Rafael Nadal wants his drug-test results made public

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LONDON (AP) Fed up with being accused of doping, Rafael Nadal has written to the president of the International Tennis Federation and asked for all of his drug-test results and blood profile records to be made public.

“It can’t be free anymore in our tennis world to speak and to accuse without evidence,” the 14-time Grand Slam champion said in a letter obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.

Nadal’s letter was sent to ITF President David Haggerty on Monday, the same day he filed suit against a former French government minister who suggested he had been doping.

“I know how many times I am tested, on and off competition,” Nadal wrote in the letter. “Please make all my information public. Please make public my biological passport, my complete history of anti-doping controls and tests.

“From now on I ask you to communicate when I am tested and the results as soon as they are ready from your labs. I also encourage you to start filing lawsuits if there is any misinformation spread by anyone.”

The ITF confirmed it received the letter from Nadal, including the request for his test results to be released under the Tennis Anti-Doping Program.

“The ITF can confirm that Mr. Nadal has never failed a test under the TADP and has not been suspended at any time for an anti-doping rule violation or for any other reason related to the TADP,” the ITF said in a statement sent to the AP.

The ITF said Nadal, like other players, has access to his anti-doping records through the World Anti-Doping Agency’s database “and is free to make them available.”

“The accuracy of any such release would be verified by the ITF,” the federation said.

The Spanish star said he was writing the letter because of remarks by Roselyne Bachelot, France’s former minister for health and sport. She said on a French television show last month that Nadal’s seven-month injury layoff in 2012 was “probably due to a positive doping test.”

Nadal, who won his 49th clay-court tournament on Sunday in Barcelona and will go for his 10th French Open title next month, filed a defamation suit against Bachelot in Paris.

“It is unacceptable and mostly unfair that someone that should have knowledge of sports to a certain point and degree can publicly say something like this with no proof or evidence,” Nadal said in the letter to Haggerty.

Nadal said some media, fans, and sponsors don’t trust tennis’ anti-doping program.

“They don’t trust the sport. They think governing bodies cover things up and do nothing,” he said. “We know this is not true. … I believe the time has arrived, and our sport and our governing bodies need to step up in communicating well to the world.”

Nadal said he has never shied away from sharing his thoughts on anti-doping.

“I believe we have to continue with the fight against doping and make the fight stronger and better if possible,” he wrote. “As a player, first an amateur and then a professional, I have been sure that our sport is clean. It is necessary that our sport becomes a flagship in a world where transparency and honesty are two pillars of our conduct and way of living.”

Nadal’s letter comes at a time when tennis is dealing with Maria Sharapova’s high-profile doping case. The Russian has been provisionally suspended after testing positive for the newly banned substance meldonium at the Australian Open in January. She is awaiting an ITF disciplinary hearing.

Kerber beats Sharapova in 3rd round; Halep in long-haul win

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Angelique Kerber is the only major winner remaining in the Australian Open women’s draw after ending Maria Sharapova’s comeback tour to Melbourne Park.

The 2016 champion routed Sharapova 6-1, 6-3 in the third-round match on Saturday night to extend her winning streak to 12 matches, including winning the Sydney International title last week.

Five-time major winner Sharapova was back at the Australian Open for the first time since 2016, when a failed test for meldonium led to a 15-month doping ban.

It was all over in one hour and four minutes, a vast contrast to top-ranked Simona Halep’s 4-6, 6-4, 15-13 win in three hours, 45 minutes over American Lauren Davis in the opening match on Rod Laver.

The third set took 2:22 and momentum swung. Halep wasted chances to serve for the match in the ninth, 11th and 15th games, then had to save three match points in the 22nd. There were 11 service breaks and two medical timeouts – for Davis to get treatment on both feet – before Halep converted on her first match point.

“I never played the third set so long, so I’m really happy I could stay and win it. I’m almost dead,” Halep said of the match which equaled Chanda Rubin’s win over Arantxa Shanchez Vicario in 1996 – also 48 games – for the Australian Open record in terms of most games.

“I just feel that my muscles are gone,” said Halep, who badly twisted her left ankle in the first round. “My ankle is, I don’t know how it is because I don’t feel it anymore! But … it was nice to win this match.”

Halep will play Naomi Osaka, who beat 18th-seeded Ashleigh Barty 6-4, 6-2 in a match that was moved from the center court to Margaret Court Arena because of the two long matches on Rod Laver.

No. 20 Barbora Strycova beat U.S. qualifier Bernarda Pera 6-2, 6-2, leaving U.S. Open finalist Madison Keys as the only American woman to reach the fourth round.

Keys advanced 6-3, 6-4 over Ana Bogdan and will next play No. 8 Caroline Garcia, who beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3, 5-7, 6-2.

Sixth-seeded Karolina Pliskova beat No. 29 Lucie Safarova 7-6 (6), 7-5 in a match featuring just one service break.

On the men’s side, Hyeon Chung took out a Zverev for the second time this week. Chung beat fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev 5-7, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 six days after a win over No. 32 Mischa Zverev in the first round.

Another unexpected loss at a major had the highly-touted Zverev admitted he may have a problem.

“Definitely not physical, so… I have some figuring out to do, what happens to me in deciding moments in Grand Slam,” he said.

The 20-year-old Zverev has five titles on the elite tour but his fourth-round exit at Wimbledon last year remains his best run at a major.

Tomas Berdych ended 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro’s return to Melbourne Park for the first time since 2014 with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 win.

Fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem beat Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 to set up a fourth-round match against Tennys Sandgren, who continued his career-best run by beating Maximilian Marterer 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (5).

Former world junior No. 1 Marton Fucsovics beat Nicolas Kicker 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 and No. 25 Fabio Fognini overcame Julien Benneteau 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.

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More AP coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/AustralianOpen

Top-seeded Halep survives marathon match

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Top-seeded Simona Halep served for the match four times before prevailing 4-6, 6-4, 15-13 over American Lauren Davis in a marathon match at Rod Laver Arena.

Halep saved three match points in the 22nd game of the third set at 0-40 and Davis saved five break points in the 23rd game in the 3 hour, 45-minute match. The final set took 2 hour, 22 minutes and Halep won on her first match point when Davis hit a forehand wide along the sideline.

Davis twice had medical timeouts in the final set to have blisters on both feet treated.

Halep will play the winner of Saturday’s later match between local hope Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka.

In other women’s third-round matches, sixth-seeded Karolina Pliskova beat Lucie Safarova 7-6 (6), 7-5 and No. 8 Caroline Garcia beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3, 5-7, 6-2. Garcia will play Madison Keys in the fourth round.

 

More AP coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/AustralianOpen