Kenin wins, Stephens loses in ASB Classic’s 1st round

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Spanish qualifier Rebeka Masarova defeated second-seeded Sloane Stephens 6-3, 7-5 (5) at the ASB Tennis Classic as organizers of the WTA Tour event contended with a backlog of singles matches caused by persistent rain.

Matches had to be played indoors and without spectators to ensure the first round of singles was completed. On a day which was to be notable for the number of American players in action, Stephens struggled to adjust to the indoor setting and fell to the 130th-ranked Masarova in just under two hours.

The match was a holdover from the previous evening; Masarova led 2-1 on serve when play was suspended. She immediately broke Stephens for 3-1 and, playing behind a strong serve, took the first set 6-3 in 41 minutes.

Masarova took an early 2-0 lead in the second set but Stephens broke in the fourth game to level at 2-2 and broke again in the sixth game for a 4-2 lead.

But Masarova broke back in the ninth game and came close to doing so again in the 11th game when she had three break points at 0-40 which Stephens was able to save. Masarova went up 6-2 in the tiebreaker and finally sealed the match on her fourth match point to claim her first win over a top-50 player since 2016.

“I thought I played some good points,” Stephens said. “I thought I played well in some moments.

“Obviously, I wish I could have played better and done some things differently but overall I’m upset but not devastated. It’s the first tournament of year so I have to be realistic and just know there’s stuff to build on.”

Stephens hopes to play in Hobart, Australia next week to further prepare for the Australian Open which begins in Melbourne on Jan. 16.

Earlier, former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin beat Wang Xinyu of China 7-6 (6), 6-3 and will now face top-seeded compatriot Coco Gauff in the second round.

“Unfortunately we had to go indoors but it was less windy so that’s a problem I didn’t need to worry about,” Kenin said. “But the courts felt really fast, especially with who I played.

“She’s not an easy opponent and after the match I told my Dad I don’t know what’s better, to play indoors or outdoors against her because she’s a really tough player.”

Lauren Davis of the United States beat Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia 6-2, 6-1 and will next face seventh-seeded Danka Kovinic who beat Nao Hibino of Japan 6-1, 6-4.

Second-round matches involving Venus Williams, Leylah Fernandez and Emma Raducanu all have been postponed and they may have to be played inside if rain persists.

At French Open, Francisco Cerundolo is mad at chair umpire over Holger Rune’s double-bounce

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PARIS – Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina was devastated about losing his French Open fourth-round match to Holger Rune of Denmark in a fifth-set tiebreaker Monday. He also was mad at chair umpire Kader Nouni for missing a double-bounce of the ball on a point that was awarded to Rune early in his 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (10-7) victory.

They were tied at a set apiece and on serve at 2-1 for the No. 6-seeded Rune early in the third at Court Suzanne Lenglen when the point of contention happened. Cerundolo, who was serving at deuce, hit a forehand that skidded low at the baseline and quickly bounced a second time – which normally would have meant that the point was his.

But Rune went ahead and got his racket on the ball, sending it back over the net. At about the same time, No. 23 seed Cerundolo was saying “sorry” to apologize for the odd way his forehand made the ball skim across the clay. Nouni was not immediately aware of the double-bounce, thought the ball was still in play and called Cerundolo for hindrance for talking during a point. That meant Rune got the point, and when he won the next one, too, he had a service break.

“It was unbelievable, because it was a clear double-bounce. I was mad at the umpire because he has to see it,” Cerundolo said. “It’s his fault.”

In tennis, electronic line-calling is used at many tournaments to make line calls, but replays are not used to check things like double-bounces or whether a point should be lost because a player touches the net, which is not allowed.

And while Cerundolo put the onus on the official, he also thought Rune could have ceded the point because of the double-bounce.

“For sure, I wish he would have done that, because it was a big moment,” Cerundolo said.

Rune, who moved into a matchup against No. 4 Casper Ruud in the quarterfinals, said he saw a replay after the following point, and “saw it was a double bounce. But the point already happened, and he called the score. So I felt sorry.”

But, Rune added: “This is tennis. This is sports. Some umpires, they make mistakes. Some for me; some for him. That’s life.”

Gael Monfils withdraws from French Open with wrist injury

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PARIS — A thrilling five-set victory took a toll on Gael Monfils, whose withdrawal from the French Open handed No. 6 Holger Rune a walkover to the third round.

The 36-year-old Frenchman said he has a strained left wrist and can’t continue.

He battled Sebastian Baez for nearly four hours on Court Philippe Chatrier before beating the Argentine 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 in a first-round match that ended at 12:18 a.m. local time.

The victory was Monfils’ first at tour level this year, as the veteran was coming back from heel surgery.

“Actually, physically, I’m quite fine. But I had the problem with my wrist that I cannot solve,” he said. “The doctor say was not good to play with that type of injury. Yesterday was actually very risky, and then today definitely say I should stop.”

Monfils reached the semifinals at the French Open in 2008 and made it to the quarterfinals on three other occasions.