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Andreescu continues hot streak, qualifies for Aussie Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Bianca Andreescu has followed up her wins last week over defending Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki and seven-time major winner Venus Williams by qualifying for the season’s first Grand Slam tournament.

The 18-year-old Canadian would like to follow it up with another win over a big-name player – like No. 1 Simona Halep or Serena Williams.

First things first, though. After beating Tereza Smitkova on Friday to earn a spot in the main draw of a major for only the second time – her first was at Wimbledon in 2017 – Andreescu ended up with a first-round match against American wild-card entry Whitney Osuigwe, who finished last year ranked No. 226.

They’re in the same half as Halep and seven-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams, but in the lower quarter.

“With what happened last week, I think I can get pretty far into next week,” said Andreescu, who was leading 6-0, 4-1 when Smitkova retired with an injury. “And I’m just using momentum from last week. Hopefully I can do that next week as well.

“I think I used it pretty well in the qualifying matches, so I’m really pleased.”

Andreescu reached the final of the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand last week, beating Wozniacki, Venus Williams and third-seeded Hsieh Su-wei before losing to Julia Goerges in three sets.

She raced from Auckland to Melbourne to enter qualifying, something she’s hoping her rise up the rankings will help her avoid at the next major.

“My goal was to, at the beginning of the year, was to get into the French Open main draw right away – not having to go through qualies,” she said. “I think I’m one step closer to that.”

Andreescu moved up 45 places last week to No. 107, and attracted a lot of attention at home.

“Definitely, yeah. I’m getting a lot of messages. I’m getting a lot of followers, especially from politicians, which really amazed me,” she said. “It’s really an honor – I’m really grateful for everyone’s support.

“I got a message from a little girl, just saying that she’s starting to play tennis because of me. That was pretty amazing.”

It was some advice a couple of years ago from Halep, who told her to play more pro events rather than juniors, that helped set Andreescu on her way.

“I think I’m getting more and more experience playing on big stages, and I think that’s going to be help me with everything,” Andreescu said. “It’s amazing. It’s my second time qualifying for a major. I’m really pleased with my game right now. and how my body is holding up, and my mental, too.”

On the men’s side, 22-year-old Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis had a 6-4, 6-4 win over Canadian Peter Polanski to earn his spot in the main draw after contentiously missing out on a qualifying spot following a series of injuries.

Kokkinakis, who notched a win over Roger Federer last year, later said missing out on the wild card certainly served as motivation. He will play Taro Daniel of Japan in the first round.

Dan Evans, who hit a spinning-around backhand winner early in the qualifying tournament that is an early contender for shot of the year, qualified for his first major since returning from a 12-month ban for a doping infringement last year when he beat Paolo Lorenzi 6-3, 6-3. He will open against fellow qualifier Tatsuma Ito.

Murray completes fairytale return, Lopez claims 2 titles

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LONDON (AP) Andy Murray completed a fairytale return from hip surgery by winning the Queen’s Club doubles title with Feliciano Lopez, who ended Sunday with two titles after earlier winning the singles title as well.

The Spaniard is the first man to win both titles at the grass-court tournament in London since Mark Philippoussis in 1997.

Murray spent five months away from the sport until this week. He and Lopez defeated Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury 7-6 (6), 5-7, 10-5 in the doubles final – not long after Lopez outlasted Gilles Simon 6-2, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (2) in the singles.

Murray capped a remarkable week 146 days after undergoing what he hopes was career-saving hip surgery. In January he had said he was planning to retire after Wimbledon because of the severe pain he felt on a daily basis.

The three-time Grand Slam champion is approaching Wimbledon, which starts July 1, full of confidence after playing freely and without pain as he secured his first doubles title since winning with his brother Jamie Murray in Tokyo in 2011. Murray won’t play singles at Wimbledon but has already confirmed that Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert will partner him in the men’s doubles.

Murray and Lopez hadn’t played together in a tournament before beating top-seeded Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah on Thursday. They completed their darkness-delayed quarterfinal win over British duo Daniel Evans and Ken Skupski on Saturday, right before their semifinal win over Henri Kontinen and John Peers.

Lopez, who had been forced to play in three matches on Saturday including his singles semifinal, played almost 5 hours of tennis altogether on Sunday. He reaffirmed his status as the tournament’s oldest winner at age 37 with the singles title.

The veteran Spaniard was already its oldest winner when he took the title in 2017.

Lopez was playing his first final since defeating Marin Cilic in the decider two years ago and was made to work hard by the 34-year-old Simon.

Lopez saved all but one of the break points he faced and converted three of his 13 opportunities to prevail in 2 hours, 49 minutes. Lopez had won five of their previous seven meetings and all four on grass.

Lopez is the first wild card to claim the title since Pete Sampras defeated Tim Henman to win in 1999. He would have been the oldest player to win a tour-level title since the 43-year-old Ken Rosewall won the Hong Kong Grand Prix final in 1977, but Roger Federer beat him to that accolade after winning his 10th Halle Open title earlier Sunday. Federer is a month older than Lopez.

Barty beats Goerges in Birmingham final to take No. 1 spot

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BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) Ashleigh Barty defeated Julia Goerges 6-3, 7-5 to win the Birmingham Classic title on Sunday, a victory that ensures the Australian will be No. 1 in the rankings on Monday.

The 23-year-old Barty, who lost the final to Petra Kvitova in 2017, did not drop a set all week at the grass-court tournament, and she fought back from being 4-5 down in the second set to beat the German in 1 hour, 28 minutes.

Goerges fought back tears as she congratulated her friend on taking top spot in the rankings ahead of Wimbledon, which starts July 1.

French Open champion Barty, currently ranked No. 2, will take over from Naomi Osaka, who lost 6-2, 6-3 loss to Yulia Putintseva in the second round on Thursday.

Barty is only the second Australian woman to hold the top spot after Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976.

Barty, who extended her winning streak to 11 matches, and Goerges reached the semifinals in doubles together before Barty withdrew from their semifinal with a right arm injury.