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Nadal sues former French minister who accused him of doping

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MADRID (AP) Rafael Nadal filed suit Monday against a former French minister who accused him of doping, saying he needs to defend his integrity and image as an athlete.

The Spanish tennis star said his lawyers lodged the defamation suit in Paris against Roselyne Bachelot because of her “offensive remarks” on French television last month.

Bachelot, France’s former minister for health and sport, said on TV show Le Grand 8 that the Spaniard’s seven-month injury hiatus in 2012 was “probably due to a positive doping test.”

“Through this case, I intend not only to defend my integrity and my image as an athlete but also the values I have defended all my career,” Nadal said in a statement. “I also wish to avoid any public figure from making insulting or false allegations against an athlete using the media, without any evidence or foundation and to go unpunished.”

He said that if he wins the case, any compensation awarded by the judge will be “paid back in full to an NGO or foundation in France.”

Bachelot’s remarks upset Nadal and outraged Spaniards, including many fellow athletes who quickly came out to defend the tennis star. The Spanish Olympic Committee and members of the Spanish government also loudly criticized the former French minister.

Nadal’s coach and uncle, Toni Nadal, called Bachelot “an imbecile,” according to Spanish media.

A 14-time Grand Slam champion and the gold medalist at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Nadal is one of Spain’s biggest sports idols.

The president of Spain’s Olympic committee said he would like to see Nadal as the country’s flag bearer at the Rio de Janeiro Games, in part to make a statement after the recent accusations made by Bachelot.

Alejandro Blanco said Nadal “is a reference” and deserves the honor “after how he has been treated” by the former French minister. Nadal had been selected as Spain’s flag bearer for the 2012 London Olympics but missed the games because of an injury.

Nadal expressed his “complete trust in the French justice system” which will handle the lawsuit and said that he will not make any further statements about the case.

Bachelot’s allegations came in the wake of Maria Sharapova’s failed doping test.

Serena Williams loses in 1st round at Miami Open to Osaka

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Serena Williams lost in the first round of the Miami Open on Wednesday, still rusty in her return from pregnancy and unable to overcome a tough draw against Naomi Osaka, who won 6-3, 6-2.

The 20-year-old Osaka, who earned her first career title Sunday at Indian Wells, showed no signs of letup and overpowered the erratic Williams. Osaka had the stronger serve, and in rallies wore down Williams working her from side to side.

The matchup worthy of a final came about because both players are unseeded. Osaka is ranked a career-best 22nd, while Williams’ ranking is 491st after her layoff of more than a year.

Another new mother and former No. 1, three-time Key Biscayne champion Victoria Azarenka, defeated Catherine Bellis 6-3, 6-0.

Williams has endured a first-round defeat only four other times, most recently at the 2012 French Open. The latest loss came at a tournament she has won a record eight times and considers her hometown event.

The match was the last for Williams at Key Biscayne, 90 miles south of her home in Palm Beach Gardens. The tournament is moving next year to the Miami Dolphins’ stadium, and Williams helped with the ceremonial groundbreaking Monday.

After her defeat, she left without speaking to the media.

Because of Williams’ ranking, she entered the draw as a wild card, and looked the part. She was a step slow to balls in the corners and often late with her swing, while she put barely half her first serves in play.

Osaka, who has both American and Japanese citizenship and lives in Fort Lauderdale, was playing her idol for the first time but didn’t seem a bit fazed. She improved to 14-4 this year.

Things may get tougher for her in the second round, when she’ll face No. 4-seeded Elina Svitolina.

More AP tennis coverage:

Sock, Querrey, Isner among U.S. Davis Cup picks

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Jack Sock, Sam Querrey, John Isner, Ryan Harrison and Steve Johnson have been picked for the U.S. Davis Cup team that will face Belgium in the quarterfinals next month in Nashville, Tennessee.

The U.S. Tennis Association announced captain Jim Courier’s roster Wednesday. Belgium’s team hasn’t been made public yet.

Sock is the highest-ranked American man at No. 11 this week, with Querrey at 14th and Isner 17th.

The matches will be played on a hard court at Belmont University from April 6-8.

The winner will face Croatia or Kazakhstan in the semifinals Sept. 14-16. The U.S. hasn’t been to the Davis Cup’s final four since 2012.

The United States holds a 4-0 record against Belgium in the Davis Cup, but the countries last played each other in 2005.