Mirra Andreeva continues to post seemingly improbable performances, coming back from being down 5-1 in the final set against Diane Parry to win the match.

It was the second time the two have met, with the 16-year-old Andreeva also winning the first match. On Thursday, it seemed as though Parry was going to pull even in their head-to-head, having won the first set 6-1 and leading in the third 5-1.

But Andreeva saved match point at 5-2 before rattling off five games in a row. Eventually, she won the 10-point tiebreak.

“I would prefer to win in straight sets. I think everybody would,” Andreeva said afterwards. “But it’s also good to win when you’re fighting for every point. I think I will have a lot of matches like this in my career. I’m just happy with the win. I don’t care how I win exactly with the score and the time, I just want to win.

“If it takes three sets, then I’m happy to win with three sets. If it takes two sets, then of course I’m happy to win with two sets.”

Andreeva gave credit to her competitor, who she says played “really well” in the first set.

“It was really tough for me to do something,” Andreeva said afterwards. “Then I just found my way. Honestly, overall it was a crazy match for me. In the third set I didn’t really expect to come back, but I did it, so I’m very happy.”

Naomi Osaka returned to tennis and returned to winning on Monday, defeating Tamara Korpatsch in the first round of the Brisbane International.

After taking a 6-3 win in the first set, she was broken while serving for the match 5-3 in the second set. Eventually, she won the second set in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (9). It was Osaka’s first win since giving birth to a daughter, Shai, in July.

Following the Brisbane International, Osaka will head to Melbourne for the 2024 Australian Open. The two-time Australian Open champion previously said that the year’s first Grand Slam would mark her return to tennis.

“I was super nervous the whole time,” the former No. 1-ranked Osaka said after her win. “A part of me felt like Shai was watching me. I wanted to do my best for her.”

And while the win didn’t come easy, Osaka looked sharp for someone who took a 15-month hiatus to give birth.

“Looking back on the match now, honestly I’m very proud of myself,” said Osaka. “I feel like I played at a pretty good level.”

Osaka is also looking at the sport differently than she did before.

“The last couple of years that I played before I had my daughter, I didn’t return as much love as I was given,” Osaka said. “I feel like that’s what I want to do in this chapter.

“I just really appreciate people coming out and knowing me and cheering for me, because I feel like there was a time I was just a little kid trying to watch my role models play. So it feels really surreal sometimes to be playing on these courts.”

Elsewhere, US Open champion Coco Gauff won her opener at the Auckland Tennis Classic, while World No. 1 Iga

Naomi Osaka took to the practice court Wednesday ahead of her return to tennis at the Brisbane International.

The former world No. 1 is set to make her WTA comeback at the tournament, which begins Sunday. She spent the last year out on maternity leave, and she gave birth to her daughter Shai in July.

A two-time Australian Open and US Open champion, Osaka pulled out of the 2023 Australian Open in Melbourne before revealing her pregnancy. Osaka last competed at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo in September 2022.

“She’s really pumped, excited to be back in Brisbane,” tournament director Cameron Pearson said Wednesday. “She arrived Christmas morning and was out practicing a few hours later. No Christmas pudding for her, she was straight into it.”

The 26-year-old also spoke Friday about how motherhood has given her a new outlook on the game.

“Being a mum has changed my life a lot. I think it changed my perspective on a lot of things,” Osaka said. “Giving birth was one of the most painful things I’ve ever gone through. It’s definitely made me feel like physically I can handle a lot.

“I want to show Shai that she’s capable of everything, so that’s one of my main purposes and main reasons why I want to be back out here.”

But she also has realistic expectations about the Australian Open after having not competed in over a year.

“I’ve given myself the biggest chance to do well, but at the same time, I haven’t had any match play,” Osaka said. “I’m just embracing the fact that it’s my first tournament in a very long time. I’m just trying to have fun and do well at the same time.”

Osaka received a wild-card entry to the tournament. The field also includes reigning Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka, US Open champion Coco Gauff, world No. 1 Iga Swiatek and Sloane Stephens in the 54-player women’s draw.

Players are calling for changes to the WTA, including improvements that prioritize their health and well-being.

Four-time Grand Slam champion Iga Swiatek said that players “are not happy with some things” following her win Wednesday over Coco Gauff at the WTA Finals. Other players outlined their concerns in an Oct. 5 letter to WTA CEO Steve Simon, as well as during two meetings with tour leadership.

