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Djokovic, Becker splitting after 3 seasons, 6 major titles

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Novak Djokovic and coach Boris Becker are splitting up after three seasons – and a half-dozen Grand Slam titles – as a pair.

Djokovic posted a statement on Facebook on Tuesday, saying the duo “jointly decided to end our cooperation.”

“The goals we set when we started working together have been completely fulfilled, and I want to thank him for the cooperation, teamwork, dedication and commitment,” Djokovic’s posting said. “On the other hand, my professional plans are now directed primarily to maintain a good level of play, and also to make a good schedule and new goals for the next season. In this regard I will make all future decisions.”

Of Djokovic’s 12 career major singles trophies – among men, trailing only Roger Federer with 17, and Pete Sampras and Rafael Nadal with 14 apiece – half came while working with Becker.

Djokovic also was the runner-up at three other Grand Slam tournaments during his time with Becker, meaning the Serb made it to the finals at nine of the 12 majors during their partnership.

Becker also was around for Djokovic’s first French Open title in June, which allowed him to become the eighth man to complete a career Grand Slam – at least one championship at each of tennis’ four most important events – and the first in nearly a half-century to win four major tournaments in a row.

At Roland Garros, Djokovic was asked about working with Becker, a six-time major champion as a player in the 1980s and 1990s and part of a recent wave of past stars who signed up to coach current stars.

“The last couple of years, I had some great times with him,” Djokovic said, explaining that Becker taught him from a “psychological point of view, how to handle things on the tour, on and off the court.”

“His contribution to the team is definitely big, and so everything works in harmony so far,” Djokovic said at the time. “How long it is going to go for, we don’t know. We go year by year. … So at the end of this year, we will see if he goes for another year.”

After Djokovic’s triumph in Paris, his season went off course.

He was upset in the third round at Wimbledon by Sam Querrey and in the first round at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics by Juan Martin del Potro, then lost the No. 1 ranking to Andy Murray last month, finishing 2016 at No. 2.

With Becker in his corner, Djokovic finished 2014 and 2015 atop the ATP rankings.

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

Federer, Zverev lead Team Europe to Laver Cup win

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CHICAGO — Alexander Zverev beat Kevin Anderson on Sunday night to give Team Europe a victory in the second Laver Cup.

Zverev won the final five points to defeat Anderson 6-7, 7-5, (10-7). His victory helped Team Europe beat Team World 13-8.

Roger Federer earlier put Team Europe ahead by saving three match points for a 6-7, 7-6, (10-7) victory over John Isner.

Isner staggered Federer with a body serve that caused the 20-time Grand Slam winner to stumble early in the match. But Federer regrouped and fought off two match points in the second-set tiebreaker before capturing the deciding 10-point tiebreaker used in the Laver Cup.

In the opening doubles match, Jack Sock and Isner saved two match points in the deciding tiebreaker to beat Federer and Zverev 4-6, 7-6, (11-9).

Team Europe won the first Laver Cup last year in Prague.

Muguruza wins in first round of Wuhan Open; Ostapenko loses

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WUHAN, China — Gabrine Muguruza got off to winning start at the Wuhan Open. Jelena Ostapenko didn’t.

Muguruza defeated Alison Van Uytvanck 6-4, 6-0 on Monday in the first round of the tournament, avenging a second-round loss to the Belgian at Wimbledon.

“I’m happy that I won this time. I remember the match from Wimbledon, like a very tough match for me,” said Muguruza, who had been the defending champion at the All England Club. “It’s always good to play again the same person that beat you, feeling good you did something much better than the previous match.”

Muguruza will next face Swiss qualifier Viktorija Golubic, who defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

Ostapenko, who followed Muguruza as French Open champion in 2017, was beaten by Daria Gavrilova 6-2, 6-4.

Gavrilova, who won for only the second time in four appearances at the Wuhan Open, broke Ostapneko’s serve five times. She will next play Barbora Strycova, who defeated Alize Cornet 6-3, 6-2.

Ashleigh Barty, a finalist last year in Wuhan, defeated Johanna Konta 7-5, 6-4 to advance.

Other winners included Aryna Sabalenka, Donna Vekic, Aleksandra Krunic, Dominika Cibulkova, Madison Keys and Wang Xiyu.