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Murray overcomes Kyrgios and his antics at US Open

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NEW YORK (AP) Nick Kyrgios does what he wants and says what he wants on a tennis court, seemingly no matter the ramifications, and amid all the near-napping, cursing and racket smashing, he troubled Andy Murray for moments at the U.S. Open.

Only for brief moments, though.

In the tournament’s most-anticipated first-round matchup, the No. 3-seeded Murray hit 18 aces, saved 11 of 14 break points and, perhaps most importantly, stayed steady in the face of Kyrgios’ various distractions, putting together a 7-5, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 victory Tuesday night.

“Obviously, for me, it’s important when you’re playing against him,” Murray said, “to just concentrate on your side of the court.”

This was Kyrgios’ first match since he was essentially put on probation by the ATP, with the threat of a 28-day suspension and $25,000 fine if he misbehaves at one of the tour’s sanctioned events over the next six months. Those parameters don’t apply at the U.S. Open, however, because Grand Slam tournaments are sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation.

That stemmed from some trash-talking last month against Stan Wawrinka in Montreal, where a courtside microphone picked up Kyrgios saying that his pal, Australian pro Thanasi Kokkinakis, had been with Wawrinka’s girlfriend. Kyrgios was fined a total of $12,500 the next day by the ATP, which later said it would monitor his behavior.

“I thought I’ve been dealing with that pretty well. Obviously it’s been tough. But I think I’ve moved on from it,” the 20-year-old Kyrgios said at Tuesday’s post-match news conference, referring to the whole Montreal episode and its aftermath. “I’d like to think that I’m going to learn from it. I think I have. I think I’m on the right path. I don’t think any of us in this room right now were perfect at 20. Speak up if you were.”

When that was greeted by silence from reporters, Kyrgios nodded and said: “Thought so.”

Later, asked what he meant by saying he had learned something along the way, Kyrgios replied: “Keep your mouth shut at times.”

Against Murray, Kyrgios was not exactly concerned with containing himself.

He was given a warning by chair umpire Carlos Ramos for swearing too loudly. He complained to Ramos that spectators were being allowed to wander to their seats during a game. He spiked his racket against the court and later whacked it against a wall behind the baseline. He won a point with the help of a shot between his legs. He whiffed on a leaping overhead attempt. Most oddly, Kyrgios leaned all the way back in his changeover chair during breaks, closing his eyes and resting against his towel or clutching it like a kid’s blanket, looking as if he were about to doze off.

“Just taking a nap, I guess,” he said afterward. “It’s good for you.”

Boris Becker, a six-time major champion as a player and now No. 1 Novak Djokovic’s coach, sat courtside for the match. In an on-air interview during ESPN’s broadcast, Becker said Kyrgios could stand to talk a little less and “should be famous for his on-court performance and not his antics.”

What happened in Montreal has been a chief topic of conversation in tennis over the past few weeks, and Murray was asked to weigh in before facing Kyrgios, who is ranked 37th and is talented enough to have stunned Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon last year and beaten Roger Federer this year.

“We all make mistakes … and for him, it’s unfortunate that’s its happening in front of millions of millions of people,” said Murray, the 2012 U.S. Open champion. “And I think it’s wrong, a lot of the things that he’s done, but I also think that he’s still young, and everyone’s different. People mature and grow up at different rates.”

Asked Tuesday about the tour’s handling of the matter, Wawrinka, a two-time major champion who could face Murray in the U.S. Open quarterfinals, said: “I don’t care much about that anymore.”

Kokkinakis, similarly, told reporters: “I’ve moved past it. I’m sure you guys will at some point, too.”

Kokkinakis stopped playing Tuesday because of cramps against 12th-seeded Richard Gasquet, one of a record 12 mid-match retirements in the first round at Flushing Meadows, where the temperature has topped 90 degrees and the humidity has been heavy.

The previous mark for most players quitting because of injury or illness during any round of any Grand Slam tournament in the professional era, which dates to 1968, was nine in the first round of the 2011 U.S. Open.

Ten men and two women have dropped out so far, including five Tuesday: Kokkinakis, Marcos Baghdatis, Ernests Gulbis, Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Marina Erakovic.

“For sure,” Wawrinka said, “it’s surprising to see so many players pull out.”

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

Murray completes fairytale return, Lopez claims 2 titles

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LONDON (AP) Andy Murray completed a fairytale return from hip surgery by winning the Queen’s Club doubles title with Feliciano Lopez, who ended Sunday with two titles after earlier winning the singles title as well.

The Spaniard is the first man to win both titles at the grass-court tournament in London since Mark Philippoussis in 1997.

Murray spent five months away from the sport until this week. He and Lopez defeated Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury 7-6 (6), 5-7, 10-5 in the doubles final – not long after Lopez outlasted Gilles Simon 6-2, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (2) in the singles.

Murray capped a remarkable week 146 days after undergoing what he hopes was career-saving hip surgery. In January he had said he was planning to retire after Wimbledon because of the severe pain he felt on a daily basis.

The three-time Grand Slam champion is approaching Wimbledon, which starts July 1, full of confidence after playing freely and without pain as he secured his first doubles title since winning with his brother Jamie Murray in Tokyo in 2011. Murray won’t play singles at Wimbledon but has already confirmed that Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert will partner him in the men’s doubles.

Murray and Lopez hadn’t played together in a tournament before beating top-seeded Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah on Thursday. They completed their darkness-delayed quarterfinal win over British duo Daniel Evans and Ken Skupski on Saturday, right before their semifinal win over Henri Kontinen and John Peers.

Lopez, who had been forced to play in three matches on Saturday including his singles semifinal, played almost 5 hours of tennis altogether on Sunday. He reaffirmed his status as the tournament’s oldest winner at age 37 with the singles title.

The veteran Spaniard was already its oldest winner when he took the title in 2017.

Lopez was playing his first final since defeating Marin Cilic in the decider two years ago and was made to work hard by the 34-year-old Simon.

Lopez saved all but one of the break points he faced and converted three of his 13 opportunities to prevail in 2 hours, 49 minutes. Lopez had won five of their previous seven meetings and all four on grass.

Lopez is the first wild card to claim the title since Pete Sampras defeated Tim Henman to win in 1999. He would have been the oldest player to win a tour-level title since the 43-year-old Ken Rosewall won the Hong Kong Grand Prix final in 1977, but Roger Federer beat him to that accolade after winning his 10th Halle Open title earlier Sunday. Federer is a month older than Lopez.

Barty beats Goerges in Birmingham final to take No. 1 spot

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BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) Ashleigh Barty defeated Julia Goerges 6-3, 7-5 to win the Birmingham Classic title on Sunday, a victory that ensures the Australian will be No. 1 in the rankings on Monday.

The 23-year-old Barty, who lost the final to Petra Kvitova in 2017, did not drop a set all week at the grass-court tournament, and she fought back from being 4-5 down in the second set to beat the German in 1 hour, 28 minutes.

Goerges fought back tears as she congratulated her friend on taking top spot in the rankings ahead of Wimbledon, which starts July 1.

French Open champion Barty, currently ranked No. 2, will take over from Naomi Osaka, who lost 6-2, 6-3 loss to Yulia Putintseva in the second round on Thursday.

Barty is only the second Australian woman to hold the top spot after Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976.

Barty, who extended her winning streak to 11 matches, and Goerges reached the semifinals in doubles together before Barty withdrew from their semifinal with a right arm injury.