Jasmine Paolini battled to a straight-sets victory over Alison Riske in Sunday's Portoroz final to win her maiden WTA singles title.

World number 87 Paolini had already eliminated three seeded players to reach her first final and she recovered from a slow start to see off another 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.

Third seed Riske led 5-2 in the first set after breaking her opponent's serve three times in the opening seven games, but Paolini dug deep and took four games on the spin.

The Italian used that momentum in the tie-break to open up a 5-2 advantage before getting over the line with her second set point.

After a gruelling 63-minute opening set, Paolini found the second a more straightforward affair as she broke for 3-2 and reeled off the remaining games, the last of those points coming via an error-forcing forehand.

Paolini, who won two-thirds of her second-service points and converted six of her 10 break points, is glad her hard work has paid off with a first singles success at the age of 25.

"It's been an amazing week here in Portoroz," she said in her on-court interview. "I feel just very happy, it's a big achievement for me, to win my first title. It's special to do it on the hard court.

"It wasn't easy to go through to the final. I'm proud of myself because I never gave up.

"I'm working really hard in the past couple of months. I understood more about my game, I think. I just want to keep this level for all the season that is almost finished, and to stay strong and keep this level."

Teenager Clara Tauson defeated Jelena Ostapenko to claim her second WTA Tour title of the year at the Luxembourg Open. 

Tauson, the last player to defeat US Open champion Emma Raducanu, had already knocked out Olympic silver medallist Marketa Vondrousova en route to the final before taking another big scalp in Sunday's showdown. 

The defending champion from 2019, Ostapenko could not stop the 18-year-old Dane prevailing 6-3 4-6 6-4. 

Tauson, who defeated Raducanu to win a Challenger event in Chicago prior to the final grand slam of the year in New York, where she was beaten by Ash Barty, struck eight aces and made just one double fault throughout the match. 

Two breaks of serve saw her take the first set in just 30 minutes, though Ostapenko rallied in the second to force a decider. 

However, the world number 70 had too much for her rival with the trophy on the line, immediately coming from a break down to haul herself level before breaking to take the match at the second opportunity. 

Ostapenko was hunting a fifth career title, but the 2017 French Open champion has made it to just one other final in 2021, triumphing at Eastbourne prior to Wimbledon. 

Danish teenager Clara Tauson set up a Luxembourg Open final showdown with Jelena Ostapenko, showing off the prowess that saw her beat Emma Raducanu in Chicago prior to the US Open.

Raducanu recovered from that setback in the final of August's Challenger tournament in the Windy City, charging to a shock Flushing Meadows triumph, but fellow 18-year-old Tauson awaits her big breakthrough at the majors.

Tauson took down a former French Open runner-up and current Olympic silver medallist in reaching the Luxembourg final, beating Marketa Vondrousova in three sets, and now must overcome a player who has been champion at Roland Garros in Ostapenko.

She prised the vital break of serve in the ninth game of the decider against Vondrousova, upping the power in her shots, before serving out for a 6-4 2-6 6-4 victory.

Tauson will be going for a second title of the year, having won the Lyon Open in March.

Defending champion Ostapenko raced to a 6-1 5-1 lead over Liudmila Samsonova but then began to misfire and had to scramble from the brink of being taken to a third set.

Ostapenko eventually prevailed 6-1 7-6 (7-4), having trailed 4-1 in the tie-break, and she will attempt to scoop a fifth WTA title on Sunday. Her most recent came at Eastbourne in the week before Wimbledon.

At the WTA tournament in the Slovenian town of Portoroz, Sunday's final will feature American Alison Riske and Italy's Jasmine Paolini.

Riske denied Slovenian Kaja Juvan a place in a home final, earning a 6-0 6-4 win in their semi-final, while Paolini sprang a shock by beating Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva 1-6 6-3 6-4.

Top seed Belinda Bencic crashed out of the Luxembourg Open with a straight-sets defeat to Liudmila Samsonova.

Bencic, the Olympic champion, had designs on winning her first WTA title of 2021 having lost in the final in Adelaide and Berlin during the calendar year.

