Cibulkova through at Pan Pacific Open

Fifth seed Dominika Cibulkova played solidly to defeat Spain's Carla Carla Suárez Navarro during the first round of the Toray Pan Pacific Open at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo on Tuesday. 

The 28-year-old Slovak needed 64 minutes to defeat Carla Suárez Navarro 6-3, 6-3 to set up a second-round meeting against Katerina Siniakova after the Czech beat another Slovak, Jana Cepelova 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.

In the opening set, Cibulkova got the early break and served out the first set claiming it 6-3 with her opponent not able to handle her powerful groundstrokes.

The Slovakian finished the next set in style, breaking once more, to secure her place in the second round.

In other results on Tuesday, Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia cruised past Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-4, 6-3 and Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova came from a set down to beat American Catherine Bellis 4-6, 6-0, 6-4.

Russian Daria Kasatkina beat American qualifier Madison Brengle 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 and will face Angelique Kerber of Germany in round two, while Monica Puig of Puerto Rica faces Spain's world number one Garbiñe Muguruza next up. 

Shelby Rogers of the US beat Japan wildcard Risa Ozaki 6-2, 7-6 and will be up against Dane Caroline Wozniacki next, while Poland's Magda Linette got past Daria Gavrilova of Australia 2-6, 6-0, 7-6 to next take on Czech Karolina Pliskova. 

Kerber ousts home favourite Osaka in Tokyo

Former World No 1 Angelique Kerber eliminated local favourite Naomi Osaka in the first round of the Toray Pan-Pacific Open on Monday.

The German cruised to a 6-3, 6-4 victory in Tokyo to set up a second-round clash with either Madison Brengle or Daria Kasatkina.

"It's really nice being back," said Kerber after the match. "It's always a great tournament and I always look forward to coming back to Tokyo and the Japanese fans. I'm happy to have won my first round and am looking forward to the next round."

Kerber was able to exact some measure of revenge for the straight sets victory Osaka inflicted upon her at the recent US Open.

"It's always tough to play against her," she added. "I was trying to come out here and really focus on every single point and make it better than last time...she's a great player, great, talented player and tough opponent. For sure she will have great success in the future."

In other first-round results, another local hope, wild card Kurumi Nara, battled past Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.

China's Wang Qiang, meanwhile, thrashed Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-0, 6-0.

The tournament was also hit with the withdrawal of two-time champion Agnieszka Radwanska, who pulled out with a virus.

France face Belgium in Davis Cup final

France reached the Davis Cup final when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Dusan Lajovic of Serbia to give the hosts a 3-1 victory on Sunday.

Tsonga needed just under three hours to beat Lajovic 2-6, 6-2, 7-6(5), 6-2 and set up a final against Belgium after they beat Australia 3-2.

France did not have it easy against Serbia when unexpectedly losing the first point when Lucas Pouille lost to Lajovic on Friday.

French number one Tsonga played well against Laslo Djere and Lajovic to give Les Bleus two points while doubles specialists Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert won their doubles against Filip Krajinovic and Nenad Zimonjic.

"It was an exciting tie and the mindset was perfect," said France team captain Yannick Noah. "There were ups and downs but let's enjoy it. Being in the final was a dream."

In the other semi-final taking place in Brussels, David Goffin and Steve Darcis staged a fightback to take Belgium into their second Davis Cup final in three years beating Australia 3-2.

Goffin defeated world number 20 Nick Kyrgios 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 on the clay.

"It's incredible... It was the match of my career in the Davis Cup so far," an elated Goffin told reporters after levelling the match 2-2.

Darcis clinched the victory in the final rubber with a 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 win over Jordan Thompson to put his side into the final against France.

"It's a big week for me but it was an unbelievable win for David, I've never seen him play that good," said Darcis.

The Davis Cup final will be happening in France on 24-26 November.

France and Australia hold Davis Cup leads

France and Australia will both take a 2-1 advantage into the final day of their Davis Cup semi-finals on Sunday.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut gave the French the ascendancy in the best of five series by beating Serbian duo Filip Krajinovic and Nenad Zimonjic in straight sets, while Aussie pair John Peers and Jordan Thompson emerged victorious against Belgium’s Ruben Bemelmans and Arthur de Greef.

Herbert and Mahut took just under two hours to win 6-1, 6-2, 7-6, although they squandered a couple of opportunities to wrap the tie earlier in the third set.

Serving for the set at 5-2, Herbert produced two double faults, before Mahut was then broken too.

But the French pair managed to regain their composure to triumph in the tie-break 7-3.

