Nishikori, Thiem crash out in Halle

The Halle Open suffered two major exits on Wednesday, with both Kei Nishikori and Dominic Thiem suffering surprise second-round defeats.

Nishikori looked totally out of sorts against Karen Khachanov, going down 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and 18 minutes.

The Russian was in total control of the contest, converting four of 11 break points and saving the only break point against him.

For Nishikori, it was a bad case of deja vu, as Khachanov also beat him in the second round in Halle last year.

"I made too many unforced errors, I had a lot of mistakes," he said.

"He was playing good, but nothing special, I couldn't make a first serve and I should have stayed back more at the baseline.

"Khachanov hits a flat ball and that makes it not so easy on grass. I need to train more before Wimbledon."

It was a similar story for Roland Garros finalist Thiem, who found himself outmatched by Japanese World No 2 Yuichi Sugita.

Sugita broke Thiem's serve twice at the top of the first set and never looked back, wrapping up a 6-2, 7-5 victory in one hour and 29 minutes.

World No 1 Roger Federer returns to action on Thursday for his second-round match against Benoit Paire.

Wawrinka falls at Queen's

Stan Wawrinka's Wimbledon preparations were dealt a blow as he suffered a 7-5, 6-7 (3-7), 6-1 defeat against Sam Querrey at Queen's Club on Wednesday.

The Swiss star has struggled to return to full fitness since suffering a knee injury last year that required two surgeries.

He returned at the Australian Open at the start of the year, but was then forced into another three-month lay-off in February.

Wawrinka would have been hoping for a better showing on grass after a first-round exit at Roland Garros, but he came unstuck against big-hitting Querrey on Wednesday.

While he fought back bravely after dropping the first set to take the second in a tie-break, Wawrinka faded badly in the decider to slump to a seventh defeat in his last nine ATP Tour matches.

In other second-round results, top seed Marin Cilic fought back from a set down to defeat Gilles Muller 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, while Jeremy Chardy beat Daniil Medvedev 7-6 (8-6), 6-3.

Rising star Frances Tiafoe was another winner, moving into his first ATP grass-court quarter-final with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 win over Leonardo Mayer.

Svitolina sails into Birmingham quarter-finals

Second seed Elina Svitolina powered into the Nature Valley Classic quarter-finals on Wednesday with a straight sets victory over Alizé Cornet.

The Ukranian World No 5 comprehensively won 6-4, 6-2 after 83 minutes to set up a last eight clash with Croatia's Petra Martic.

"First time in quarterfinals here in Birmingham, I couldn’t wish for a better start," Svitolina said in her on-court post-match interview.

Svitolina lost the first two matches against Cornet but has since won the last eight. On Wednesday, she fired 16 winners and converted three of 12 break points, while saving all five break points against her.

"I was expecting a good match," said Svitolina. "[Cornet] plays well against the top players, she beat a couple of them in the past, and she really steps up her game. I knew how I had to play, and I’m very happy with the performance today."

Also advancing on Wednesday was Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova. The World No 19 dropped the first set against Kristina Mladenovic but hit back to secure a 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 victory.

Japan's Naomi Osaka was forced to retire during her match against Dalila Jakupovic, after the Slovenian took the first set 6-3.

Muguruza powers into Birmingham second round

Garbine Muguruza began her grass-court season with an emphatic 6-1, 6-2 victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham on Tuesday.

Muguruza, who will defend her Wimbledon title next month, was untouchable from the start against Pavlyuchenkova, wrapping up the result in just 59 minutes.

The Spaniard didn't face a single break point during the match, while converting four of her own in total.

Up next, Muguruza will face Barbora Strycova for a spot in the quarterfinals.

Also advancing on the day was fifth seed Elina Svitolina, who survived a second-set blip to defeat Donna Vekic 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was another winner, defeating Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-4.

Other to reach the second round included Daria Kasatkina, Julia Georges and Alize Cornet.

Andy Murray impresses on return from injury

Andy Murray returned to action after nearly a year out with a hip injury at Queen's on Tuesday, going down in a narrow defeat to Nick Kyrgios.

Murray lost 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 7-5 to the Australian World No 21, but will be encouraged by his first performance after such a lengthy lay-off.

Kyrgios, true to his fashion, did not appear switched on for the match in the first set, but he was eventually able to focus and gain the upper hand to triumph in two hours and 39 minutes.

"I was thinking how great it was to see Andy back. I asked if he is was okay at the end of the match and he was," Kyrgios said.

"It was nice to finally get a win over him I can't really count it. He came out really good and I kind of expected that. Personally I feel good. I was out for two-and-a-half months so I'm feeling good.

"Regarding my own style. I've been entertaining since I was kid. I've got bad and good things but I'm never going to change."

While Murray looked a little rusty at times, for the most part the core aspects of his game all seemed to be back in place.

He did fade somewhat in the decider, and ultimately gave up match point tamely on a double fault, but there were far more positives for Murray in the match than negatives.

Elsewhere, another former World No 1 on the comeback trail continued his resurgence with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over John Millman.

Novak Djokovic showed glimpses of his old form during the recent clay-court season, but looked even more formidable returning to grass on Tuesday, demolishing Millman in just 67 minutes.

Earlier in the day, Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov both booked their places in the second round as well.

Dimitrov defeated Damir Dzumhur 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, while Raonic was leading 6-1, 3-1 when his opponent, India's Yuki Bhambri, was forced to retire hurt.

Rybarikova stuns Pliskova in Birmingham

Magdalena Rybarikova was responsible for a big upset on the opening day of the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham, knocking out third seed Karolina Pliskova.

Pliskova's Wimbledon preparations suffered a major setback as she went down 6-2, 6-3 to her Slovakian opponent.

It's not the first time Rybarikova has beaten Pliskova on grass - a year ago, she came from a set down to defeat her at Wimbledon too.

“I always say that every match is very different,” Rybarikova said. “Karolina is a great player, and I have a lot of respect for her. Today I don’t think it was her best day, but it was all about serves and returns and I was just better at that. That was the key.

“I put so many returns in, and maybe she was thinking about our last match in Wimbledon. I was playing really well there, but every match is different. It could have been a different result today, but I’m so happy that I won this match.”

Up next, Rybarikova will face Kristina Mladenovic after the Frenchwoman edged Katerina Siniakova 1-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Top seeds Garbine Muguruza and Elina Svitolina will start their campaigns on Tuesday.

Nishikori and Thiem victorious in Halle

Kei Nishikori and Dominic Thiem returned to action for the first time since Roland Garros with first-round victories at the Halle Open on Monday.

Nishikori, who made it to the round of 16 in Paris, defeated World No 159 Matthias Bachinger 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) in his first grass court appearance of the season.

Thiem, who has had little more than a week to recover from his disappointment in the French Open final against Rafa Nadal, made his grass court debut with a 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 victory over Mikhail Youzhny.

Nishikori moves on to face either Mischa Zverev or Karen Khachanov in round two, while Thiem will take on Japan's Yuichi Sugita, who beat Maximilian Marterer 6-4, 5-7, 6-3.

Top seed and World No 1 Roger Federer, fresh from his victory in Stuttgart, begins his bid for a 10th title in Halle on Tuesday.

Wawrinka clears first hurdle at Queen's

Stan Wawrinka continued his comeback from injury with a solid straight sets win over Cameron Norrie in the first round of the Queen's Club Championships on Monday.

The Swiss No 2 is still on the mend after suffering a knee injury last  year that required two surgeries.

He returned at the Australian Open at the start of the year, but was then forced into another three-month lay-off in February.

After a first-round loss at Roland Garros, Wawrinka will be hoping to rediscover some form - and long-term fitness - as the  grass court season gets under way. The surface has never been his favourite, but he looked solid enough as he defeated youngster Norrie 6-2, 6-3 in London on Monday.

Wawrinka moves on to face former Queen's winner Sam Querrey of the United States or British wild card Jay Clarke.

In other first-round results, top seed Marin Cilic beat Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-4, while Gilles Muller beat rising Canadian star Denis Shapovalov 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (8-6).

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are both due in first round action on Tuesday.

Djokovic reflects on frustrating times

Novak Djokovic reflects on his on-court troubles ahead of the Fever Tree Championships in London this week.

The Serb retired in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon last year due to an elbow injury. Now, almost a year later, Djokovic is back on court but he’d be the first to admit that he’s nowhere near his form of old, which saw him notch up six grand slam titles in three seasons.

This year, the world number 21 has struggled, racking up a 14-8 record and is yet to pick up a title of any sort.

“It’s frustrating at times to know that maybe I’m not able to execute what I was doing so well for so many years before,” the 31-year-old told atpworldtour.com.

“But those are the circumstances that are present and hopefully will change, as everything in life is evolving, changing. And I’m working on it daily to be able to get closer to that perfect game scenario that I would like to have.

“I’ve faced myself this major injury that got me off the court for six-plus months, surgery and so forth. You feel the consequences of that more mentally than physically.

"I never knew that it was going to take so much time for me really to get back into that state of mind where I’m comfortable, where I’m confident, where I’m confident with my game, with the changes I made. But it is what it is, and it’s a new experience and I’m open for that and obviously I have to embrace it.”

Joining Djokovic in London in the star-studded draw is friend and rival Andy Murray, the talented Grigor Dimitrov and world number six Marin Cilic.

The former world number one is set to face Australian John Millman in his opening match on Tuesday.

Murray still hopes for more Grand Slams

Andy Murray still wants to add to his haul of Grand Slam titles, although he expects it to take time to get back into contention.

Murray will make his return from injury at Queen’s Club next week after being sidelined for almost a year, since aggravating a hip injury at Wimbledon.

The 31-year-old’s time on the treatment table had raised question marks over whether he would be forced to retire. But the Brit has not given up hope of returning to the form which saw him reach world number one and lift three majors.

