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Tripped by a tarp: French Open player stops with bad ankle

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PARIS — David Goffin’s French Open ended when he got hurt by tripping on a tarp during a point.

The Grand Slam tournament’s 10th-seeded man stopped playing his third-round match and was taken to the hospital after injuring his right ankle in the first set, when he fell while chasing a ball way behind the baseline at Court Suzanne Lenglen on Friday. Goffin’s right foot got stuck under the cover used to protect the court overnight or in case of heavy rain.

“He had an MRI, and the news is reassuring: There is no tearing of the ligaments and no bone that’s been broken, either,” said Goffin’s coach, Thierry van Cleemput.

“For the time being, we’re optimistic,” he said, adding that Goffin will stay in Paris for a couple of days of treatment before heading home to Belgium.

Goffin was a quarterfinalist at Roland Garros last season.

Five years ago, at age 21, he became the first “lucky loser” – someone who fails to make it out of qualifying rounds but gets into the main draw because of another player’s withdrawal – to reach the fourth round at a Grand Slam tournament since 1995.

On Friday, Goffin was serving for the opening set while ahead 5-4 against Horacio Zeballos of Argentina. After wasting three set points, Goffin was facing a break point when the players engaged in a lengthy baseline exchange. On the 14th stroke, Goffin raced to his left to reach a deep shot and, just as he flicked a backhand lob, his momentum carried his sliding right foot into the edge of the tarp.

Goffin reached out with his left hand to try to brace himself against a wall but crumpled to the ground, wincing and clutching at his ankle. Zeballos, meanwhile, was running to track down the ball with his back to the court and did not see what happened. Zeballos’ shot landed out, so Goffin actually won the point.

Zeballos put his hands on his head when he saw that Goffin remained down. Zeballos walked over, bringing a towel for Goffin to rest his head on while laying on his back. Two people helped Goffin make his way toward the locker room for a medical timeout – spectators rose and applauded – and, after a few minutes, it was announced that the match would not continue.

“I hope he recovers quickly,” said Zeballos, who packed up Goffin’s racket bag and carried it off the court for him. “He’s a great guy. Very calm. Never argues with anyone. Always very respectful.”

Until this week, the 65th-ranked Zeballos hadn’t won a match at the French Open since 2013. He hadn’t made it past the second round at any Grand Slam tournament in 17 previous appearances.

“I don’t know what to feel,” Zeballos said. “One part (of me is) a little happy, because it’s my best tournament. But also, I’m sad for him.”

Van Cleemput said tournament organizers will need to consider whether they can do anything to make the court safer.

“There will be consequences,” he said.

Asked about the tarps at the back of the court, Zeballos said: “Yeah, of course, it’s pretty dangerous.”

The tarp did not comment.


6-time champ Djokovic loses at Miami Open to Benoit Paire

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Novak Djokovic’s 16-match Key Biscayne winning streak ended, and his struggle to overcome a bothersome right elbow continued.

Djokovic lasted barely an hour at a tournament he has won six times, losing his opening match Friday in the Miami Open to Benoit Paire, 6-3, 6-4.

The defeat was Djokovic’s third in a row. He returned from a six-month injury absence at the Australian Open and lost in the fourth round, and was upset two weeks ago at Indian Wells by Taro Daniel, a 109th-ranked qualifier.

Against the 47th-ranked Paire, Djokovic dropped serve four times, returned poorly and had difficulty anticipating his crafty opponent’s drop shots.

In women’s play, Naomi Osaka’s breakthrough winning streak ended with a loss to No. 4-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-2. Osaka said began feeling ill before the match but didn’t want to retire after upsetting eight-time champion Serena Williams in the first round.

The 20-year-old Osaka is ranked a career-high 22nd and won her first career title last week at Indian Wells.

Djokovic sat out the last half of 2017 because of problems with his racket-swinging arm, saying it had been bothering him for more than a year. He was sidelined again after this year’s Australian Open and said he had a “small medical intervention” on his elbow.

The 12-time Grand Slam champion didn’t seem to favor it against Paire, but his shots lacked their usually snap and sometimes were awkwardly struck, including the last two on match point.

In the first set Djokovic served with a chance to reach 5-all, but from 40-0 he lost five consecutive points and the set. Another dismal stretch came when he was broken at love in the final game of the match.

The loss was Djokovic’s first at Key Biscayne since 2013. He missed last year’s Miami Open but won the title three consecutive years in 2014-16.

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Top-ranked Halep wins tough 3-setter in Miami

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Top-ranked Simona Halep of Romania struggled to post a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 second-round win over French lucky loser Oceane Dodin at the Miami Open on Thursday.

In the first career meeting between the players, Halep allowed the 98th-ranked Dodin to break her serve on six of seven opportunities she presented in the match, which lasted more than two hours.

Halep broke Dodin’s serve for the seventh time at 4-4 in the third set before closing it out.

Halep played in her third career Grand Slam final at the Australian Open in January, but has yet to secure a Grand Slam trophy.

Halep’s best Miami Open was reaching the 2015 semifinals.

Also Thursday, former No. 1 Angelique Kerber of Germany advanced to the third round with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Johanna Larsson of Sweden.

Kerber is 19-4 this year and has reached at least the quarterfinals of all five tournaments she’s played.

Kerber, the 2016 Australian Open and U.S. Open champion, won her first tournament since that U.S. Open at Sydney in January. She also reached the Australian Open semifinals.