Andy Murray in U.S. Open draw; Wawrinka withdraws

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Andy Murray moved into the field for the U.S. Open when another past champion at Flushing Meadows, Stan Wawrinka, pulled out because he still is recovering from foot surgery.

Murray is a former No. 1 and three-time Grand Slam title winner, including in New York in 2012. His ranking slid out of the top 100 after he had two hip operations in recent years.

The 34-year-old from Scotland returned to the tour in June after a three-month absence because of a groin problem and reached the third round at Wimbledon, then withdrew from the singles competition at the Tokyo Olympics on July 25, citing a strained right quadriceps. He was the two-time reigning men’s singles gold medalist.

Murray did play doubles for Britain at the Summer Games in Japan, reaching the quarterfinals with Joe Salisbury.

The U.S. Tennis Association also announced Monday that Patricia Maria Tig of Romania will not be playing in the year’s last Grand Slam tournament. Tig has a continuing back injury and was replaced in the field by Claire Liu of the U.S.

Wawrinka won the title in Flushing Meadows in 2016 for the last of his three major singles championships.

The 36-year-old Wawrinka is 3-3 in 2021 and has not competed on tour since losing his opening match to Lloyd Harris at the Qatar Open in March.

Wawrinka had surgery on his left foot shortly after that, then needed another procedure on the same foot in June. He is ranked 31st and was in line to be seeded if he had been able to play in the U.S. Open, where main-draw action starts Aug. 30.

Murray, who is 105th in the ATP rankings, reached the second round at Flushing Meadows in each of his past two appearances, in 2018 and last year.

After his third-round loss to eventual semifinalist Denis Shapovalov at the All England Club last month, Murray wondered allowed about what the future might hold for him.

“There is a part of me that feels a bit like I have put in so much work the last three months and, ultimately, didn’t play how I would want and expect. And it’s like: Is it worth it?” Murray said then.

“Is all of that training and everything that you’re doing in the gym – unless you’re able to, like, practice and improve your game and get matches and continue (to) get a run of tournaments – is it worth all of the work that you’re doing?”

Fernando Verdasco accepts 2-month doping ban

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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

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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.”