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Novak Djokovic beats Kei Nishikori for 4th Rogers Cup title

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TORONTO —¬†Novak Djokovic paused after accepting the Rogers Cup trophy for the fourth time, scanned the stands Sunday at York University’s Aviva Centre and asked everyone in the crowd to hug the person beside them.

A small chuckle circulated the capacity crowd and then Djokovic said he would lead by example, turning to public announcer Ken Crosina and wrapping his arms around the emcee. Fans laughed and followed suit.

“It was a really wonderful moment,” Djokovic said. “I did feel that it was just the right moment for me to ask politely the crowd to do that, because in the end of the day, we are all here for the same thing. We are all here to connect through tennis, through passion for the sport.

“It’s nice that we got to sense and feel that kind of energy around the stadium.”

The top-ranked Serb beat third-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-3, 7-5 after a short rain delay. Djokovic also won the hardcourt event that rotates between Toronto and Montreal 2007, 2011 and 2012. Ivan Lendl holds the tournament record with six titles.

The 29-year-old Djokovic has seven victories this year and 66 overall, a record 30 in ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events such as the Canadian stop. He has 12 Grand Slam titles, winning this year in Australia and France.

“After Grand Slams, these are the biggest events we have in sport of tennis,” Djokovic said. “Naturally, I’m going to be very disciplined, committed, and focused to do well.”

Djokovic has won his last nine matches against Nishikori and leads the series 10-2.

“I had too many unforced errors especially during important points,” Nishikori said. “He was returning really well today, I think. I was hitting some good first serves, but he was making returns in deep.”

In April in their previous match, Djokovic won the Key Biscayne final. Nishikori won his fourth straight Memphis title in February for his 11th ATP Tour victory.

In the doubles final, Croatia’s Ivan Dodig and Brazil’s Marcelo Melo topped Britain’s Jamie Murray and Brazil’s Bruno Soares 6-4, 6-4.

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.