France will advance to the final for the first time in three years if world number 18 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beats Dusan Lajovic on Sunday.

In Belgium, Australia coasted to a 2-1 lead after Peers and Thompson beat Bemelmans and de Greef 6-3, 6-4, 6-0.

Kyrgios will secure Australia’s first appearance in the Davis Cup final since 2003, if he beats Belgium number one David Goffin on Sunday.

The controversial Kyrgios has won all three meetings between the pair over the last 18 months.

 

Davis Cup wrap: France, Serbia all square

France and Serbia were tied at 1-1 after day one of the Davis Cup semi-final taking place in Lille, France on Friday.

The Serbs started off well in the opening match when Dusan Lajovic defeated Frenchman Lucas Pouille 6-1 3-6 7-6(7) 7-6(5) in a tight match lasting over three hours on the Stade Pierre Mauroy clay court.

In the second rubber, French number one Jo-Wilfried Tsonga faced Davis Cup debutant Laslo Djere but had too much experience and firepower for a 7-6(2), 6-3, 6-3 victory to leave the tie sitting at 1-1. 

Djere showed few signs of nerves early on in the match, settling in well breaking the Frenchman's serve in the sixth game. 

Tsonga however, broke back immediately and the first set moved into a tiebreaker which went 7-2 to France with Tsonga serving three aces.

Thereafter Tsonga claimed the next two sets 6-3, 6-3. 

In Saturday's action, French duo Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut are expected to give the hosts a 2-1 lead in the doubles encounter against Filip Krajinovic and Nenad Zimonjic.

In the second semi-final between Belgium and Australia, taking place at the Palais 12 indoor arena in Brussels, things were also tied at 1-1 after Friday's action.

David Goffin gave Belgium the perfect start with a gritty performance to see off debutant John Millman in the opening rubber.

Goffin won 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(4) after a three-hour and 29-minute contest.

Nick Kyrgios fought back against Steve Darcis to record a 6-3, 3-6, 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-2 victory in the second rubber that lasted three hours and 37 minutes.

Kyrgios brushes off Tomic comparison

Nick Kyrgios has rejected any comparisons with Bernard Tomic after declaring that he’s in a different category to his fellow Australian.

Tomic has dropped out of the world’s top 140 players for the first time in six years after a miserable 2017 which has seen him knocked out in the first round of each of the Grand Slams.

The 24-year-old was fined for his comments after his Wimbledon elimination, when he claimed he was “bored” with the tournament and was faking an injury.

Kyrgios has had his fair share of off-the-field issues himself, but as he prepares to lead Australia into their Davis Cup encounter in Belgium, the 22-year-old believes Tomic has even bigger problems to address.

"Bernie has lost his way. We were pretty good mates when I was younger,” said Kyrgios.

"I obviously didn't know the tennis tour too well back then and we were guys of similar age, representing the same country, on the road at many of the same tournaments.

"But a lot has changed since then. He needs to figure out what he wants to do. I can't relate to anything he says anymore.

"He says one thing and he does the other. And he contradicts himself all the time.

"He says tennis doesn't make him happy, that he doesn't really like the game, yet he says the only thing that will really make him happy is winning a grand slam. It doesn't make sense at all."

 

Sharapova hits back at player comments

Maria Sharapova has hit back at Andy Murray's and Eugenie Bouchard's comments about her failed drug test, saying ‘they don’t have the facts'.

The Russian superstar served a 15 month ban for meldonium, medication that was added to the illegal substances list in January 2016 that Sharapova had been taking for nearly ten years. 

Despite serving her ban, players have pulled no punches around Sharapova's return to tennis. WTA Tour rival Eugenie Bouchard said “she is a cheater and I don’t think a cheater should be allowed to play again” in April.

Meanwhile, Murray said in March last year: "I read that 55 athletes have failed tests for that substance since 1 January. You just don’t expect high level athletes at the top of many sports to have heart conditions."

Sharapova revealed she does not let comments such as these affect her.
 
"I don't think it's for them to really have an opinion, because they don't have the facts," the five-time grand slam winner told BBC Sport.

"So, you know, I think that those are the types of words that make headlines and they will be used as headlines.

"But ultimately, this is my career, and I faced it head on, and I admitted my mistake, and I went about it and I served my suspension and now I'm back."

While Sharapova admitted she made a mistake in taking the drug, she added that there is scant proof of its performance enhancing capabilities. 

"The problem I have with that is there's no proof of what it does, and no one can give you that proof. What is the ban based on?" she continued.

Sharapova recently reached the fourth round of the US Open at Flushing Meadows, her first grand slam since returning from her ban.