Murray beats Wawrinka in second comeback match

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EASTBOURNE, England — Andy Murray beat Stan Wawrinka 6-1, 6-3 at the Eastbourne International on Monday in the second match of his comeback from long-term hip problems.

Murray returned last week at the Queen’s Club after 11 months out and lost to Nick Kyrgios in the first round.

Wawrinka’s erratic serve proved his downfall as, although he hit eight aces, he double-faulted four times, including on match point.

The Swiss player has also missed much of the past year through injury, including three months before his latest return last month.

Murray’s last success came in the fourth round of Wimbledon on July 10, 2017, when he was No. 1.

“I thought the first set I played well, second set was a little bit patchy at times, a bit nervous towards the end.

“When you’ve not played for the best part of a year, closing out the match against someone like Stan, who I’ve had lots of great matches with – tough, tough guy to play against – was tough. But delighted to get the win.”

Murray, who had an operation on his hip in January, will be hoping for a few more wins at Eastbourne before the start of his bid to win a third Wimbledon.

He next faces second-seeded Kyle Edmund, who overtook him as the British No. 1 while he was injured.

Another Briton is also through to the second round, after Jay Clarke beat Ryan Harrison of the United States 6-4, 6-1.

It was the teenager’s first ATP Tour win and his first victory over a player in the top 100. Harrison is ranked 58th.

Sixth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain also eased past Matteo Berrettini of Italy 7-5, 6-3.

Other winners included Jared Donaldson of the U.S., John Millman of Australia, and Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan.

In the women’s draw, defending champion Karolina Pliskova survived a scare to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and reach the third round.

Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, last year’s runner-up, had an easier passage as she beat Camila Giorgi 6-2, 6-2.

Pliskova had never lost a set to Pavlyuchenkova in five previous meetings but the Czech player struggled in the second set before prevailing 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

The second-seeded Pliskova hit nine aces in the first set and seemed on her way to another comfortable victory.

However, Pavlyuchenkova broke immediately in the second set and, although the Russian was broken back, she broke Pliskova’s serve again and two successive errors from her opponent saw her level on sets.

But there was to be no upset as Pliskova broke in the third game of the third set and, after saving a break point in the next game, she never looked back.

Pliskova broke again in the final game, sealing the match when Pavlyuchenkova hit the ball long.

Giorgi won the first two games against Wozniacki but that was to prove a false dawn for the Italian as three successive double faults appeared to shake her confidence and she lost the next six games and the first set, which Wozniacki sealed with a delightful shot down the line.

Wozniacki broke Giorgi at the start of the second set and the Danish player looked in impervious form as she stormed on to take the match, winning when Giorgi hit a forehand into the net.

Former Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska was one of a number playing first-round matches and the Polish player beat Timea Babos 6-3, 6-1.

Kristina Mladenovic of France beat local hope Heather Watson 6-7 (2), 7-5, 6-3.

Novak Djokovic to start 2023 in Adelaide ahead of Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic will open his 2023 campaign in Adelaide as he prepares for a shot at a 10th Australian Open crown a year after having his visa revoked on the eve of his title defense.

The 21-time major winner has been granted a visa by the Australian government and has been listed to play at the Adelaide International, which starts Jan. 1.

Serbia isn’t contesting the inaugural United Cup team competition, leaving Djokovic free to play regular warmup tournaments head of the Jan. 16-29 Australian Open.

He’ll be joined in the men’s draw at Adelaide by Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada and Andy Murray.

Ons Jabeur, Aryna Sabalenka will headline the women’s draw.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles last month confirmed Djokovic had been granted a visa to compete in Australia in January. The 35-year-old Serbian had been facing a possible three-year ban after being deported last January over his stance against COVID-19 vaccination.

Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times, including the last three times he played. Rafael Nadal won this year’s title in Djokovic’s absence.

Djokovic was not vaccinated against COVID-19 when he arrived in Melbourne ahead of the 2022 tournament, but Australia has since lifted strict rules for unvaccinated travelers.

Karolina Pliskova reuniting with Sascha Bajin

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Two-time Grand Slam finalist Karolina Pliskova is reuniting with coach Sascha Bajin ahead of the 2023 season.

Pliskova posted on her website and her Twitter account about the move, which comes about six months after she and Bajin stopped working together. The pair originally teamed up in November 2020.

While Bajin was her coach, Pliskova reached the final at Wimbledon in 2021 before losing to champion Ash Barty. Pliskova also was the runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open, where she defeated Serena Williams in the semifinals before being beat by Angelique Kerber for the trophy.

After splitting from Bajin in July, Pliskova was coached by Leos Friedl. Their results together included a quarterfinal run at the U.S. Open.

Bajin has worked as a coach or hitting partner with several top tennis players, including Grand Slam title winners Williams, Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

“Thank you for having me back,” Bajin wrote on Twitter. “Let’s go get it.”

Pliskova is a 30-year-old from the Czech Republic who reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings in 2017 and finished this season at No. 31 after going 21-21 with no titles.

Her team also includes fitness specialist Jez Green and physiotherapist Martin Salvador.

Next year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, begins Jan. 16.