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Kasatkina upsets Halep at Wuhan Open

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WUHAN, China — No. 2-ranked Simona Halep lost her opening match at the Wuhan Open, dismantled by Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 6-1 on Tuesday.

Halep received a bye into the second round. She broke Kasatkina early but the Russian dominated thereafter.

It was Kasatkina’s third win over a top-five player, after two wins over then-No. 1 Angelique Kerber this year.

“The game was much more difficult than the score is,” Kasatkina said.

Halep had a chance this week to supplant Garbine Muguruza as No. 1 by reaching the final with other results going her way.

No. 4 Karolina Pliskova kept alive her shot at No. 1 by beating local Shuai Zhang 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. To regain the No. 1 ranking, Pliskova must win the Wuhan title and hope Muguruza loses before the semifinals. Muguruza was in action late.

“I always want to play better than I did last year; I already won one round so hopefully I can win one more,” Pliskova said.

Another Russian, two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, lost to Alize Cornet of France 6-3, 6-3.

Three other seeds advanced: No. 7 and 2016 finalist Dominika Cibulkova, No. 8 Jelena Ostapenko, and No. 9 Agnieszka Radwanska.

Ostapenko came back to beat Barbora Strycova 2-6, 7-5, 6-3, and Radwanska saw off Julia Goerges of Germany 7-5, 7-5.

Ekaterina Makarova of Russia, Caroline Garcia of France, Wang Qiang of China, and Varvara Lepchenko of the U.S. were also winners on Tuesday.

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.