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Keys withdraws from Connecticut Open with neck injury

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Madison Keys withdrew from the Connecticut Open after injuring her neck Sunday during a practice session ahead of the tournament she planned to use as a tuneup for the U.S. Open.

Keys said she was hitting a forehand return when she felt pain on the right side of her neck. “I probably hit it late. … As soon as I finished the stroke I knew that I did something,” she said.

Keys, who is ranked No. 9 in the world and seeded third in the tournament, has had trouble with her neck in the past.

She said she would seek medical treatment and hoped to be better in time for the U.S. Open.

“Coming off a good Montreal (tournament) and having a good Olympics, I wanted to have another good week before the Open,” she said.

The 21-year-old American reached the semifinals in the Olympic women’s tennis tournament in Rio de Janeiro, losing to Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic in the bronze medal match.

Camila Giorgi of Italy replaced Keys in the Connecticut Open field as a lucky loser.

Ekaterina Makarova of Russia beat Sara Errani of Italy 7-5, 6-2 on Sunday; American Shelby Rogers topped France’s Kristina Mladenovic 6-1, 6-1; and Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine edged Daria Kasatkina of Russia 6-4, 5-7, 6-0.

Top-seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland and second-seeded Roberta Vinci of Italy have byes to the second round, while defending champion Petra Kvitova and wild-card entrants Eugenie Bouchard of Canada and Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark are scheduled to play Monday.

Czech players Barbora Strycova and Karolina Pliskova also withdrew. Strycova pulled out with an illness and has been replaced by U.S. qualifier Nicole Gibbs. Pliskova, the No. 8 seed, withdrew with a lower back injury. Her replacement in the field will be announced Monday.

Nadal doesn’t see himself skipping tournaments like Federer

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MONACO (AP) For now, Rafael Nadal doesn’t see himself skipping any major tournaments the way Roger Federer has been sitting out the French Open.

The veterans are back at the top of world tennis, with Nadal needing to win the Monte Carlo Masters this week to avoid losing his top ranking once again to Federer in their seemingly eternal battle for tennis supremacy.

For the second consecutive season, the 36-year-old Federer is skipping the entire clay-court season in order to be at his best on grass.

After coming back from injury to win the Australian Open last year, Federer skipped the clay-court season, won Wimbledon, and retained his Melbourne crown to extend his record tally to 20 majors.

The Swiss star is keeping his aging body fresher by playing a bit less – avoiding Nadal on clay at Roland Garros or elsewhere – and it is working for him.

But Nadal still thinks he can play a full schedule.

“There (are) tournaments that I can’t imagine missing on purpose, because (they are) tournaments that I love to play,” Nadal said on Wednesday. “I don’t see myself missing Monte Carlo on purpose. I don’t see myself missing Wimbledon on purpose, or the U.S. Open, or Australian, or Rome. These kind of events, I don’t see missing (them).”

The 31-year-old Spaniard recently returned from a right hip injury which forced him to retire during the fifth set of his Australian Open quarterfinal against Marin Cilic.

With his 32nd birthday coming up on June 3 – during the French Open – the 16-time Grand Slam champion accepts he may think differently when he gets closer to Federer’s age.

“Of course, when you get older, you need to adjust a little bit more the efforts and the calendar. But for me (it) is difficult to say I don’t play, for example, grass, or I don’t play hard (courts),” Nadal said. “(It) is not in my plan, but I can’t say `never’ because I cannot predict what’s going to be in the future.”

Nadal is chasing an 11th title at both Monte Carlo and Roland Garros, which begins on May 27.

More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

Jerome Pugmire on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jeromepugmire

Thiem reaches third round at Monte Carlo

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MONACO — Dominic Thiem saved a match point and beat Andrey Rublev of Russia 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Tuesday.

Rublev was serving for the match at 5-4, 40-30 but hit a forehand narrowly wide. Fifth-seeded Thiem broke him with backhand pass down the line and held for 6-5.

The Austrian was 15-40 up on Rublev’s serve and clinched victory on his first match point, when Rublev double-faulted with a weak serve into the net.

“I was 10 centimeters from being out of the tournament,” a relieved Thiem said. “But I’m happy that I played two hours and 40 (minutes).”

Thiem has reached the French Open semifinals for the past two years. He next meets 12-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic or Borna Coric of Croatia, who play their second-round match on Wednesday.

“I’m looking forward to watching Djokovic and Coric in front of the TV, and then playing the winner on Thursday,” Thiem said.

In the second round later Tuesday, fourth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria faced Pierre-Hugues Herbert and seventh-seeded Lucas Pouille played Mischa Zverev.

In remaining first-round play, there were wins for Gilles Simon of France, Marco Cecchinato of Italy and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany.