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Wozniacki’s miserable year continues with another early loss

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LONDON – For Caroline Wozniacki, just winning a Grand Slam match these days would be nice.

The former No. 1-ranked player came into Wimbledon unseeded at a major for the first time in eight years and with a world ranking of No. 45, her lowest since 2008.

Faced with a tough first-round draw, the 25-year-old Dane departed quickly Tuesday after losing to 14th-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova, 7-5, 6-4, leaving her without a Grand Slam match win in 2016.

Wozniacki also fell in the first round at the Australian Open and missed the French Open with a right ankle injury. Her overall record this year is 11-11.

“It’s been a tough year in general,” Wozniacki said, taking a philosophical tone. “It’s been some injuries. It’s been some bad draws. It’s been uphill. But you just have to keep fighting, keep going at it, keep working hard, and hope eventually that’s going to turn and you’re going to take the chances you’re going to get.”

“That’s really all you can do right now,” she said.

Wozniacki was ranked No. 1 for 67 weeks in 2010 and 2011 and reached two Grand Slam finals, finishing runner-up at the 2009 and 2014 U.S. Opens. This was her 10th appearance at Wimbledon, where she has reached the fourth round five times but never made it to the quarterfinals.

Coming off the ankle injury, Wozniacki showed progress at the grass-court warmup tournament at Eastbourne, winning back-to-back matches for the first time since February.

” I thought I played some really good tennis in Eastbourne,” she said. “Obviously (I) was hoping I could step up from there and do more damage today. But it wasn’t enough.”

Wozniacki played well against Kuznetsova, also a former No. 1 player. She pushed the Russian but didn’t have enough to overcome her in a match played with the retractable roof closed over Centre Court because of rain.

“She played aggressively and stepped up when she had to,” Wozniacki said. “She did what she had to do today.”

For now, Wozniacki is planning to play hard-court tournaments in Washington and Montreal.

She’s also awaiting a ruling on the appeal on her eligibility for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Wozniacki has been selected as Denmark’s flag-bearer for the games, but has failed to meet the International Tennis Federation’s Fed Cup requirements.

“Obviously I want to play,” she said. “But if they decide that I’m not going to play, then there’s not much I can do about it.”

In addition to the injuries, losses and drop in the rankings, Wozniacki endured a well-publicized breakup in 2014 with golfer Rory McIlroy.

Referring to the last year-and-a-half in general, she said: “I mean, at one point you’re just like, you know what, it has to turn, it has to go the other way eventually. I’m just going to take the punches I’m getting and just try and learn from it and try and move forward.'”

During her injury layoffs, Wozniacki has kept busy with various off-the-court projects.

“If there’s time left over, then I try and just have fun in life,” she said. “We only live once. We don’t get a mulligan.”

One thing Wozniacki won’t do is read about herself.

“I think if I read everything that was written about me the last 15 years, I think by now I probably would have jumped over a cliff,” she said. “I would rather not.”

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.