Murray sets up China Open quarterfinal vs. British teammate

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BEIJING — Top-seeded Andy Murray dispatched Andrey Kuznetsov 6-2, 6-1 on Wednesday to set up China Open quarterfinal against his British Davis Cup teammate Kyle Edmund.

Both are playing their first tournaments since Britain’s loss to Argentina in the Davis Cup semifinals last month.

Murray is hoping with a strong run in China to close the gap on No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic, who withdrew from the tournament.

He struggled initially against Kuznetsov, dropping two early service games as the players traded breaks, but went on a dominant run after the fifth game.

Edmund, a qualifier, upset seventh-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

Fifth-seeded David Ferrer advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Fabio Fognini and will next play Alexander Zverev, who beat Jack Sock 6-4, 6-2. Ferrer is still chasing his first title of the season. The Spaniard has won at least one ATP title in all but one year since 2006.

Grigor Dmitrov held off Steve Johnson 7-5, 6-7 (9), 6-4 and No. 8-seeded Richard Gasquet beat Sam Querrey 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in first-round matches.

In the women’s second round, top-ranked Angelique Kerber had a 6-3, 7-6 (4) win over Barbora Strycova, U.S. Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova rallied for a tough 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7) win over 19-year-old Daria Kasatkina, Johanna Konta wrapped up a rain-delayed 7-5, 6-2 win over Timea Babos, and Daria Gavrilova ousted 12th-seeded Timea Bacsinszky 4-6, 6-0, 6-4.

Kerber, who twice failed to serve out the match in a tight finish against Strycova, will next play Elina Svitolina for a place in the quarterfinals.

Svitolina beat Sabine Lisicki 6-4, 6-4, and Caroline Garcia fended off Peng Shuai 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (4), ending a tournament for the Chinese wild card that started with an upset first-round win over Venus Williams.

Novak 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.