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No. 2 Wozniacki follows No. 1 Halep on way out at US Open

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NEW YORK (AP) All it took was two rounds at the U.S. Open for the top two seeded women to leave the draw, with No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki following No. 1 Simona Halep on the way out.

For Wozniacki, a two-time finalist at Flushing Meadows and the reigning Australian Open champion, her 6-4, 6-2 loss to 36th-ranked Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine on Thursday night was a second consecutive second-round Grand Slam exit.

Both Wozniacki and Halep, who was upset on Day 1, were beaten at the new Louis Armstrong Stadium. Two-time major champion Garbine Muguruza lost there, too, in the second round, so there’s something of a reputation already for the rebuilt arena.

“Guess Wimbledon used to have a `Graveyard Court,”‘ Wozniacki said, referring to the old Court No. 2 at the All England Club, which was infamous for upsets before it was torn down. “Maybe that is going to be the new `Graveyard Court.’ I think it’s a little too early to tell.”

For years, Wozniacki had to endure questions about why she was able to reach No. 1 in the rankings but wasn’t able to claim a major championship. She finally filled that gap on her resume this January in Melbourne, but if a burden was lifted, the Dane hasn’t played like it.

Wozniacki is 5-3 in Grand Slam matches since, following a fourth-round showing at the French Open with second-round departures at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, where she was the runner-up in 2009 and 2014.

She was asked whether having the Australian Open trophy makes these sorts of setbacks more acceptable.

“I don’t think it’s easier,” she replied. “I don’t think it ever gets easier.”

Tsurenko, meanwhile, has never been past the fourth round at any Grand Slam tournament.

“I was really brave, I think, today,” she said.

Things didn’t look good for her at the outset, when she shook her right forearm and had a trainer come out to massage it at changeovers. Tsurenko said she hurt it Monday and the pain returned when she served early in Thursday night’s match. From that moment on, Tsurenko decided she would just hit soft serves, instead of flat ones, to try to help her arm.

Essentially, she just wanted to put the ball in play. That worked: Wozniacki wound up her own undoing in many ways, producing 35 unforced errors and only six winners.

“She was playing smarter than me. She played the game that I was supposed to be playing. She got a lot of balls back. She played with the angles. She waited for the short ball. When the short ball came, she played aggressive. She went back and kept the ball in play when she had to,” Wozniacki said. “I should have made better adjustments. I just didn’t.”

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

More AP tennis coverage: https://www.apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

Ferrer’s last Slam ends with injury against Nadal at US Open

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NEW YORK (AP) There was something bittersweet about David Ferrer’s last Grand Slam match. Yes, he got to depart by sharing the court with his friend and Spanish Davis Cup teammate Rafael Nadal, under the lights on the big stage of Arthur Ashe Stadium at the U.S. Open.

He also was forced to quit for the first time in 208 contests at major tournaments, an ironic adieu for a guy known as one of the most indefatigable players in tennis.

Nadal was ahead 6-3, 3-4 after less than 1+ hours of the first-round match when Ferrer stopped because of an injured left calf that began bothering him in the first set and kept getting worse in the second.

“I’m sad because it’s my last Grand Slam. I was enjoying playing the match against Rafa. I was playing good. But anyway, I am proud with myself, with my career,” said Ferrer, whose best showing at a major was his runner-up finish at the 2013 French Open.

The man who beat him in that title match? Nadal.

“I am 36 years old,” Ferrer said. “It’s time to be home.”

He’s not quite done with his sport, though. Ferrer, who was ranked as high as No. 3 but is currently 148th, made clear he plans to play a selective schedule of tournaments in 2019.

Still, this felt like a farewell, both to him and to Nadal.

“He deserved a better finish,” Nadal said. “I am sad for him.”

They are just the fifth pair of men to play in the first round at a Slam after having met in a major final. In all, this was their 31st tour-level meeting; Nadal won 25.

The only men with more victories over Nadal than Ferrer’s six? Novak Djokovic with 27, Roger Federer with 15 and Andy Murray with seven.

“We played in very important finals for both of us. We played important matches for both of us. Yeah, we shared a lot of very important moments in our lives together,” Nadal said. “He will be one of these guys that the tour will miss, because he is one of the players that is a good guy. The tour loves him.”

Ferrer was asked whether he regretted playing at a time when the Big Four of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray dominated the sport.

He said that’s not the way he thinks about it, and that it was “a pleasure to play with them, with maybe the best generation,” because they motivated him to strive to improve.

After Monday night’s match, Federer saluted Ferrer with a tweet that conveyed “ultimate respect.”

Others offered other words of praise, including 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, who said after winning his first-round match Monday that Ferrer “was the kind of player no one wanted to face.”

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

Althea Gibson statue planned for U.S. Open

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NEW YORK — The United States Tennis Association will honor Althea Gibson with a statue at the U.S. Open.

The first African-American to win the U.S. Nationals singles title in 1957 will be commemorated at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The U.S. Nationals were the precursor to the U.S. Open. She won both the U.S. Nationals and Wimbledon titles in 1957 and 1958.

In a statement, USTA president Katrina Adams calls Gibson, who also won the 1956 French Open, the “Jackie Robinson of tennis.”

King says the 11-time Grand Slam winner is “an American treasure” who “opened the doors for future generations.”

A statue of Arthur Ashe was unveiled at the U.S. Open in 2000. The USTA has not yet selected a sculptor for the statue of Gibson, who died in 2003 at age 76.