WASHINGTON: Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios ended a three-year title drought by claiming the trophy at the site of his last triumph, saving the only break point he faced in the Citi Open final Sunday along the way to a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Yoshihito Nishioka.
Kyrgios’ seventh career tour-level championship came where his sixth did in 2019 — on the hard courts of the US Open tuneup in the American capital.
Earlier Sunday, Liudmila Samsonova won her second career WTA title by coming back to beat sixth-seeded Kaia Kanepi 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the Citi Open women’s final.
As usual when Kyrgios is on his game, the serve led the way for the 27-year-old Australian: He hit 12 aces and won 22 of 25 first-serve points. He won all nine of his service games against Nishioka, making him 64 for 64 in the tournament, wrapping up the week by saving all 10 of his opponents’ break points. The only one Kyrgios had to deal with Sunday came at 3-2 in the first set, and Kyrgios dismissed it via a volley winner.
At the other end, Kyrgios managed to break Japan’s Nishioka, who is ranked 96th and eliminated top-seeded Andrey Rublev in the semifinals, three times — in the opening game of each set and again in the match’s final game.
This marks quite a bit of unusual consistency for Kyrgios, who was coming off a run to his first Grand Slam final at the All England Club, where he lost to Novak Djokovic last month. Kyrgios did not get any rankings points for that showing — there were no points awarded to anyone at Wimbledon — but the title in Washington will push him from 63rd to 37th, within shouting range of a possible seeding at the US Open.
Play begins at Flushing Meadows on Aug. 29. That is less than a week after a court hearing in Australia is scheduled for a common assault allegation against Kyrgios.
Samsonova is a 23-year-old Russian who reached a career-best ranking of 25th in May but is currently 60th after needing to sit out part of the season, including Wimbledon, because of her country’s attack on Ukraine. She used a powerful serve that reached 119 mph against Kanepi to make her way through the bracket at the hard-court tournament, including a victory over reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu.
Samsonova’s other championship came last year at a grass-court tournament in Berlin. Kanepi, a 37-year-old from Estonia, was seeking her first trophy since 2013. She left the court for a medical timeout in the third set Sunday because of what she said was an abdominal muscle problem.
“I guess a lot of matches and a lot of serving this week,” Kanepi said.
Kyrgios’ victory was shown on Tennis Channel, which shunted the women’s final off its main station and instead aired pickleball — because, tournament chairman Mark Ein said, of a prior commitment.
Both women are quite capable of terrific serving and showed so right away: Kanepi closed out her first service game with a 96 mph ace; Samsonova finished off hers with a 112 mph service winner.
“She served better than me today,” Kanepi said, “and maybe that was the key.”
Samsonova’s take? The vital factor was her ability to eventually attack Kanepi’s serve.
This was big-serve, quick-strike tennis between a pair of women with similar playing styles on a humid, 90-degree Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) afternoon. Some spectators held umbrellas to provide shade; portable electric fans were placed next to sideline seats to offer a bit of respite to the players during changeovers; Samsonova held a plastic bag filled with ice atop her head.
Samsonova earned her first break opportunity of the match an hour in, when Kanepi dumped a forehand into the net. Samsonova converted it and went ahead 4-3 when Kanepi sailed a backhand long.
Kanepi’s mistakes kept mounting and, suddenly, the second set belonged to Samsonova as part of a five-game run.
Helped by a double-fault, Samsonova broke to lead 5-3 in the third, then served it out.
BIRMINGHAM: Australia won the first women’s cricket gold medal in Commonwealth Games history on Sunday as Scotland’s Laura Muir captured the 1500m title on the final night of athletics.
On the penultimate day of competition in Birmingham, England’s women won hockey gold and Australia beat Jamaica in the netball final.
With just a few events to go on Monday, Australia lead the way with 66 golds, 11 ahead of hosts England.
Hot favorites Australia held their nerve to beat India by nine runs in a Twenty20 thriller in front of a big Edgbaston crowd.
Opener Beth Mooney top-scored with 61 as Australia made 161-8 in their 20 overs in the warm sunshine.
India appeared to be on course for a shock win when they were cruising at 118-2.
But the dismissals of Jemimah Rodrigues (33) and captain Harmanpreet Kaur (65) sapped their momentum and they fell frustratingly short.
Australia partied on the pitch as the lights went out around the stadium.
“It’s absolutely huge,” said left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen.
“We are blessed enough to be part of some winning World Cup teams but to win the first gold medal for women’s cricket in the Commonwealth Games, you’re only ever going to do that once.”
Victory underlines the dominance of Australia’s women, who are also world champions in the 20-over and 50-over formats.
In the bronze medal match earlier on Sunday, New Zealand coasted to an eight-wicket win over England.
Muir ended her Commonwealth Games campaign with a flourish by winning gold in the 1500m at the Alexander Stadium.
The 29-year-old’s team-mate, 10,000m champion Eilish McColgan, just failed in her bid for memorable double, finishing second behind Kenya’s impressive world silver medallist Beatrice Chebet in the women’s 5,000m.