Players’ requests included higher pay, a more flexible schedule and guaranteed income for maternity leave and injuries. The signatories of the letter also objected to a planned change in rules that will govern mandatory tournament appearances. While Swiatek, along with Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula, did not sign the letter, the 22-year-old star shared her thoughts while at the WTA Finals.

“I feel like everything is just based on wanting to have more and more, but not really taking care of our well-being and health,” Swiatek said. “There are some things that the WTA could change for us without any impact on the tournaments and the things that they already agreed with the tournaments.”

Simon responded to players’ concerns in a letter obtained by The Associated Press. Topics being discussed by the WTA board, tournament council and players’ council include scheduling and tournament standards – including late-night matches – as well as inconsistencies in tennis balls used throughout the season, anti-doping efforts, plus marketing and social media.

“A great deal is being done and … there is a great deal of alignment in the areas you have raised and what is being worked on,” Simon wrote, promising an update the week of Nov. 13.

“I really feel like we — me and the other players, like, Ons [Jabeur], Coco … and also some players that didn’t qualify for the finals — we’re really, really united, and we think the same way,” Swiatek said. “So most of us, even the young ones, the older ones, we all know that this is kind of not good that we’re going to have more mandatory tournaments. And so we want to really, really have an impact.”

This year’s WTA Finals are being held in Cancun, Mexico, with a temporary hard court set up on a golf course. It’s been criticized by Swiatek and other players, both for the quality and for only being available for practice right before competition began.

On Sunday, world No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka called the conditions at the WTA Finals “another level of disrespect.”

The group stage of the WTA Finals continues at 5 p.m. ET Friday. The semifinals will take place on Saturday, Nov 4, while the finals are set for 7 p.m. ET Sunday, Nov. 5.

Breanna Stewart’s signature Puma shoe line with made a surprise appearance at the 2023 US Open.

Leylah Fernandez, a former US Open singles finalist, made a run to the quarterfinals in the doubles bracket with partner Taylor Townsend. During the run, she played in Stewart’s Stewie 2 sneakers.

The 21-year-old Canadian previously wore Asics in 2021, then switched to Swiss athletic shoe company On’s Roger Federer sneakers in 2022. She became the first player other than Federer, who is an investor in the brand, to wear the shoes on the court.

During the 2023 US Open, Fernandez made the switch to Puma’s Stewie 2, a basketball shoe. Stewart responded to Fernandez’s choice Thursday, writing on social media: “Be like water,” a reference to the blue-patterned “Water” colorway sported by the tennis star.

Stewart and the New York Liberty are gearing up for the start of their WNBA playoff run. The second-seeded Liberty are facing the seventh-seeded Washington Mystics in the first round, with the first game set for 7:30 p.m. ET Friday.

Simona Halep is set to appeal the four-year doping ban she received from the International Tennis Integrity Agency.

The ITIA announced the ban Tuesday, citing two anti-doping rule violations. The suspension runs until Oct. 6, 2026. Halep had been provisionally suspended since last October after testing positive for Roxadustat, a banned blood-booster, at last year’s US Open.

In a statement, Halep said that she “refused to accept” the decision, and that she would appeal to sport’s highest court.

“I am continuing to train and do everything in my power to clear my name of these false allegations and return to the court,” Halep said. “I intend to appeal this decision to The Court of Arbitration for Sport and pursue all legal remedies against the supplement company in question.”

A two-time Grand Slam champion and former world No. 1, Halep famously bested Serena Williams in the 2019 Wimbledon final. With the win, she kept Williams from winning her eighth Wimbledon title and her 24th Grand Slam singles title.

Williams, who retired in 2022 with seven Wimbledon titles and 23 major singles titles to her name, seemingly responded to Halep’s suspension Tuesday on social media.

“8 is a better number,” she wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Williams’ husband Alexis Ohanian also responded indirectly to the ITIA ruling.

“Some fashion is timeless,” he wrote, alongside a photo of himself in a “D.A.R.E.” anti-drug shirt at one of Williams’ matches.

“Seriously not out of style,” Williams replied.

An independent tribunal sat through two days of evidence from scientific experts and sifted through 8,000 pages of evidence and testimony from Halep. While the tribunal accepted Halep’s argument that she had taken a contaminated supplement, the volume ingested could not have resulted in the concentration of roxadustat found in her positive sample, the tribunal concluded.

