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Tiafoe wins first career ATP title at Delray Beach

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DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Frances Tiafoe won the Delray Beach Open, with father Frances Sr. watching, on Sunday for his first ATP Tour title.

The 91st-ranked Tiafoe, the first wild-card recipient to win the title in its 26-year history, had consecutive aces on the final two points for a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Peter Gojowczyk of Germany.

At 20, Tiafoe is the youngest American to win a title since Andy Roddick at 19 in 2002 in Houston.

Tiafoe fell on his back in celebration and cried as he hugged his father.

“Now I’m in a position not only to help myself, but help fund my family,” Tiafoe said. “It’s an unbelievable place to be in and it’s bigger than tennis.”

Tiafoe’s parents moved from Sierra Leone to the United States looking for a better life. The elder Tiafoe ended up working as a maintenance worker at a Maryland tennis club where the American-born Frances fell in love with the game. His twin brother, Franklin, wasn’t interested in the sport.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Frances Sr., who now frequently travels the tour with his son. “I told them since they were little, work hard and you can achieve your goal. I told him whatever you put your mind to you can do it.”

Tiafoe, who should move up to approximately No. 61 in Monday’s new rankings, was playing in his first career tour-level final at Delray Beach. He entered last week’s New York Open, where he reached the quarterfinals, with nine total career ATP tour-level match victories.

In this last two-weeks he has won seven tour matches. Among those recent victories is a second-round win over 10th-ranked Juan Martin del Potro this week.

Tiafoe was the last American to defeat the German, which took place at the 2016 Winnetka, Illinois Challenger event.

“I told you guys I was going to get him,” said Tiafoe, laughing. “All the guys were texting me, `You have to take him out.”‘

Gojowczyk had beaten his eight previous American opponents in ATP tour-level matches, including sixth-seeded John Isner, Reilly Opelka and Steve Johnson this week.

Overall, Gojowczyk had beaten the last 14 American players he faced in tour and non tour-level matches since that Winnetka loss to Tiafoe.

Gojowczyk was bothered by a left hamstring, which he said started during his semifinal against Johnson.

“It was not my day actually today,” Gojowczyk said. “But still it was a good week and I reached my career high (projected ranking of) 51 with this tournament.

“You want to compete, to go for the shots. And you want to play your best in the final.”

The first time Gojowczyk called for the trainer to wrap his thigh was when he was about to serve with Tiafoe leading 5-0 in the first set.

Murray excited to end 11-month absence at Queen’s this week

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LONDON (AP) Andy Murray is excited to be returning at the pre-Wimbledon Queen’s Club event this week after the former top-ranked player in the world experienced the “lowest point” of his career during an 11-month absence from tennis.

The 31-year-old Briton, who has been out of action with a hip injury since losing in the 2017 Wimbledon quarter-finals, has been drawn to meet Australia’s Nick Kyrgios in the first round at Queen’s.

“I’m really looking forward to playing again,” Murray said in his regular BBC Sport column. “While I will be nervous, it will be great to finally step back on the court.

“With sport you play to win, but when you are away from something you love doing for almost a year, you realize you’re playing because you love it.

“I didn’t start playing to win Wimbledon or get to number one in the world. I never believed that was something I was going to do, or something I thought about when I was a kid growing up. I played tennis because I loved it and continued doing that throughout my whole career.”

Murray, who won the Wimbledon title in 2013 and 2016 and the U.S. Open crown in 2012, had an operation on his hip in January.

“When, after six months of not competing, you’re still not good enough to be where you want to be and looking like you’re going to have to have surgery, it’s the lowest point you can get to in your professional career,” he said.

“People might say, `oh, you’ve got it great’ – which I’m aware that we do, and I’m very lucky I get to play tennis for a living. But that’s what I’ve been doing since I was a child, and when you’re not able to do something that you love it’s tough.”

Wimbledon starts on July 2.

Federer beats Raonic for Stuttgart title, his 18th on grass

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STUTTGART, Germany (AP) Roger Federer defeated Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6 (3) to mark his return from three months off with the Stuttgart Open title on Sunday.

The Swiss great, who is assured of reclaiming the No. 1 ranking from Rafael Nadal on Monday, broke at 1-1 in the opening set and held his nerve in the second, where Raonic double-faulted.

Federer skipped the entire clay-court season for the second year in a row, but he wrapped up his 18th grass-court title in 1 hour and 18 minutes – his 98th title overall and third of the season after victories at the Australian Open and World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

“It’s a wonderful feeling. I fought hard. When you finally manage it, the joy is even greater,” said Federer, who extended his grass-court winning streak to 16 matches including his titles at Halle and Wimbledon last year.

The 36-year-old will need to defend his title at Halle to maintain his No. 1 spot ahead of Wimbledon.