Emily Iannaconi

Fernando Verdasco accepts 2-month doping ban

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
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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.

Australia beats Croatia 2-1 to reach Davis Cup final

Day Four - Davis Cup Finals 2022
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MALAGA, Spain – Australia had to fight back twice to reach its first Davis Cup final in 19 years after beating Croatia 2-1.

Lleyton Hewitt’s team recovered from losing the first singles. Then the Australian doubles pair battled back from a set down in the decider.

Australia won its 28th and last title in 2003. It has finally got back to the final.

“I am so proud. Australia has a really rich history in this competition,” said Hewitt, who played a record 43 Davis Cup ties for Australia from 1999-2018.

“We have been fortunate to win it all on a number of occasions a long time ago. And I know what it meant to me as a player to play a final, and I am glad these guys can play it.”

Borna Coric put Croatia ahead by beating Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4, 6-3, but Alex de Minaur leveled after defeating Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-2 to send it to the doubles.

Jordan Thompson and Max Purcell then secured the semifinal win against Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic by 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-4.

“This is what this team is about, that never-say-die attitude,” De Minaur said.

Canada will face Italy on Saturday in the other semifinal.

In the opener, Kokkinakis struck 11 aces, but Coric was able to break him once in each set.

“On my serve, I felt like it was an ace or he put it back on my toes,” Kokkinakis said.

Cilic, who was on the Croatia team that won the title in 2018, committed 10 double faults. That erratic serve helped De Minaur break Cilic four times and level his head-to-head record with the former U.S Open winner at two wins each.

Thompson and Purcell bettered the more experienced pair of Mektic and Pavic, both ranked in the top 10 in doubles. Thompson and Purcell combined for 13 aces, broke the Croats twice, and never dropped a service game to come back after losing the first-set tiebreaker.

Two-time winner Croatia was the runner-up last year.

“It proved too difficult on the court today,” Cilic said. “(But) for us it has been a great year again after the finals last year to reach the semis.”

The final is on Sunday on the indoor court in Malaga.

Australia reaches Davis Cup semis by beating the Netherlands

Rolex Paris Masters - Day Three
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MALAGA, Spain – Alex de Minaur and Jordan Thompson won their singles matches to help Australia qualify for the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time since 2017 at the expense of the Netherlands.

De Minaur beat Botic van de Zandschulp 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 to clinch the series 2-0 and set up a semifinal tie against either Spain or Croatia.

“We’ve got a great team, a lot of belief and a lot of passion,” De Minaur said. “I’m very happy to win today. “Every single one of these players on our team is going to play their heart out. We’ll do everything we can for our country.”

Australia is the second most successful nation in the team competition with 28 titles but the last triumph dates to 2003.

De Minaur completed his rally with a break in the 10th game of the final set by building a 40-0 lead and converting the first match point on an indoor hardcourt in the southern Spanish city of Malaga.

He started his comeback by breaking Van de Zandschulp in the first and last games of the second set. The Dutch player took the first set with a break in the 12th game. He recorded three victories in the group stage, including a win over American Taylor Fritz.

Earlier, Jordan Thompson also came from a set down to defeat Tallon Griekspoor 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 and give Australia a 1-0 lead.

The Australian hit 16 aces to overcome his Dutch opponent in a hard-fought match that took almost three hours.

“Davis Cup is something special, you feel extra pressure, so I was a little bit bit tight to start with,” Thompson said. “He was playing great tennis but I hung in there, got a bit more aggressive as the match went on. It means the world.”

Thompson got the decisive break to jump to a 4-2 lead in the final set and held on. After losing the opening set, the Australian came back with a break in the 12th game of the second set.

The final doubles of Wimbledon champions Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell of Australia against Wesley Koolhof and Matwe Middelkoop of the Netherlands was not played.

The quarterfinal tie between the 2019 champion Spain and 2021 runner-up Croatia is Wednesday.

The quarterfinals wrap up Thursday, when the U.S. meets Italy, and Canada plays Germany. The semifinals are Friday and Saturday, and the title will be decided Sunday.