ATP investigates Harrison racism claim at New York Open

Ryan Harrison

American Ryan Harrison will be investigated after allegations of “racial prejudice” during a match against Donald Young, the Association of Tennis Professionals has confirmed.

The chair umpire intervened during the pair’s first-round meeting at the New York Open on Monday.

“I’m shocked and disappointed to hear you [Harrison] tell me how you really feel about me as a black tennis player,” Young tweeted afterwards.

Harrison denies Young’s claims.

Harrison, 25, who won the match 6-3 7-6 (7-4), posted that any video or audio from the match would “100% clear me”.

“The accusations made by Donald Young tonight following our match are absolutely untrue. I’m extremely disappointed that someone would say this in reaction to a lost tennis match,” Harrison wrote.

In a statement to Press Association Sport, the ATP said it takes allegations of “racial prejudice extremely seriously,” adding that it would review all material from the match.

“No further comment will be made until the completion of the investigation,” the statement said.

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Argentina Open: Great Britain's Kyle Edmund withdraws through illness

Kyle Edmund

Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund has pulled out of this week’s Argentina Open because of a throat infection.

The 23-year-old British number two was due to play in Buenos Aires in his first competition since reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

The world number 26 had been scheduled to face Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena in the first round on Tuesday.

Edmund, who did not play in Britain’s Davis Cup loss to Spain, is expected to be fit for next week’s Rio Open.

A run to the final would mean Edmund would overtake Andy Murray to become British number one for the first time.

However, that change will happen on 5 March anyway after Murray’s points for winning last year’s Dubai Championships come off as the Scot, who has not played a competitive match since last year’s Wimbledon, remains sidelined with a hip injury.

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Fed Cup: Great Britain to play Japan in World Group II play-off

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Great Britain will play Japan in the Fed Cup World Group II play-offs.

A win would move Britain into World Group II in 2019, their highest level since 1993, but a loss would return them to next year’s Europe/Africa Zone.

Johanna Konta and Heather Watson won singles matches as Britain beat Hungary 2-0 earlier this month to advance from their group in the Europe/Africa Zone.

The away tie against Japan will take place on Saturday, 21 April and Sunday, 22 April.

More to follow.

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Qatar Open: Maria Sharapova falls in first round to Monica Niculescu

Maria Sharapova

Romanian qualifier Monica Niculescu fought her way to an impressive win over Maria Sharapova in the first round of the Qatar Open.

Russia’s Sharapova, 30, was beaten 4-6 6-4 6-3 in two hours and 38 minutes by the world number 92 in Doha.

Sharapova, a former world number one, struggled for consistency, with 52 unforced errors throughout the match.

Niculescu will play either Magdalena Rybarikova or wildcard Fatma Al Nabhani in the next round.

Sharapova, ranked 41st in the world, was making her first appearance in Qatar since 2013 after being handed a wildcard.

After clinching the first set at the fourth opportunity, Sharapova was frustrated by Niculescu’s slices, and lost her rhythm as the Romanian went on to serve out the match.

Britain’s Johanna Konta plays her first round match against American qualifier Bernarda Pera – who beat her in the Australian Open in January – on Tuesday.

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Skupski brothers win first ATP World Tour title together

Ken and Neal Skupski at the Aegon Open Nottingham 2017

British brothers Ken and Neal Skupski won their first ATP World Tour team title by beating Ben Mclachlan and Hugo Nys in the Open Sud de France doubles.

The Liverpool pair took 75 minutes to win 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 against Japan’s Mclachlan and France’s Nys.

Victory in Montpellier came a week after they won ATP Challenger Tour doubles event in Quimper, France.

“Our parents will be extremely happy with us,” said Neal.

“It is my first [ATP World Tour] title, and Ken’s fourth, so it is nice to get it as a pair.”

“We made one final before, we had match points in Moscow, so it is nice to get that monkey off the back and hopefully we can get a few more this year.”

It was the brothers’ second final together, having reached the 2013 VTB Kremlin Cup final, which they lost to Mikhail Elgin and Denis Istomin.

“This is a dream come true,” said Ken.

“We’ve worked very hard over the years. To finally win an ATP World Tour title together, we are extremely happy.”

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Serena Williams makes return to competitive tennis in Fed Cup doubles

Victorious USA Fed Cup team

Former world number one Serena Williams made her return to competitive tennis five months after giving birth as she teamed up with sister Venus for the US team in the Fed Cup.

In what was a last-minute change to the billing as the Americans had already won the tie against the Netherlands, the pair lost the dead doubles rubber 6-2 6-3.

But this was never about the scoreline, as demonstrated by the standing ovation and loud cheers that welcomed back the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion.

And among those in the sell-out crowd in Asheville, North Carolina was baby Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.

“It’s great. It’s her first match so I’m glad she got to see it,” Serena said in an on-court interview.

Serena, playing her first competitive match since winning the 2017 Australian Open while eight weeks pregnant, had been scheduled to partner Lauren Davis for the match against Lesley Kerkhove and Demi Schuurs.

But with the US having already booked their spot in April’s semi-finals, captain Kathy Rinaldi made the popular decision to pair up the Williams sisters, who have won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles together.

Serena Williams and her daughter watch the Fed Cup action

Serena, 36, had already postponed her return this year, missing the Australian Open in January to give her more time to recover from the birth.

