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Andy Murray sobs after another three-set win in Washington

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WASHINGTON — Andy Murray sat in his changeover chair and sobbed into a towel after winning his third consecutive three-setter to reach the Citi Open quarterfinals, then complained about a schedule that had him on court until 3 a.m.

Murray worked deep into the night to get past 93rd-ranked Marius Copil of Romania 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-6 (4) in a match that finished in the wee hours in front of 100 or so spectators after beginning at midnight as Thursday turned to Friday.

“Finishing matches at 3 in the morning is not good. It’s not good for the players. It’s not good for anyone, I don’t think, involved in the event. It’s not good for fans, TV. Nobody,” said Murray, a former No. 1 and three-time Grand Slam champion who is trying to return to form after having hip surgery in January.

Currently ranked 832nd, Murray ended an 11-month absence from the tour in June, playing just three matches before arriving at the Citi Open.

Murray has now played a trio of three-setters – each lasting more than 2 1/2 hours – in a four-day span.

He’s scheduled to face 19-year-old Alex de Minaur of Australia in the quarterfinals Friday night.

But speaking to a small group of reporters outside the locker room, Murray said he “potentially” could consider not playing.

“I’m giving my view right now as someone who’s just come back from a very, very long injury layoff. I don’t think I should be put in a position like that, when you’re expected to come out and perform the next day. I don’t think it’s reasonable,” Murray said. “And I’m disappointed with that, because I know that the weather’s tricky and I know it is for the scheduling, but it’s a very difficult position to be in.”

Thursday’s play at the hard-court tuneup for the U.S. Open was delayed at the outset by about 3 1/2 hours because of rain.

Showers earlier in the week jumbled the schedule and forced some other men to play two matches on Thursday.

Asked after beating Copil how his body is holding up, Murray replied: “It doesn’t feel great, just now.”

“I don’t know how you are expected to recover from that. By the time you’re done with all your recovery and stuff, it’s going to be 5:30, 6 o’clock in the morning. I’d obviously try and sleep as late as I can, but with the way your body clock is and stuff, you know, you might get a few hours’ sleep,” Murray said. “It’s not good. And it’s basically like playing two matches in a day.”

After taking a 5-0 lead in the opening-set tiebreaker, Murray dropped seven consecutive points to hand the lead over to Copil.

But, yelling at himself or his coach rather frequently, Murray came all the way back to win and improve to 4-2 in his comeback.

When he got to the sideline after the match concluded, he covered his face with a towel and cried, his chest heaving.

“Just the emotions coming out at the end of an extremely long day,” Murray said, “and a long match.”

Rafael Nadal will play in new Davis Cup format

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MADRID — Gerard Pique is not worried about the possible absence of some top players in the revamped Davis Cup, especially since Rafael Nadal has said he will play in the new-look competition when it debuts next year.

The Barcelona defender, who spearheads the company behind the new format of the Davis Cup, said Wednesday that Nadal has told him he will play as long as he is not injured.

“If the No. 1 in the world is playing, that’s more than enough,” Pique said in the official presentation of Madrid as host of the Davis Cup finals for the next two years. “Rafa is very positive about this event, especially because it is taking place in Madrid.”

The new event was developed in a partnership between the International Tennis Federation and the investment group Kosmos, which was founded by the Barcelona and Spain player.

Pique said he knows it will not be easy to have all top-ranked players participating.

“This is a team event, so it’s impossible to have all the top players involved. Some teams won’t qualify, not everybody will be able to play anyway,” Pique said. “Of course we would like to have the top players, but we want to focus on the teams.”

Stars such as Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have already hinted they don’t intend to play. Djokovic said the tournament could be competing with the ATP’s World Team Cup, while Federer said the revamped Davis Cup didn’t seem to be designed for him.

Pique said he already didn’t expect Federer to be playing, noting the Swiss veteran has limited his tournament schedule in recent years and might not “have the legs” to play in the Davis Cup again. He said he still hoped to convince Djokovic, though.

“I have a lot of confidence that we can negotiate and the top players will play,” Pique said.

The new format of tennis’ top team event will be a season-ending, 18-team tournament, but teams will still play matches in February to advance to the championship in November. The Davis Cup has previously been played over four weekends throughout the year.

The first championship will be held next year from Nov. 18-24 on an indoor hardcourt at the Magic Box arena, which already hosts the Madrid Masters. The ITF said players will compete for prize money that will rival what is offered in Grand Slams.

Pique said there is no “perfect date” for the tournament as the tennis calendar is very tight, but he was happy with the week they picked.

“We’ve spoken with everybody,” he said. “We think this is a week that won’t affect any of the other tournaments. We want to be well seen in the tennis world. We are here to help. We think this will be a magical week for the world of tennis.”

The 2018 Davis Cup semifinalists – Croatia, France, Spain and the United States – have already secured their spot in next year’s tournament, along with Argentina and Britain.

Defending champion France will host Croatia in the last Davis Cup final in the current format from Nov. 23-25 in Lille.

Stephens, Pliskova both lose at Kremlin Cup

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MOSCOW — Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova were both eliminated from the Kremlin Cup on Wednesday, with the latter result ensuring that Elina Svitolina has qualified for the WTA Finals.

The fifth-ranked Pliskova lost to Russian veteran Vera Zvonareva 6-1, 6-2, holding serve only once in the match.

Because of the loss, Svitolina will play in the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore. Pliskova can still qualify, but she could also be overtaken by Kiki Bertens.

The 34-year-old Zvonareva, a former Wimbledon and U.S. Open finalist, will next face Anastasija Sevastova in the quarterfinals. The Latvian beat Yulia Putintseva 7-5, 4-6, 6-4.

Stephens lost to Tunisian qualifier Ons Jabeur 6-3, 6-2. The third-seeded American, who had a first-round bye, lost her opening service games in each set.

Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, secured qualification for the WTA Finals last week after a strong season which included reaching the French Open final.

Jabeur will next face Anett Kontaveit in the quarterfinals. The eighth-seeded Estonian beat Kristina Mladenovic 6-2, 7-6 (3).

In the men’s draw, Ricardas Berankis beat Aljaz Bedene 3-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) to reach the quarterfinals.