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American Amanda Anisimova ousts top seed Aryna Sabalenka in Charleston Open

American Amanda Anisimova rallied after losing the opening set to defeat top-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Thursday and reach the quarterfinals of the Charleston Open.

In another surprise, CoCo Vandeweghe also reached the round of eight by defeating U.S. countrywoman and sixth-seeded Jessica Pegula 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.

Spain’s Paula Badosa, the second seed, dropped her first set before fighting off American Claire Liu for a 3-6, 7-6 (8), 6-1 victory to move into the quarters.

No. 10 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, the Olympic gold medalist last summer, defeated ninth-seeded Madison Keys of the United States 6-4, 6-4.

Fourth-seeded Ons Jabeur did double duty, winning twice Thursday to make the quarters. Jabeur’s match with Emma Navarro was halted Wednesday because of severe weather with her leading 6-3, 5-2. The two returned Thursday where Jabeur won four consecutive points to close things out.

Later, Jabeur eliminated Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania 6-3, 6-2.

She was frustrated they couldn’t finish yesterday’s match. “But, you know, it is what it is,” she said. “I’m glad that I finished quick in the morning. And tonight was really tricky.”

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Magda Linette of Poland had it worse than Ons.

Linette, whose Wednesday match was also washed out, defeat seventh-seeded Leylah Fernandez of Canada 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the afternoon. Linette returned at night to top Kaia Kanepi of Estonia 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

In all, Linette played 55 games in four hours, 38 minutes and 16 seconds of winning tennis to advance. Jabeur said Begu found some rhythm in the middle of the match. “But I’m glad that I really won my serve at the end,” Jabeur said.

Sabalenka had won her first match in nearly six weeks here Wednesday and took the opening set without too much of a struggle. But Anisimova, 20, who is ranked 47th in the world found her rhythm after the break as Sabalenka began to make mistakes.

Sabalenka had two straight double faults to trail 5-3 and Anisimova was able to serve out the set.

Anisimova continued her run in the deciding set, breaking Sabalenka’s serve twice for a 4-0 lead. Sabalenka closed to 5-4, but Anisimova closed out the match with her sixth ace and improved to 3-0 versus the world’s fifth-ranked player.

Anisimova was thrilled with her third match victory in as many days. She’ll face Vandeweghe on Friday to reach the semifinals.

“It’s a pretty good result, like in the quarterfinal, and especially against a top seed,” Anisimova said. “It’s a big confidence boost.”

Badosa also got off to a bad start versus the 21-year-old Liu. Badosa was up 5-3 in the second set when Liu won three of the last four games to set up the tie breaker. Liu was two points away from winning the match four times in the tiebreak, yet Badosa turned away each challenge.

Badosa converted her fourth set point off a backhand winner to close the set, which lasted 72 minutes.

Badosa gained control after that in the third set to advance.

In the quarterfinals, she’ll take on Bencic, who overcame a nearly two-hour rain delay after winning the opening set versus Keys. After the rain stopped the court was dried, Bencic held off the American, who was the last remaining past champion in the field.

Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine topped No. 12 seed Alize Cornet of France 7-6 (5), 7-5.

Jabeur, of Tunisia, had hoped to squeeze in more tennis and wrap up the match on Wednesday. She only needed a few minutes – and four points – to finish off Navarro, the American. Jabeur has a third-round match with Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania later Thursday.

The tournament has been affected by bad weather all week and Thursday was no different. Things are forecast to dry out on Friday and through Sunday’s championship match.

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Serena Williams out of Wimbledon after slipping on Centre Court, injuring leg

Serena Williams retired from her first-round match at Wimbledon on Tuesday versus Aliaksandra Sasnovich due to a right leg injury.

Holding a 3-1 lead in the first set, Williams slipped and needed to take an injury timeout at the game’s conclusion to receive treatment. She returned to the court, but her movement was visibly limited.

Williams was serving in the fifth game at Centre Court when she lost her footing near the baseline while hitting a forehand. She winced and stepped gingerly between points, clearly troubled.

After dropping that game, she took a medical timeout and tried to keep playing. A crying Williams bit her upper lip and covered her face between points as the crowd tried to offer support and encouragement. But eventually, the 39-year-old American dropped to her knees, and the chair umpire came over to check on her.

The match ended at 3-all in the first set.

Williams, a seven-time Wimbledon singles champion, gave an emotional wave to the crowd and held her hand over her heart as she fought back tears before she exited the court.

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Williams did not speak to the media afterward, though she offered some reaction on Instagram thanking the fans.

“I was heartbroken to have to withdraw today after injuring my right leg,” she wrote. “My love and gratitude are with the fans and the team who make being on centre court so meaningful. Feeling the extraordinary warmth and support of the crowd today when I walked on — and off — the court meant the world to me.”

This marks just the second time in Williams’ storied career she has retired from a match at a major. The other incidence was in the third round at the All England Club in 1998.

