The Latest: Raonic finishes off quickly on Day 2

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

2 p.m.

On the scoreboard it looks like a routine three-setter, but it took two days and a lot of disruptions for Milos Raonic to advance to the second round at the Australian Open.

Raonic was leading by two sets and 5-2 when heavy rain suspended his opener against Lorenzo Giustino, a lucky loser from qualifying who got a spot in the main draw when Radu Albot withdrew an hour before the first round on Monday.

The 2016 Wimbledon finalist returned on Day 2 to complete a 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 win. There was no need to rush it through on the opening day, said Raonic, who has been troubled by a series of injures and was the lowest-ranked of the 32 seeds in Australia.”If I was serving, maybe I would have rushed it. But to receive and have to move, I don’t think so,” he said. “And the rain came down pretty quickly. Once it started — it wasn’t like there was a moment of maybe we could have played one or two points in the moments where it was drizzling at the beginning.”

Raonic reached the quarterfinals here last year and the fourth round at Wimbledon, but missed the French Open and U.S. Open because of injuries.

“Since the end of the season, I took time to recover my back and take care of a few other things,” he said. “I was able to train for about six, seven weeks straight without any hindrances, no setbacks. I was thankful for that.

“To start off in that way, especially not having played a lot of matches, to play a pretty clean match and obviously to come back today and be efficient, all of those things are positive, something I can build off.”

In another match played across two days, No. 12-seeded Fabio Fognini held off Reilly Opelka 3-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (5).

12:50 p.m.

Second-seeded Karolina Pliskova clinched a 6-1, 7-5 win with a late service break against Kristina Mladenovic in the opening match on at Rod Laver Arena on Day 2 of the Australian Open.

Pliskova, who lost to eventual champion Naomi Osaka in the semifinals here last year, started the season with a title in Brisbane.

“It’s a new beginning here,” Pliskova said. “The weeks before, nobody really counts and nobody remembers. But I had some very good matches.”

Sixth-seeded Belinda Bencic advanced with a 6-3, 7-5 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

Next up Rod Laver Arena will be Maria Sharapova’s match against 19th-seeded Donna Vekic. Sharapova, a five-time major winner and champion here in 2008, has been affected by injuries needed a wild-card entry from organizers to get into the main draw.

The heavy rain that disrupted the opening day of the tournament has given way to sunny skies and pleasant playing conditions on Day 2.

Top-ranked Rafael Nadal was scheduled to play the final day match on Rod Laver Arena against Hugo Dellien.

11:45 a.m.

Former semifinalist Johanna Konta is out of the Australian Open after losing her first-round match to Ons Jabeur 6-4, 6-2. It was the 28-year-old Konta’s second match since last year’s U.S. Open after being sidelined with a chronic tendinitis-related injury in her right knee.

Konta lost in the first round of the Brisbane International to start the year and later pulled out of the Adelaide International.

The Sydney-born Konta advanced to the semifinals at Melbourne Park in 2016. She lost to Jabeur the last time they played at Eastbourne in 2019.

The match was carried over from Monday when torrential rain suspended all play on outside courts from mid-afternoon.

10:35 a.m.

Mostly sunny skies returned to Melbourne Park for Day 2 of the Australian Open, a welcome change from the deluge of rain Monday that forced suspension of dozens of matches.

As a result, organizers started play on outside courts a half-hour early while matches on the three covered main courts were scheduled to begin at the regular time. Leading off the day on Rod Laver Arena was second-seeded Karolina Pliskova, who played Kristina Mladenovic.

Next up was 2008 Australian Open champion Maria Sharapova, who needed a wild- card entry after a series of injuries forced her off the tour and saw her ranking slide. She plays 19th-seeded Donna Vekic.

Top-seeded Rafael Nadal makes his first appearance in the final day match Rod Laver Arena against Hugo Dellien.

