Murray withdraws before match against Djokovic in Madrid

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MADRID – Andy Murray withdrew from his showdown against Novak Djokovic at the Madrid Open because of a stomach illness.

The announcement came not long before Murray was scheduled to take the court against the top-ranked Djokovic in the third round.

It would have been the first time Murray and Djokovic played against each other since Djokovic won the Doha final in 2017.

Murray had won his first two matches in Madrid, defeating Dominic Thiem and Denis Shapovalov. The former No. 1 hadn’t won consecutive matches since January and hadn’t played in a clay-court tournament in nearly two years.

Ranked 78th in the world, the 34-year-old Murray has been making his way up the rankings since having hip surgery in both 2018 and 2019. He had arrived in Madrid with a 10-8 record in eight tournaments. He lost the Sydney final to Aslan Karatsev in January.

Tour officials gave no further details on Murray’s illness. He had said after the win over Shapovalov that he was feeling fine physically.

With Murray’s withdrawal, Djokovic automatically advanced to the quarterfinals – his second of the year after losing the Serbia final last month. He had lost in his first match in Monte Carlo in his first tournament on clay this season.

Djokovic is also trying to regain his best form after not being allowed to play in the Australian Open because he was not vaccinated. This is only his fourth tournament of the season. The Serb opened in Madrid with a two-set win against Gael Monfils.

Third-seeded Rafael Nadal, in his first tournament after a six-week injury layoff, takes on David Goffin, while Spanish sensation Carlos Alcaraz, celebrating his 19th birthday, faces Cameron Norrie.

Andrey Rublev, who beat Djokovic in the Serbia final, advanced to the quarterfinals after a hard-fought 7-6 (7) 7-5, win over Daniel Evans in nearly two and a half hours. The sixth-seeded Rublev converted just three of his 12 break-point opportunities.

Defending champion Alexander Zverev meets qualifier Lorenzo Musetti. Fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas faces Gregor Dimitrov.

In the women’s semifinals, eighth-seeded Ons Jabeur faces qualifier Ekaterina Alexandrova, while 12th-seeded American Jessica Pegula meets Jil Teichmann.

Alcaraz loses to Goffin in 1st match as No. 1

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ASTANA, Kazakhstan — Carlos Alcaraz’s first match as the No. 1-ranked player ended with a straight-set loss to David Goffin at the Astana Open.

The 19-year-old Spaniard lost 7-5, 6-3 in his first tour match since winning the U.S. Open and capturing the No. 1 ranking.

“David was playing really, really well. To come back to competition is never easy,” Alcaraz said. “It’s really tough for me, for my confidence.”

Alcaraz came from 5-2 down to level the first set at 5-5, only to be broken again by his Belgian opponent.

“When you play against the World No. 1 on a big stage, big crowd, the fire inside gives you so much power to play your best tennis because you don’t have any choice,” Goffin said. “You have to fight and give your best and that was the case today.”

Second-seeded Daniil Medvedev and No. 3-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas both avoided similar upsets. Medvedev beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain 6-3, 6-1 and Tsitsipas ousted Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3. 6-4.

Kasatkina knocks out Raducanu at Agel Open

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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — Fifth-seeded Daria Kasatkina defeated 2021 U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu 7-5, 6-4 to advance to the second round of the Agel Open.

Kasatkina was playing her first match since losing in the first round of the U.S. Open and will next face Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Sixth-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland rallied to eliminate former top-five player Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 6-7 (7), 6-1, while Aliaksandra Sasnovich upset eighth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-2.

American qualifiers Alycia Parks and Catherine McNally both advanced. Parks upset Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 7-6 (3) and McNally eased past Anna Blinkova 6-1, 6-2 at the indoor hardcourt event in the Czech eastern city of Ostrava.