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Stan Wawrinka’s Dubai title defense ends in first round

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Defending champion Stan Wawrinka was upset by Damir Dzumhur 7-6 (4), 6-3 in the first round of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Tuesday.

This was No. 3-ranked Wawrinka’s first match since his Australian Open semifinal loss to Swiss countryman Roger Federer. He left Melbourne with a right knee injury and began regular practices only a week ago. Wawrinka said his knee was fine, but suggested he needed more matches to get up to speed.

“In practice, (I) start to be OK the last few days, but today I was missing a little bit of something,” he said. “He started also to play a bit better, to put a little bit more first serves in, to put a little bit more pressure on.”

Wawrinka raced to a 4-1 lead.

“Three games in, like, six, seven minutes, he was playing outstanding there,” Dzumhur said. “I couldn’t even touch the ball.”

But that was also the point when Wawrinka slowed down and showed signs of becoming tentative, and allowed the Bosnian into the match. In the tiebreaker, Dzumhur went 5-2 up, which was more than enough to secure the first set.

“I was hoping that he’s gonna go down with his level of game, and that’s what happened,” Dzumhur said. “I started to fight, to grind.”

Dzumhur bolted to 5-1 in the second set, but became nervous when serving for the match. In the 10-point seventh game, Dzumhur served three double faults, and lost the third break point he faced.

He kept his composure when serving for the match two games later, setting up match point with a forehand cross-court volley, and watched Wawrinka sail a forehand long.

Sharapova, Puig heading to Puerto Rico for hurricane relief

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) Maria Sharapova and Monica Puig will head to Puerto Rico next week to help with recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria.

Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion, and Puig, who won Puerto Rico’s first Olympic gold medal in any sport at the Rio de Janeiro Games last summer, will go to the island Monday to distribute portable stoves, medicine and other supplies.

The agency that represents both players said Wednesday that Puig has raised more than $125,000 to help storm victims, while Sharapova is donating proceeds from her candy company for the rest of 2017.

The storm swept across Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, causing at least 48 deaths, according to the official tally. It caused widespread flooding and knocked out the entire power grid for the island of 3.4 million people.

 

Sharapova loses to Rybarikova at Kremlin Cup

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MOSCOW (AP) Maria Sharapova was beaten by Magdalena Rybarikova 7-6 (3), 6-4 in the first round of the Kremlin Cup on Tuesday, ending her bid for a second title in two weeks.

Sharapova, who won the Tianjin Open two days ago, brought her usual power but lacked accuracy with some wild swings on key points.

“I felt fine physically, to be honest, especially after having played five matches in five days (in Tianjin). That was a big surprise,” Sharapova said. “Maybe I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been … Maybe if this tournament hadn’t been in Moscow, I wouldn’t have played it.”

Sharapova was under pressure on serve from the start and saved six break points before finally being broken to 6-5. She responded by breaking Rybarikova, but Sharapova’s double fault at 4-3 in the tiebreaker handed the Slovakian the momentum to close out the set.

Rybarikova, seeded eighth, sealed the match after saving two break points to lead 5-4, then breaking Sharapova in the next game. Rybarikova will play Alize Cornet in the second round.

Six months after she returned from a 15-month doping ban, Sharapova is still trying to move back up the rankings from her current position of 57th. Her first tour appearance in Moscow in a decade drew a large and enthusiastic crowd despite taking place on a Tuesday afternoon.

Also Tuesday, seventh-seeded Julia Goerges beat Russian qualifier Polina Monova 6-0, 6-3 to set up a second-round meeting with Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.

In the men’s Kremlin Cup tournament, sixth-seeded Damir Dzumhur defeated Thomas Fabbiano 6-3, 0-6, 6-2.