Murray gets Miami Open wildcard; Kasatkina wins St Petersburg opener - GulfToday

Murray gets Miami Open wildcard; Kasatkina wins St Petersburg opener

Daria Kasatkina

Daria Kasatkina returns the ball to Clara Tauson during their St Petersburg Ladies Trophy match on Tuesday. Associated Press

Three-time Grand Slam champion and former world number one Andy Murray is among five players handed a wildcard into the main draw of next week’s Miami Open, tournament officials said.

Murray, who skipped this week’s Dubai tennis Championships after becoming a father for the fourth time with wife Kim Sears, returns to the Miami Open field for the first time since 2016.

The two-time Wimbledon and Olympic champion, who is on the comeback trail after hip surgery two years ago, won the Miami Open in 2009 and 2013 and reached the final of the event in 2012 and 2015.

“It is exciting to see Andy back in Miami,” said Miami Open tournament director James Blake. “As someone who has had to battle back from injury during his career, I understand and respect all the hard work Andy has put in to get back on tour.”

Murray is joined in the main draw by Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz, Michael Mmoh of the United States, Hugo Gaston of France and Britain’s Jack Draper.

Anna Kalinskaya, Ana Konjuh, Storm Sanders, Katrina Scott, Mayar Sherif, Wang Xiyu and Wang Xinyu were granted main draw wildcards in the women’s tournament.

On Sunday, two-time Miami Open champion Kim Clijsters withdrew from the tournament.

Clijsters, who underwent a knee operation in October and then contracted COVID-19 in January, said she withdrew because of concerns over fitness.

“Unfortunately, I am not where I need to be especially if I want to compete with the best,” she said. “It’s disappointing and frustrating.”

Nadal withdraws: Rafael Nadal withdrew from next week’s start of the ATP Miami Open on Tuesday, tweeting that he needs to skip the event to prepare for the upcoming European clay-court campaign.

The 34-year-old Spanish left-hander, who shares the all-time record of 20 men’s Grand Slam singles titles with Roger Federer, has not played since being ousted from last month’s Australian Open quarter-finals by Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“Sad to announce that I won’t be playing in Miami, a city that I love,” Nadal tweeted. “I need to fully recover and get ready for the clay court season in Europe.

Kasatkina halts Tauson surge in St Petersburg opener: No.8 seed Daria Kasatkina was forced to work hard to quell the challenge of surging qualifier Clara Tauson at the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy, eventually holding off the teenager 6-4, 7-6(0) in one hour and 51 minutes.

In a match that saw 11 breaks of serve in total, Kasatkina just about kept her nose in front throughout. Her lead rarely looked safe, though, as Tauson repeatedly hit rich mini-veins of form to threaten a comeback. All eyes had been on the main draw placement of the 18-year-old Tauson, who lifted her maiden WTA trophy in Lyon a fortnight ago and whose qualifying run in St. Petersburg had extended her winning streak to 13 matches, including 20 straight sets. The resurgent Kasatkina, herself a 2021 titlist at the Phillip Island Trophy, made for a tantalizing clash.


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