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Top-seeded Muguruza wins Linz opener

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LINZ, Austria — French Open champion Garbine Muguruza advanced to the second round of the Generali Ladies by beating Cagla Buyukakcay of Turkey 6-4, 6-4 on Wednesday.

The top-seeded Spaniard dropped serve twice and saved six more break points as she struggled for consistency against the 69th-ranked Buyukakcay.

“On this surface it was very difficult for me,” Muguruza said. “It’s my first indoor event so it’s hard to find your rhythm.”

Muguruza, who was a late entry to the event after U.S. Open finalist Karolina Pliskova pulled out, will next play Monica Niculescu of Romania.

French qualifier Oceane Dodin became the first player to reach the quarterfinals by beating Sorana Cirstea of Romania 6-2, 6-4. The 89th-ranked Dodin, who won her maiden title in Quebec last month, had eight aces and avoided break points on her serve.

Earlier, second-seeded Dominika Cibulkova advanced to the second round by beating Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 6-1, 6-2. The 10th-ranked Slovak, who reached the final in 2011, converted all six break points while Bencic managed to hold her serve only once in the match.

Cibulkova will play Annika Beck of Germany for a place in the quarterfinals.

Also, third-seeded Madison Keys of the United States defeated Camila Giorgi of Italy 6-3, 6-4, and Kirsten Flipkens advanced after Mandy Minella of Luxembourg pulled out with a hip injury after the Belgian won the opening set 6-4.

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.