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Muguruza gets ready to defend Wimbledon title

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BIRMINGHAM, England — Two-time Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza isn’t lacking confidence as she starts the buildup to defending her Wimbledon title.

“I believe I can win the trophy again,” said the 24-year-old Spaniard, despite playing on grass – a surface she hasn’t always liked.

“The tricky part (of grass) is adapting the body and movement. Other surfaces are more comfortable for the body,” Muguruza said. “You have to run in a certain way. The ball bounces less, the balls are heavier, the court is faster … But I think my movement and physical capacity and strength, all have improved a lot.”

Muguruza faces Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia in their opener at the grass-court Nature Valley Classic, which starts Monday in Birmingham, two weeks before Wimbledon.

Muguruza said “hopefully I’ll get as many matches as possible” in Birmingham as preparation for Wimbledon.

“It meant such a lot to win Wimbledon, because I had lost in the final before (in 2015) and I didn’t know if I could do it … it’s special to go back as defending champion. But I am not thinking about it too much, and I am taking it just naturally. Nothing really matters, whatever happens to me.”

Muguruza won the 2016 French Open but lost to Simona Halep in the semifinals earlier this month at Roland Garros. She won the Wimbledon title last year with a 7-5, 6-0 win over Venus Williams.

Muguruza said she will take Wimbledon one match at a time.

“There are seven matches and two weeks,” Muguruza said. “You come and think about your first match, your first training, your first practice. And little by little you move forward”.

But that approach still requires overcoming any inhibitions about grass.

Muguruza said she feels like Rafael Nadal and, further back, Chris Evert, whose tennis upbringing was on very different surfaces from grass but who successfully adapted to win Wimbledon singles titles – Nadal (2) and Evert (3).

“I didn’t like it for sure (when I first came),” Muguruza said. “It’s very different. There are no grass courts in Spain. It took two or three years to be more positive. Now I enjoy it.”

Defending champs Osaka, Djokovic are No. 1 seeds for US Open

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NEW YORK (AP) Defending champions Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic are the No. 1 seeds for singles play in the U.S. Open.

Osaka, who beat Serena Williams in last year’s final for her first Grand Slam title, recently regained the top spot in the WTA rankings from Ash Barty. Barty is the No. 2 seed, followed by Karolina Pliskova, Wimbledon champion Simona Halep and Elina Svitolina.

Williams was given the No. 8 seed Wednesday by the U.S. Tennis Association. Madison Keys, the 2017 runner-up who just won the Western & Southern Open, rounds out the top 10 seeds.

Djokovic, bidding for his second straight major title, is followed by fellow past U.S. Open champions Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Dominic Thiem is No. 4 and surging Daniil Medvedev, who won the title outside Cincinnati last week in what was his third straight tournament reaching the final, is fifth.

The draw will be held Thursday and main-draw play begins Monday.

More AP tennis: http://apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Strycova upset in first match at WTA’s Bronx Open

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NEW YORK (AP) Wimbledon semifinalist Barbora Strycova was knocked out of the Bronx Open on Tuesday with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 loss to Bernarda Pera.

Strycova was the No. 3 seed and was playing her opening match in the new WTA tournament after receiving a first-round bye. But the 33-year-old Czech, the oldest player in the field, was handled easily by the American wild-card entrant over the final two sets on a hot afternoon after winning the first set.

Pera will play No. 5 Katerina Siniakova, who had rolled to a 6-0, 3-0 lead over Anastasia Potapova before the Russian qualifier retired.

The other quarterfinal matchup set up Tuesday will feature Camila Giorgi, who outlasted Andrea Petkovic 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (3), against Alize Cornet, who was leading 7-6 (5), 4-0 when Zhu Lin had to retire with an injury.