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Djokovic returns with a victory

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MEXICO CITY (AP) Novak Djokovic beat Slovakia’s Martin Klizan 6-3, 7-6 (4) in the opening round of the Mexican Open on Tuesday.

The win was Djokovic’s first since his shocking loss in the second round of the Australian Open.

“It’s always tough to win the first match but I’m happy with my game, especially in the first set, hopefully I can keep playing like that”, Djokovic said.

The 29-year-old Serbian, ranked No. 2, played his first tournament since Jan. 19, when he suffered an unexpected loss to Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin. Djokovic, making his debut in Acapulco, saved four break points to take the first set Tuesday, struggled in the second set and needed a tiebreaker to take down Klizan in about 1 1/2 hours.

Djokovic, the top seed in Mexico, will play the winner of the later match between Juan Martin Del Potro and American Frances Tiafoe.

“`Delpo’ plays tonight but I’m going to go to my bed”, added Djokovic.

Djokovic, who skipped Dubai for the first time in seven years, is the first favorite in Mexico. The second is Spaniard Rafael Nadal, who had a comfortable 6-4, 6-3 win over Mischa Zverev.

Nadal, a two-time winner in Acapulco, will play Italian Paolo Lorenzi in the next round.

The Spaniard has an 11-0 record in Mexico.

Earlier, third-seeded Marin Cilic reached the second round with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 win over Alexandr Dolgopolov, a wild-card entry.

The 28 year-old Cilic is struggling this year with a 4-4 record. He was ousted in the second round in the Australian Open and Montpellier and reached the quarterfinals in Rotterdam.

Another player who*s struggling this year is Australian Bernard Tomic, who retired in the first set of his match against American Donald Young.

Tomic, who lost the Acapulco final a year ago when he was a top-20 player in the world, is in a downward spiral in 2017 and lost in the first round for the fourth time in five tournaments so far.

Also on Tuesday, Ernesto Escobedo defeated Stefan Kozlov 6-1, 2-6, 6-0, in a duel between Americans and will play against Steve Johnson in the second round.

Another American that moved on was Sam Querrey, who took care of Kyle Edmund, from Great Britain, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

Querrey, who reached the semifinals in Acapulco in 2016, will face Belgian David Goffin, the fifth-seed in Mexico.

Venus ready for return WTA Finals

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SINGAPORE (AP) Venus Williams returns to the year-end WTA Finals for the first time since reaching the 2009 final, and the fifth time overall, starting on Sunday in Singapore.

Williams joins top-ranked Simona Halep of Romania, second-ranked Garbine Muguruza of Spain, third-ranked Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic, fourth-ranked Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, sixth-ranked Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, seventh-ranked Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia and ninth-ranked Caroline Garcia of France.

They’re all pretty special,” said Williams, of her career appearances in the year-end competition. “It’s the end of the year. Only Top 8 get here. It’s definitely something well earned.”

At 37-years-old, Williams is the third oldest player to qualify for the year-end championships behind a 39-year-old Billie Jean King in 1983, and a 38-year-old Martina Navratilova in 1994.

Williams is the oldest player in this draw with 27-year-old Wozniacki the next oldest.

Having played since 1995, Williams has seen the women’s game advance, saying: “The competition is so much greater. It’s a beautiful change, in fact.”

In 2008, Williams won the WTA Finals title, going 3-0 in the round-robin, and defeating Vera Zvonareva of Russia in the final.

She was also was a semifinalist in her first two appearances in the finals, in 1999 and 2000.

Williams reached two Grand Slam finals this season at the Australian Open, where she lost to what turned out to be an already pregnant younger sister, Serena, and at Wimbledon, where she fell to Muguruza.

Every player but Garcia has a possibility of playing themselves into the year-end No. 1 ranking depending on their result this week. Williams has ranked No. 1 for 11 weeks of her career.

In the round-robin, Williams is situated in the White Group with fellow big-hitters Muguruza and Pliskova, who both ranked No. 1 at some time during this season, and French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Williams opens the competition against Pliskova on Sunday. The two are tied at one match apiece in their head-to-head.

She holds a 3-2 winning record over Muguruza and is 1-0 over Ostapenko.

“I think my group is more aggressive style players in the group and the other one is more defending,” Pliskova said. “I just like to play better these players.

“I start with Venus tomorrow, so I beat her once from match point and once I lost very close match. This one is open.”

Goerges ends 6-year title wait with victory at Kremlin Cup

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MOSCOW (AP) Julia Goerges ended her six-year wait for another WTA singles title Saturday with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Daria Kasatkina in the Kremlin Cup final.

Goerges cruised to victory against her Russian opponent, who was ranked one place below her at 28th.

The German swept the first five games of the first set before Kasatkina could even get on the board.

Kasatkina put up more resistance at the start of the second, forcing three break points in Goerges’ first service game, but couldn’t convert them and was broken next game.

Goerges is now 3-7 in career singles finals, with her last title in Stuttgart in 2011. Before Saturday’s match, she had lost six straight finals, including three in the space of two months this summer.