Nadal and Murray advance to 3rd round in Barcelona Open

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Defending champion Rafael Nadal cruised past Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil 6-1, 6-2 to reach the third round of the Barcelona Open on Wednesday.

Top-seeded Andy Murray also advanced, but without having to play as Bernard Tomic withdrew before their second-round match because of a lower back injury.

Nadal, making his debut at the newly named “Rafa Nadal” center court in Barcelona, had a slow start to the second set against the 69th-ranked Brazilian, but recovered by winning the final six games to secure the victory.

The fifth-ranked Nadal is a nine-time champion at the clay-court tournament. He is coming off his 10th title at the Monte Carlo Masters.

Nadal will next play Kevin Anderson of South Africa.

The top-ranked Murray was originally going to skip the Barcelona Open but decided to play after being eliminated in the third round at the Monte Carlo Masters, when he blew a 4-0 lead in the deciding set to Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Murray is trying to regain his form going into the French Open following a right elbow injury that kept him out of the Miami Open and the Davis Cup quarterfinals.

He will play 40th-ranked Feliciano Lopez of Spain, who defeated Albert Montanes 6-2, 6-2.

It was the final career match for Montanes, who had announced last week that the Barcelona Open would be his last tournament after nearly 20 years on tour.

The 36-year-old Barcelona resident won six ATP titles and was ranked a career-high 22nd in 2010. His first-round victory over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez on Monday was the 255th of his career.

In other second round matches, fifth-seeded David Goffin of Belgium defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-5, 6-0, while qualifier Hyeon Chung of South Korea beat 12th-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-3, 6-4.

French players get life bans for fixing

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LONDON — Two low-ranked French players were banned from the sport for life after being found guilty of match-fixing by a hearing officer.

Jules Okala, a 25-year-old with a career-best ATP ranking of No. 338, and Mick Lescure, a 29-year-old with a top ranking of No. 487, “admitted multiple charges,” the International Tennis Integrity Agency announced.

Neither player is allowed to compete at – or even attend – any sanctioned event again.

Okala was found guilty of seven match-fixing charges and fined $15,000 in addition to the permanent suspension. Lescure was found guilty of eight charges and fined $40,000 on top of the ban.

The punishments come after both players were involved in law enforcement investigations in France and Belgium, according to the sport’s integrity agency.

Ash Barty wins Australia’s top sports award for second time

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Ash Barty’s Australian Open singles title in January was enough to ensure the former top-ranked player won Australia’s most prestigious annual sports award — despite retiring from the game less than two months later.

Barty has been given The Don Award, named after its most accomplished and famous cricketer Don Bradman.

Barty shocked the tennis world in March when she announced her retirement at the age of 25. The three-time major winner was the No. 1-ranked female player at the time of her retirement decision.

The Sport Australia Hall of Fame’s Don Award is given to an athlete or a team “which has provided the most inspiration to the country through performance and example in the past year.”

Barty (2019, 2022) joins Olympic gold medal-winning hurdler Sally Pearson (2012, 2014) and Olympic champion pole vaulter Steve Hooker (2008, 2009) as a multiple winner of the award.

Barty said she had decided before the Australian Open started that it would be her last major tournament.

“This year was certainly my most enjoyable Australian Open . . . because it felt free,” Barty said in a television interview. “I played without consequence, I played like a little kid. In my eyes, there was no pressure. It was just about me trying to redeem myself, in a way, and playing how I’d always wanted to play – go out there and play like the kid that fell in love with sport.”

Barty said she has no plans to return to tennis.

“In my mind there was never going to be a perfect ending, but it was my perfect ending,” Barty said of her retirement. “It was never about finishing on a win or on a really high emotional feeling. It was just about collectively, I felt it was right.

“Now (that decision) has led to nine months of just an incredible life off the court. It’s been amazing.”

Barty married her long-time partner Garry Kissick in late July. She also golfs frequently and is reported to be playing off a handicap of low single figures.