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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.”

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.