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Stan Wawrinka regains form to stun Grigor Dimitrov

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LONDON — Out of form and a set down to Grigor Dimitrov after just 23 minutes, Stan Wawrinka was just about the only person on Centre Court who believed he could win.

The three-time Grand Slam champion – whose ranking has fallen to 224 following knee surgery – proved himself right, rallying to defeat the sixth-seeded Dimitrov 1-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5), 6-4 at Wimbledon on Monday to claim just his second Grand Slam victory since last year’s Wimbledon.

Wawrinka received a fillip earlier when his girlfriend Donna Vekic pulled off a top-10 triumph of her own, defeating fourth-seeded Sloane Stephens 6-1, 6-3.

“It was a good day for us at the office,” Wawrinka said. “That’s for sure.”

After missing the second half of 2017 following surgery on his left knee, Wawrinka has struggled to regain his form since returning at the Australian Open in January.

The 33-year-old Swiss won just three matches across four tournaments at the start of the year, prompting him to take another three-month break.

The second edition of the comeback had been even more concerning, with just two wins in five tournaments climaxing with a thrashing from fellow long-term injury victim Andy Murray who, despite that victory, deemed himself unfit to compete at Wimbledon.

Wawrinka’s prospects at the All England Club were bleak, and appeared bleaker when he was drawn against 2014 semifinalist Dimitrov in the opening round. Wawrinka had never beaten a top-10 player on grass.

“I had to put myself together again, to try to fight, try to find (a) solution,” said Wawrinka of his thought process after dropping the first set.

He found it. The Swiss doubled his winner count and lifted his first-serve percentage to level the set score through a tiebreaker, and toughed out a high-quality third set via the same method.

Wawrinka’s serve carried him to a 5-4 lead in the fourth, before he pounced on his first opening of the set to seal victory.

Vekic said after her win over the U.S. Open champion: “I’m really happy that I was the first one today so now I can watch him a little bit. It’s not easy when there’s two matches in one day, we’re both kind of a little bit stressed but it’s good if we both win.”

Stress levels in the Wawrinka-Vekic household will be a lot lower on Tuesday.

Serena Williams No. 17 seed for US Open, 1 spot behind Venus

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Serena Williams is seeded No. 17 for the U.S. Open, nine spots higher than her current ranking of No. 26.

The U.S. Tennis Association announced the seedings for the main draws of women’s and men’s singles on Tuesday.

Williams was put one place behind her older sister, Venus.

The draw for the tournament is Thursday. Play begins Monday.

This will be the third Grand Slam tournament of Williams’ return to competition since she gave birth to a daughter during the 2017 U.S. Open last September, then dealt with health complications.

The 23-time major champion, who turns 37 next month, was the runner-up at Wimbledon in July.

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

Want to vote for the Tennis Hall of Fame? Now you can

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Martina Hingis figures she wouldn’t have needed any help from fans to earn her spot in the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Still, she likes the idea that folks around the world now will have a say in who gets elected.

“I would have hoped that people liked me and liked my game, liked my style, so hopefully that wouldn’t have made a difference to make it in or out,” Hingis said with a laugh during a phone interview. “I would have only hoped that it would only push me more. I would hope that in my case, it would have been pretty clear that I had made it.”

Her sport’s Hall will let fans help select its next inductees. Anyone will be able to submit an online ballot starting in late August for the Class of 2019.

The votes will then become part of the overall tally that determines which players are elected.

As in the past, members of the Hall of Fame, journalists and tennis historians will continue to be the primary selectors.

Inductees still will need to be named on 75 percent of the ballots to get in. But now, the top three recipients of votes from fans will get a “bonus” percentage that will be tacked on to what they are given by the main panel – 3 percent for the most popular candidate among the fans, 2 percent for second place, 1 percent for third.

So in the case of a candidate who is nearly approved by the Hall-chosen voters but did not quite garner enough support, the choices of people who watched from the stands or on TV could matter.

“You can help someone who maybe is close, almost there, with 74 percent, and then with 1 percent of the vote from the fans or 2 percent, you get to be a Hall of Famer, because people liked you and they followed you and they enjoyed your game,” said Hingis, who was a member of the Hall’s Class of 2013 and now serves as an ambassador for the shrine, which is in Newport, Rhode Island. “Without the fans, you wouldn’t have the sport.”

The nominees for the Class of 2019 will be announced this week. The fan vote results will be released in October, and the list of inductees will be announced in January.

Michael Stich and Helena Sukova are this year’s inductees.