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Andy Murray receives knighthood from Queen Elizabeth

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LONDON — Andy Murray received a knighthood in Queen Elizabeth II’s New Year’s Honors list on Friday, recognition from the monarch for reaching the pinnacle of tennis by winning his second Wimbledon and Olympic titles on his way to topping the rankings.

The 29-year-old Murray was previously named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, or OBE, in 2012 after becoming Olympic champion for the first time.

Joining Murray in being knighted in British sports is Mo Farah, who retained his 5,000- and 10,000-meter titles at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August, becoming the first British track and field athlete to win four Olympic gold medals.

“I’m so happy to be awarded this incredible honor from the country that has been my home since I moved here at the age of eight,” Farah said Friday. “Looking back at the boy who arrived here from Somalia, not speaking any English, I could never have imagined where I would be today – it’s a dream come true.

“I’m so proud to have had the opportunity to race for my country and win gold medals for the British people, who have been my biggest supporters throughout my career.”

Lee Pearson, who won his 11th Paralympic gold in equestrian in Rio, was also knighted. He already held the MBE, OBE and CBE for services to equestrianism and to disabled sport.

Damehoods went to heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill and rower Katherine Grainger, who both retired from competitive action following the Rio Olympics.

Ennis-Hill added silver in Rio to her gold at London, as did Grainger, who came out of retirement to compete in the double sculls alongside Vicky Thornley.

Knights are addressed as “Sir” or “Dame.” Recipients of the other honors have no title, but can put the letters after their names. The ranks for the Orders of the British Empire are Commander, Officer and Member, in descending order.

Away from the Olympics, Wales manager Chris Coleman was awarded an OBE for steering his national football team into its first semifinal at the European Championship.

Northern Ireland was eliminated by Wales at Euro 2016 in the round of 16 but its manager, Michael O’Neill, has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire, or MBE.

Britain’s honors are bestowed by the monarch, but recipients are selected by committees of civil servants from nominations made by the government and the public.

Serena Williams at No. 1 despite not playing since January

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Serena Williams is briefly back at No. 1 in the WTA rankings, despite not playing a match since January. She also plans to take the rest of 2017 off because she is expecting a baby.

Thanks to a calendar quirk, Williams moved up one spot Monday from No. 2, swapping places with Angelique Kerber.

The return to No. 1 , which gives the 35-year-old American her 317th week there, comes less than a week after Williams let the world know via Snapchat that she is pregnant. The baby is due in the fall, and spokeswoman Kelly Bush Novak says Williams will take the rest of this season off and intends to return to the tour next year.

 

Rafael Nadal beats Albert Ramos-Vinolas to win 10th Monte Carlo Masters

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MONACO (AP) Defending champion Rafael Nadal easily beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-1, 6-3 in an all-Spanish final on Sunday to win the Monte Carlo Masters for the 10th time and clinch the 70th title of his career.

It was Nadal’s first title of the season, having lost his previous three finals – two of those to Roger Federer.

Nadal faced little opposition on his way to becoming the first player to win 10 tournaments at the same venue in the Open era, and the first to reach 50 on clay. He was previously level on clay titles with Argentine Guillermo Vilas.

“When I came here for the first time (in 2003) I reached the third round after coming through the qualifiers,” Nadal said. “Ten titles is something I never dreamed of. See you next year.”

The only final the 30-year-old Nadal has lost at Monte Carlo was to Novak Djokovic in 2013.

Ramos-Vinolas never looked like posing a threat.

Appearing in his first Masters final, the 15th-seeded Ramos-Vinolas saved three break points in his first service game and was 0-40 down in his next. Nadal served out the set in 30 minutes with an ace.

Nadal’s 29th Masters title moves him one behind Djokovic’s record. He will also have his sights set on a 10th title in Barcelona next week – Nadal’s previous career title was there, almost one year ago.

Since then, Federer has beaten him in finals at the Australian Open and the Miami Masters, either side of a win for big-serving American Sam Querrey at Acapulco, Mexico. Federer also beat Nadal in the fourth round at Indian Wells, but the 18-time Grand Slam champion skipped Monte Carlo this year.

Ramos-Vinolas had lost his two previous matches to Nadal in straight sets – both in Barcelona. He competed better in the third set, holding to love in the seventh game to provoke sympathetic applause, but a second career title never looked realistic.

Ramos-Vinolas saved two match points after matching Nadal’s aggression, but a poor unforced error gave Nadal a third match point and Ramos-Vinolas double-faulted to lose in 1 hour, 16 minutes of a one-sided contest.

Nadal’s celebrations were somewhat muted, and he gave Ramos-Vinolas a sympathetic pat on the back. Nadal tilted his head back and put both hands on his head as his achievement began to sink in, while his opponent buried his head into a towel.

He never really stood a chance against the player widely considered the greatest ever on clay.

Nadal’s 70 titles are three better than Djokovic, who is a year younger. Nadal is fifth on the all-time list, but seven behind John McEnroe. Further ahead, the 35-year-old Federer has 91; Ivan Lendl 94 and Jimmy Connors is a long way away with 109.

Nadal watched smiling as each of his Monte Carlo trophy presentations over the years was played on the big screen.

The first photo, of him raising the trophy in 2005 as a distinctly shy 18-year-old who was taking tennis by storm, made Nadal laugh.

There was nothing amusing for his opponents.

He won every year after that – including the next three finals against Federer, who could never crack him on clay. Djokovic did, in the 2013 final. Stan Wawrinka won in 2014 and Djokovic again in 2015, comfortably beating Nadal in the semis.

Nadal looked emotional when the Spanish national anthem was played.

His first appearance in Monte Carlo was as a 16-year-old in 2003, when he beat Slovak Karol Kucera in the first round. That win was impressive enough, but he then stunned the tennis world by knocking out defending French Open champion Albert Costa in a second-round match that finished as night was falling.

It was the start of Nadal’s stellar career on clay.

He will be among the favorites at the French Open this year, which was the last of his 14 Grand Slam wins in 2014.

Nadal will be hunting for a 10th title at Roland Garros, too.