“Of course I’m so sad for Serena; she’s a great champion,” Sasnovich said. “It happens sometimes in tennis, but all the best for her and her recovery.”

Williams entered the tournament in search of her 24th major title, which would have tied her with Margaret Court for the most ever. She last won a Grand Slam at the Australian Open in 2017 and has made four finals since returning after giving birth, including at Wimbledon in 2018 and 2019. She made the semifinals at the Australian Open earlier this year as well as the fourth round at the French Open last month.

Her departure makes a wide-open women’s draw even more so. As it was, defending champion Simona Halep and four-time major champ Naomi Osaka withdrew before the tournament started.

Williams was the second player on Centre Court on Tuesday to slip and suffer an injury. Adrian Mannarino, who was playing versus Roger Federer, also was forced to retire as a result of a similar fall. Due to rain, the roof had been closed.

“I do feel it feels a tad more slippery maybe under the roof,” Federer said after his match. “I don’t know if it’s just a gut feeling. You do have to move very, very carefully out there. If you push too hard in the wrong moments, you do go down. “This is obviously terrible that it’s back-to-back matches and it hits Serena as well. Oh, my God, I can’t believe it.”

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Sebastian Korda, Hubert Hurkacz advance to Delray Beach Open final

Building on momentum from the French Open, American Sebastian Korda has reached his first ATP Tour final.

Korda, the son of 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda, defeated Cameron Norrie of Britain 6-3, 7-5 in the Delray Beach Open semifinals Tuesday night.

Korda’s opponent Wednesday will be No. 4-seeded Hubert Hurkacz, who defeated American qualifier Christian Harrison 7-6 (4), 6-4.

Korda, 20, is a former world No. 1 junior who earned his first three tour-level wins in September at the French Open to reach the round of 16.

“For me the biggest thing was getting my consistency up,” the 6-foot-5 Florida native said. “Before, I would miss balls I don’t miss now. It’s super big for me to be playing these matches, and getting a feel for my body and growing into my body.”

Korda trained in December with Andre Agassi, and they talked by phone after his latest triumph.

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“He’s super pumped,” said Korda, who arrived at Delray Beach ranked 119th. In his first career quarterfinal, he beat No. 2-seeded John Isner on Monday.

Against Norrie, Korda squandered two match points serving at 5-4 and lost the game, but broke back and then easily served out the match. He lost only seven points on his first serve.

Hurkacz’s only other career final came in 2019, when he won at Winston-Salem to become the second Polish tour-level champion in the Open era.

He’s ranked 35th, and his success at Delray Beach means he might be seeded at next month’s Australian Open. That would permit  him to avoid such title contenders as Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic in the first round, he noted.

“Obviously it’s a step forward, and I want to be playing better and better,” Hurkacz said. “It’s a great start of the year.”

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Sam Querrey defends decision to breach COVID-19 protocols in Russia to protect family

American Sam Querrey, who was sanctioned by the ATP for breaching COVID-19 protocols at the St Petersburg Open in October, has defended his actions and said he did what he felt was right as a father and a husband.

Querrey left Russia in a private jet with his wife and baby son after all three tested positive for the virus before the beginning of the tournament, sneaking out of their hotel early in the morning without informing reception.

The ATP, the men’s governing body, handed the 33-year-old a suspended $20,000 fine which will be lifted if Querrey does not commit further breaches of health and safety protocols related to COVID-19 within a probationary six-month period.

“Again, we were very happy at the hotel,” Querrey told Sports Illustrated in an interview. “We were distancing ourselves. We weren’t around anyone, we were staying in the room, and never had a complaint, or a problem.

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“So I said, ‘Please try to have the doctors come the next morning at 10 a.m., not Sunday night at 10 p.m.’ The tour finally agreed to that, and because we were still going to get help from the tour, the embassy.

“But I kinda had to make a decision between 10 p.m. and 10 a.m. the next day. I had my wife there, and I had my baby there, and as a human decision, I was like, ‘Hey, I don’t feel comfortable with this.’ So we made the decision to charter a plane and leave.”

Querrey said he was ready to quarantine in the tournament hotel for two weeks after testing positive but after two days he was told he was no longer welcome at the hotel and doctors would determine if they had to quarantine in a hospital instead.

The American said lack of clarity made it necessary for him, his wife, and their seven-month-old son to fly to London and quarantine at an Airbnb.

“I felt as a father and a husband there’s a human element to this, and I had to do what I feel like is right,” he said, adding that the flight cost him about $40,000 plus and he had to also pay for the stay in London for two weeks.

“I wasn’t willing to let our family go to a hospital for a minimum of two weeks where we were at.” Querrey stated he was “frustrated” with the media coverage of the incident and added: “It made it seem like I just got COVID and bounced. I didn’t feel how it was portrayed after that was fair.”

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