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Murray sets up China Open quarterfinal vs. British teammate

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BEIJING — Top-seeded Andy Murray dispatched Andrey Kuznetsov 6-2, 6-1 on Wednesday to set up China Open quarterfinal against his British Davis Cup teammate Kyle Edmund.

Both are playing their first tournaments since Britain’s loss to Argentina in the Davis Cup semifinals last month.

Murray is hoping with a strong run in China to close the gap on No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic, who withdrew from the tournament.

He struggled initially against Kuznetsov, dropping two early service games as the players traded breaks, but went on a dominant run after the fifth game.

Edmund, a qualifier, upset seventh-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

Fifth-seeded David Ferrer advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Fabio Fognini and will next play Alexander Zverev, who beat Jack Sock 6-4, 6-2. Ferrer is still chasing his first title of the season. The Spaniard has won at least one ATP title in all but one year since 2006.

Grigor Dmitrov held off Steve Johnson 7-5, 6-7 (9), 6-4 and No. 8-seeded Richard Gasquet beat Sam Querrey 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in first-round matches.

In the women’s second round, top-ranked Angelique Kerber had a 6-3, 7-6 (4) win over Barbora Strycova, U.S. Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova rallied for a tough 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7) win over 19-year-old Daria Kasatkina, Johanna Konta wrapped up a rain-delayed 7-5, 6-2 win over Timea Babos, and Daria Gavrilova ousted 12th-seeded Timea Bacsinszky 4-6, 6-0, 6-4.

Kerber, who twice failed to serve out the match in a tight finish against Strycova, will next play Elina Svitolina for a place in the quarterfinals.

Svitolina beat Sabine Lisicki 6-4, 6-4, and Caroline Garcia fended off Peng Shuai 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (4), ending a tournament for the Chinese wild card that started with an upset first-round win over Venus Williams.

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.