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Kvitova escapes first-round scare on Day 1

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PARIS — Screaming in anger and hitting her racket on the red clay of Court Philippe Chatrier, Petra Kvitova came close to an early exit at the French Open on the first day of the Grand Slam tournament.

On a rainy Sunday, the two-time Wimbledon champion was pushed to a suspenseful three-set battle by 59th-ranked Danka Kovinic of Montenegro, who served for the match before Kvitova raised her game and eventually prevailed 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, taking the last three games.

In the men’s draw, 17th-seeded Nick Kyrgios lost his temper and received a warning for shouting at a ball kid, but the 21-year-old Australian had no problem advancing to the second round with a 7-6 (6), 7-6 (6), 6-4 win over Marco Cecchinalo. Also advancing before rain halted play early in the afternoon was No. 19 Benoit Paire.

Fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan led Simone Bolelli of Italy 6-1, 5-4 and No. 23 Jack Sock of the United States was up 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 2-1 against Robin Haase of the Netherlands when covers were brought on all courts.

Facing a player who never got beyond the second round at any major, Kvitova looked set for a comfortable start to her campaign in the French capital after breaking Kovinic twice to seal the first set 6-2 and opening a 3-1 lead in the second.

Kovinic then changed her approach and destabilized Kvitova with her deep groundstrokes.

“I saw in the first set that my balls were very short and she controlled every point,” the 21-year-old Kovinic said. “I tried to play longer points and with more spins in the second set, and it seemed good.”

Kovinic produced a superb lob to even the match at one set apiece and continued to apply pressure on Kvitova with her powerful tennis.

Showing her frustration, Kvitova smacked her racket on the ground after hitting a double fault and fluffing a backhand in the ninth game of the decider. The Czech hit two more double faults in that game to drop her serve. But with her back against the wall, Kvitova recovered with a series of winners including a backhand down the line to break back.

She then won eight of the next 10 points.

“It was a big fight again. I’m happy that I won it,” Kvitova said. “I played a lot of three-set matches, but it’s not my plan when I’m stepping on the court. I think that from the experience which I have already, I still can believe that I still can win it. Even if she’s serving for the match.”

Earlier, 24th-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova became the first player to advance to the second round with a 6-2, 6-0 win over qualifier Sara Sorribes Tormo.

About six months after the deadly attacks in Paris, heightened security at Roland Garros was noticeable Sunday, including extra bag checks and pat-downs that led to longer-than-usual waits at the entrance gates.

Wang Qiang reaches Bronx Open quarterfinals

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NEW YORK — Top-seeded Wang Qiang advanced to the quarterfinals of the Bronx Open with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Fiona Ferro on Wednesday.

The Chinese player, who will be the No. 18 seed in next week’s U.S. Open, will next face Anna Blinkova, who had to wait out a third-set rain delay before outlasting Mihaela Buzarnescu 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 in a match that lasted 2 hours, 6 minutes.

No. 10 seed Karolina Muchova also reached the quarterfinals by beating Kristie Ahn 6-3, 6-1, moving on to play Magda Linette. Linette knocked off ninth-seeded Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-1, 6-4.

Andy Murray to play in Challenger Tour event in Spain

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MADRID — Andy Murray will play in a second-tier Challenger Tour tournament hosted by Rafael Nadal’s tennis academy.

The tournament says Murray has accepted an invitation to play.

Murray, a three-time Grand Slam champion, had hip surgery in January. He returned to the court in June playing doubles – including at Wimbledon – before moving back to singles this month. The former No. 1 lost to Richard Gasquet in Cincinnati and to Tennys Sandgren in Winston-Salem, both in the first round.

Murray has not played on the Challenger Tour since 2005. His opener at the tournament in Mallorca, Spain, will be his 35th match in the lower division.

The tournament starts on Aug. 26.