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Murray to play singles, doubles for Britain in Davis Cup

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An energy-sapping summer of tennis isn’t quite over for Andy Murray.

His last task is potentially playing three matches – two singles and a doubles – for Britain in a Davis Cup semifinal against Argentina, starting on Friday, to keep his country on course for a second straight title.

“I’ll try and fight as hard as I can this weekend and help the team as much as possible,” Murray said on Thursday, “and then I’ve got a break after that, which I need.”

Since May, Murray has won Wimbledon, the Olympic tournament, the Italian Open, and Queen’s, as well as losing in three finals, including at the French Open.

The Davis Cup is a big deal to Murray, though, and he is back for the semifinals after missing the last-eight win over Serbia straight after Wimbledon.

Murray will open the semifinal in Glasgow with a singles against Juan Martin del Potro, in a replay of the Olympic final won by Murray in four sets last month. Kyle Edmund takes on Guido Pella in the second singles.

On Saturday, Murray will partner his brother, Jamie, in the doubles against Federico Delbonis and Leonardo Mayer.

In reverse singles on Sunday, Andy Murray plays Pella, and Del Potro takes on Edmund.

“He’s a very robust guy, both physically and mentally,” Britain captain Leon Smith said of Murray’s potential workload, “so don’t be surprised to see him do it.”

Murray will miss his grandfather’s funeral on Friday to play in the Davis Cup.

Britain is attempting to retain the Davis Cup for the first time since 1936, having won the tournament for the first time in 79 years in November.

“This is going to be a very, very tough weekend for us to win this one but all the players want to get through it and it’s a big goal for all of us,” Murray said. “Trying to reach another Davis Cup final would be a fantastic achievement.

“There have been so many big events in the last few months and it’s been difficult to sort of prioritize every single one, but at the end of a long summer, if we get through this one, you know, we’ve got an opportunity to win again so we’ll give it everything this weekend.”

Murray and Del Potro are the countries’ top players, so would usually expect to play each other on Sunday. However, Del Potro is ranked a lowly No. 64 as he works his way back from a long absence during which he underwent three operations on his wrist.

“His comeback is good for the world of tennis,” Argentina captain Daniel Orsanic said, “so you can imagine what it means for us Argentinians.”

It’s Croatia vs. France in the other semifinal.

Del Potro beats Dimitrov to win Stockholm Open

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STOCKHOLM (AP) Juan Martin del Potro won his 20th career title Sunday, beating Grigor Dimitrov in a successful title defense at the Stockholm Open.

Del Potro held serve throughout as he won 6-4, 6-2 against Dimitrov while also landing 70 percent of first serves and firing in nine aces.

It was the Argentine’s first title since he beat Jack Sock in last year’s Stockholm final. The two Stockholm wins are del Potro’s only tour titles since he returned in 2016 following chronic wrist problems.

For Dimitrov, it was his fourth final of the year and first defeat. The Bulgarian is now 7-6 in career finals,

Venus ready for return WTA Finals

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SINGAPORE (AP) Venus Williams returns to the year-end WTA Finals for the first time since reaching the 2009 final, and the fifth time overall, starting on Sunday in Singapore.

Williams joins top-ranked Simona Halep of Romania, second-ranked Garbine Muguruza of Spain, third-ranked Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic, fourth-ranked Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, sixth-ranked Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, seventh-ranked Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia and ninth-ranked Caroline Garcia of France.

They’re all pretty special,” said Williams, of her career appearances in the year-end competition. “It’s the end of the year. Only Top 8 get here. It’s definitely something well earned.”

At 37-years-old, Williams is the third oldest player to qualify for the year-end championships behind a 39-year-old Billie Jean King in 1983, and a 38-year-old Martina Navratilova in 1994.

Williams is the oldest player in this draw with 27-year-old Wozniacki the next oldest.

Having played since 1995, Williams has seen the women’s game advance, saying: “The competition is so much greater. It’s a beautiful change, in fact.”

In 2008, Williams won the WTA Finals title, going 3-0 in the round-robin, and defeating Vera Zvonareva of Russia in the final.

She was also was a semifinalist in her first two appearances in the finals, in 1999 and 2000.

Williams reached two Grand Slam finals this season at the Australian Open, where she lost to what turned out to be an already pregnant younger sister, Serena, and at Wimbledon, where she fell to Muguruza.

Every player but Garcia has a possibility of playing themselves into the year-end No. 1 ranking depending on their result this week. Williams has ranked No. 1 for 11 weeks of her career.

In the round-robin, Williams is situated in the White Group with fellow big-hitters Muguruza and Pliskova, who both ranked No. 1 at some time during this season, and French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Williams opens the competition against Pliskova on Sunday. The two are tied at one match apiece in their head-to-head.

She holds a 3-2 winning record over Muguruza and is 1-0 over Ostapenko.

“I think my group is more aggressive style players in the group and the other one is more defending,” Pliskova said. “I just like to play better these players.

“I start with Venus tomorrow, so I beat her once from match point and once I lost very close match. This one is open.”