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Murray leads high-profile departures in Queens 1st round

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LONDON — Top-ranked Andy Murray headed a list of high-profile departures in the first round at Queen’s on Tuesday, with the Wimbledon champion losing to a player who found out he was competing only on the morning of the match.

Murray put in a sloppy and error-prone display in losing to 90th-ranked Jordan Thompson 7-6 (4), 6-2, joining Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic in getting eliminated on a day of shocks at the Wimbledon warmup event. They were the top three seeds.

Thompson, who lost in the final round of qualifying on Sunday, stepped up to play Murray following the withdrawal early Tuesday of Aljaz Bedene because of a wrist injury. Thompson played the match of his life – but was given a helping hand by the erratic Murray, the defending and five-time champion in west London.

The Australian sealed victory with an ace down the middle.

“Definitely the biggest win of my career,” Thompson said. “I took each point at a time. I definitely didn’t expect to be winning here in straight sets. I just wanted to enjoy myself.”

“Yesterday, I was sitting around, hoping to be able to get a game,” he added, “but there weren’t too many matches yesterday. I was always coming in, trying to sign in, and here I am in the draw. I’m so lucky.”

It is a blow to Murray’s preparation for Wimbledon, which starts on July 3.

The second-seeded Wawrinka was beaten by big-serving Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (5), 7-5, with the Spanish player sealing victory off a net cord from a sliced backhand return.

Wawrinka, the runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the French Open, appeared to be struggling with a left knee injury in the second set.

While Wawrinka’s exit wasn’t too much of a surprise, given Lopez’s recent form and liking for grass, the early departure of third-seeded Raonic in the first match on Centre Court certainly was.

Last year’s runner-up at Queen’s and Wimbledon – both times to Murray – lost 7-6 (5), 7-6 (8) to No. 698-ranked Thanasi Kokkinakis, who was playing only his sixth singles since November 2015 because of injury problems.

It was the first win over a top-10 opponent for the Australian, who trailed 6-3 in the second-set tiebreaker but won on his third match point with a backhand winner into the corner.

“It’s a big frustration,” said Raonic, who failed to convert any of his nine break-point opportunities. “Obviously it would have been a lot easier scheduling everything if I was to be here and have many more matches ahead of me.”

Kokkinakis played only one match in 2016 because of a shoulder problem, and missed most of this year because of an abdominal injury. He returned to action in May and played three events before Queen’s, with his ranking as low as No. 993 only last week.

“It’s everything. It’s huge for me,” Kokkinakis said. “I’ve been out for so long.”

French player Julien Benneteau advanced to the last 16 by beating Britain’s James Ward 6-2, 6-2.

Nadal, Muguruza win ITF player of the year awards

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LONDON — Rafael Nadal and Garbine Muguruza have won the International Tennis Federation’s player of the year awards.

At 31, Nadal becomes the oldest ITF men’s world champion after a season in which he won a 10th French Open and a third U.S. Open.

The Spaniard also became the oldest player to finish the year at No. 1 since the ATP rankings began in 1973.

Muguruza dropped only one set en route to her first Wimbledon title and finished the year at No. 2 behind Simona Halep.

“Becoming ITF world champion in such a competitive year is amazing for me,” said Muguruza, who is also Spanish. “(Nadal) is a great role model for all of us, so it is a great moment for tennis in Spain.”

Kuznetsova out of Australian Open after left wrist surgery

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova has withdrawn from next month’s Australian Open after having surgery on her left wrist.

Tennis Australia on Friday said No. 12-ranked Kuznetsova and China’s Sasai Zheng, with a right knee injury, were the only players ranked in the top 100 who are confirmed as not playing the Jan. 15-28 tournament at Melbourne Park.

Serena Williams, who was pregnant while winning the 2017 Australian Open title and gave birth to her first child in September, “is anticipated to return,” Tennis Australia said.

Williams could equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles with another win at Melbourne Park. Serena Williams’ ranking has dropped to No. 22 during her break from the tour.