“Today, a tribunal under the tennis anti-doping program announced a tentative decision in my case,” Halep wrote in response to the ban. “The last year has been the hardest match of my life, and unfortunately my fight continues.

“I have devoted my life to the beautiful game of tennis. I take the rules that govern our sport very seriously and take pride in the fact I have never knowingly or intentionally used any prohibited substance.”

The US Open final is set, with Coco Gauff set to face off against Aryna Sabalenka for the final major title of the year.

It’s the teenage sensation against the impending world No. 1, as Sabalenka will take the top spot when the new rankings come out next week. Gauff, for her part, will move up in the rankings as well — and the 19-year-old American could even attain a career-high ranking of No. 3 with her first Grand Slam win.

Based on their head-to-head history, Gauff comes out on top, having won three matches over Sabalenka and losing just two. But their only matchup this year – at Indian Wells in March – went Sabalenka’s way, with the 25-year-old Belarusian claiming a straight-sets win.

Sabalenka and Gauff will face off for the title at 4 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN.

Why Coco Gauff will win

When Gauff was just 15 years old and breaking onto the scene at Wimbledon, Venus Williams looked at her and declared: “The sky’s the limit.” Now, Gauff has finally, seemingly, put it all together.

Watching the 19-year-old at this year’s US Open has been like watching someone come into their own right before your eyes. You’ve seen it with Carlos Alcaraz. With Gauff, it felt inevitable. And while a coaching change has aided in Gauff’s journey, she’s been knocking on this door for a while. Last summer, she made her first Grand Slam final at the French Open but admittedly felt overwhelmed by the moment. She just hasn’t had all of the pieces snap into place – until now.

We have been spoiled by the dominance of players like Serena and Venus, Roger and Rafa. So with Gauff, there has been a sense of impatience, of wanting to see what we know Gauff is capable of – what Gauff knows what she is capable of. So: Has she finally done it? Has she finally broken through?

That’s a lot of pressure for a teenager. Many 19-year-olds are spending their Saturdays in fraternity basements or studying for midterms. Gauff will spend hers on one of tennis’ biggest stages.

This US Open final will not make or break Gauff’s career. The reality is, she has a long one ahead of her, one which likely will include a stint at the top of the world rankings. This run is only the beginning. We can’t expect her to attain the greatness of Serena Williams — but that’s because she’s Coco Gauff. She’s writing her own story, her own journey, and this, right here, is one of the chapters.

Gauff will win Saturday because she’s finally unlocked her potential. She’s been playing her opponents in a way that she hasn’t before – at times allowing them to beat themselves and knowing exactly when to apply the pressure needed. (Even if Jelena Ostapenko somehow expected more out of Gauff after a 6-0, 6-2 beatdown). She’s shown impeccable poise and wisdom throughout the tournament, a level of maturity that some 19-year-olds can only dream of. There’s never been a moment where she’s gotten too far ahead of herself.

A first round exit at Wimbledon may have been a stumbling block for others, but it pushed Gauff to be better. Since then, she’s won 17 of her last 18 matches and has taken home two WTA titles. Everything, it seems, has fallen into place, and the game is clicking. It’s one of those things that you can just see when watching her play: The way that she seems to have total control of the game, no matter what the score is. She’s everywhere on the court, all at once.

Why Aryna Sabalenka will win

Sabalenka knows she faces a tough test in the US Open final. But she’s ready for the fight.

“Going into this final, I think I just have to focus on myself and prepare myself for another fight,” she said Thursday. “You just have to be there and you have to fight for it.”

She knows the crowd will be behind Coco Gauff. But she’s not about to be the world No. 1 for no reason. On Thursday, she was blanked in the first set – the first 6-0 win in a US Open semifinal since 2013 – and down 5-3 in the second set to Madison Keys. But she never gave up the fight. She’s just the third woman in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam semifinal after losing the first set 6-0, joining Steffi Graf (1992 Roland Garros) and Ana Ivanovic (2008 Australian Open).

“I was all over the place,” Sabalenka said after the match. “I was just, like, ‘What can I do?’ Like, she’s playing unbelievable, just, like, crushing everything. I’m not able to do anything; I had zero control in the match.

“I just [kept] telling myself, I mean, ‘OK, there is going to be days like this [where] somebody’s going to just play their best tennis. You just have to keep trying, keep staying there and keep pushing it. Maybe you’ll be able to turn around this game.'”

