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Garbine Muguruza begins Wimbledon title defense in style

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LONDON – After losing just one set on her way to the Wimbledon title a year ago, Garbine Muguruza picked up exactly where she left off at the All England Club.

The No. 3-seeded Muguruza was hardly troubled in beating British wild card Naomi Broady 6-2, 7-5 on Tuesday.

Muguruza saved the only break point she faced and could have ended the encounter more swiftly had she been more clinical with her own chances.

“I’m pretty happy with my serve and controlling the emotions,” Muguruza said. “You know, to be back in a Grand Slam is always difficult, so I’m excited with the way I’m playing.”

The usual adulation afforded to the reigning champion fulfilling the honor of opening proceedings on Centre Court on Day 2 of the tournament was tempered by the nationality of Muguruza’s opponent. Muguruza was duly honored but the British crowd backed Broady.

However, the 2016 French Open champion quickly dispelled any thoughts of an upset by breaking Broady’s opening service game, and did it again to take the first set 6-2.

Broady saved six break points in the second set before succumbing to Muguruza’s constant pressure in the 12th game.

Muguruza had no complaints. “I found the crowd very fair, with both of us,” she said.

The Spaniard failed to build upon her dominant display at last year’s Wimbledon as she exited the U.S. Open in the second round and this year’s Australian Open in the fourth.

However, her best tennis – and both of her Grand Slam titles – have come during the European summer, and a run to the French Open semifinals last month suggests that may be the case once more.

Only an inspired performance from eventual champion Simona Halep knocked her out at Roland Garros, and with grass being better suited to Muguruza, she is a major contender at Wimbledon.

“The fact that it’s different surfaces, it helps,” Muguruza said.

Her next opponent will be unseeded Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck.

The top-seeded Halep begins her campaign later against Kurumi Nara on Centre Court.

Johanna Konta, who knocked out Halep en route to the semifinals a year ago, made it through to the second round by defeating Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia 7-5, 7-6 (7).

Australian trio Daria Gavrilova, Ashleigh Barty, and Samantha Stosur all advanced with straightforward wins.

The 26th-seeded Gavrilova cruised past U.S. lucky loser Caroline Dolehide 6-2, 6-3. She will face Stosur in the next round, after the 2011 U.S. Open champion defeated Shuai Peng of China 6-4, 7-5.

Meanwhile, the 17th-seeded Barty defeated Swiss opponent Stefanie Voegele 7-5, 6-3 to claim her first main-draw singles victory at the All England Club. She will next face British wild card Gabriella Taylor or 2014 runner-up Eugenie Bouchard.

On the men’s side, Juan Martin del Potro maintained his record of never losing in the first round at Wimbledon with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 win over Peter Gojowczyk of Germany.

The fifth-seeded Argentine will next face Feliciano Lopez, who broke Roger Federer’s record by appearing in a 66th consecutive Grand Slam singles tournament as he defeated Federico Delbonis of Argentina 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

Fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev was also through after defeating James Duckworth of Australia 7-5, 6-2, 6-0.

Stephens beats Osaka in three sets at WTA Finals

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SINGAPORE — In a match between the last two U.S. Open champions, Sloane Stephens came out on top.

The 2017 champion beat Naomi Osaka 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 Monday at the WTA Finals, the season-ending tournament for the top eight players in the world.

Both players are making their debut appearances at the tournament, but Stephens appeared to be more composed while Osaka, who became the first Japanese citizen to win a Grand Slam title last month in New York, never seemed comfortable.

“I’m just really happy to get through and play a good competitive match,” Stephens said on court after the match. “I never gave up. I knew she’s been playing well and I’d have to play really good tennis to beat her.”

Both players struggled to hold serve. Osaka was broken on seven of 19 break-point opportunities, while Stephens was broken on four of 12.

Stephens entered the tournament with 33 wins this season, the least of any of the eight qualifiers. She reached her second career Grand Slam final at this year’s French Open, and won the Miami title.

Osaka continually showed her frustration during the match. When she failed to capitalize on four break points in the fourth game of the second set, she made a visible shrugging gesture with both hands.

Stephens gifted the second set to Osaka when she double-faulted on a second set point in the 10th game. But Osaka appeared to be mentally fatigued and only managed to hold serve in the third game of the final set.

Stephens is now 1-0 in the Red Group, while Osaka is 0-1. Angelique Kerber and Kiki Bertens are also in the group.

Tsitsipas wins Stockholm Open; becomes first Greek to claim ATP title

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STOCKHOLM — Stefanos Tsitsipas became the first Greek tennis player to win an ATP World Tour title when he beat Ernests Gulbis 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Stockholm Open on Sunday.

The 20-year-old Tsitsipas tossed his racket in the air and put both hands to his head when Gulbis put a forehand into the net after 1 hour, 21 minutes.

Tsitsipas had lost his previous two finals, both times to Rafael Nadal. The No. 145-ranked Gulbis was an easier proposition, though, and Tsitsipas won 80 percent of his service points and didn’t have his serve broken.

“Of course I feel happy because I’m the first Greek (to win an ATP title),” said 16th-ranked Tsitsipas, who became the 12th first-time title-winner on the ATP Tour this year. “Hopefully many Greek players can achieve something like this. I would be super-happy to see them achieve something like this in the future.”

Gulbis had won all six of his finals at ATP tournaments. This was his first since 2014, having beaten top-seeded John Isner in the semifinals.

It was still a great week for Gulbis, who only had four tour-level wins this season before coming to the Swedish capital.

“He played a really good match. He had a great week,” Gulbis said. “I know it’s a big deal to win your first ATP title, so enjoy it. I wish that it’s not the last one.”