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Osaka wins Madrid opener; Muguruza loses in first round

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MADRID — Naomi Osaka and other top-seeded players won their opening matches at the Madrid Open, while Caroline Wozniacki withdrew due to injury and Garbine Muguruza was upset on Sunday.

Top-ranked Osaka, the reigning U.S. Open and Australian Open champion, hit 43 winners, including eight aces, on the outdoor red clay to beat 2016 finalist Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 7-6 (6).

“For me, I’m just happy to get through it,” Osaka said. “I feel the most nervous during the first round and to play against Cibulkova was kind of tough for me, especially on clay.”

Osaka will face Sara Sorribes in the second round after she got past fellow Spanish wild card Lara Arruabarrena.

A lower back injury forced Wozniacki to retire from her match with Alize Cornet when she was losing 0-3 in the first set.

Petra Martic of Croatia ousted two-time grand slam winner Muguruza 7-5, 7-6 (2), a week after the Croat won her first career title in Istanbul.

Martic will next face fourth-seeded Angelique Kerber, who broke Lesia Tsurenko six times to earn a 6-3, 6-2 victory.

Third-seeded Simona Halep, who has won twice in Madrid, brushed off Russian qualifier Margarita Gasparyan 6-0, 6-4.

Fifth-seeded Karolina Pliskova had to fight back from a set down to fend off 18-year-old Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-3.

Sloane Stephens and Victoria Azarenka also advanced, while Madison Keys lost to Sorana Cirstea in three sets.

NADAL NEXT

On the men’s side, Rafael Nadal knows who his first opponent will be after Felix Auger-Aliassime beat fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov, a semifinalist last year, 6-2, 7-6 (7).

The 18-year-old Auger-Aliassime has reached the final in Rio and the semifinals in Miami already this year.

Jan-Lennard Struff beat Nick Kyrgios 7-6 (4), 6-4 in a match that saw a combined 21 aces.

Wild-card entry Tipsarevic advances at Geneva Open

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GENEVA (AP) Former top-10 player Janko Tipsarevic used his wild-card entry to beat Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 7-5, 7-5 in the Geneva Open first round on Monday.

Now ranked No. 317, the 34-year-old Tipsarevic is back in ATP Tour main draws after missing the 2018 season for hamstring injuries to heal.

Fifth-seeded Radu Albot advanced to the second round on a day when two seeded players lost in the final week of clay-court warmups for the French Open.

Albot beat qualifier Lorenzo Sonego 7-6 (6), 7-6 (3), after 92nd-ranked Hugo Dellien beat eighth-seeded Andreas Seppi 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, and seventh-seeded Matthew Ebden lost to Nicolas Jarry of Chile 6-2, 7-6 (4).

Rain cut short play and gave former No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov a day off after playing through two qualifying rounds.

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Pliskova wins Italian Open for biggest clay title of career

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ROME (AP) – Karolina Pliskova captured the biggest clay-court title of her career by beating Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-4 Sunday in the Italian Open final.

Adding to a very consistent year from the 2016 U.S. Open runner-up, the victory will move Pliskova up to No. 2 in the rankings and makes her one of the contenders for the French Open, which starts next weekend.

“I just hope to take the tennis I was playing here to Paris,” Pliskova said. “For sure there’s going to be a chance for me if I play this way.”

Pliskova also reached the Australian Open semifinals and the Miami Open final after opening this season with a title in Brisbane, Australia. But she lost in the second round of her previous two tournaments on clay in Stuttgart, Germany, and Madrid.

“Nobody really gave me chance for this tournament – even me,” Pliskova said. “Before the tournament, I was not super confident, not thinking about the final at all. I was just happy with every match which I played. So it’s little bit like a miracle for me.”

The unseeded Konta appeared nervous at the start, double faulting then landing a backhand into the net to hand Pliskova a break in her opening service game.

In the second set, Pliskova used a swinging forehand volley putaway to break for a 4-3 lead and never looked back.

“It’s always tough playing Karolina,” Konta said. “There’s rarely really a rhythm to the match. She plays with big shots, quite flat, and big serves. It can feel sometimes you’re fighting an uphill battle. That was the case today.”

After converting her third championship point, Pliskova went over and slapped hands with Conchita Martinez, the four-time Rome champion who she recently named her head coach. Pliskova then asked Martinez and the rest of her team to come down onto the court for her victory celebration.

“She loved clay so she knows exactly what I should do,” Pliskova said of Martinez. “There were small differences: movement, maybe to put more topspin on the balls, use drop shots – which I never use, but I start little bit, and to mix also the serves. … I know she loved this tournament. I think she prayed so I could win today.”