However, there was more frustration for the Swiss, beaten in the quarter-finals of the US Open by champion Emma Raducanu, as she was swept aside 6-1 6-4 by Samsonova.

It is the second-best win of Samsonova's career by ranking, the Russian having defeated Kiki Bertens, then world number 11, back in March in Miami.

She will face Jelena Ostapenko for a place in the final after the former French Open champion saw off Alize Cornet 7-6 (8-6) 6-2.

Marketa Vondrousova twice trailed by a break in the first set against Elise Mertens but battled back to see off the second seed 7-5 6-2. She now faces a semi-final with Clara Tauson, the teenager having breezed past Maria Bouzkova 6-3 6-2 as she seeks her third title of the year.

At the Zavarovalnica Sava Portoroz, Kaja Juvan will face Alison Riske after the Slovenian won two matches on Friday. Jasmine Paolini will meet Yulia Putintseva in the other last-four clash.

 

Belinda Bencic made a winning return to action as the Olympic champion defeated Zarina Diyas to seal a quarter-final spot at the Luxembourg Open.

Bencic, the unlikely successor in Tokyo, triumphed in straight sets 6-1 6-3 on Thursday to tee up a last-eight encounter with Liudmila Samsonova, who the Swiss lost to in Berlin earlier this year.

It was a welcome return to form for world number 12 Bencic after her defeat to eventual champion Emma Raducanu in the US Open quarter-finals last week.

Joining the top seed in the quarters is defending Luxembourg Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, who needed three sets to overcome Arianne Hartono.

Second seed Elise Mertens also progressed, though she had to come from behind to beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 3-6 6-2 7-5.

In Thursday's other last-16 tie, Marie Bouzkova beat Greet Minnen to round off the quarter-finals line up.

Meanwhile, Sorana Cirstea and Jasmine Paolini will meet in the Zavarovalnica Sava Portoroz quarter-finals after respective victories over Tereza Martincova and Anna Kalinskaya.

There was a sense of deja vu as Clara Tauson upset fourth seed Ekaterina Alexandrova at the Luxembourg Open.

The 18-year-old defeated the same opponent en route to claiming a maiden WTA Tour title in Lyon in March and repeated the feat here, again on an indoor court.

On this occasion, Tauson needed to come back from a break down in the deciding set to clinch a 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-1) triumph and book her spot in the quarter-finals.

Fifth seed Marketa Vondrousova had no such trouble, the Czech a comfortable 6-2 6-4 victor over Jana Fett. Alize Cornet (8) also made the last eight with a 6-3 6-3 win over Mandy Minella, while Ludmilla Samsonova (7) needed a pair of tie-breaks to overcome Oceane Dodin.

In the first round, Zhang Shuai (6) lost in three sets to Marie Bouzkova.

At the Zavarovalnica Sava Portoroz in Slovenia, second seed Yulia Putintseva was a 6-3 6-1 winner over Katie Boulter. Alison Riske, Kristina Mladenovic and Lucia Bronzetti also made it through.

Emma Raducanu still has the hunger to continue improving following her record-breaking US Open triumph and is targeting a possible return to action at Indian Wells.

The 18-year-old became the first qualifier in history to win a grand slam when defeating Leylah Fernandez ​in straight sets in Saturday's final at Flushing Meadows.

Raducanu, ranked 150 by the WTA before beginning her three-week long tournament, did not drop a single set across her 10 matches.

That victory in New York capped a life-changing couple of months for Raducanu, who also reached the last 16 of Wimbledon in her only other grand slam appearance before withdrawing due to medical reasons.

After spending a few days away from the court and taking in some of the sights the Big Apple has to offer, the Briton is ready to start preparing for her next tournament.

"I have a few days' rest and recovery," Raducanu, who became the first British female to win a major tournament since Virginia Wade on home soil at Wimbledon 44 years ago, told CNBC's Closing Bell programme.

"I think it was needed after the last seven weeks but then I am straight back to training and hungry to get better and come back out and play some more tournaments."

 

Raducanu was originally due to take part in qualifying for the Chicago Fall Tennis Classic later this month, but she may instead wait for next month's delayed Paribas Open in Indian Wells, where a wildcard entry is likely.

