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Heavy rain drenches France, disrupts French Open

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PARIS — Heavy rain drenched parts of France on Tuesday, prompting flood warnings near the English Channel, causing more delays at the French Open and soaking tourists in Paris.

Floods or heavy rain were forecast for about a quarter of the country Tuesday, from Normandy in the west to Burgundy southeast of Paris.

Rescue workers evacuated homes or ordered people to higher floors in the Pas-de-Calais region in the far north as rivers rose more than a meter (3 feet) in some spots, according to local authorities.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve urged people to exercise the “greatest caution.” He said rescue services were deployed 4,500 times overnight and Tuesday morning to help people affected by rising water. No casualties were reported.

The national meteorological service, Meteo France, warned of possible exceptionally dangerous floods in the Loiret region, south of Paris.

France has seen rain and storms now for several days. During a sudden storm Saturday, a lightning bolt struck a children’s birthday party at a Paris park. Five of the 11 people hit remained hospitalized Tuesday.

All matches at the French Open were cancelled Monday, the first all-day shutdown in 16 years. Matches got underway on Tuesday, but play was soon disrupted again by rain.

Canadian tourist Helene Gazaille, who was visiting Paris to celebrate her 50th birthday, was determined to have a good trip even if that meant stuffing plastic bags into her sneakers in the morning and using a hair dryer to dry them out at night.

Others like Tang Jiru, a 26-year-old Chinese groom-to-be, looked on the bright side of the gray weather. Posing for photos with his fiancee in the Trocadero’s Warsaw fountains, across from the Eiffel Tower, he said he was pleased despite – or maybe even because of – the driving rain.

“The weather, it’s like blue. Blue means romantic,” he said, his white tie-tuxedo-and-waistcoat combo becoming increasingly wet as his 27-year-old bride-to-be, Liu Yuan Yuan, smiled in her rain-sodden wedding dress.

“Every time you take a photo, it’s a sunny day. But it’s a rainy day, (so) oh it’s special!” said Tang, who is getting married in September in Shanghai but had flown to Paris for the express purpose of taking romantic photos.

Raphael Satter in Paris contributed to this report.

Petra Kvitova to play at French Open

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PARIS —¬†Only two months after picking up her racket for the first time following a knife attack at her home, Petra Kvitova will be playing at the French Open.

The two-time Wimbledon champion said Friday she will make her comeback at Roland Garros, although she still lacks power and strength.

“I knew this day would come,” said Kvitova, who was attacked by an intruder last year. “I’m really happy that really here, the dream comes true.”

Kvitova has missed all season while recovering from surgery on her racket-holding left hand. She sustained damage to the tendons in her left hand, along with injuries to all five fingers and two nerves, during the attack.

Doctors initially thought she would need more time before returning to tennis. But Kvitova’s recovery was faster than expected and she said last month that she was signing up for the French Open, which begins Sunday, in hopes of being able to compete.

“It wasn’t easy, but I’m happy that I work through this and I can play tennis and I can be in the draw,” she said.

Kvitova, who won the Wimbledon title in 2011 and 2014 and climbed as high as No. 2 in the WTA rankings, was not allowed to speak about the attack itself because a police investigation is still ongoing. However, she spoke about the anxiety associated with her dreadful experience.

“I didn’t sleep well the days after, but I wasn’t really staying alone,” she said. “From the beginning I was really feeling really weird when I went in the city or somewhere. I was always staring to the guys and looking if there are no strangers there. But with the time, it’s better.”

Kvitova also provided details on the intense rehabilitation process that preceded her “last-minute” decision to try her luck in Paris.

“I worked very hard behind the scenes,” she said. “From the beginning I had this hand in a splint for two months, and even then I was practicing every day, always putting the splint away and trying to make this scar softer. So from the second day after surgery I started to work with that, which was kind of easy, just passive work with the fingers. I couldn’t move them.”

Kvitova got rid of the splint after two weeks and started to move her fingers slightly. She said she can’t still move them completely.

Kvitova also consulted with a hand specialist in the French city of Grenoble every month and she started practicing with a racket at the end of March.

“I hit a few forehands with soft balls from the net, and it felt very, very weird,” she said. “I didn’t really have touch in the hand for holding the racket. I’m happy that I didn’t have to change any techniques or something. Everything seems OK. Of course the hand doesn’t have that power and the strength yet, but I’m working on it. Hopefully one day will be everything perfect.”

Kvitova will open her campaign on the red clay against 86th-ranked Julia Boserup. She is making her ninth appearance at Roland Garros, where she reached the semifinals in 2012.

“Not many people believe that I can play tennis again. So I’m happy that I can play,” Kvitova said. “I actually already won my biggest fight. I stayed in life and I have all my fingers.”

Nishikori saves three match points in Geneva Open QF win

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GENEVA — Kei Nishikori saved three straight match points in the deciding set before outlasting Kevin Anderson 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6) in the Geneva Open quarterfinals on Thursday.

The second-seeded Nishikori was serving at 4-5, 0-40 before rallying to beat the 62nd-ranked South African, who fired 14 aces without allowing any by his opponent.

Nishikori also trailed in the tiebreaker before creating a second match-point chance with a forehand crosscourt service return for a winner. He clinched with a forehand winner off a looping net-cord ball.

The No. 9-ranked Japanese player will face 33rd-ranked Mischa Zverev of Germany in the semifinals on Friday.

The Russian-born Zverev, who came through qualifying, beat fifth-seeded Steve Johnson of the United States 6-4, 7-5.