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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.

Nadal beats Ferrer to reach Barcelona Open quarterfinals

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BARCELONA, Spain — Rafael Nadal looked closer to his clay-court best again as he beat David Ferrer 6-3, 6-3 on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals of the Barcelona Open.

The 11-time Barcelona champion saved four of five break points and broke four times in what could have been his last meeting with Ferrer, who is retiring after the Madrid Open next month. It was a sign of improvement for Nadal, who lost in the semifinals in Monte Carlo last week and then needed three sets to get past Leonard Mayer in his opening match in Barcelona.

“This match was important for me,” Nadal said. “Yesterday I had a tough match. I took a step forward and was able to play with more energy.”

The top-seeded Nadal will next face either Stefanos Tsitsipas, last year’s runner-up, or Jan-Lennard Struff.

Nadal was up 5-3 in the first set before play was stopped for a rain delay. He continued to dictate the match when play resumed, serving out the set and breaking Ferrer’s next service game.

Ferrer saved three match points before finally sending a forehand into the net to give Nadal the win.

The 37-year-old Ferrer was making his last appearance at the Barcelona Open and could not hold back the tears when he received an ovation from the audience. He placed his pink headband on the court as a mark that he had played his last match here.

“I am happy to be able to finish this tournament on the center court, playing against Nadal. I gave it my all,” Ferrer said.

Also, third-seeded Dominic Thiem broke Jaume Munar five times to earn a 7-5, 6-1 victory. Fourth-seeded Kei Nishikori, who won the tournament in 2014 and 2015, brushed off Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-1, 6-3.

Grigor Dimitrov was beaten 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2) by Nicolas Jarry, who will meet Daniil Medvedev after he beat American Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 6-2.

Osaka opens clay campaign by beating Hsieh in Stuttgart

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STUTTGART, Germany — Top-ranked Naomi Osaka opened her clay-court season by beating Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan 6-4, 6-3, on Thursday to reach the Porsche Grand Prix quarterfinals.

Osaka hit 22 winners and converted three of her six break points to seal the win in 1 hour, 24 minutes and set up a meeting with Donna Vekic of Croatia.

After saving two break points early, it was an unusually smooth victory for Osaka over Hsieh. She needed three sets to get past the Taiwanese veteran en route to her Australian Open victory and then lost to her at the Miami Open last month.

“I felt like this surface is more suited for me (than Hsieh),” Osaka said. “I was sort of in my plan. So, I just felt like I executed what I was trying to do.”

Two-time Stuttgart champion Angelique Kerber also advanced by beating fellow German Andrea Petkovic 6-2, 6-4. The fifth-seeded Kerber saved two break points to hold for 2-2 in the first set and then reeled off the next four games to take control. She then earned a decisive break for 4-3 in the second before closing out the win with her fourth match point.

Kerber will face sixth-seeded Kiki Bertens, who served 20 aces to rally for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Belinda Bencic.

No. 7 Anastasija Sevastova also advanced by beating former champion Laura Siegemund of Germany 6-4, 6-3 to set up a quarterfinal against Petra Kvitova, who advanced on Wednesday.

Vekic dispatched Russia’s Daria Kasatkina, 6-1, 7-5, earlier on Thursday.