Shelton beats Karatsev for breakthrough tour title at Japan Open. Siniakova wins epic in China

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Ben Shelton of the U.S. holds the winning trophy after defeating Aslan Karatsev of Russia in the men's singles final of Japan Open tennis championships in Tokyo, Japan, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023.(AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

TOKYO – Ben Shelton won his maiden tour title, beating Aslan Karatsev 7-5, 6-1 at the Japan Open on Sunday.

The 21-year-old American, who made his first tour semifinal appearance at the U.S. Open last month, continued his recent rich vein of form in Tokyo, making 18 winners and dominating his Russian opponent with his swinging lefty serve as he closed out the final in 84 minutes.

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“That meant a lot to me and my team,” Shelton said. “We have been working really hard since the beginning to build my game and win titles on the ATP tour. I made some deep runs lately. You see the great champions, they finish weeks off.

"They win titles, they don’t just get to finals. They are able to maintain their level throughout the week. I am not saying I am anywhere there yet, but to be able to do it for one week, put together five matches in a row in Tokyo is really special.”

Shelton will rise to a career-high No. 15 in the ATP's rankings on Monday, having started the season at No. 96.

During his breakout season, the American advanced to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, before becoming the youngest American man to advance to the semifinals at Flushing Meadows since Michael Chang in 1992. He also made the quarterfinals at the Shanghai Masters last week.

The 30-year-old Karatsev was seeking his fourth title and first since he beat Andy Murray in Sydney in 2022, but with 20 unforced errors the Russian struggled to get any momentum in the match and challenge Shelton.

Jiangxi Open

Katerina Siniakova saved three match points to set up a stunning comeback to beat fellow Czech Marie Bouzkova 1-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4) and win the Jiangxi Open in China on Sunday.

After losing the first set and then falling a break down in both the second and third sets, the 60th-ranked Siniakova refused to submit as she battled back to win two tiebreaker sets and claim the title in a three-hour and 33-minute epic over the 29th-ranked Bouzkova.

It's the fifth career title for Siniakova and second of the season, after winning in Hamburg in July. ___

AP tennis:

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