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Nadal puts end to 2016 season because of left wrist injury

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MADRID (AP) Rafael Nadal is cutting short his 2016 season so he can fully recover from a left wrist injury.

The 14-time Grand Slam champion said Thursday he is still bothered by the injury that kept him out of action for more than two months this season and wants to treat it properly before coming back in 2017.

“Now it is time to rest and start preparing intensively (for) the 2017 season,” the 30-year-old Spaniard said in a statement.

Nadal said he will miss indoor tournaments in Basel, Switzerland, next week and Paris next month. He is also ruled out of the season-ending ATP Finals in London next month.

Nadal said he forced his recovery to be able to play in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and that caused him to be in pain in every tournament since then.

Nadal has slipped to No. 6 in the rankings. He won back-to-back clay-court titles in Barcelona and Monte Carlo last spring but has not won any tournaments since then.

The statement said the original injury healed properly but the pain in the wrist area kept bothering him and kept him from performing at 100 percent.

“It is no secret that I arrived to the Olympic Games short of preparation and not fully recovered, but the goal was to compete and win a medal for Spain,” he said. “This forced recovery has caused me pain since then and now I am forced to stop and start preparing the 2017 season.”

Nadal won the doubles gold medal in Rio. He lost in the singles semifinals and also in the third-place match.

The injury had forced Nadal to withdraw from the French Open before the third round and skip Wimbledon altogether.

“I am very saddened for not being able to play next week in Basel since I have a great memory of the tournament and the final played against Roger Federer last year,” he said. “I won’t be able to compete either in Paris-Bercy, where the crowds and the staff have always treated me so well.”

Two-time champ Azarenka gets Australian Open wild card

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Two-time former champion Victoria Azarenka has been awarded a wild card for the Australian Open.

Azarenka, who won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, has been involved in a custody dispute involving her son Leo, who was born last Dec. 19.

She hasn’t competed anywhere since Wimbledon, where she lost to Simona Halep in the fourth round on July 10. The dispute with her former partner started shortly after Wimbledon ended.

Azarenka has played only six matches this year and is ranked 208th.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said on Wednesday that every assistance would be provided to the former No. 1, adding “Vika’s current situation is obviously very difficult for her and we have reached out to offer any support we can.”

The Australian Open starts on Jan. 15.

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.”