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Wawrinka still struggling following knee surgery

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ROME (AP) Stan Wawrinka is still struggling to regain his form following surgery on his left knee.

Playing his first match since February, the three-time Grand Slam champion lost to 55th-ranked Steve Johnson 6-4, 6-4 Sunday in the first round of the Italian Open.

Wawrinka committed 30 unforced errors to Johnson’s 17, was broken once in each set and failed to take advantage of his only two break opportunities.

Wawrinka was operated on in August – twice – and returned in January at the Australian Open, where he was eliminated in the second round by Tennys Sandgren. He then retired from a match against 193rd-ranked Ilya Ivashka in Marseille, France, in February, citing a left knee injury.

Also on the red clay of the Foro Italico, Italian wild card Lorenzo Sonego had strong fan support as he came back from a set down to defeat Adrian Mannarino 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3.

Meanwhile, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova withdrew from the tournament citing a muscular injury that occurred during a grueling three-set win over Kiki Bertens in Saturday’s Madrid Open final – her second title in two weeks after also taking the Prague Open.

“After these incredible two weeks of tennis my body needs to rest and recuperate,” Kvitova said.

The women’s tournament at the Foro Italico starts Monday.

It’s the last Masters 100 event before the May 27-June 10 French Open

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

Kasatkina beats Jabeur to win Kremlin Cup

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MOSCOW — Daria Kasatkina won the Kremlin Cup as qualifier Ons Jabeur narrowly failed to become the first WTA winner from Tunisia on Saturday.

Jabeur was a set and a break up at 4-1 when she seemed to tire in her eighth match in as many days, allowing Kasatkina to win 2-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4 with vocal support from the home crowd.

The exhausted Jabeur served the last game with severe cramp and tears in her eyes.

“I saw you gave everything today and this is what sport is about,” Kasatkina told Jabeur.

“When I was a little girl 10 years ago, I was coming to this tournament and dreaming of being champion one day,” the 21-year-old Russian said. “Thank you to everyone who believed in me.”

Sixth-seeded Kasatkina ended a run of three losses in finals, including last year’s Kremlin Cup, and has a career 2-3 record. Her previous win was in Charleston in April 2017.

Jabeur played high-risk tennis, with 45 winners and 65 unforced errors, against 12 winners and 26 unforced errors for the defense-first Kasatkina.

Russian competitors have won the women’s Kremlin Cup four times in the last five years, with Germany’s Julia Goerges beating Kasatkina in last year’s final.

Jabeur, the junior French Open champion in 2011, was the first Tunisian to reach a women’s tour final and the first African finalist since South Africa’s Chanelle Scheepers in 2014.

“I wanted to win today but it’s not meant to be. Maybe it’s a little bit lack of experience, but this is my first final so hopefully I can have many more,” Jabeur said. “Not a chance for me in the third set, cramping.”

Qualifiers have played four WTA finals this year and lost them all.

Jabeur’s run to the final included upsets of Ekaterina Makarova, former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, Anett Kontaveit, and Anastasija Sevastova.

Kasatkina came back from the brink of defeat in the second round when she broke Alize Cornet’s serve to stay in the match.

In the men’s draw, Adrian Mannarino of France reached the final by beatingr former Moscow champion Andreas Seppi 7-5, 7-5.

Mannarino was 5-3 down in the second set before winning four straight games to close out the match.

The Frenchman has lost all five of his career finals and will play Daniil Medvedev or Karen Khachanov for the title on Sunday.

Goerges wins Luxembourg final for second WTA title of year

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LUXEMBOURG — Julia Goerges lived up to her top seeding at the Luxembourg Open by winning her second title of the year on Saturday.

Goerges beat unseeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 6-4, 7-5 in the final.

The German won her first tournament of the year in Auckland, reached another final at Charleston in April, and the Wimbledon semifinals. This is her sixth career title. She lost the 2010 final here.

She’s at a career-high ranking of No. 9.

Bencic, who has been ranked as high as No. 7, was eyeing her first title in more than three years.