Murray to remain outspoken against doping

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LONDON (AP) Andy Murray plans to remain outspoken against doping, despite facing a backlash for some of his recent comments on performance-enhancing drugs in tennis.

The No. 2-ranked player was branded “out of order” by Novak Djokovic’s coach, Boris Becker, for saying in a newspaper interview that he wonders whether some players are doping.

Murray said Friday he has cleared the air with Becker but won’t be deterred from speaking his mind if it means protecting the integrity of tennis.

“I think sport in general over the years has sort of had a distrust really because of everything that’s happened over the years,” Murray told The Associated Press as he launched a new charity initiative.

“It’s obviously our job as tennis players and athletes to try to make sure it is as clean as possible. It’s unlikely you are ever going to have a perfect sport but we want as athletes to be competing in one and I will continue to fight for that.”

Murray will stage an “Andy Murray Live ” event in Glasgow on Sept. 21 to raise money for local charity Young People’s Futures and UNICEF after becoming an ambassador for the U.N.’s children’s agency.

“A lot of the tennis players … try to give back as much as possible,” Murray said. “Hopefully this event will be a good starting point for me.”

Murray will play a singles match against Frenchman Gael Monfils at the SSE Hydro Glasgow arena. He will then team up with brother Jamie, the world’s top-ranked doubles player, to take on Monfils and retired four-time Wimbledon semifinalist Tim Henman.

Half of the 10,000 seats will cost 25 pounds ($36) or less in a bid to make the event accessible for a Scottish audience that doesn’t get to see top-class tennis tournaments.

“I think that’s always been one of the criticisms really with British tennis – that it is too expensive sometimes,” Murray said in an interview at Wimbledon, where he won the singles title in 2013.

“There’s a lot of major tennis events, obviously Queen’s and Wimbledon during the summer, but they can be expensive if you want to see the top players playing. So hopefully making this event a bit more affordable will give the chance for more families and young kids to come along and watch.”

It’s a busy year for Murray, who is grappling with life as a first-time parent after wife Kim Sears gave birth to a daughter, Sophia, two months ago. Murray is trying to make adjustments to his schedule to spend time at home. Before chasing a second Wimbledon title and defending Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro, Murray will pursue a first French Open title at the May 22-June 5 tournament.

“I feel good. In Monte Carlo I played well,” Murray said a week after reaching the semifinals, where he lost to Rafael Nadal. “It’s been my best period on clay for my whole career really over the last 12, 18 months or so. I need to keep improving on it obviously. Monte Carlo was a good start.

“I’ve got a couple of tournaments before the French Open begins and I’ll try to have a good run there. I believe I’m in a good position. I feel healthy and pretty fresh and I’m looking forward to it.”

Murray is escaping the chilly spring London climate on Saturday to prepare on the Spanish island of Mallorca for the grueling months ahead. He has little time to think about wading into another divisive national political debate.

British voters will decide in a June 23 referendum whether to remain in the 28-nation European Union. Two years ago, Murray made a high-profile intervention in the Scottish independence debate on the day of the referendum by backing the ultimately unsuccessful “Yes” campaign.

“I haven’t really given it (Brexit) any thought at all,” Murray said. “I’ve had a lot going on this year. I’ve just become a father a few weeks ago. That’s what’s been at the forefront of my thinking this year, rather than anything political.”

Djokovic to start 2023 in Adelaide ahead of Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic will open his 2023 campaign in Adelaide as he prepares for a shot at a 10th Australian Open crown a year after having his visa revoked on the eve of his title defense.

The 21-time major winner has been granted a visa by the Australian government and has been listed to play at the Adelaide International, which starts Jan. 1.

Serbia isn’t contesting the inaugural United Cup team competition, leaving Djokovic free to play regular warmup tournaments head of the Jan. 16-29 Australian Open.

He’ll be joined in the men’s draw at Adelaide by Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada and Andy Murray.

Ons Jabeur, Aryna Sabalenka will headline the women’s draw.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles last month confirmed Djokovic had been granted a visa to compete in Australia in January. The 35-year-old Serbian had been facing a possible three-year ban after being deported last January over his stance against COVID-19 vaccination.

Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times, including the last three times he played. Rafael Nadal won this year’s title in Djokovic’s absence.

Djokovic was not vaccinated against COVID-19 when he arrived in Melbourne ahead of the 2022 tournament, but Australia has since lifted strict rules for unvaccinated travelers.

Karolina Pliskova reuniting with Sascha Bajin

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Two-time Grand Slam finalist Karolina Pliskova is reuniting with coach Sascha Bajin ahead of the 2023 season.

Pliskova posted on her website and her Twitter account about the move, which comes about six months after she and Bajin stopped working together. The pair originally teamed up in November 2020.

While Bajin was her coach, Pliskova reached the final at Wimbledon in 2021 before losing to champion Ash Barty. Pliskova also was the runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open, where she defeated Serena Williams in the semifinals before being beat by Angelique Kerber for the trophy.

After splitting from Bajin in July, Pliskova was coached by Leos Friedl. Their results together included a quarterfinal run at the U.S. Open.

Bajin has worked as a coach or hitting partner with several top tennis players, including Grand Slam title winners Williams, Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

“Thank you for having me back,” Bajin wrote on Twitter. “Let’s go get it.”

Pliskova is a 30-year-old from the Czech Republic who reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings in 2017 and finished this season at No. 31 after going 21-21 with no titles.

Her team also includes fitness specialist Jez Green and physiotherapist Martin Salvador.

Next year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, begins Jan. 16.