Andy Murray advances to third round at Madrid Open

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MADRID — Top-ranked Andy Murray made his debut at the Madrid Open with a comfortable 6-4, 6-3 win over wild card Marius Copil of Romania in the second round on Tuesday.

Murray broke serve once in each set and didn’t concede any break opportunities to the 104th-ranked Copil.

“When I started to control the points more towards the end of the first set and second set, I was hitting the ball pretty clean, creating a few chances,” Murray said. “I didn’t give him any opportunities. It was good for the first match.”

Murray won the Madrid title in 2008 and 2015 and was runner-up to Novak Djokovic last year. He improved to 11-0 in his opening matches in the Spanish capital, dating back to his debut in 2006.

The British player has been trying to regain his form after a difficult start to the year.

“I still think there’s a ways to go,” Murray said. “I don’t think I’m playing perfectly just now. I think there’s just things I can definitely do better.”

Eighth-seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria advanced to the third round by defeating Jared Donaldson of the United States 6-3, 6-4, while ninth-seeded David Goffin of Belgium had nine aces on his way to a 7-6 (3), 6-0 win over Florian Mayer of Germany, setting up a third-round match against either fifth-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada or Gilles Muller of Luxemburg, who defeated German Tommy Haas 6-4, 7-6 (7).

Ivo Karlovic of Croatia needed more than three hours to snap a five-match losing streak with a thrilling 7-6 (4), 6-7 (9), 7-6 (6) win over Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain. The big-serving Karlovic had 35 aces and saved four match points in their second-round match.

American Ryan Harrison had 15 aces to defeat Australian Bernard Tomic 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, setting up a second-round encounter against 16th-seeded Nick Kyrgios of Australia.

Defending men’s champion Djokovic will debut against Nicolas Almagro of Spain on Wednesday. Four-time champion Rafael Nadal will play his opening match against Fabio Fognini on the same day.

In the women’s draw, third-seeded Simona Halep of Romania defeated Italian Roberta Vinci 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (2), while 16th-seeded Samantha Stosur of Australia beat Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia 6-3, 7-5.

Fernando Verdasco accepts 2-month doping ban

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
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LONDON – Former top-10 player Fernando Verdasco accepted a voluntary provisional doping suspension of two months after testing positive for a medication for ADHD, the International Tennis Integrity Agency announced.

Verdasco, who turned 39 this month, said he was taking methylphenidate as medication prescribed by his doctor to treat ADHD but forgot to renew his therapeutic use exemption for the drug. The integrity agency said Verdasco has now been granted an exemption by the World Anti-Doping Agency moving forward.

He tested positive at an ATP Challenger tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in February.

The integrity agency said in a news release that it “accepts that the player did not intend to cheat, that his violation was inadvertent and unintentional, and that he bears no significant fault or negligence for it,” and so what could have been a two-year suspension was reduced to two months.

Verdasco will be eligible to compete on Jan. 8.

The Spaniard is a four-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, reaching that stage most recently in 2013 at Wimbledon, where he blew a two-set lead in a five-set loss to eventual champion Andy Murray.

Verdasco reached a career-best ranking of No. 7 in April 2009 and currently is No. 125.

Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov give Canada 1st Davis Cup title

Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports
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MALAGA, Spain — Felix Auger-Aliassime fell to his back behind the baseline, then waited for teammates to race off Canada’s bench and pile on top of him.

A few minutes later, the Canadians finally could lift the Davis Cup.

“I think of us all here, we’ve dreamt of this moment,” Auger-Aliassime said.

Canada won the title for the first time, beating Australia behind victories from Denis Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime.

Auger-Aliassime secured the winning point when he downed Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4 after Shapovalov opened the day by rolling past Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-2, 6-4.

Seven years after leading Canada to the top of junior tennis, Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov and their teammates finally got to lift the biggest team trophy in their sport.

“We wanted to grow up and be part of the team and try to help the country win the first title,” Shapovalov said, “so everything is just so surreal right now.”

Shapovalov had dropped both his singles matches this week and needed treatment on his back during a three-set loss in the semifinals to Lorenzo Sonego of Italy that lasted 3 hours, 15 minutes. But the left-hander moved quickly around the court, setting up angles to put away winners while racing to a 4-0 lead in the first set.

Auger-Aliassime then finished off his superb second half of the season by completing a perfect week in Spain. He twice had kept the Canadians alive after Shapovalov dropped the opening singles match, and he replaced his weary teammate to join Vasek Pospisil for the decisive doubles point.

This time, Auger-Aliassime made sure the doubles match wouldn’t even be necessary. After his teammates poured onto the court to celebrate with him, they got up and danced around in a circle.

Canada had reached the final only once, falling to host Spain in Madrid in 2019, when Rafael Nadal beat Shapovalov for the clinching point after Auger-Aliassime had lost in the opening match.

But with Auger-Aliassime having since surged up the rankings to his current spot at No. 6, the Canadians are a much more formidable team now. They won the ATP Cup in January and finally added the Davis Cup crown to the junior Davis Cup title Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov led them to in 2015.

Australia was trying for its 29th title and first since current captain Lleyton Hewitt was part of the title-winning team in 2003.

But it was finally time for the Canadians, who were given a wild card into the field when Russia was suspended because of its invasion of Ukraine.

“Look, I think we were very close today,” de Minaur said. “Just wait until the next time we get the same matchup. Hopefully we can get the win and prove that we can do it.”

But Canada will be tough to beat as long as Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov play.

Shapovalov is just 23 and Auger-Aliassime 22, but both already have been Grand Slam semifinalists and Auger-Aliassime ended 2022 as one of the hottest players on the ATP Tour. He won all of his four titles this year, including three straight weeks in October.

He also beat Carlos Alcaraz in the previous Davis Cup stage in September, just after the Spaniard had won the U.S. Open to rise to No. 1 in the rankings. That victory helped send the Canadians into the quarterfinals, which they started this week by edging Germany.

“They’re not kids anymore, that’s for sure. Not after today – well not after the last couple of years,” said Pospisil, the team veteran at 32. “They’ve been crushing it.”