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Murray, Dimitrov ease through to China Open final

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BEIJING — Andy Murray and Grigor Dimitrov eased into the final of the China Open on Saturday – one of them without playing.

Top-seeded Murray beat fifth-seeded David Ferrer 6-2, 6-3 to reach his ninth final of the season, while Dimitrov advanced with a walkover against third-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada.

Murray lost his serve to go 2-1 down before winning five straight games to take the opening set. He has yet to drop a set this week.

Murray, who took over the No. 1 seeding when Novak Djokovic withdrew, is at the China Open for the third time, and has improved each time: He reached the quarterfinals on debut, and the semifinals in 2014.

Dimitrov had a walkover against Raonic, who injured his ankle during his quarterfinal victory against Pablo Carreno Busta on Friday.

Murray leads Dimitrov 7-3 in head-to-head meetings.

On the women’s side, Johanna Konta assured herself of a place in the next WTA top-10 rankings – the first British woman to do so since Jo Durie in 1984 – after defeating Madison Keys in three sets.

The 11th-seeded Konta beat eighth-seeded Keys 7-6 (1), 4-6, 6-4 with the American winning only 37 percent of points on her second service.

Ranked 14th, Konta faces Agnieszka Radwanska in the final. The third-seeded Pole beat 16th-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 7-6 (3), 6-3.

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova has withdrawn from next month’s Australian Open after having surgery on her left wrist.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.