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Nadal withdraws, Murray loses to Medvedev in Brisbane

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BRISBANE, Australia — Andy Murray lost his second-round match less than an hour after Rafael Nadal withdrew from the Brisbane International on Wednesday.

Both players arrived in Australia after long injury breaks, and neither had played a competitive match since September.

At least Murray completed two matches. Playing on a protected ranking after an injury-interrupted 18 months, he beat James Duckworth before losing to fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-2. There were signs in both matches that he is still bothered by the hip problem which has derailed his last two seasons.

Defending women’s champion Elina Svitolina also went out in the second round, losing to Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 in the last match of the day.

Murray, a three-time major champion, recovered a service break in the first set and was in the match at 5-5 until Medvedev won six straight games.

“As you play up the levels, whether it’s issues with your game, like if you’re not serving as well or if you’re not moving as well, the better players exploit that,” Murray said. “He is a top player and is able to do that. I need to try and find a way of working out how to get around some of the things I struggle with a little bit now.”

The second-ranked Nadal had a first-round bye but withdrew on the eve of his scheduled second-round match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after having an MRI on a muscle strain in his left thigh.

Nadal said he’d head to Melbourne after a brief stopover in Sydney for a Fast4 event to prepare for the Australian Open. The 32-year-old Spaniard is hoping he can still win the season’s first major, which starts on Jan. 14, despite his lack of match preparation.

Doctors “say that it’s a very small thing, but can become a big thing,” Nadal said during a news conference staged while Murray was playing Medvedev on Pat Rafter Arena. “When you increase the intensity on the muscle competing, then there is a big risk to make something bigger.”

Also exiting the men’s draw on Wednesday where defending champion Nick Kyrgios, who lost to Jeremy Chardy 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3, and third-seeded Kyle Edmund, who lost to Japanese qualifier Yasutaka Uchiyama 7-6 (6), 6-4.

Second-seeded Kei Nishikori beat and 2017 champion Grigor Dimitrov had straight-set wins earlier to set up a quarterfinal showdown – a rematch of their final in 2017. Also advancing were fifth-seeded Milos Raonic and seventh-seeded Alex De Minaur.

Anett Kontaveit beat fourth-seeded Petra Kvitova 7-5, 7-6 (1) to reach the women’s quarterfinals, and Anastasija Sevastova advanced to a quarterfinal match against U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka.

Fifth-seeded Karolina Pliskova had a 7-5, 6-2 win over Marie Bouzkova and will next meet Ajla Tomljanovic, who beat Johanna Konta 6-2, 7-6 (2). Donna Vekic ousted No. 6 Kiki Bertens 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-5 and will take on Sasnovich in the quarterfinals.

The absence of Nadal, who was replaced in the draw by Taro Daniel, and Murray puts more focus on the Nishikori-Dimitrov quarterfinal match. Nishikori opened his year with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Denis Kudla.

The sixth-seeded Dimitrov, who beat Nishikori in the 2017 final here, had to withstand a late comeback from John Millman before winning 6-3, 6-4. He’s using the quarterfinal match as a barometer for where his preparations stand for the Australian Open.

“It’s great. I mean it’s right off the blocks,” Dimitrov said. “It’s perfect to play a match like that to kind of see where your game is at.”

Tsitsipas is youngest man in Slam SFs since ’07

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) The Latest on Tuesday at the Australian Open (all times local):

4 p.m.

Stefanos Tsitsipas is the youngest man to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since 2007 after beating Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2) at the Australian Open to follow up on his stunning upset of Roger Federer.

Tsitsipas is the first player from Greece to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam, and at 20 years, 168 days, is the youngest man to make the semifinals at a major since Novak Djokovic at the 2007 U.S. Open. He’s the youngest man to do so in Australia since Andy Roddick in 2003.

The No. 14-seeded Tsitsipas will play either 17-time major winner Rafael Nadal or first-time quarterfinalist Frances Tiafoe.

“I’m just living the dream,” said Tsitsipas, who had beaten six-time Australian Open winner Federer in the fourth round.

The No. 22-seeded Bautista Agut advanced the hard way, spending more than 14 hours on court through his first four rounds. He had three five-setters starting with a victory over five-time Australian Open finalist Andy Murray, followed by another against Australian John Millman and, after advancing through the third round in straight sets, his fourth-round win over 2018 finalist Marin Cilic went the distance as well.

2 p.m.

Li Na saw much of herself in a young player on the women’s tour early last year.

The two-time Grand Slam champion didn’t hesitate to anoint Japan’s Naomi Osaka as the player with a bright future.

So, Li, to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in July along with fellow former Australian Open champions Mary Pierce and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, was not surprised when Osaka won the 2018 U.S. Open and is already a quarterfinalist at Melbourne Park this time.

Li was a trailblazer in women’s tennis, becoming the first player from China to win a WTA title – in 2004 – and the first from Asia to win a Grand Slam singles title when she won the 2011 French Open. She also won the Australian Open in 2014 after losing two previous finals here.

“When I first saw Naomi Osaka play, I thought she was really calm, very mature on court. She was so focused on her game itself, no pressure, point by point. That quality and the player’s focus really impressed,” she said through a Chinese translator.

1:45 p.m.

Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai have combined for an upset 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4) women’s doubles quarterfinal win over top-ranked Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova on Day 9 at the Australian Open.

Krejcikova and Siniakova won the French Open and Wimbledon doubles titles last year and reached the semifinals at the U.S. Open to finish 2018 with the No. 1 ranking.

“They’re a great team – won 2 Slams last year, so we did well,” Stosur said. “We came back from a break in both sets – looking forward to tomorrow.”

Stosur, who had a career high No. 4 ranking in singles and won 2011 U.S. Open title, has two major women’s doubles titles but lost the only final she reached at Melbourne Park in 2006.

“It would be amazing,” Stosur said of winning at home. “I guess we’re close now, in the semis. It only gets harder here.”

Stefanos Tsitsipas was playing Roberto Bautista Agut in the first of the singles quarterfinals on Tuesday, and 17-time major winner Rafael Nadal was playing the last night match on Rod Laver Arena against Frances Tiafoe.

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Sore, tired Djokovic expects to be OK for QFs

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Latest on Monday at the Australian Open (all times local):

2 a.m.

Record-chasing Novak Djokovic is feeling sore and tired following his late-finishing win over Daniil Medvedev, but thinks he will be OK for his Australian Open quarterfinal match against Kei Nishikori.

“I didn’t feel so great, you know, in the last 20 minutes of the match or so,” Djokovic, aiming for a record seventh men’s title in Australia, said after overcoming a couple of tumbles and a series of energy-sapping baseline exchanges in the 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3 win.

Immediately after the match, he said in a TV interview that he had never felt fresher.

At a later news conference, he was more circumspect about his preparation for Wednesday’s quarterfinals.

“It was not the fall. It was not particularly the fall. It was just, you know, a little bit of fatigue, a little bit of back,” he said. “Nothing major. But there are a couple of things that have surfaced, so to say, you know, after a match like this.

“We’ll see tomorrow how the body reacts, but I’m confident I can recover and I can be ready for next one.”