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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.

2-time Wimbledon champ Kvitova wins return from knife attack

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PARIS —¬†Sweat-soaked and still wearing her match outfit, Petra Kvitova was looking for someone to hug as she wandered into the players’ lounge in the French Open’s main stadium shortly after leaving the court Sunday.

She found her father, Jiri, and her brother, also Jiri, who greeted her with warm embraces and joyous kisses on the cheek. Kvitova’s family members rarely attend her tournaments, but this was different – “special” was the word she, and others, kept using.

Less than six months after a knife attack at her home, two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova was back competing, winning the first match of her comeback 6-3, 6-2 at Roland Garros against 86th-ranked Julia Boserup of the United States.

“I’m happy with the game, of course,” Kvitova said, “but I mean, it wasn’t really about the game today.”

Indeed, just being there under a cloud-filled sky at Court Philippe Chatrier was a triumph of sorts for Kvitova, who needed surgery on her left hand – the one she uses to hold her racket – after being stabbed by an intruder in the Czech Republic in late December. She was undecided until late last week whether to even try to play in the French Open.

“For us, it’s amazing. It’s miracle. Not even me or Petra thought she could be ready to come back so soon,” said her coach, Jiri Novak. “The prognosis was, let’s just say, not optimistic.”

During her on-court interview, Kvitova addressed Novak, her family and others in her guest box, saying: “Thank you for everything you helped me through (in) this difficult time.”

Several members of her entourage wore black T-shirts with white capital letters on the front that read, “Courage. Belief. Pojd.” That last word, which is the Czech equivalent of “Come on!” and was spelled with a red heart instead of the “O,” is often yelled by Kvitova to celebrate particularly good shots.

“The belief and the mind, the heart, it’s really important,” Kvitova said afterward. “So that’s … what we try to show everyone. I hope that it will be kind of inspiration for other people, as well.”

There were plenty of opportunities for her to clench a fist and scream “Pojd!” on Sunday against Boserup, who was making her debut in the French Open’s main draw and facing a lefty for the first time.

“She’s one of the nicest girls, and we are all really happy to see her back. After what she went through, it’s incredible,” Boserup said. “So it’s a victory for her to be back on court. It was really special.”

Kvitova began things with a quick forehand winner on the opening point.

“Amazing,” she said. “I surprised myself.”

Kvitova wound up compiling the match’s first 10 winners and finished with a 31-9 edge in that category. She took 15 of the first 20 points en route to a 3-0 lead and never really faced a whole lot of resistance, other than when she saved three break points – the only ones she had to deal with in the match – while ahead 3-1.

When it was over, Kvitova dropped her racket near the baseline and removed her blue headband. As she walked to the net for a handshake, her eyes welled with tears.

“We are happy that she is healthy. The hand is good – and also the head,” her brother Jiri said. “Mentally, she is back.”

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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

Venus Williams eases into French Open’s second round after beating Qiang Wang

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In a record 20th appearance at the French Open, Venus Williams eased into the second round with a straight sets victory over Qiang Wang of China.

Williams, who is seeded 10th, saved two set points to win 6-4, 7-6 (3).

The 36-year-old American will play Kurumi Nara of Japan in the next round.