US Open champ Kerber tops rankings

PARIS - Angelique Kerber, fresh from her US Open triumph, tops the WTA rankings Monday, ending the 186-week reign of Serena Williams, in second place. The American's crown slipped when she was beaten in the semi-finals by Czech Karolina Pliskova, who in turn bowed to 28-year-old Kerber in the final on Saturday. Kerber becomes only the second German to lead the rankings, nearly three decades after compatriot Steffi Graf dominated women's tennis. Losing US Open finalist Pliskova leaps from 11th to sixth place in the biggest jump of the week. WTA Top 20: 1. Angelique Kerber (GER) 8,730, 2. Serena Williams (USA) 7,050, 3. Garbine Muguruza (ESP) 5,830, 4. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 5,815, 5. Simona Halep (ROM) 4,801, 6. Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 4,425, 7. Venus Williams (USA) 3,815, 8. Carla Suarez (ESP) 3,300, 9. Madison Keys (USA) 3,286, 10. Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 3,250.–AFP


Quintana beats Froome to win Vuelta

MADRID - Colombia's Nairo Quintana held off Tour de France champion Chris Froome to win the Vuelta a Espana in Sunday's traditional procession around Madrid. Quintana beat out Froome for the first time in five Grand Tours when both have finished the race by 1min 23sec with another Colombian Esteban Chaves completing the podium. Denmark's Magnus Cort Nielsen won the 21st stage in a sprint finish for the 104.8km ride that started in Las Rozas on the outskirts of the Spanish capital before a 10-lap circuit through the centre of Madrid. Victory is Quintana's second in a Grand Tour after the 2014 Giro d'Italia and was celebrated wildly by thousands of Colombian fans on the streets around the finish line. "This is spectacular, it is a dream come true," said Quintana.–AFP



‘Kyrgios Davis Cup fitness encouraging’

SYDNEY - Australia Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt said Monday Nick Kyrgios had a good chance of playing in this week's World Group playoff and backed his young star after a slew of on-court controversies. Australia's number one, who Monday rose to a career-high 15th, in the world, was forced to quit his third round US Open match against Ukraine's Illya Marchenko eight days ago with a hip injury. But Hewitt said the early signs were "very encouraging" that he could feature in the tie against Slovakia beginning in Sydney on Friday. "It was a good hit-out from Nick today. It's going to be management over the next three to four days with him," Hewitt told reporters. Hewitt added that he would probably make a decision late on Wednesday whether Kyrgios would play the tie.–AFP



China's Shuai survives Tokyo scare

TOKYO - China's Shuai Zhang was given a fright by local wildcard Eri 2Hozumi before escaping with a 7-6, 1-6, 6-3 win at the Japan Women's Open on Monday. The sixth seed survived a real scare in her Tokyo opener, finding her range in the knick of time to book her spot in the next round. However, fifth seed Madison Brengle was not so fortunate, the American crashing out 6-1, 6-4 to Slovakia's Jana Cepelova to become the biggest casualty of the opening day's play. Also checking out early was Ukraine's Kateryna Bondarenko, the eighth seed, who was bundled out by American Louisa Chirico in a 6-4, 7-5 defeat. Chirico was joined in the second round by countrywomen Varvara Lepchenko, a 6-0, 6-2 winner over Japan's Risa Ozaki, and Christina McHale, who edged Ukraine's Kateryna Kozlova 6-4, 3-6, 7-6.–AFP



Australian player dies after tackle

SYDNEY - An Australian rugby league player has died after collapsing following a tackle, police and officials said Monday, just over a year after another player died in similar circumstances. Father-of-two Grant Cook was playing for the Murwillumbah Mustangs in a regional New South Wales game against Casino Cougars on Sunday when he was taken ill. As sports around the world grapple with the growing problem of head injuries, New South Wales police said a report on the death of the 28-year-old would be prepared for the coroner. "Police have been informed that the man collapsed shortly after being tackled during the match," a statement said. Attempts were made at the scene to revive the unconscious player before he was airlifted to Gold Coast University Hospital in a critical condition and passed away overnight.–AFP