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Nadal and Murray advance to 3rd round in Barcelona Open

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Defending champion Rafael Nadal cruised past Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil 6-1, 6-2 to reach the third round of the Barcelona Open on Wednesday.

Top-seeded Andy Murray also advanced, but without having to play as Bernard Tomic withdrew before their second-round match because of a lower back injury.

Nadal, making his debut at the newly named “Rafa Nadal” center court in Barcelona, had a slow start to the second set against the 69th-ranked Brazilian, but recovered by winning the final six games to secure the victory.

The fifth-ranked Nadal is a nine-time champion at the clay-court tournament. He is coming off his 10th title at the Monte Carlo Masters.

Nadal will next play Kevin Anderson of South Africa.

The top-ranked Murray was originally going to skip the Barcelona Open but decided to play after being eliminated in the third round at the Monte Carlo Masters, when he blew a 4-0 lead in the deciding set to Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Murray is trying to regain his form going into the French Open following a right elbow injury that kept him out of the Miami Open and the Davis Cup quarterfinals.

He will play 40th-ranked Feliciano Lopez of Spain, who defeated Albert Montanes 6-2, 6-2.

It was the final career match for Montanes, who had announced last week that the Barcelona Open would be his last tournament after nearly 20 years on tour.

The 36-year-old Barcelona resident won six ATP titles and was ranked a career-high 22nd in 2010. His first-round victory over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez on Monday was the 255th of his career.

In other second round matches, fifth-seeded David Goffin of Belgium defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-5, 6-0, while qualifier Hyeon Chung of South Korea beat 12th-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-3, 6-4.

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.

Maria Sharapova wins her 1st title since doping ban

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TIANJIN, China (AP) Maria Sharapova won her first WTA title since returning from a doping ban after defeating Aryna Sabalenka to win the Tianjin Open on Sunday.

The Russian, a tournament wild card, overcame Belarusian teenager Sabalenka 7-5, 7-6 (8) despite trailing heavily in both sets.

Sharapova last won a title at the Italian Open in May 2015.

The former top-ranked player and owner of five major titles, including the 2006 U.S. Open, tested positive for the newly banned drug meldonium at the Australian Open in January 2016. That led to a 15-month doping ban, which expired in April.

“Such a special, special tournament, and victory for me, one that I’ll remember forever,” Sharapova said. “Sometimes you never know when it will all come together but it happened to me this week in Tianjin.”

Sharapova displayed resilience as she came from behind in both sets to overcome her 19-year-old opponent.

Sabalenka led 4-1 in the opener and 5-1 in the second before relenting to Sharapova’s greater big-match experience. It was Sharapova’s 36th WTA singles title.

The 30-year-old Sharapova played in her first Grand Slam tournament following the ban at the U.S. Open in August, where she reached the fourth round. Sunday’s result will lift Sharapova up to No. 57 in the world rankings.