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Defending champ Djokovic advances to Qatar Open semis

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DOHA, Qatar — Defending champion Novak Djokovic advanced to the Qatar Open semifinals by beating Czech qualifier Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-3 on Thursday.

Djokovic holds a 13-1 career record over the 38-year-old Stepanek, and has won their last 12 meetings.

Djokovic took a 4-2 lead in the first set before Stepanek broke his serve when the second seed netted a backhand on a third break point in the game.

Djokovic won the next two games, winning the set on an overhead smash to an open court.

In the second set, Djokovic established a 3-1 lead and held on to the advantage.

He will play Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the semifinals. Verdasco defeated sixth-seeded Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 6-2, 7-5.

Top-seeded Andy Murray plays Nicolas Almagro of Spain in the first evening match, followed by third-seeded Tomas Berdych and fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Murray recalls shingles struggle after Australian Open exit

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Top-seeded Andy Murray said Sunday he is back to his best ahead of the Dubai Tennis Championships after recounting his struggles with shingles following his early exit from the Australian Open last month.

Shingles is a common, painful skin rash.

“I was a bit sick for 10 days, a couple of weeks, after I got back from Australia,” said Murray, who will play Malek Jaziri of Tunisia in the first round in Dubai. “I feel fresh and ready to go here.

“I had shingles,” he added. “It’s not terrible, but it’s not great. I had to go easy for a little while, so I wasn’t able to push that hard in training when I got back into it. But I’m fine now and have been training flat out the last two weeks.”

Murray said he’s not sure if the illness had already started developing while he was playing in the Australian Open.

The British top-ranked player was upset in a four-set, fourth-round encounter with Mischa Zverev at the first major of the year.

“I didn’t play particularly well at the Australian Open,” Murray said. “I started to play a bit better as it went on, but not as well as I would’ve liked.”

This marks Murray’s sixth career appearance at the Dubai tournament. His best result was reaching the 2012 final where he lost to Roger Federer.

Tsonga wins all-French final at Open 13

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MARSEILLE, France (AP) Second-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won a second title in as many weeks by defeating fellow Frenchman Lucas Pouille 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Open 13 on Sunday.

The 11th-ranked Tsonga put on a nearly flawless performance on his serve to win his 14th career title at the indoor event. Tsonga hit seven aces, dropped only three points on his first serve and did not face a single break point.

The former Australian Open runner-up broke once in each set and added a third Marseille trophy to his collection after victories in 2009 and 2013.

Tsonga, who defeated defending champion Nick Kyrgios in the semifinals, captured the Rotterdam title last week to end a two-year trophy drought.