She had revealed she was bedridden for six weeks and had to have surgery after her daughter was delivered by emergency caesarean section.

She said last week that she had not yet decided whether she will compete at this year’s remaining three Grand Slams.

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GB beat Hungary to reach Fed Cup World Group play-offs

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Johanna Konta and Heather Watson both won as Britain beat Hungary to reach the Fed Cup World Group II play-off.

World number 11 Konta broke Fanny Stollar’s serve five times in a 6-3 6-1 win to give GB an unassailable 2-0 lead with just the doubles rubber to follow.

Earlier, Watson came from a set down to beat Dalma Galfi 3-6 6-1 6-4.

The British number two was broken in the eighth game of the deciding set after wasting two match points, but held her next service game to win.

More to follow.

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Fed Cup: Watson and Konta lead GB closer to World Group II play-offs

Britain's Heather Watson in Fed Cup action

Johanna Konta and Heather Watson led Great Britain a step closer to the Fed Cup World Group II play-offs with victory over Estonia in a round-robin tie in Tallinn.

Watson beat Katriin Saar 6-1 6-1 in their Pool B match.

Konta survived a scare before seeing off Anett Kontaveit 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-2.

The British team face the winners of Pool C, Hungary, on Saturday to try to secure a place in April’s World Group II play-off for a fourth time.

They narrowly missed out on making the competition’s elite tier after losing to Romania last year, with similar defeats coming in 2012 and 2013.

Watson said she felt “very happy” after seeing off Saar on the second day of Britain’s round-robin campaign in Tallinn.

“I played much better in this match, especially towards the end of the match. The score didn’t quite suggest how close the match was, especially at the beginning,” Watson said after Friday’s tie.

“I have got a pretty decent Fed Cup record so I’m just trying to keep that going.”

Konta twice served for the opening set against Kontaveit before losing the tie-break.

“I really had to trust in myself that I would be able to maintain the level longer than she could,” said the Briton. “There was very little in it and she made it incredibly tough for me.

“Every match is a battle, but I’m really enjoying being with the team and enjoying fighting here.”

Fed Cup format

Unlike the men’s Davis Cup, which has a World Group of 16 nations, the Fed Cup divides its top teams into two groups of eight – World Group I and World Group II.

The 91 nations outside the top tiers are divided into three regional zones and Britain have one chance per year to progress – a format that hugely frustrated former captain Judy Murray.

The Europe/Africa Group I event, which this year takes place in Estonia, sees 14 teams divided into pools.

Four pool winners go through to promotion play-offs on Saturday and two nations will then qualify for World Group II play-offs in April.

Britain are looking to progress to the World Group elite level for the first time since 1993.

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Donna Vekic to join Johanna Konta at the 2018 Nottingham Open

Johanna Konta

Reigning champion Donna Vekic will join British number one Johanna Konta at the Nottingham Open this summer.

The Croatian world number 50 caused an upset by recovering from a set down to beat the home favourite in the 2017 final at the Nottingham Tennis Centre.

“I’m so excited to be returning,” said Vekic, 21. “It was such an incredible feeling to win the event.”

The Nottingham Open takes place from 9-17 June with a combined tournament for men and women.

Tournament director, Rebecca James, said having both of last season’s women’s finalists for the pre-Wimbledon event was “great news”.

“Last year’s spectacular final between these two talented players in front of a sell-out crowd was the perfect ending to the tournament,” James added.

“With the Friday, Saturday and Sunday all sold out, we saw record attendances and hope to build on this success for 2018 with another star-studded player field.”

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Konta and Watson start GB Fed Cup campaign with wins

Heather Watson

Great Britain made a winning start to their Fed Cup campaign with victory over Portugal in Tallinn, Estonia.

Heather Watson and Johanna Konta won their respective singles matches to give Britain an unassailable 2-0 lead before the doubles rubber.

Britain play their final game in Group B against Estonia on Friday and, if they top their group, will face a play-off against the winner of Group C.

The winner of that tie will qualify for World Group II play-offs in April.

Britain have not competed in the Fed Cup World Group since 1993 – they reached the play-off stage in 2017, but lost 3-2 on the clay to Romania.

Watson kicked off the tie with a 6-4 6-1 victory over world number 796 Francisca Jorge.

The 25-year-old went a break down in the first set but fought back well, before closing out victory in one hour 13 minutes.

British number one Konta was equally dismissive of Maria Joao Koehler, beating the 747th-ranked Portuguese 6-1 6-0 in 49 minutes.

Fed Cup format

Unlike the men’s Davis Cup, which has a World Group of 16 nations, the Fed Cup divides its top teams into two groups of eight – World Group I and World Group II.

The 91 nations outside the top tiers are divided into three regional zones and Britain have one chance per year to escape – a format that hugely frustrated former captain Judy Murray.

The Europe/Africa Group I event, which this year takes place in Estonia, sees 14 teams divided into groups.

Four group winners will progress to promotion play-offs on Saturday, and two nations will then qualify for World Group II play-offs in April.

FED CUP EUROPE/AFRICA GROUP I
GROUP A GROUP B GROUP C GROUP D
Serbia Great Britain Croatia Latvia
Bulgaria Estonia Hungary Poland
Georgia Portugal Slovenia Austria
Sweden Turkey

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