Fernando Verdasco accepts 2-month doping ban

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
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LONDON – Former top-10 player Fernando Verdasco accepted a voluntary provisional doping suspension of two months after testing positive for a medication for ADHD, the International Tennis Integrity Agency announced.

Verdasco, who turned 39 this month, said he was taking methylphenidate as medication prescribed by his doctor to treat ADHD but forgot to renew his therapeutic use exemption for the drug. The integrity agency said Verdasco has now been granted an exemption by the World Anti-Doping Agency moving forward.

He tested positive at an ATP Challenger tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in February.

The integrity agency said in a news release that it “accepts that the player did not intend to cheat, that his violation was inadvertent and unintentional, and that he bears no significant fault or negligence for it,” and so what could have been a two-year suspension was reduced to two months.

Verdasco will be eligible to compete on Jan. 8.

The Spaniard is a four-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, reaching that stage most recently in 2013 at Wimbledon, where he blew a two-set lead in a five-set loss to eventual champion Andy Murray.

Verdasco reached a career-best ranking of No. 7 in April 2009 and currently is No. 125.

Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov give Canada 1st Davis Cup title

Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports
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MALAGA, Spain — Felix Auger-Aliassime fell to his back behind the baseline, then waited for teammates to race off Canada’s bench and pile on top of him.

A few minutes later, the Canadians finally could lift the Davis Cup.

“I think of us all here, we’ve dreamt of this moment,” Auger-Aliassime said.

Canada won the title for the first time, beating Australia behind victories from Denis Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime.

Auger-Aliassime secured the winning point when he downed Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4 after Shapovalov opened the day by rolling past Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-2, 6-4.

Seven years after leading Canada to the top of junior tennis, Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov and their teammates finally got to lift the biggest team trophy in their sport.

“We wanted to grow up and be part of the team and try to help the country win the first title,” Shapovalov said, “so everything is just so surreal right now.”

Shapovalov had dropped both his singles matches this week and needed treatment on his back during a three-set loss in the semifinals to Lorenzo Sonego of Italy that lasted 3 hours, 15 minutes. But the left-hander moved quickly around the court, setting up angles to put away winners while racing to a 4-0 lead in the first set.

Auger-Aliassime then finished off his superb second half of the season by completing a perfect week in Spain. He twice had kept the Canadians alive after Shapovalov dropped the opening singles match, and he replaced his weary teammate to join Vasek Pospisil for the decisive doubles point.

This time, Auger-Aliassime made sure the doubles match wouldn’t even be necessary. After his teammates poured onto the court to celebrate with him, they got up and danced around in a circle.

Canada had reached the final only once, falling to host Spain in Madrid in 2019, when Rafael Nadal beat Shapovalov for the clinching point after Auger-Aliassime had lost in the opening match.

But with Auger-Aliassime having since surged up the rankings to his current spot at No. 6, the Canadians are a much more formidable team now. They won the ATP Cup in January and finally added the Davis Cup crown to the junior Davis Cup title Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov led them to in 2015.

Australia was trying for its 29th title and first since current captain Lleyton Hewitt was part of the title-winning team in 2003.

But it was finally time for the Canadians, who were given a wild card into the field when Russia was suspended because of its invasion of Ukraine.

“Look, I think we were very close today,” de Minaur said. “Just wait until the next time we get the same matchup. Hopefully we can get the win and prove that we can do it.”

But Canada will be tough to beat as long as Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov play.

Shapovalov is just 23 and Auger-Aliassime 22, but both already have been Grand Slam semifinalists and Auger-Aliassime ended 2022 as one of the hottest players on the ATP Tour. He won all of his four titles this year, including three straight weeks in October.

He also beat Carlos Alcaraz in the previous Davis Cup stage in September, just after the Spaniard had won the U.S. Open to rise to No. 1 in the rankings. That victory helped send the Canadians into the quarterfinals, which they started this week by edging Germany.

“They’re not kids anymore, that’s for sure. Not after today – well not after the last couple of years,” said Pospisil, the team veteran at 32. “They’ve been crushing it.”