Andy Murray eases to first round victory in Dubai

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Andy Murray may be coming off a bout of shingles, but he looked in good shape during a 6-4, 6-1 first round victory over Malik Jaziri at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Tuesday.

The top-ranked Murray was playing his first match since being upset by Mischa Zverev in the Australian Open fourth round last month.

Murray said that his mother-in-law was the first to suggest he had shingles, which a doctor confirmed the next day.

“I had a little bit of a rash basically like on my bum `round to kind of my stomach, and it wasn’t, like, terrible,” Murray said. “I didn’t think much of it at the beginning, and then it was actually my wife’s mum, we were having dinner, and I was, like, `This is really irritating. She was, like, `Pull your pants down. Show me. It might be shingles.”

Jaziri took a brief 2-1 lead with a service break in the first set, but that would be the only time the Tunisian had any control over Tuesday’s match.

“Obviously, the second set was obviously a bit easier,” Murray said. “First set, especially the beginning, was tough.

“I have never hit with him or played against him before. It took a little bit of time to get used to his game.”

The only other unexpected moment in the match came when Murray was leading 6-4, 3-1, 0-40. Jaziri said he was feeling light-headed and asked for the physiotherapist to come to the court. After his pulse was checked, Jaziri returned to the court and played out the match.

Unlike Murray, defending champion Stan Wawrinka didn’t survive the first round, falling to Damir Dzhumur 7-6 (4), 6-3.

It was third-ranked Wawrinka’s first match since bowing out of the Australian Open to Swiss countryman Roger Federer in the semifinals.

“I think I start well, but it was tough match,” Wawrinka said. “I think after coming back one month out, I had to recover from the injury.

Wawrinka was nursing a right knee injury when he left the Australian Open and only started to have regular practice sessions a week ago.

“The positive of the tournament here is that the knee is feeling good now,” Wawrinka said. “I don’t have any pain. I need to still be really careful, but that was the only positive of today.”

Wawrinka started the match very quickly, racing to a 4-1 lead in the first set.

“Three games in, like, six, seven minutes, he was playing outstanding there,” Dzhumur said. “Was just hitting every ball. I couldn’t even touch the ball.”

That was the point when Wawrinka slowed down and showed signs of becoming tentative as the Bosnian settled into the match.

“I was hoping that he’s gonna go down with his level of game, and that’s what happened,” Dzhumur said. “I started to fight, to grind, and I found some way to play, to stay in the game.”

Dzhumur raced into a 5-1 lead in the second set, but became nervous when serving for the match at that point.

In the 10-point seventh game, Dzhumur served three double faults, including to lose the third break point he faced.

He kept his composure when serving for the match two games later, setting up the match point with a forehand crosscourt volley, and then watching Wawrinka sail a forehand long.

Fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych advanced to the second round when fellow Czech qualifier Lukas Rosol retired with a knee injury. Berdych was leading 6-3, 2-1 at the time.

Nakashima takes first ATP Tour title at San Diego

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SAN DIEGO – Brandon Nakashima earned his first ATP Tour victory in his hometown, beating friend and fellow Southern Californian Marcos Giron 6-4, 6-4 on Sunday in the San Diego Open final.

“It’s super-special, something you dream of, but to have it happen in my hometown with all my friends and family here, it’s a moment I’ll never forget,” said Nakashima, who had two previous finals appearances. “I hope there are many more moments like this to come.”

Nakashima, a 21-year-old who grew up in San Diego and trained extensively at the event’s site as a junior, clinched the opening set in only 30 minutes. The second set, filled with lengthy rallies, took nearly an hour.

Giron, the No. 5 seed and former NCAA title winner from UCLA, wasn’t able to fend off Nakashima’s persistent ground strokes and well-placed serves. Nakashima had eight aces, six in the first set.

Serving at 5-4 in the second set, Nakashima tallied the match’s deciding two points when Giron pushed an easy volley into the net, followed by Nakashima’s second-serve ace.

He earned $93,090, about half of what received for reaching the third round of the U.S. Open in early September.

Nakashima, who was ranked No. 69 on the ATP Tour, moved up to 48, his highest ranking in nearly three years on tour. Despite the loss, Giron moved up to 53 from 58.

Not only was the singles title claimed by an American, the doubles title also taken by an American duo as the second-seeded pair of Nathaniel Lammons and Jackson Withrow defeated Australians Jason Kubler and Luke Saville 7-6 (5), 6-2.

