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Raonic wins, Sock loses in first round at Toronto

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TORONTO — Canada’s Milos Raonic got off to a strong start at the Rogers Cup, beating David Goffin of Belgium 6-3, 6-4 on Monday.

Raonic, who has fallen from No. 3 to No. 30 due to numerous injuries the past sto seasons – including a quad tear at Wimbledon last month – used his powerful serve to his advantage, firing 13 aces to Goffin’s two and won 100 percent of his first serves.

“I think I can still serve much better, I don’t think I served particularly well,” Raonic said. “So I’ll take the time to work on some things tomorrow but overall it was a good performance. Mentally I was in the right state of mind the whole way through and I was very disciplined with myself.”

He will next play the winner of a match between American Frances Tiafoe and Italy’s Marco Cecchinato.

Russian qualifier Daniil Medvedev upset 13th-seeded American Jack Sock 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in another first round match on a day play was interrupted for three hours due to rain.

In doubles, Novak Djokovic and Kevin Anderson defeated Canadian teens Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 6-2.

Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime started the match strong before Djokovic and Anderson took control. They broke Anderson’s serve for a 2-0 lead, to the delight of a tightly packed grandstand crowd. However, the Wimbledon finalists team – nicknamed Djokerson thanks to a Twitter poll conducted by Djokovic earlier in the day – broke back to tie the match 2-2, and again to go up 5-3.

Anderson and Djokovic won five straight games, going up two breaks, to win the second set.

“Our game was there, we didn’t feel intimidated at all,” the 19-year-old Shapovalov said.

“Just to have a chance to play with these guys is already good,” added Auger-Aliassime, who won’t turn 18 until later this week.

In other singles matches, American Bradley Klahn topped Spain’s David Ferrer 7-6, 6-4; Pierre-Hughes Herbert of France got past Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas 4-6, 6-3, 6-4; Benoit Paire of France defeated Jared Donaldson 6-3, 6-4; Ilya Ivashka of Belarus beat Yuichi Sugita of Japan 6-2, 6-3; and Borna Coric of Croatia was a 6-4, 6-3 winnner over Canadian Vasek Pospisil in the late match on center court.

Also, 30-year-old Canadian Peter Polansky, a wild card entry playing in the morning draw, defeated Matthew Ebden of Australia 7-6 (3), 6-4. He will play the winner of a match between Djokovic and Hyeon Chung of South Korea in the second round.

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.