"After the US Open I wanted to give myself this week to completely switch off from tennis because it's been an extremely intense but rewarding seven weeks," she told the WTA's official website. 

"But I've worked very hard to finish on such a high with the US Open, a whole week off was needed.

"I know I'll get back to work probably Monday or early next week to get back to training again. Schedule-wise, I'm not sure. Maybe Indian Wells, I don't know. I'm going back to London before my next tournament for sure."

Defending champion Jelena Ostapenko booked her place in the last 16 of the Luxembourg Open with a comfortable straight-sets win over Jule Niemeier.

The world number 30 came out on top 6-2 6-2 in a little under an hour to set up a meeting with Arianne Hartono, who earlier beat Anna-Lena Friedsam 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 7-6 (7-4).

Fifth seed Marketa Vondrousova also shuffled through to the next round thanks to a 6-2 6-3 triumph against Alison Van Uytvanck, while Zarina Diyas will face tournament favourite and Olympic champion Belinda Bencic next after beating Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in three sets.

Aliaksandra Sasnovich was made to work harder for her 7-5 7-6 (8-6) win against Lesia Tsurenko, with that the longest straight-sets match of 2021 so far at two hours and 30 minutes, according to the WTA.

Greet Minnen and Mandy Minella were also victorious on Tuesday, overcoming Nuria Parrizas-Diaz and Varvara Gracheva respectively.

At Zavarovalnica Sava Portoroz in Slovenia, meanwhile, home favourite Kaja Juvan eliminated top seed Petra Martic with a 6-3 6-4 win. Sweden's Rebecca Peterson was another seed to fall, going down in straight sets to Lucia Bronzetti.

Novak Djokovic was "playing for history" and suffered from nerves in his US Open final defeat to Daniil Medvedev, according to previous champion Dominic Thiem, who backed the 34-year-old to return "stronger than ever" in 2022.

Medvedev prevented Djokovic from becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four grand slams in a single year, beating him 6-4 6-4 6-4 in Sunday's thrilling showpiece.

Djokovic was seen in tears during the third set as his hopes of adding the US Open to his run of wins at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon this year slipped away.

But Thiem tipped Djokovic to bounce back from the disappointment of defeat and return in 2022 even stronger.

"One unbelievable goal slipped out of his hands yesterday," Thiem told Stats Perform.

 

"I expect him to be as strong as ever in 2022. I think after he won in Roland Garros, everybody was only talking about the calendar slam – first about the golden slam, and then about the calendar slam.

"He [Djokovic] was under pressure. Nobody can feel that or anything like that because of it being the calendar slam.

"I can feel it in a smaller way, probably from last year's final and from some other matches. And at some points it's just getting to you. And so, I really felt for him as well towards the end of the match.

"So, it can happen that it also makes him even stronger next year when all these talks and all this pressure is not that big anymore."

Thiem, who missed the tournament with a wrist injury that will rule him out until 2022, believes nerves were a factor in Djokovic's defeat but agreed with Medvedev's assessment of the Serbian as the greatest of all time – though he could not set him apart from Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

"For me, there are three GOATs in the game, and each of them has achieved something very unique," Thiem said of the trio locked on 20 major titles each.

"So it's still the same for me as it was before. The three of them are the best in the history to me.

"And I'm only super happy to be in the same era with them and to be able to compete with them. Hopefully many more times next year again."

Dominic Thiem believes Emma Raducanu's sensational US Open triumph might be the "greatest breakthrough performance of all time".

Raducanu, 18, overcame fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez 6-4 6-3 on Saturday to cement her place in history.

Her triumph meant she became the first qualifier – male or female – in tennis history to win a grand slam final.

She did not lose a set in 10 matches across qualifying and the main draw, becoming the first player since Serena Williams in 2014 to win the US Open without dropping a single set.

Raducanu – whose first grand slam appearance only came at Wimbledon in June – was ranked 150th in the world before the US Open, but her stunning win in New York has seen her break into the top 30.

Thiem, who missed the men's tournament with a wrist injury, was in awe of Raducanu's stunning run at Flushing Meadows and says he can scarcely recall a more impressive breakthrough in the sport.  

