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Nadal beats Bedene to reach 3rd round at Monte Carlo Masters

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MONACO (AP) Eight-time champion Rafael Nadal dropped serve twice and still beat Aljaz Bedene of Britain 6-3, 6-3 in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Wednesday.

Nadal was broken for a second time when serving for the match at 5-3, but the Spaniard broke straight back to seal victory.

The fifth-seeded Nadal, who won the last of his titles here in 2012, next faces 12th-seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria.

No. 4 Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 champion, also advanced past Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6 (2), 7-5 into the third round.

But No. 6 Tomas Berdych, last year’s runner-up, squandered eight break-point chances in losing to 99th-ranked Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia 6-4, 6-7 (1), 6-3.

Later, top-ranked Novak Djokovic began his title defense against Czech Jiri Vesely.

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova has withdrawn from next month’s Australian Open after having surgery on her left wrist.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