Toray Pan Pacific Open - Day Seven
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TOKYO – Liudmila Samsonova of Russia extended a remarkable summer run by clinching her third title in two months after beating rising Chinese player Zheng Qinwen 7-5, 7-5 at the Toray Pan Pacific Open on Sunday.

No. 30-ranked Samsonova won in Washington and Cleveland in August and also reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open. The 23-year-old has now won 18 of her last 19 matches and didn’t drop a set in Tokyo.

“It’s amazing. I think I need a little bit of time to realize it, but it’s unbelievable,” Samsonova said. “It was like a nervous match today. I was really prepared physically but I was tired mentally because I was playing singles and doubles every day. I’m very happy with the way I managed the pressure.”

Samsonova added that the exclusion of Russian players from Wimbledon had helped her game though she stopped short of supporting the move.

“Wimbledon for me is the best tournament. I love it. The news really impacted me. I had one month without a tournament so I thought let’s work,” she said, adding: “I don’t agree that politics should be involved in sports because it’s unfair.”

The match between two power hitters with big serves was close throughout but Samsonova was striking the ball cleaner and stronger.

Zheng, who ousted top-seeded Paula Badosa and No. 4-seeded Veronika Kudermetova, was broken in the first set after giving up her first double fault on deuce in the 11th game.

Samsonova, who defeated Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the first round and former world No. 1 Garbine Muguruza in the quarterfinals, then sent a perfect forehand that landed in the right-hand corner of the court to break the 19-year-old and go 6-5 up. She took the first set with another strong service game that included her third ace.

Zheng was the first to crack in the second set when she handed Samsonova free points with two double-faults in the fifth game. A double-fault by the Russian saw her drop to 0-40 in the next game and the No. 36-ranked Chinese broke back to level at 3-3.

As in the first set, Zheng was broken in the 11th game. A long forehand at deuce gave Samsonova a breakpoint and she converted it with a crosscourt forehand that sent her opponent the wrong way. Samsonova then won her next game to love after three errors by Zheng, clinching the match 7-5, 7-5.

Samsonova has now won all of the finals she has appeared in.

In reaching the final, Zheng became the youngest Chinese finalist at a tour-level event, beating the mark set by Peng Shuai.