"There were some other great achievements in the past but with Emma Raducanu, starting in the qualifiers and then playing such great tennis and making this incredible path, it's definitely, maybe, the greatest breakthrough performance of all time," he exclusively told Stats Perform.

 

"It's an incredible journey if you look at the stats. She didn't lose one set the whole tournament. She came from qualifying and she didn't even play one tie-break. That's simply amazing and something that was probably never witnessed before.

"And also the way she plays, her technique, the way she moves, somehow she brought it up to a new level for the whole game and it was great to see.

"But as well, her opponent, it was so fun to watch her. I was excited for it, watching every single point on TV. And it was great not only for women's tennis, but for all sports in general."

Fourth seed Ekaterina Alexandrova needed three sets to edge past Stefanie Vogele in the round of 32 at the Luxembourg Open.

Russian Alexandrova was pushed to three sets by her Swiss opponent but ultimately outclassed Vogele to prevail 6-1 3-6 6-3 to book her place in the last 16.

She is joined there by compatriot Liudmila Samsonova, who overcame Misaki Doi 6-2 6-3, and eighth seed Alize Cornet, who beat Anastasia Potapova 6-4 6-2.

There were also wins for Clara Tauson, Jana Fett and Oceane Dodin.

At Zavarovalnica Sava Portoroz in Slovenia, meanwhile, there were victories for Viktoria Kuzmova, Sorana Cirstea and Lucia Bronzetti.

Shock US Open champion Emma Raducanu has what it takes to win Wimbledon in the future, according to British great Virginia Wade.

Raducanu, 18, beat fellow debutant finalist Leylah Fernandez 6-4 6-3 on Saturday to become the first qualifier – male or female – in tennis history to win a grand slam final.

The British sensation – the youngest women's grand slam finalist since a 17-year-old Maria Sharapova took the title at Wimbledon in 2004 – did not lose a set in 10 matches across qualifying and the main draw, becoming the first player since Serena Williams in 2014 to win the US Open without dropping a single set.

The triumph also saw her become the first British woman to win a major tournament since Wade claimed the Wimbledon crown 44 years ago.

Raducanu reached the last 16 of this year's Wimbledon – her only other grand slam appearance – before pulling out of the competition due to medical reasons.

Wade, who was in attendance for the final at Arthur Ashe Stadium, believes Raducanu has all the attributes to follow in her footsteps and win British tennis' showpiece tournament during what she predicts will be a glittering career.

"I see her winning Wimbledon some time," Wade exclusively told Stats Perform. "I don't have a crystal ball, so I don't know when.

"I feel sure her time will come. She's just too good not to.

"Physically she's wonderful, she's the right height, has long legs, moves smoothly and is very quick from left to right.

"She's light on her feet, reads the ball well, her serve is terrific and her groundstrokes are solid.

"She's got balance out there and her concentration and determination are important factors as well."

 

Fernandez, 19, defeated top five trio Naomi Osaka, Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka along with three-time major winner Angelique Kerber on her way to Saturday's final.

And although she succumbed to a straight sets defeat, Wade believes the Canadian, along with Raducanu, will dominate the women's game for years to come.

"They're both absolutely terrific players and they enchanted everybody," she added. "Everybody was thrilled with them.

"You only get these extra special players once in a decade or once every two decades.

"In the women's game we have a really solid block of really good players. In my mind there are six to 10 players who will have to share the hardware in the next five to 10 years because they are all good. It's impossible for someone to win them all.

"Emma and Leylah will have their fair share of winning, and probably more than the others, being at the top and being feared."

Daniil Medvedev was relieved to close out his first grand slam title at the US Open after revealing he was cramping in his quest to conquer Novak Djokovic.

Medvedev blitzed world number one and 20-time major champion Djokovic 6-4 6-4 6-4 in the men's final at Flushing Meadows on Sunday.

Djokovic's bid to become just the third man and first since Rod Laver in 1969 to claim a calendar Grand Slam, and to surpass Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most major men's titles, was emphatically ended by Medvedev.

Medvedev fired down 16 aces and hit 38 winners in a ruthless display on Arthur Ashe Stadium. However, the second seed conceded he was worried at the end of the third set as he tried to see off Djokovic.

