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Top-seeded Muguruza, Pavlyuchenkova reach Linz quarterfinals

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LINZ, Austria (AP) Top-seeded Garbine Muguruza and defending champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova advanced to the quarterfinals of the Generali Ladies with straight-set wins on Thursday.

The French Open champion defeated Monica Niculescu of Romania 6-1, 6-1, while Pavlyuchenkova recovered from dropping 4-1 behind in the opening set to beat Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 6-4, 7-6 (2).

Muguruza held off two break points in her opening service game then was in control of the match.

“This was maybe close to my best,” the sixth-ranked Spaniard said.

Muguruza’s next opponent is Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland, who defeated Julia Goerges of Germany 7-5, 6-4. Golubic saved a set point when Goerges served at 5-4 in the opening set.

Pavlyuchenkova next plays second-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, who defeated Annika Beck of Germany 6-1, 6-3.

“This is the best year of my career,” said the 10th-ranked Cibulkova, who has won two titles and appeared in three more finals. “It just feels great to be a consistent player.”

Earlier, Madison Keys advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating Misaki Doi of Japan 6-2, 6-0. Dominating throughout, the third-seeded American had five aces and avoided break points, while the 30th-ranked Doi won only 40 percent of the points on her serve.

Keys will next play French qualifier Oceane Dodin.

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova has withdrawn from next month’s Australian Open after having surgery on her left wrist.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