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Novak Djokovic advances to second round in Toronto

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TORONTO — Novak Djokovic advanced to the second round with a 6-3, 7-6 (7) win over lucky loser Mirza Basic at the Rogers Cup on Tuesday.

And former world No. 3 Stan Wawrinka came back to beat 16th-seed Nick Kyrgios 1-6, 7-5, 7-5.

The four-time champion Djokovic, the ninth seed in Toronto, took care of his serve in the win over his Bosnian opponent. Djokovic had nine aces and was good on 76 percent of his first serves, converting 76 percent of his first service points and 79 percent of his second service points.

He had some trouble late in the second set, losing his serve to set up the tiebreak, before rallying.

The Serbian star, who last won the Rogers Cup in 2016 and is coming off a win at Wimbledon this year, will next face wild-card Peter Polansky of Canada.

Wawrinka, a three-time Grand Slam champion, came into the tournament ranked 195th in the world as he looks to get back into form following knee surgery.

The Swiss player was originally given a qualifying spot in Toronto, but advanced to the main draw when former No. 1 Andy Murray withdrew.

Kyrgios, from Australia, broke Wawrinka twice in the first-round match and had seven aces in a dominant first set.

Wawrinka battled back, converting on 86 percent of his first service points to take the second set. He broke Kyrgios in the final game of the third set, converting his second match point opportunity when the Australian couldn’t handle his return.

“Stan, for him to get through matches like this, healthy, no pain, that’s a good sign for him,” Kyrgios said. “He’s playing a good level. He’s got a world-class backhand and matches like this are going to give him confidence.

“But I can’t take any positives away from this at all.”

In other matches, Robin Haase of the Netherlands downed Japan’s Kei Nishikori 7-5, 6-1.

Americans Sam Querrey, Frances Tiafoe and Ryan Harrison joined Russia’s Karen Khachanov and Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas as other first-round winners. Tiafoe will face Canada’s Milos Raonic in the second round.

Denis Shapovalov of Canada played his first-round match against France’s Jeremy Chardy later Tuesday.

Canadian wild card Felix Auger-Aliassime upset Lucas Pouille of France 6-4, 6-3, cruising into the second round in his main draw debut at the Masters 1000 tournament.

The Montreal native, ranked a career-high No. 133 in the world heading into the week, needed 1 hour, 18 minutes to down the No. 18 Pouille on centre court at the Aviva Centre.

Auger-Aliassime, on the eve of his 18th birthday, saved 5 of 6 break points and converted on 3 of 6. He also had five aces – including four in the second set – and won 73 percent of his first service points.

The teen started strong, breaking Pouille in the second game of the first set, then fighting off triple break point for a 3-0 lead.

Pouille broke the Canadian while he was serving for the set at 5-3, but Auger-Aliassime bounced back with another break for set point, letting out an approving roar as fans waved Canada flags in the seats.

Auger-Aliassime converted on another break point in the second set and held serve the rest of the way to secure just his second career win at a Masters 1000 event.

He will face Russian qualifier Daniil Medvedev in the second round. Medvedev upset 13th-seeded American Jack Sock on Monday.

Auger-Aliassime earned his first Masters win at Indian Wells in April, defeating fellow Canadian Vasek Pospisil in the opening round to become the first player born in the 21st Century to win a Masters-level match.

Auger-Aliassime lost in the qualifying round at the Rogers Cup in Toronto in 2016 and had to withdraw his wild card entry to the 2017 tournament in Montreal with a left wrist injury.

Auger-Aliassime began the year ranked 161st.

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.