Russian star Medvedev double-faulted twice in succession when his first championship point arrived and gave back one of those breaks to Djokovic, who closed to 5-4. But the former came out to serve again and again served a double on a championship point, though he had another in store and the Serb netted on the backhand.

"I definitely had it [pressure]," Medvedev – who lost to Djokovic in the 2021 Australian Open final, having gone down to Nadal in the 2019 US Open showpiece – told reporters. "I started cramping at 5-3, I think because of the pressure at 5-2 where I had match points, I didn't make it. My legs were gone after 5-3. At 5-4, left leg, I almost couldn't walk. If you really look the replay, when I walked to the towel, my leg was just going behind. I was trying not to show it. If Novak feels it, it's not good.

"Again, 40-15, that's two match points. I was like, C'mon, go for an ace, just try to make it. I had a huge double-fault. Second one was like in the middle of the net. Okay, I have one more. Just try to make a first serve. I made it and I'm really happy."

Medvedev became the first Russian man to win a grand slam since Marat Safin at the 2005 Australian Open.

The 25-year-old also became the ninth different men's champion of the last 14 years in New York, including first-time major winners Dominic Thiem, Marin Cilic, Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro. During the same time, the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon have each been claimed by four different men.

Medvedev – the second player since Ivan Lendl in 1987 to lose just one set en route to the men's US Open crown after Nadal in 2010 – is the fifth player to clinch a slam final against Djokovic.

He is also the fourth player with four or more wins over Djokovic as world number one, after Nadal (nine), Federer (five) and Murray (five).

"It definitely makes it sweeter [beating a world number one for first major trophy]," Medvedev said. "I mean, a grand slam is a grand slam. I would win it against Botic [Van de Zandschulp] in the final, probably I would be same happy.

"For the confidence and for my future career, knowing that I beat somebody who was 27-0 in a year in grand slams, I lost to him in Australia, he was going for huge history, and knowing that I managed to stop him it definitely makes it sweeter and brings me confidence for what is to come on hard courts so far, but let's see about other surfaces."

Medvedev was also asked about his celebration – the 13-time ATP Tour champion fell to the court after vanquishing Djokovic, with his eyes closed and tongue out.

It was in reference to FIFA's video game and the "dead fish" celebration.

"I like to play FIFA," he said. "I like to play PlayStation. It's called the dead fish celebration. If you know your opponent when you play FIFA, many times you're going to do this. You're going to score a goal, you're up 5-0, you do this one.

"I talked to the guys in the locker, they're young guys, super chill guys. They play FIFA. They were like, That's legendary. Everybody who I saw who plays FIFA thinks that's legendary. That's how I wanted to make it.

"Again, it's not because I want to be on the newspaper talking about FIFA celebration or whatever. I don't care. But I wanted to make it special for people to love, for my friends to love who I play FIFA with. I knew I'm going to make it. I got hurt a little bit. It's not easy to make it on hard courts. I got hurt a little bit, but I'm happy I made it legendary for myself."

Despite all appearances as he ploughed through the draws at all four grand slams this year, world number one Novak Djokovic does have a breaking point. 

Djokovic hit it on Sunday, falling 6-4 6-4 6-4 to Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final as the 20-time major champion finally proved unable to will himself out of an early hole. 

It was the fifth successive match in which Djokovic had dropped the opening set at Flushing Meadows, and the Serb superstar acknowledged afterward all of the energy he expended to get to the brink of the first men's calendar Grand Slam –since 1969 and a record 21st major title might finally have caught up with him. 

"Could be, could be [time spent on court a factor]. I had more hours on the court spent from Daniil, that's for sure," Djokovic said at his post-match news conference. "But was also emotionally very demanding period for me in the last five, six months. Slams and Olympics and playing at home in Belgrade.

"Everything was coming together for me here and kind of accumulating all the emotions that I've been through.

"Unfortunately I didn't make it in the final step. But when you draw a line, you have to be very satisfied with the year. Three wins, three slams and a final. For the last couple of years I've been very transparent and vocal about my goals, to play my best tennis at slams. I'm managing to do that.

