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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.

Federer survives scare to advance in Halle

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HALLE, Germany (AP) Defending champion Roger Federer survived two match points against Benoit Paire to reach the quarterfinals of the Gerry Weber Open with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7) win on Thursday.

Paire rallied after losing the first set to take the second, and the Frenchman defended two match points at 6-5 in the decider to force a tiebreaker. Eight minutes later, it was a match point for the 48th-ranked Paire, and again when a mistake from Federer left it 7-6 in Paire’s favor.

But the top-ranked Swiss took the next three points to close the match in just under two hours at the grass-court tournament.

Federer extended his grass-court winning streak to 18 matches, including his titles in Stuttgart last week and at Halle and Wimbledon last year.

Federer skipped the entire clay-court season for the second year in a row and is now just four wins away from matching Jimmy Connors’ all-time record of 174 victories on grass.

Federer next faces Matthew Ebden of Australia, who upset former champion Philipp Kohlschreiber 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

Also Thursday, Borna Coric defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-2.

The Croat next faces either Florian Mayer or Andreas Seppi.

Magdalena shows form on grass in Birmingham

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BIRMINGHAM, England — Magdalena Rybarikova, who climbed almost 90 places last year to reach a career-high No. 17 in March, showed she might rise even further after rallying against Kristina Mladenovic 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 Wednesday to advance to the quarterfinals in Birmingham.

The Slovak accelerated toward victory against the former top 10 player from France with an array of slice ground strokes, clever approaches and sharp volleys. The range of shots worked excellently on the lush surface at the grass-court Nature Valley Classic and helped her take control midway through the second set.

Rybarikova last year reached the Wimbledon semifinals. She is a former champion here, winning the title in 2009.

In the first round she beat third-seeded Karolina Pliskova for the loss of only five games but found it tougher against Mladenovic.

“I started to play very well,” Rybarikova said of her improvement from the fourth game of the second set against Mladenovic. “She served great to begin with and I struggled with my returns, but I kept fighting and my game improved a lot.

“I think I’d been a bit passive. The key was when I played more cross-court slices and drops and made an early break in the second set.

“That’s the way I am trying to play on grass. I am thankful that I have the game to do that. This court here really suits my game.”

At the changeover in the fifth game of the second set, Mladenovic’s morale appeared to plunge, and afterward her error ratio rose sharply with her standard dropping significantly.

The third set of a match which lasted nearly two hours took only 22 minutes, and long before the end the outcome had ceased to be in doubt.

Rybarikova next faces Slovenian qualifier Dalila Jakupovic, who on Tuesday overcame a difference in rankings of almost 100 places and saved four match points while beating seventh-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium.

Jakupovic followed up Wednesday by getting past 18th-ranked Naomi Osaka of Japan, who recently beat four former top-ranked opponents. Osaka was forced to retired injured after losing the first set 6-3.