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Lucie Safarova wins Prague Open for 7th career WTA title

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PRAGUE (AP) Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic came from a set down to win the Prague Open, overcoming Sam Stosur of Australia 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the final on Saturday.

Safarova broke Stosur for 4-3 in the final set and served out with her 14th ace to claim her seventh WTA title, and first in 14 months. She improved her record against Stosur to 11-3.

“It was a big fight,” Safarova said. “It’s always tough against her. I was waiting for my chance and it came in the second set.”

Coming back from a bacterial infection last year, Safarova, the French Open runner-up last year, didn’t win a singles this season until this week in Prague, where she won five in a row.

In the opening set, Stosur got a break for 2-0 and held on, saving one break point at 4-2 before serving it out.

But she struggled with her serve in the remaining two sets, serving seven double faults. She didn’t look disappointed after the final.

“I still had a pretty good week,” the 2011 U.S. Open champion said.

Safarova broke Stosur to go 2-0 up in the second set after the Australian double-faulted on a break point, and got another break for 4-0 with a forehand winner.

Djokovic lines up Dimitrov at Queen’s Club

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LONDON — Novak Djokovic’s first appearance at Queen’s Club in eight years was successful when he put away Australian qualifier John Millman 6-2, 6-1 on Tuesday.

Djokovic, entered as a wild card, will play second-seeded Grigor Dimitrov in the second round.

Also, Milos Raonic, runner-up to Roger Federer last week in Stuttgart, won his opener when Indian qualifier Yuki Bhambri retired hurt while trailing 6-1, 3-1.

Djokovic’s comeback from right elbow surgery in January has been gathering pace after reaching the Rome semifinals and French Open quarterfinals. He leads Dimitrov 6-1 in career matchups.

Dimitrov, the 2014 Queen’s champion, struggled past Damir Dzumhur 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3. Dimitrov saved six of eight break points.

Svitolina’s top ambitions survive grass-court struggle

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BIRMINGHAM, England — Elena Svitolina, who came within two wins of becoming world No. 1 in January, maintained her ambitious momentum to reach the top by surviving a tricky start to her Wimbledon build-up on Tuesday.

The second-seeded Svitolina stumbled within sight of a two-set victory, and briefly faltered again in the last set before beating Donna Vekic of Croatia 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.

Svitolina showed glimpses of the tenacious movement and consistently ferocious drives which have earned her the best win-loss record on the WTA tour since the beginning of last year, but also revealed glimpses of insecurity on the lush, low-bouncing surface.

Despite carving a lead of a set and 3-1, her gradually increasing attempts to win points in the forecourt were of variable quality, while Vekic, a former runner-up here, began to contain and counterattack more effectively.

Svitolina nearly let slip another lead of 3-1, in the last set, needing to save two break points on her next service game – one with a fine serve, and the other with a net attack finished off at the third attempt.

Eventually, the Ukrainian’s determination to adapt tactically to a surface on which she has yet to progress beyond any quarterfinal paid timely dividends, and she accelerated toward the finishing line at a canter.

“I was just trying to play well and to dominate, but she played a couple of great points to break back – which is always nice to have,” said Svitolina, apparently meaning she was pleased to gain extra practice on such a technique-testing surface.

“It was difficult for me because she hit the ball very flat and the first match on grass is always a challenge.”

She next faces Alize Cornet of France, who notably beat Serena Williams at 2014 Wimbledon, and who outlasted former top-10 player Ekaterina Makarova of Russia, by 5-7, 6-4, 6-1.