French Open runner-up Ruud loses in 2nd round at Wimbledon

Day Three: The Championships - Wimbledon 2022
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WIMBLEDON, England – Yet another of the highest-ranked players on the men’s tour is out of the tournament at Wimbledon. Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal are not among them.

Casper Ruud, the runner-up to Nadal at this year’s French Open, became the seventh of the top 11-ranked male players to be out of the grass-court Grand Slam for either losing early, injury, illness or being banned.

Ruud, who was seeded third but ranked sixth, lost to Ugo Humbert of France 3-6, 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 in the second round.

Djokovic, a six-time Wimbledon champion who is looking for his fourth straight title at the All England Club, beat Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 to reach the third round. Nadal advanced to the second round on Tuesday.

The third-ranked Djokovic, No. 4 Nadal, No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas and No. 7 Carlos Alcaraz are the only players in the top 11 remaining in the draw. Top-ranked Daniil Medvedev is out because of a ban on Russians over the war in Ukraine, No. 2 Alexander Zverev is injured, No. 8 Andrey Rublev of Russia is also banned, No. 9 Felix Auger-Aliassime and No. 10 Hubert Hurkacz lost, and No. 11 Matteo Berrettini withdrew after testing positive for COVID-19.

Djokovic hosted Boris Becker’s girlfriend and the three-time Wimbledon champion’s son in his box for the match. Becker, who previously coached the Serb, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison in Britain for illicitly transferring large amounts of money and hiding assets after he was declared bankrupt.

“I’ve just been trying to give support to people around him, his closest people, his family members, because I consider Boris really a family member, someone that I greatly appreciate, respect, and care about,” Djokovic said. “We’ve been through a lot together during those three years of collaboration. Our relationship dates back even before that. Of course, after we finished our professional relationship, we always stayed close, him with my team, with my agents, with my family.

“He knows and they know that they can always count on me for whatever support or help I can provide.”

In the women’s tournament, three of the top 11 ranked players were eliminated on Wednesday.

Anett Kontaveit lost to Juke Niemeier of Germany 6-4, 6-0, while 2017 Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza was beaten by Greet Minnen 6-4, 6-0 and U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu lost to Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-3.

Kontaveit was seeded second at Wimbledon but is ranked third, while Muguruza was seeded ninth and ranked 10th, and Raducanu was seeded 10th and ranked 11th.

Kontaveit said she had COVID-19 in recent months and has struggled to get her energy back.

“I had it a couple, two months ago, I think, or something like that. Then I tried to come back very quickly. I started training. It was low intensity, but I was still training every day. I think that was where I went wrong,” the 26-year-old Estonian said. “Just thinking back at it, I probably should have given myself more time to recover.”

Among the winners were No. 6 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, who beat Tereza Martincova 7-6 (1), 7-5 in a match that started Tuesday, No. 8 Jessica Pegula of the United States, No. 12 Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia and No. 15 Angelique Kerber of Germany.

Ruud was making his third appearance at the All England Club. His victory over Albert Ramos-Vinolas on Monday was his first at the grass-court Grand Slam.

He became the first Norwegian player to reach a Grand Slam final when he made the championship match at Roland Garros, but he lost to Nadal in straight sets. He had withdrawn from the Australian Open with an ankle injury.

No. 9 Cam Norrie of Britain, No. 22 Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia, No. 23 Frances Tiafoe of the United States, No. 25 Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia and No. 32 Oscar Otte of Germany all advanced to the third round.

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.”