Murray leads high-profile departures in Queens 1st round

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LONDON — Top-ranked Andy Murray headed a list of high-profile departures in the first round at Queen’s on Tuesday, with the Wimbledon champion losing to a player who found out he was competing only on the morning of the match.

Murray put in a sloppy and error-prone display in losing to 90th-ranked Jordan Thompson 7-6 (4), 6-2, joining Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic in getting eliminated on a day of shocks at the Wimbledon warmup event. They were the top three seeds.

Thompson, who lost in the final round of qualifying on Sunday, stepped up to play Murray following the withdrawal early Tuesday of Aljaz Bedene because of a wrist injury. Thompson played the match of his life – but was given a helping hand by the erratic Murray, the defending and five-time champion in west London.

The Australian sealed victory with an ace down the middle.

“Definitely the biggest win of my career,” Thompson said. “I took each point at a time. I definitely didn’t expect to be winning here in straight sets. I just wanted to enjoy myself.”

“Yesterday, I was sitting around, hoping to be able to get a game,” he added, “but there weren’t too many matches yesterday. I was always coming in, trying to sign in, and here I am in the draw. I’m so lucky.”

It is a blow to Murray’s preparation for Wimbledon, which starts on July 3.

The second-seeded Wawrinka was beaten by big-serving Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (5), 7-5, with the Spanish player sealing victory off a net cord from a sliced backhand return.

Wawrinka, the runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the French Open, appeared to be struggling with a left knee injury in the second set.

While Wawrinka’s exit wasn’t too much of a surprise, given Lopez’s recent form and liking for grass, the early departure of third-seeded Raonic in the first match on Centre Court certainly was.

Last year’s runner-up at Queen’s and Wimbledon – both times to Murray – lost 7-6 (5), 7-6 (8) to No. 698-ranked Thanasi Kokkinakis, who was playing only his sixth singles since November 2015 because of injury problems.

It was the first win over a top-10 opponent for the Australian, who trailed 6-3 in the second-set tiebreaker but won on his third match point with a backhand winner into the corner.

“It’s a big frustration,” said Raonic, who failed to convert any of his nine break-point opportunities. “Obviously it would have been a lot easier scheduling everything if I was to be here and have many more matches ahead of me.”

Kokkinakis played only one match in 2016 because of a shoulder problem, and missed most of this year because of an abdominal injury. He returned to action in May and played three events before Queen’s, with his ranking as low as No. 993 only last week.

“It’s everything. It’s huge for me,” Kokkinakis said. “I’ve been out for so long.”

French player Julien Benneteau advanced to the last 16 by beating Britain’s James Ward 6-2, 6-2.

Top-ranked Swiatek, Kvitova reach quarters at Agel Open

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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Top-ranked Iga Swiatek advanced to the quarterfinals of the Agel Open after Ajla Tomljanovic retired with an injury during the second set of their second-round match on Wednesday.

The Polish U.S. Open champion was leading 7-5, 2-2 when her Australian opponent retired due to a left knee injury at the indoor hardcourt event in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava.

Swiatek, who also won the French Open in June, will next face American qualifier Catherine McNally or Karolina Muchova.

Home favorite and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova upset second-seeded Paula Badosa of Spain 7-6 (4), 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal against this year’s Wimbledon winner Elena Rybakina, who rallied to eliminate Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-5.

Czech players also won the last two first-round matches on the schedule.

Muchova knocked out seventh-seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 6-4, 6-4 and Barbora Krejcikova ousted American Shelby Rogers 6-2, 6-2 for her sixth straight victory after she won the Tallinn Open on Sunday for her first WTA title of the year.

Djokovic near flawless to reach second round in Astana

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ASTANA, Kazakhstan – Novak Djokovic delivered a near-flawless performance to ease into the second round of the Astana Open with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Cristian Garin on Wednesday as he goes for a third straight tournament title.

Djokovic dropped just six points on his serve and won the last five games to seal the win in just 62 minutes.

Djokovic is coming off a victory in Tel Aviv last week and – aside from a match at the Laver Cup – the Wimbledon champion hasn’t lost since the French Open quarterfinals.

“From the start to the end, (it was) a great performance,” Djokovic said. “Playing in a new tournament, different conditions, the first match is never easy. Obviously you are looking to see how you are going to adapt, but I did it perfectly, really, played as well as I can.”

Djokovic will next play Botic van de Zandschulp.

Top-ranked Carlos Alcaraz lost in the opening round on Tuesday in his first match since winning the U.S. Open title to capture the No. 1 spot.

Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the quarterfinals by beating 19-year-old Luca Nardi of Italy 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3). Nardi was playing just his fifth tour-level main-draw match and impressed the third-seeded Greek, who didn’t earn a single break point.

“He’s a player that can play very well in the future,” Tsitsipas said. “There weren’t any holes. I believe today he was able to sustain that level from the beginning to end, and that was extremely impressive.”

Roberto Bautista Agut also reached the quarterfinals as he followed up his first-round upset of Felix Auger-Aliassime by beating Pavel Kotov 6-1, 7-6 (5).

Marin Cilic, who lost the Tel Aviv final to Djokovic, had to come from behind to beat Oscar Otte 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-2 in the first round to set up a round-of-16 match against Karen Khachanov.