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Nadal retires in 3rd set at Miami Open against Dzumhur

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Rafael Nadal slumped in a changeover chair, the blood pressure gauge strapped to his mighty left arm serving as a scoreboard.

He was on the verge of defeat, and a few points later he retired from a match for the first time in six years.

Nadal faded in the subtropical heat and conceded after falling behind in the third set of his opening match Saturday at the Miami Open against Damir Dzumhur.

The No. 5-seeded Nadal trailed 2-6, 6-4, 3-0 when he called it quits after losing a point to fall behind 30-15. He had earlier consulted with a trainer between games three times, and had his blood pressure checked.

Nadal said he started feeling badly at the end of the first set.

“It was getting worse and worse and worse,” the Spaniard said. “I get a little bit scared – too dizzy. I felt I was not safe, so I decided to go. I wanted to finish the match, but I seriously couldn’t.”

His departure left the draw without three of the five highest-seeded men. No. 4 Stan Wawrinka lost to Andrey Kuznetsov 6-4, 6-3, and No. 3 Roger Federer withdrew Friday because of a stomach virus.

Eight-time champion Serena Williams avoided the upset bug and seemed unfazed by the weather. The South Floridian earned her 20th consecutive victory at Key Biscayne and reached the fourth round by beating Zarina Diyas 7-5, 6-3.

“I live down the street, and I’m used to these conditions,” she said. “Even though it was a little humid, I’m used to it and I love this weather.”

Nadal’s match lasted less than two hours, but the temperature approached 90 degrees and was even higher on the sunbaked stadium hardcourt.

Nadal said he felt fine before the match and wasn’t sure whether he was contracting an illness.

“Hopefully it’s just the extreme conditions,” he said. “It’s tough for me, because I felt I was playing well. It’s a hard accident. That’s life.”

Nadal later pulled out of doubles.

The 14-time Grand Slam champion hasn’t won a tournament since August. But it had been 443 matches since he retired – in the 2010 Australian Open quarterfinals against Andy Murray.

Key Biscayne remains one of the biggest tournaments Nadal has never won. He’s 0-4 in finals.

Dzumhur, a 23-year-old Bosnian ranked 94th, rallied with a variety of tactics, including half a dozen drop shots for winners and an occasional serve and volley. Nadal had to work hard from the start, failing to convert nine break-point chances during a marathon second game before Dzumhur double-faulted to lose serve.

The heat also appeared to bother the 154-pound Dzumhur, who consulted with a trainer following the first set.

Nadal finished 3 for 13 converting break points. Dzumhur was 4 for 4.

In other men’s play, No. 6 Kei Nishikori defeated qualifier Pierre-Hughes Herbert 6-2, 7-6 (4). No. 12 Milos Raonic, the runner-up at Indian Wells this month, beat Denis Kudla 7-6 (4), 6-4.

On the women’s side, No. 8 Petra Kvitova lost to No. 30 Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 6-4. No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska, the 2012 champion, eliminated Madison Brengle 6-3, 6-2.

Nadal, Muguruza win ITF player of the year awards

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LONDON — Rafael Nadal and Garbine Muguruza have won the International Tennis Federation’s player of the year awards.

At 31, Nadal becomes the oldest ITF men’s world champion after a season in which he won a 10th French Open and a third U.S. Open.

The Spaniard also became the oldest player to finish the year at No. 1 since the ATP rankings began in 1973.

Muguruza dropped only one set en route to her first Wimbledon title and finished the year at No. 2 behind Simona Halep.

“Becoming ITF world champion in such a competitive year is amazing for me,” said Muguruza, who is also Spanish. “(Nadal) is a great role model for all of us, so it is a great moment for tennis in Spain.”

Kuznetsova out of Australian Open after left wrist surgery

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova has withdrawn from next month’s Australian Open after having surgery on her left wrist.

Tennis Australia on Friday said No. 12-ranked Kuznetsova and China’s Sasai Zheng, with a right knee injury, were the only players ranked in the top 100 who are confirmed as not playing the Jan. 15-28 tournament at Melbourne Park.

Serena Williams, who was pregnant while winning the 2017 Australian Open title and gave birth to her first child in September, “is anticipated to return,” Tennis Australia said.

Williams could equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles with another win at Melbourne Park. Serena Williams’ ranking has dropped to No. 22 during her break from the tour.