Muir, who won bronze in the 800m on Saturday, kicked for glory before the bell and ran a fairly moderate field — lacking two-time Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon — ragged, timing 4min 02.75sec.
The Olympic silver medalist was overjoyed, having failed to medal in 2014 and missing the 2018 Games due to veterinary exams.
“You learn from it and your time will come,” said Muir. “It sounds cheesy but it’s true. Eight years of Commonwealths and it’s been bugging me so this means a lot.”
Wyclife Kinyamal defended his men’s 800m crown in a time of 1:47.52.
It was an impressive turnaround for the 25-year-old, who finished last in the final of the world championships in July.
“Eugene (the world final) was disappointing but it is just like any race,” he said. “Because if today you win, tomorrow you lose.
“I guess because I failed there, I looked forward to coming here to defend my title.”
New Zealand cyclist Aaron Gate won the men’s road race to collect his fourth gold medal of the Commonwealth Games.
“Three felt great and I was super happy with that,” said Gate, who won three track events earlier in the Games.
“I came here today and managed to help the team, and if the opportunity arose to go for a fourth one I just had to grab it with both hands.”
In the women’s race, Australia’s Georgia Baker won her third gold of the games.
England won hockey gold for the first time after holding off a fightback from Australia to win 2-1.
Second-quarter goals from Holly Hunt and Tess Howard ultimately provided decisive 24 hours after the men’s team had suffered semifinal despair at the hands of Australia.
Australia’s men, who are six-time defending champions, take on India in the final on Monday.
There was more joy for Australia in the netball competition, with a 55-51 over Jamaica in the final.
Australia also shone at the Sandwell Aquatics Center, wrapping up the diving competition in style.
Cassiel Rousseau took the men’s 10m platform title and Maddison Keeney won her second gold of the games in the women’s 3m springboard.
England’s Delicious Orie won super heavyweight gold on a busy night of boxing, beating India’s Sagar Ahlawat.
India won three other golds in boxing but Northern Ireland took five, including a special double for Aidan Walsh and his sister Michaela.
MUIRFIELD, Scotland: After seeing a five-shot lead slip away in the final round, Ashleigh Buhai still managed to secure a first major title at the Women’s British Open.
Buhai kept her composure to beat In Gee Chun — and the setting sun — in a playoff at Muirfield on Sunday for her first career victory in an LPGA Tour event.
With the light fading, the South African golfer made a superb bunker shot on the fourth playoff hole to leave herself with a short par putt, while Chun settled for a bogey.
The 33-year-old Buhai calmly rolled in from less than three feet and then clutched her face in relief, before being drenched in water and other beverages by her entourage.
“I was surprisingly calm,” Buhai said about the clutch bunker shot that secured the victory. “My caddie said to me on the last one, I don’t want to brag, but she said ‘Show them why you’re No. 1 in bunkers this year.’ So, you know, she gave me the confidence. Maybe it’s got something to do with Muirfield and South Africans and bunker shots.”
Ernie Els also won the men’s British Open in a playoff at Muirfield in 2002 after a memorable bunker shot during the final round. This was the first time the Women’s British Open was played at Muirfield, a club that didn’t even allow female members until 2019 following a vote two years earlier.
Buhai made things a lot more difficult than they had to be, though.
She entered the final round with a commanding five-shot lead and was still three strokes ahead before a triple bogey on the par-4 15th that put her level with Chun.
Both players missed long birdie putts on the 18th as they settled for a playoff after finishing on 10-under 274.
“I know there are a lot of people in South Africa with lots of gray hairs right now after that 15th hole,” Buhai said. “But I’m very proud of myself, the way I dug deep and kept myself in it to get into that playoff.”
Buhai shot a 4-over 75 in the final round, while Chun carded a 70.
Hinako Shibuno of Japan, the 2019 champion, finished one shot back in third after missing a chip from just off the green that would have made it a three-way playoff.
Chun was in trouble on the first two playoff holes, but her short game bailed her out both times.
On the first, Chun sent her second shot into a bunker while Buhai found the heart of the green. But the South Korean hit a near-perfect bunker shot to within a few feet of the hole to salvage the par.
On the second, she needed to make an 8-foot bogey putt to stay in it after sending her second shot wide and then barely making it onto the green with a chip from the tall grass.
Buhai nearly won it on the third playoff hole, but her long putt for the win pulled up a few inches away from the hole.
For Buhai, the win more than made up for a near-miss at that 2019 Women’s British Open, when she led the event at the halfway stage at Woburn but finished fifth.
“Forgive me, there will be a few tears,” Buhai said during the trophy presentation. “Obviously there’s a lot of hard work and many years of dedication going into this.”
