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Murray gives Britain lift vs Argentina in Davis Cup semis

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With Andy Murray back, Britain should beat Argentina in Davis Cup this weekend for the first time since 1928 and make the final.

Murray has won the Olympic gold medal and made the Cincinnati final and U.S. Open quarterfinals in the past month, but he has enough left in the tank to play singles and doubles, if need be, Britain captain Leon Smith said.

Murray proved his mettle a year ago in the semifinal against Australia, when he won both of his singles and a five-set doubles.

“There’s no doubt he will be tired. He’s played so much over the summer,” Smith said. “Looking back to last year’s Aussie tie, when he was clearly hurting and fatigued, he went out and gave everything. I don’t think that will change.”

His fitness ought to be tested in the opening singles on Friday, when he’s likely to face Juan Martin del Potro in a rematch of the Olympic final.

Del Potro was still finding his form when he played only doubles in the quarterfinal win over Italy in Italy in July, in his first tie in four years. He followed that with his Olympic run, including a win over Novak Djokovic, and a run to the U.S. Open last eight. He’s match-fit again, and eager to repair a 6-2 losing record to Murray.

He’s the lowest-ranked player in the Argentina squad, and captain Daniel Orsanic wasn’t keen to reveal his lineup until the draw on Thursday. The favorite for the other singles spot must be Federico Delbonis, who won his two singles against Italy, and beat Murray in March at Indian Wells.

Argentina is playing a remarkable 11th semifinal in 15 years, but it faces the defending Davis Cup champions in Murray and his brother Jamie, the U.S. Open doubles champion, who will be backed by a raucous home crowd in Glasgow, Scotland.

If, as expected, Britain wins, then it will host the final in November only if Croatia beats France on another indoor hard court in Zadar.

Croatia’s chances improved when Gael Monfils withdrew from the France team on Thursday because of a knee injury.

Last week, Monfils reached the U.S. Open semifinals.

France was already without Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, also injured, and was now being led by Lucas Pouille, who made his Davis Cup debut in July, and veteran Richard Gasquet.

Croatia impressively came from 2-0 down to beat the United States away in July, thanks to Marin Cilic and Borna Coric. Since then, Cilic won the Cincinnati title, while Coric retired in the U.S. Open first round with an inflamed tendon in his knee. He’s had almost three weeks to recover.

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.