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Djokovic loses to Edmund in 2nd round of Madrid Open

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MADRID (AP) Novak Djokovic added another early elimination to his disappointing season, losing to Kyle Edmund 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 on Wednesday in the second round of the Madrid Open.

It’s the sixth straight tournament in which Djokovic has failed to reach the quarterfinals. The 12-time Grand Slam champion has struggled this year after saying he returned to action too quickly following a lingering right elbow injury.

“There are obvious things that are not working well for me,” Djokovic said. “But I have to keep working on them and pray that … and hope that my game will get stronger.”

Djokovic lost in the third round in Monte Carlo and in the second round in both Miami and Indian Wells. The 12th-ranked Serb also failed to advance past the last 16 at the Australian Open.

“One or two points decide really these kind of matches,” Djokovic said. “Luck was on his side a little bit. But, also, he was courageous enough to attack the balls when it mattered and deserved to win.”

Djokovic played poorly in the first set but recovered to comfortably win the second. He had a chance to go up a break early in the third set but lost five straight points to allow Edmund to come back from 0-40. The unseeded British player then broke Djokovic’s serve to go up 5-3 and easily closed out the match on his serve.

“I just felt good today, felt I was hitting the ball well,” Edmund said. “I just knew that if I put myself in the match hopefully in the closing stages I would give myself a chance. That game in the third set was very key. When Novak gets a lead it’s very hard to break him down because he becomes a bit more aggressive.”

Edmund will next play eighth-seeded David Goffin, who defeated Robin Haase 7-5, 6-3.

Eighth-ranked Kevin Anderson defeated qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-2 to set up a third-round match against Philipp Kohlschreiber, who beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.

Also, top-ranked Simona Halep beat Kristyna Pliskova 6-1, 6-4 to stay on track for a third straight title in Madrid, while Caroline Wozniacki’s bid to return to the top of the rankings ended with a 6-2, 6-2 loss to 20th-ranked Kiki Bertens.

“At this tournament it’s really nice that I know I can play my best tennis,” Halep said.

The second-ranked Wozniacki needed to win the title in Madrid to overcome Halep for the No. 1 spot.

More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

Larsson beats Riske to win Nuremberg Cup

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NUREMBERG, Germany — Swedish player Johanna Larsson won her first WTA singles title in three years by beating Alison Riske of the United States 7-6 (4), 6-4 in the final of the Nuremberg Cup on Saturday.

Her only other career singles victory was on home soil at Bastad in 2015.

Having come from a set down to win matches in the quarterfinals and semifinals, Larsson rallied from a break down in the first set and won the last four points of the tiebreaker. Larsson then won the final five games to take the match and deny Riske a second career singles title.

“When I held for 4-2, I could see some signs that she was a little bit tired,” Larsson said, “and that gave me a lot of energy to fight back.”

Pavlyuchenkova labors past Cibulkova to win at Strasbourg

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STRASBOURG, France — Third-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia won the Strasbourg International after laboring to a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (6) win against Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia on Saturday.

They spent 3 hours, 35 minutes on court in a grueling contest, which ended when Pavlyuchenkova sealed victory on her second serve.

Pavlyuchenkova won her first title of the year and 12th overall, beating Cibulkova for the fourth time in their 11 career meetings.

Fifth-seeded Cibulkova was bidding for her ninth career title.

Both players head to the French Open in Paris, where first-round play starts Sunday.

Cibulkova reached the semifinals at Roland Garros in 2009, while Pavlyuchenkova reached her only quarterfinal there in 2013.