WASHINGTON: South Korean Kim Joo-hyung fired a stunning nine-under par 61 on Sunday to win the Wyndham Championship, his first US PGA Tour title, and secure his spot in the season-ending playoffs. Kim’s outstanding effort at Sedgefield Country Club, where the 20-year-old played the first nine holes of the final round in eight-under, capped a remarkable week that opened with his quadruple bogey eight at the first hole on Thursday. “It’s definitely a week I’ll remember forever,” Kim said after his 20-under total of 260 gave him a five-stroke victory over fellow South Korean Im Sung-jae and American John Huh. “I can’t believe it — I’m speechless right now,” Kim said, his emotions finally showing after a round in which he looked in supreme control. “I’ve worked really had to get to this point,” he said, his voice cracking. “Just walking off that 18th green, just thinking about the behind the scenes work. “It was a hard day. I didn’t know golf was this stressful,” added the player who goes by the nickname Tom in a nod to his childhood love of Thomas the Tank Engine. Kim roared through the front nine like a locomotive. His opening par was his lone four to go with seven threes and a birdie two. He hit seven of nine fairways and holed a total of 112 feet of putts in the first nine holes, rolling in a 20-footer at the second and a 24-footer at the par-three third. He rapped in a 12-foot birdie at the fourth, and gave himself a seven and a half-foot eagle at the par-five fifth. At the sixth, he rolled in an 18-footer — over his playing partner’s ball marker — then closed the front nine with a seven-foot birdie at the eighth and a 10-footer at nine. He was in real trouble for the first time at the par-four 10th, where he was in the deep right rough off the tee. His second shot left him short of the green and his third came up 50 feet short of the pin. He couldn’t convert, finally making a two-footer for his first bogey of the day. The birdies didn’t come so thick and fast on the back nine, where a testing downhill six-footer at the 12th missed left and a 21-foot birdie attempt at the tough 14th lipped out. Back to back birdies at par-five 15th and par-three 16th — where he landed his tee shot less than three feet from the pin — boosted his lead back to four strokes and again raised the tantalizing possibility of a sub-60 round. That failed to materialize as he closed with two pars to add a US title to his two precocious Asia Tour trophies. Given special temporary PGA Tour membership last month, Kim finished tied for third at the co-sanctioned Scottish Open then secured his US PGA Tour card for next year with a seventh-place finish in Detroit last week. Now he’s headed to the FedEx Cup playoffs, which start on Thursday with the St. Jude Championship in Memphis, Tennessee, his points total putting him in the top 35 in the standings that decide the 125 players eligible for the playoffs. It wasn’t something that seemed likely after his disastrous start to the tournament. “Yeah, I can’t believe I won with a quadruple bogey on the first hole,” he said with a laugh. “Hopefully that doesn’t happen again.” Kim had started the final round two shots behind leader Im Sung-jae after the weather-disrupted third round concluded on Sunday morning. Im carded a final-round 68 and Huh posted a 67 to share second on 265.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia won the 2022 Arab Cup U-20 after defeating Egypt 5-3 on penalties in the final at Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Stadium in Abha.
The match had ended in a 1-1 draw after extra time.
The win means the young Green Falcons retain the trophy they won last year when they beat Algeria 2-1 in the final at 30 June Stadium in Cairo. With two tournament wins, the Saudis now hold the record for most titles after five editions of the competition.
The first half looked to be heading toward a stalemate before Abdulaziz Al-Aliwa scored in the 45th minute to give Saudi Arabia the lead.
Egypt struck back only four minutes into the second half through Salah Basha, but there would be no further addition to the score as the match ended 1-1 and headed into extra time. However, the extra 30 minutes produced no goals and the final went to penalties.
After the first three penalties had been converted, Egypt missed their second spot-kick. It would prove decisive as the next five were all scored to give Saudi Arabia a 5-3 shootout win and the 2022 Arab Cup U-20 title.
For the hosts, the win capped a glorious tournament that had kicked off on July 20.
Saudi Arabia topped Group A ahead of Mauritania and the UAE to reach the quarter-finals, where they defeated Yemen 3-1 on penalties after a 0-0 draw.
In the semis, the Saudis comprehensively beat Palestine 5-0 to set up the showdown with Egypt, who beat Algeria 3-1 in an all-African last-four clash.
Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Radif finished as the tournament’s top scorer with six goals.
LONDON: Erling Haaland scored twice on his Premier League debut as Manchester City opened their defense of the title with a 2-0 win at West Ham on Sunday. Haaland lived up to the hype since his transfer from Borussia Dortmund to give the champions a perfect start to the season in the searing heat of East London. West Ham nearly derailed City’s title chances when they led 2-0 at half-time in the penultimate game of last season before Pep Guardiola’s men battled back for the point that ultimately edged out Liverpool at the top of the table. But they were no match this time as Haaland immediately proved the value of City adding a proven goalscorer to their arsenal. The Norwegian has been signed as the long-term successor to Sergio Aguero and started his City career just like the club’s all time record goalscorer with a double on his league debut. Haaland had missed chances in City’s 3-1 defeat to Liverpool in the Community Shield, but Guardiola’s warning that the goals would soon flow proved to be correct. City’s patient possession game wore the Hammers down as temperatures in the English capital soared above 30 degrees celsius on Sunday. Haaland took responsibility from the penalty spot to open his Premier League account after he had been brought down by Alphonse Areola. West Ham started the second half with more attacking intent but that simply played into the hands of City’s new weapon as Kevin De Bruyne split open their defense with one pass on the counter-attack for Haaland to gallop clear on goal and slot low past Areola.