The $612,00 event was held at Barnes Tennis Center, which next hosts the $757,900 WTA 500 San Diego Open, Oct. 8-16. That will feature 16 of the world’s top-ranked 20 women pros, led by No. 1 Iga Swiatek.

Frances Tiafoe lifts Team World to 1st Laver Cup win

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LONDON — The last to arrive, befitting his reputation in the locker room, Frances Tiafoe strutted into the post-match news conference after clinching Team World’s Laver Cup victory over Roger Federer’s star-studded Team Europe and shouted, “Champs are here!”

Then the 24-year-old from Maryland joined his teammates at the table where the silver trophy was resting Sunday night, put down a bottle of water, pulled a Budweiser out of his red jacket and smiled that wide smile of his.

Performing with the same infectious showmanship and crunch-time success he displayed en route to his first Grand Slam semifinal at the U.S. Open earlier this month, Tiafoe staved off four match points and came back to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 1-6, 7-6 (11), 10-8, giving Team World its first triumph in five editions of an event founded by Federer’s management company.

“I don’t like losing,” said Federer, a 20-time major champion whose final match before retirement was a loss alongside Rafael Nadal in doubles against Tiafoe and Jack Sock on Friday night. “It’s not fun. It just leaves not the best taste.”

When Tsitsipas put a forehand into the net to end Sunday’s contest – and the three-day competition – Tiafoe dropped his racket and fell to his back on the court, where teammates piled atop him. After getting on his feet, Tiafoe cupped a hand to his ear, asking spectators for more noise, then pointed to his chest and yelled, “I’m him! I’m him!”

“When it becomes a circus out here, and I’m just using the crowd and acting like a little kid and having a bunch of reactions … I end up playing really well and I start building momentum off it,” Tiafoe said. “I’m able to play and function in that better than my opponents, it seems.”

Using the nickname other players gave Tiafoe to reflect the way he embraces big moments, Team World captain John McEnroe said: “Frances is `Prime Time.’ He loves this stuff.”

McEnroe had been 0-4 while leading his squad against his former playing rival, Team Europe captain Bjorn Borg; both indicated they would be back for the 2023 Laver Cup in Vancouver, but that might be their last go-round.

This one served as a celebration of Federer and the 41-year-old Swiss star’s career.

Tiafoe responded with a quip when asked whether he might owe Federer some form of “I’m sorry” for beating him in his finale or for defeating his team, which also included Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray for a total of 66 major singles titles. That, incidentally, is 66 more than Team World, a collection of 20-somethings (Sock turned 30 on Saturday).

“”I’m not going to apologize to him. He’s got a lot to apologize for after the last 24 years – after beating everybody on the tour,” said Tiafoe, who went 0-3 against Federer in singles head-to-head. “I will say thank you for having me in this amazing event, what he’s done for the game. He’s a class act. Happy to know him, happy to call him a friend, happy to call him a colleague, and best wishes in his second act. But I will not apologize.”

Team Europe entered Sunday at O2 Arena with an 8-4 lead; the first team to 13 points would win.

Each match on Day 3 was worth three points, and Team World went ahead thanks to a pair of victories by Felix Auger-Aliassime, a 22-year-old from Canada. He beat Djokovic 6-3, 7-6 (3), after partnering with Sock to edge Murray and Matteo Berrettini 2-6, 6-3, 10-8 in doubles.

Tiafoe then made it 13-8, but it wasn’t easy.

He went a tournament-record 8-0 in tiebreakers at Flushing Meadows this month and was just as resilient Sunday.

“It’s been a long time that Frances has been playing the big guys close and losing a lot of close battles. It’s great to see lately he’s been winning,” said Taylor Fritz, an American who is the same age as Tiafoe and has known him for years. “It’s about time that he steps up and the matches go the other way. Today was a joke.”

That’s because Tiafoe was a single point from losing to Tsitsipas four times in their second-set tiebreaker, but somehow got through that. Then, at 4-all in the concluding match tiebreaker – first to 10, win by two – Tiafoe sprinted from behind the baseline to near the net and barely got to a drop shot by Tsitsipas, somehow lunging to flick an angled winner.

While most of the 16,365 fans went wild, Tiafoe went around the net and stood still, hands on his hips, relishing the atmosphere.

“We put him in the slot that he was in today for a reason,” said Team World’s Tommy Paul, another 24-year-old American, “and he stepped up for us, big time.”