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Tennis opens up bidding for hosts of Davis, Fed Cup finals

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LONDON — Cities will bid to stage the finals of the Davis and Fed Cups as part of a revamp of the international team tennis competitions.

The International Tennis Federation will launch a bidding process in December, although the governing body is yet to determine whether the same city will host the men’s and women’s competitions.

Currently one of the finalists, based on the draw, decides the venue. Croatia is now looking for a suitable location for its men to host Argentina in the Davis Cup final in November.

“By having a full year or two to plan we can do more for sponsors and fans with a stadium that’s an appropriate size,” ITF President David Haggerty said the organization’s London headquarters.

Working on the ITF project are consultants from the CSM sports marketing company chaired by Sebastian Coe, president of track and field’s governing body, the IAAF.

The ITF will assess whether to select a host city from an emerging market which can potentially offer higher financial returns or one of the traditional tennis heartlands where the crowds could be larger and more boisterous.

“It’s a balancing act, making sure we get bids from a number of different cities so we can make comparisons,” Haggerty told The Associated Press. “But it’s not all about money. It’s about eyeballs and awareness. Our mission really is to develop, grow and promote tennis around the world. So we will take great caution.”

Haggerty envisages the winning bid staging the finals for two to three years. The challenge in potentially using the same venue for both competition finals at the same time is finding somewhere with enough arenas, practice courts and locker rooms.

European soccer’s Champions League final and the Super Bowl, the showpiece of the NFL season, are being examined as major events that are held at neutral venues.

The proposed Davis and Fed Cup changes must be approved by the ITF’s annual general meeting in August. The ITF anticipates a decision on successful bidding cities next year.

The ITF is also examining whether to condense the finals from three to two days and if best-of-three sets would work better for the Davis Cup rather than the current best-of-five. The Fed Cup world group could also double to 16 teams to match the men’s competition.

Federer beats Raonic for Stuttgart title, his 18th on grass

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STUTTGART, Germany (AP) Roger Federer defeated Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6 (3) to mark his return from three months off with the Stuttgart Open title on Sunday.

The Swiss great, who is assured of reclaiming the No. 1 ranking from Rafael Nadal on Monday, broke at 1-1 in the opening set and held his nerve in the second, where Raonic double-faulted.

Federer skipped the entire clay-court season for the second year in a row, but he wrapped up his 18th grass-court title in 1 hour and 18 minutes – his 98th title overall and third of the season after victories at the Australian Open and World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

“It’s a wonderful feeling. I fought hard. When you finally manage it, the joy is even greater,” said Federer, who extended his grass-court winning streak to 16 matches including his titles at Halle and Wimbledon last year.

The 36-year-old will need to defend his title at Halle to maintain his No. 1 spot ahead of Wimbledon.

Andy Murray to make long-awaited return at Queen’s

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LONDON (AP) Andy Murray has confirmed he will make his return to competitive tennis at the Queen’s Club tournament next week after almost a year out injured and faces Nick Kyrgios in his opening match.

The three-time major winner has not played since last year’s Wimbledon due to a hip injury and subsequent surgery.

Murray practiced at Queen’s on Friday ahead of next week’s grass-court Fever-Tree Championships, delayed a decision until Saturday and then told tournament officials he would be there.

“Andy Murray has confirmed that he will play,” the tournament said on its official Twitter account.

Murray has a good record against 24th-ranked Kyrgios, winning all five of their meetings.

French Open champion Rafael Nadal withdrew Wednesday from Queen’s in an attempt to be ready for Wimbledon.

Queen’s is one of the main warmup tournaments for Wimbledon, which begins on July 2.