Sabalenka’s biggest opponent has always been herself. And on Thursday, she won that battle, winning a tiebreak in the second set and again in the third to reach her first US Open final. Already a Grand Slam champion after winning the Australian Open title earlier this year, Sabalenka has been on a roll. Semifinal appearances at the French Open and Wimbledon were both career bests. She’s the first player since Serena Williams in 2016 to reach the semifinals in all four majors in the same season.

There’s not been anyone better on the tour this year than Sabalenka, not even current No. 1 Iga Swiatek.

On paper, Sabalenka is the better player. She’s weathered the biggest tests of her career and come out ahead. By no means will Saturday’s final be easy, and in fact it might prove to be one of the best major finals of the year, but Sabalenka has what it takes to weather whatever Gauff may throw at her and take home her second title of the year.

Coco Gauff has one regret that she may never be able to get over.

The 19-year-old made her first US Open final with a straight-sets win over Karolina Muchova, becoming the youngest American to reach the final at the Grand Slam since Serena Williams did it in 1999 at age 17. Williams went on to win the first of her 23 major singles titles.

So it seems a little bit like fate that, one year after Williams retired at the US Open, another American is following in her footsteps. Gauff became the first American teenager to reach the US Open semifinals since Williams in 2001.

And both Gauff and U.S. men’s player Ben Shelton, 20, have made more history. This year marked the first time multiple Americans aged 20 or younger have made it to the semifinals of the same Grand Slam since Venus and Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 2000.

Yet while some might see Gauff as the face and the future of American tennis, she is in excellent company. At this year’s US Open, multiple Americans have made deep runs — including 28-year-old Madison Keys, who lost to Aryna Sabalenka in the other semifinal.

“I don’t think I’m carrying American tennis. I don’t think I will,” Gauff told ESPN. “We have so many compatriots who are doing well.

“Serena is Serena. She’s the GOAT. I’d hope to do half of what she did. But I’m not gonna compare myself to her. She’s someone I look up to. Being in the same stat line as her means a lot to me. She’s my idol.”

Still, Gauff – who never once played against Williams professionally – has just one regret.

“The only regret I’ll have for the rest of my life is not being able to play her,” she said. “There were so many tournaments where if we won an extra round and didn’t lose, I would’ve played her. I’m still happy to just be a product of her legacy.”

Naomi Osaka is planning to stay busy in 2024.

The four-time Grand Slam champion gave birth to her first child, daughter Shai, in July. While she has not played in 2023, she plans to make her comeback next year — and when she does, she wants to up her game.

Osaka, 25, aims to make her return at the Australian Open, she told ESPN on Wednesday. And from there, she will be playing in “way more tournaments than I used to play.”

“I think some people will be happy with that,” she said, noting that she trained as much as she could during pregnancy, including hitting with Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf.

“I think it’s because I realized that I don’t know how the beginning of the year is going to go for me. I don’t know the level of play and I think I have to ease into it. So at the very least, I’m going to set myself up for a very good end of the year.”

The former world No. 1 has won the Australian Open twice, including her most recent major title in 2021. Osaka said that her pregnancy, which she announced at the beginning of this year, helped her realize that she “definitely” missed competing.

“I’ve been watching matches and I’m like, ‘I wish I was playing too,’” Osaka said. “But I’m in this position now and I’m very grateful. I really love my daughter a lot, but I think it really fueled a fire in me.”

Jessica Pegula set the record straight after getting eliminated from the US Open singles tournament on Monday.

The No. 3-ranked player lost in straight sets to fellow American and World No. 17 Madison Keys in the Round of 16. During her post-match press conference, Pegula responded directly to a journalist, refuting a tweet by The Tennis Podcast that she had left the court crying.

“Were you guys the ones that tweeted that I cried when I walked off the court?” she asked. “Someone said I walked off the court in tears. I most definitely was not crying.

“It just sounded really sad and I was like, ‘I definitely wasn’t crying. I just got waxed in like an hour. I gotta go play dubs [doubles] in an hour.’”

Later on Monday, The Tennis Podcast tweeted a clarification, saying it had erred in assuming Pegula was crying when she touched her eye.

Not longer after the loss to Keys, Pegula returned to Arthur Ashe Stadium with doubles partner Coco Gauff. The Americans defeated Marta Kostyuk and Elena-Gabriela Ruse in straight sets to advance to the women’s doubles quarterfinals.

Pegula will also play in the mixed doubles quarterfinal on Tuesday with partner Austin Krajicek as the top-ranked mixed doubles team.