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Halep reaches Qatar semis then withdraws injured

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DOHA, Qatar (AP) Simona Halep reached the Qatar Open semifinals with a dominating win then promptly withdrew with a right foot injury on Friday.

After beating American qualifier Catherine Bellis 6-0, 6-4, Halep announced her withdrawal from the semis on Saturday, when she was scheduled to play Garbine Muguruza.

Muguruza beat Caroline Garcia of France 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the quarterfinals.

No. 2-ranked Halep could have regained the No. 1 ranking this week if she went one round further than top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki.

Wozniacki, the Australian Open champion, was playing Angelique Kerber of Germany in the quarterfinals.

“I am surprised that I could play three matches and win them,” Halep, the 2014 champion, said. “I felt pain every day, so it was not easy to manage it.

“I didn’t have much time to recover before this tournament, but today was too much, and I decided to stop.

“The MRI shows I have fluid and also tendinitis at the fourth toe, so I have to take care of it and think about my health first.”

Halep also withdrew from next week’s Dubai Open, another tournament she has won, and said she did not expect to be back on court for more than two weeks, until Indian Wells.

Halep relinquished No. 1 after losing to Wozniacki in the Australian Open final.

Djokovic lines up Dimitrov at Queen’s Club

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LONDON — Novak Djokovic’s first appearance at Queen’s Club in eight years was successful when he put away Australian qualifier John Millman 6-2, 6-1 on Tuesday.

Djokovic, entered as a wild card, will play second-seeded Grigor Dimitrov in the second round.

Also, Milos Raonic, runner-up to Roger Federer last week in Stuttgart, won his opener when Indian qualifier Yuki Bhambri retired hurt while trailing 6-1, 3-1.

Djokovic’s comeback from right elbow surgery in January has been gathering pace after reaching the Rome semifinals and French Open quarterfinals. He leads Dimitrov 6-1 in career matchups.

Dimitrov, the 2014 Queen’s champion, struggled past Damir Dzumhur 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3. Dimitrov saved six of eight break points.

Svitolina’s top ambitions survive grass-court struggle

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BIRMINGHAM, England — Elena Svitolina, who came within two wins of becoming world No. 1 in January, maintained her ambitious momentum to reach the top by surviving a tricky start to her Wimbledon build-up on Tuesday.

The second-seeded Svitolina stumbled within sight of a two-set victory, and briefly faltered again in the last set before beating Donna Vekic of Croatia 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.

Svitolina showed glimpses of the tenacious movement and consistently ferocious drives which have earned her the best win-loss record on the WTA tour since the beginning of last year, but also revealed glimpses of insecurity on the lush, low-bouncing surface.

Despite carving a lead of a set and 3-1, her gradually increasing attempts to win points in the forecourt were of variable quality, while Vekic, a former runner-up here, began to contain and counterattack more effectively.

Svitolina nearly let slip another lead of 3-1, in the last set, needing to save two break points on her next service game – one with a fine serve, and the other with a net attack finished off at the third attempt.

Eventually, the Ukrainian’s determination to adapt tactically to a surface on which she has yet to progress beyond any quarterfinal paid timely dividends, and she accelerated toward the finishing line at a canter.

“I was just trying to play well and to dominate, but she played a couple of great points to break back – which is always nice to have,” said Svitolina, apparently meaning she was pleased to gain extra practice on such a technique-testing surface.

“It was difficult for me because she hit the ball very flat and the first match on grass is always a challenge.”

She next faces Alize Cornet of France, who notably beat Serena Williams at 2014 Wimbledon, and who outlasted former top-10 player Ekaterina Makarova of Russia, by 5-7, 6-4, 6-1.