Murray advances, Ivanovic loses amid medical distraction

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) A medical emergency overshadowed matches on adjoining courts at the Australian Open when Nigel Sears, who is Ana Ivanovic’s coach and Andy Murray’s father-in-law, was rushed to a hospital while both of their third-round matches were in progress.

Four-time finalist Murray beat No. 32 Joao Sousa 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 and signed some autographs but skipped the customary on-court interview before leaving Margaret Court Arena on Saturday night to check on the welfare of Sears, the father of his pregnant wife.

Ivanovic was leading Madison Keys 6-4, 1-0 when her match was stopped. She could be seen saying “That’s my coach,” before both players left the court. It was the second time in three days that Ivanovic’s progress was interrupted for a spectator needing medical aid – her second-round match was delayed for a half-hour when a woman fell on the stairs at Rod Laver Arena.

This time, the 2008 finalist didn’t come back to win. Despite having breaks in the second and third sets, Ivanovic lost six of the last seven games to lose 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to No. 15-seeded Keys.

Australian Open organizers didn’t provide any confirmation on Sears or his condition, although stadium announcer Craig Willis told the Rod Laver Arena crowd: “Nigel Sears had a turn, as we all saw. He’s in the hospital cracking terrible jokes he cracks all the time, and a TV was wheeled into his room so he could watch the match. He’s OK.”

Murray’s match wasn’t stopped, but word filtered through as he finished. His brother, Jamie Murray, was keeping track of Sears’ health, British media reported.

Tournament organizers said Murray, Ivanovic, and Keys wouldn’t be available for interviews, leaving Sousa as the only one of the four players involved in those night matches who commented on the episode.

“I just heard that Andy went direct to the hospital. Good thing is (Sears) is conscious, he’s speaking,” Sousa said. “So we hope there’s nothing bad and, of course, first is the family and the health.”

Murray’s wife, Kim, is due to give birth to their first child next month, and the two-time major winner said he’d miss a match in any round to be there if she goes into labor. His next match is scheduled for Monday against No. 16-seeded Bernard Tomic.

Earlier, two-time champion Victoria Azarenka dropped her opening service game without winning a point, but recovered quickly to beat Japanese qualifier Naomi Osaka 6-1, 6-1. Azarenka is emerging as a favorite in the bottom half of the draw after No. 2 Simona Halep went out in the first round and No. 3 Garbine Muguruza lost in the third.

Azarenka will next play No. 48-ranked Barbora Strycova, who upset 2015 Wimbledon finalist Muguruza 6-3, 6-2.

Sydney-born Johanna Konta became the first British woman to reach the fourth round at the Australian Open since 1987 when she beat Denisa Allertova 6-2, 6-2. Her next match is against 2015 semifinalist Ekaterina Makarova, who ousted No. 9 Karolina Pliskova.

Muguruza’s loss left No. 7 Angelique Kerber as the highest-ranked player in the bottom half of the women’s draw. Kerber beat Madison Brengle 6-1, 6-3 to move into a fourth-round match against fellow German Annika Beck, and a potential quarterfinal with Azarenka.

Milos Raonic dedicated his third-round victory, a 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 win over Viktor Troicki, to victims of a shooting in a remote community in Saskatchewan, Canada, which left four people dead and at least two injured.

“Today, before I stepped out on court it was a difficult day back home,” the Canadian told the crowd. “I want to take a moment and give thoughts to that community. Today’s victory was for that community, and a quick recovery and all of Canada, and I’m sure the world is behind you.”

Raonic faces a tough fourth-rounder against Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 Australian and 2015 French Open champion, who advanced past Lukas Rosol 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (3).

No. 8-seeded David Ferrer overwhelmed Steve Johnson 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 and set up a meeting with another American in the next round, No. 10-seeded John Isner, who fired 44 aces against Feliciano Lopez in winning 6-7 (8), 7-6 (5), 6-2, 6-4.

Tennis star Kyrgios to fight charge on mental health grounds

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CANBERRA, Australia – Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios will apply to have an assault charge dismissed on mental health grounds, his lawyer told an Australian court on Tuesday.

Lawyer Michael Kukulies-Smith appeared on behalf of Kyrgios in a court in the tennis star’s hometown of Canberra and asked for an adjournment so forensic mental health reports could be prepared.

Magistrate Glenn Theakston adjourned the case until Feb. 3, when Kyrgios’ lawyers are expected to apply to have the charge dismissed under a section of the local crimes law.

The 27-year-old Australian tennis star will appear in court in person on that date for the first time since he was charged by police by summons in July.

The law gives magistrates the power to dismiss a charge if they are satisfied an accused person is mentally impaired, and dealing with an allegation in that way would benefit the community and the defendant.

The common assault charge, which has a potential maximum sentence of two years in prison, relates to an incident in January 2021 that was reported to local police last December.

The charge reportedly relates to an incident involving his former girlfriend.

Kukulies-Smith told the court his client’s mental health history since 2015 made the application appropriate, citing a number of public statements made by Kyrgios.

In February, Kyrgios opened up about his performance at the 2019 Australian Open, saying what appeared to be a positive time in his life had been “one of my darkest periods.”

“I was lonely, depressed, negative, abusing alcohol, drugs, pushed away family and friends,” he wrote on Instagram. “I felt as if I couldn’t talk or trust anyone. This was a result of not opening up and refusing to lean on my loved ones and simply just push myself little by little to be positive.”

Kyrgios made further references to his mental health struggles during his runs to the final at Wimbledon and the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open.

After ending Daniil Medvedev’s U.S. Open title defense last month to reach the quarterfinals, Kyrgios expressed pride at lifting himself out of “some really tough situations, mentally” and “some really scary places” off the court.

Theakston questioned whether Kyrgios would need to appear in court for the February hearing, but Kukulies-Smith said his client wanted to attend.

Kyrgios was scheduled to play at the Japan Open later Tuesday against Tseng Chun-hsin of Taiwan.

Speaking in Tokyo before his matter returned to court, Kyrgios said it was “not difficult at all” to focus on tennis despite the pending charge.

“There’s only so much I can control and I’m taking all the steps and dealing with that off the court,” he told reporters. “I can only do what I can and I’m here in Tokyo and just trying to play some good tennis, continue that momentum and just try to do my job.”

Wimbledon champ Rybakova beats Keys in Ostrava opener

Agel Open Ostrava - Day One
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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakova came from a set down to defeat Madison Keys 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of the Agel Open on Monday.

Rybakova had lost to Keys this year at the French Open and Cincinnati.

In other first-round matches in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava, Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia defeated Zhang Shuai of China 6-3, 6-3, and local hope Petra Kvitova overcame American Bernanda Pera 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

Fresh from her second title of the year in Seoul last month, Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia knocked out former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.