Andy Murray receives Australian Open wild-card entry

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Five-time Australian Open runner-up Andy Murray has been given a wild-card entry into the first Grand Slam tournament of next year.

Former top-ranked Murray has slipped to No. 122 in the ATP rankings after several years of battling hip injuries and surgery.

“We welcome Andy back to Melbourne with open arms,” Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said Monday. “As a five-time finalist he has been an integral part of so many amazing matches and storylines in the recent history of the Australian Open.”

Murray made a teary retirement announcement in Melbourne two years ago before undergoing a second round of surgeries to extend his career.

“His retirement was an emotional moment and seeing him come back, having undergone major surgery and build himself back up to get onto the tour again, will be a highlight of AO 2021,” Tiley added.

The rescheduled Australian Open will be played from Feb. 8-21, three weeks later than the original date in order to allow players and officials to spend 14 days in quarantine once they arrive in Australia. The players will be allowed five hours of practice each day at Melbourne Park, but must stay confined to their hotel rooms otherwise.

Also receiving a wild card was Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, who is also recovering from a series of injuries and hasn’t played a tour match since the 2019 U.S. Open. He missed the 2020 Australian Open due to glandular fever.

Fellow Australians Destanee Aiava and Arina Rodionova gained wild cards into the 128-women’s draw.

India’s Sumit Nagal and China’s Wang Xiyu were awarded wild cards from the Asia-Pacific for the men’s and women’s main draw, respectively.

Mayar Sherif becomes first Egyptian to win WTA Tour event

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PARMA, Italy — Mayar Sherif became the first Egyptian to win a WTA Tour event by beating top-seeded Maria Sakkari 7-5, 6-3 at the Parma Ladies Open.

Besides earning her first career title, Sherif also notched her first win over a top-10 opponent.

Along with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who reached the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals this year, Sherif is raising the profile of tennis in North Africa.

The 74th-ranked Sherif actually had to win two matches on Saturday, first overcoming sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the semifinals, which were postponed a day due to rain.

The seventh-ranked Sakkari beat Danka Kovinic 7-5, 6-2 in her semifinal earlier Saturday.

Parma Ladies Open semifinals postponed to same day as final

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PARMA, Italy — The semifinals of the Parma Ladies Open have been postponed by a day and will be played shortly before the final.

The decision was made because of persistent rain at the clay-court tournament.

Top-seeded Maria Sakkari will start on center court against Danka Kovinic at 10:30 a.m. local time (0830 GMT) before sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan’s match against Mayar Sherif.

The final will be after 6 p.m. local time, shortly after the doubles final – with the doubles semifinals also being played earlier in the day on a different court.