"Of course, I was short today for another slam title, but I have to be proud with everything that my team and I have achieved. And in tennis we learn very quickly how to turn the next page.

"Very soon there are some more challenges, more things that are coming up. I have learned to overcome these kind of tough losses in the finals of slams, the ones that hurt the most."

This defeat sent a range of emotions surging through the emotional 34-year-old as he sat courtside while awaiting the trophy presentation. 

Asked what was going through his mind at that moment, Djokovic's initial answer was succinct. 

"Relief," he said. "I was glad it was over because the build up for this tournament and everything that mentally, emotionally I had to deal with throughout the tournament in the last couple of weeks was just a lot. It was a lot to handle.

"I was just glad that finally the run is over. At the same time I felt sadness, disappointment, and also gratitude for the crowd and for that special moment that they've created for me on the court."

Djokovic heaped praise on his opponent, saying he expects Medvedev to win more grand slams in the years ahead after the Russian broke through for his first.

That inevitably sparked thoughts of the coming generational change in the men's game, dominated for so long by Djokovic, Rafael Nadal (35) and Roger Federer (40).

With an astonishing 60 grand slam titles between them, their eventual departure from the stage will open up opportunities for Medvedev, Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Alexander Zverev and other younger players. 

Djokovic insisted he is not quite done yet, but he does believe that transition already is in progress. 

"The older guys are still hanging on," he said. "We're still trying to shine the light on the tennis world as much as we possibly can.

"I'm speaking on my own behalf. I still want to keep going, try to win more slams, play for my country. Those are the things that motivate me the most I think at this point.

"But the new generation, if you want to call them this way, is not anyone new. It's already current, established. Of course, they are going to take over.

"I think tennis is in good hands because they're all nice guys and very, very good, high-quality tennis players. They got something to offer on and off the court.

"We are hoping that the transition will be smooth in terms of the attention and the popularity of this sport. It's very important.

"We all, of course, want to win on the court, but at the same time we all at the top represent this sport. We need to be aware of that, take this responsibility and try to bring more fans to the world of tennis.

"At the end of the day that's what counts and that's what keeps our sport alive."

US Open champion Daniil Medvedev labelled Novak Djokovic the "greatest tennis player in history" after snapping the superstar's historic bid for a calendar Grand Slam.

Djokovic was seeking to become just the third man and first since Rod Laver in 1969 to claim all four majors in a year, however, the 20-time slam champion was swept aside by Medvedev 6-4 6-4 6-4 in Sunday's final at Flushing Meadows.

Medvedev showed no mercy as the world number two broke through for his first slam title, having lost to Djokovic in the 2021 Australian Open final and Rafael Nadal in the 2019 US Open decider.

As Medvedev celebrated his maiden major crown, the Russian star heaped praise on the beaten and emotional world number one – who shares the record for most men's slams alongside Nadal and Roger Federer.

"I think it's the first time I'm so nervous, saying my speech," Medvedev said during his trophy presentation in New York.

"First of all I want to say sorry for you, the fans, and Novak because I mean, we, we all know what he was going for today.

"What you accomplished this year and throughout your career – I never said this to anybody, but I will say right now for me: You are the greatest tennis player in history."

Medvedev became the first Russian man to win a grand slam since Marat Safin in 2005 on a memorable night.

The 25-year-old also became the ninth different men's champion of the last 14 years in New York, including first-time major winners Dominic Thiem, Marin Cilic, Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro. During the same time, the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon have each been claimed by four different men.

Medvedev – the second player since Ivan Lendl in 1987 to lose just one set en route to the men's US Open crown after Nadal in 2010 – is the fifth player to clinch a slam final against Djokovic.

"He is also the fourth player with four or more wins over Djokovic as world number one, after Nadal (nine), Federer (five) and Murray (five).

"Last but not least, I want to I want to finish my speech on a very sweet note. It's the third anniversary for me and my wife today," Medvedev added.

"You know, during the tournament I couldn't think of a present or anything, so when I went in the final, after semis, I thought okay if I lose, I need to find a present fast. ... I thought, well, if I lose, I have no time to have a present, so I have to win this match."

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