Ukrainian Snigur stuns No. 7 Halep at U.S. Open for 1st win

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NEW YORK — Daria Snigur raised her arms in celebration, then lowered them to wrap her hands around the blue-and-yellow ribbon on her chest.

This win – her first on the WTA Tour – was for Ukraine.

Snigur pulled off the first big upset of the U.S. Open, knocking off No. 7 seed Simona Halep 6-2, 0-6, 6-4.

Days after taking part in an exhibition to raise money for her country that is fighting a war against invading Russia, Snigur fought through tears as she tried to explain what the victory meant to her family and her home.

“No comment, I think, because it’s impossible for me now,” Snigur said.

The 20-year-old was making her first appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam after emerging through the qualifying rounds last week.

On Wednesday, she joined tennis superstars such as Rafael Nadal, Coco Gauff, John McEnroe, Iga Swiatek and 2021 U.S. Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez in the “Tennis Plays for Peace Exhibition,” an event organized by the U.S. Tennis Association that raised $1.2 million.

It took place in Louis Armstrong Stadium, which may have calmed Snigur’s nerves when she was sent back out there Monday.

“I think it helped me because I was here in `Tennis Plays for Peace’ and I think it helped me a little bit,” Snigur said during an on-court interview.

Snigur won the Wimbledon girls singles title in 2019, but failed in her first eight attempts to qualify for the main draw of a Grand Slam before finally breaking through. She was 0-2 on tour and was facing a top-20 opponent for the first time.

And in Halep, it was one of the hottest players in women’s tennis. The two-time Grand Slam champion had won 19 of her previous 22 matches and recently returned to the top 10.

But Snigur responded nicely after Halep won the second set, racing to a 5-1 lead in the third. Halep fought off a couple match points while taking the next three games before Snigur finally closed it out when Halep sailed a backhand long.

Snigur then dropped her racket and covered her face as she fought back tears.

Elina Svitolina’s run to the 2019 semifinals is the best performance by a Ukrainian in the U.S. Open. One of five of them in this year’s draw, Snigur will face Canadian Rebecca Marino on Wednesday.

First, she was going to savor a stunner.

“I want to say thanks to all the fans who watched our match today,” she said.

U.S. sweeps Uzbekistan, advances to group stage in Davis Cup

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The United States swept its way into the group stage of the Davis Cup Finals, getting the winning point in a 4-0 victory over Uzbekistan from the doubles team of Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek.

They beat Sergey Fomin and Sanjar Fayziev 6-2, 6-4, after Tommy Paul and Mackenzie McDonald had won singles matches in Tashkent.

Ram is No. 3 in the ATP Tour doubles rankings and partnered with Joe Salisbury to win the last two U.S. Open men’s doubles titles. But the Americans opted not to use Ram last year in the final round, when they dropped the doubles match in a 2-1 defeat against Italy in the quarterfinals.

Krajicek was making his Davis Cup debut, having reached No. 9 in the doubles rankings late last year.

“They had five great days of preparation, and as anticipated they came out really sharp and got the early break in the first set. And after that it was like two freight trains, there was no stopping them,” interim captain David Nainkin said.

Denis Kudla then beat Amir Milushev 6-4, 6-4.

The winners of the 12 qualifiers being held this weekend advance to the Davis Cup Finals group stage in September, along with reigning champion Canada, 2022 runner-up Australia and wild-card recipients Italy and Spain.

Eight teams will advance to the closing matches of the Davis Cup Finals scheduled for Nov. 21-26 in Malaga, Spain.

In other matches:

France 3, Hungary 2: On indoor hard courts in Tatabanya, Hungary, Ugo Humbert won it for the French with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Fabian Marozsan. Adrian Mannarino had forced the deciding match by beating Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (6), 6-2.

Serbia 4, Norway 0: On indoor hard courts in Oslo, the visitors, playing without top-ranked Novak Djokovic, put away the match when Filip Krajinovic and Nikola Cacic edged Viktor Durasovic and Herman Hoeyeraal 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Hamad Medjedovic then outlasted Durasovic 6-4, 6-7, 10-4.

Sweden 3, Bosnia 1: On indoor hard courts in Stockholm, Mikael Ymer sent the hosts through by beating Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.

Lesia Tsurenko to face Zhu Lin in Thailand Open final

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HUA HIN, Thailand — Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine reached her first final in four years after the top-seeded Bianca Andreescu retired with a shoulder injury during their semifinal match at the Thailand Open.

Tsurenko, in search of her fifth WTA title, was leading the 2019 U.S. Open champion 7-5, 4-0 when the Canadian stopped playing.

The former world No. 23 fought from 3-5 down to take the first set and reeled off eight straight games before Andreescu retired with a right shoulder problem.

“Bianca is such an amazing player. She is capable of hitting all kinds of shots and gave so much trouble today,” said the 33-year-old Tsurenko, now ranked 136th. “But I was just fighting and I told myself positive things that I can do it. Unfortunately, she had to retire.”

The Ukrainian last lifted a WTA trophy in Acapulco in 2018 and hasn’t been to a final since Brisbane in 2019.

She will face Zhu Lin of China in the final.

“She had some good wins in the Australian Open,” Tsurenko said. “She is one of the dangerous players in this tournament. She is going to give a good fight.”

In the all-Chinese semifinal earlier, Zhu benefited from a barrage of unforced errors from Wang Xinyu and prevailed 6-2, 6-4 for her first WTA final.

The world No. 54 player, who reached the last 16 at the Australian Open in January, relied on her solid baseline game to force errors.

“It was very windy, so I tried to be patient and keep my first serves in,” said the 29-year-old Zhu, who will team up with Wang in the doubles final against Hao-Ching Chan and Fang-Hsien Wu of Taiwan.