"I always thought I'd come back and play again," Murray said.

"I would love to get back to the top of the game but if not, that's okay. It's not the end of the world if I don't.

"I'm not expecting to win Grand Slams straight away.

"You don't start playing after 11 months out and winning them - that isn't how this works.

"It may have been different if I had four months of hard training and preparation. There has been a lot of stop-starting for me.

"The expectations are very low right now and I will reassess my goals when I'm back out there competing."

Federer back at No 1 with Kyrgios win

He was pushed all the way to the end, but Roger Federer was able to overcome Nick Kyrgios in three sets to reach the Stuttgart Open final on Saturday.

Federer and Kyrgios have a history of tight battles, with both of their previous ATP matches going the distance, and every set going to a tie-break.

Kyrgios won their first clash in Madrid back in 2015, 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (12-10) but Federer hit back to take the victory in Miami last year, 7-6 (9-7), 6-7 (9-11), 7-6 (7-5).

The duo also had a tight battle to decide the Laver Cup last year, with Federer just coming out on top after an incredible final set tie-break.

And despite both men being short on match practice, it was another high-quality thriller in Stuttgart on Saturday, with Federer losing the first set before coming back to seal a 6-7 (2-7), 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) victory.

The opening set was a tight affair without any breaks of serve, although Federer did earn two break points in the second and eighth games.

His failure to convert either came back to haunt him as Kyrgios played a superb tie-break to take the set.

Federer needed to respond quickly and he did so superbly, following up an early break in the third game with another in the seventh to wrap up the second set in just 26 minutes and level the scores.

It looked as if Federer might have gained the upper hand, but to Kyrgios' credit, he did not lie down in the third.

After first serve percentage languished at 48% in the second set, the Australian was able to lift it to near the 80% mark for the decider, just as he'd done during the first set, to once again present Federer with a much stiffer challenge.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion did not earn a single break point during the final set, but when it came time for another tie-break to decide the contest, he was able to win the points that mattered, narrowly edging it 7-5 to book his place in Sunday's final.

And because of the vagaries in the tennis ranking system, the win saw Federer replace Rafa Nadal as the World No 1, despite the Spaniard coming off victory at Roland Garros.

Awaiting Federer in the final is Canada's Milos Raonic, who beat defending champion Lucas Pouille 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) earlier in the day.

Federer through to final four in Stuttgart

World number two Roger Federer breezed into the semi-finals of the Mercedes Cup following a straight set win on Friday.

The Swiss Ace was too good for Guido Pella, easing past him 6-4, 6-4 in a touch over an hour on the grass courts of Stuttgart in Germany.

Federer was virtually flawless in the opening set, losing just one point on serve. Meanwhile, his Argentine opponent was putting up a good fight on his serve, fending off three break points before he eventually broke, handing Federer a 4-3 lead on his way to taking the set.

The 36-year-old took that momentum into the second set, breaking Pella in the first service game and consolidating. Federer’s hyper aggressive style kept the points short as he swiftly put away Pella.

The victory earns Federer an interesting final four clash with the talented Nick Kyrgios, who has defeated Federer once before in 2015. Later in the day, the Australian survived a second set comeback from Feliciano Lopez to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, firing 20 aces in the process.

If Federer reaches the final in Stuttgart, he will regain the world number one ranking from rival Rafael Nadal.

Rusty Kyrgios battles past Marterer in Stuttgart

Nick Kyrgios slammed his performance as "terrible" after battling to a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Maximilian Marterer at the Stuttgart Cup on Thursday.

Making his return to grass and playing his first match on any surface in two months, Kyrgios did not have many opportunities against local favourite Marterer, but solitary breaks in the first and third sets ultimately handed him the Australian victory and a place in the quarter-finals.

"It was a terrible match, the only thing that kept me in it was my serving," said Kyrgios, who fired a whopping 20 aces during the contest.

"Nothing went very well for me, the good thing is my elbow didn't bother me.

"Basically, I didn't feel great out there, today was pretty average," the fourth seed added. "And the last three months have been brutal."

Kyrgios moves on to face Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, who beat Gilles Simon 7-6 (8-6), 6-4.

Also in action on Thursday was Milos Raonic, another player on the injury comeback trail.

The seventh-seeded Canadian looked in good nick as he defeated Hungary's Marton Fucsovics 6-2, 6-4.

Third seed Tomas Berdych also booked his place in the last eight with a 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 victory over Benoit Paire.

Top seed Roger Federer had the day off but he returns to action on Friday to take on Guido Pella for a place in the semi-finals.

Federer makes winning return in Stuttgart

Roger Federer marked his return to tennis with a hard-fought three-set victory over Mischa Zverev in the first round of the Stuttgart Open.

As he has done for the last few years, Federer opted to skip the entire clay-court season, but he returned to action on Wednesday after the three-month lay-off, taking to the grass courts of Tennis Club Weissenhof for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory over local favourite Zverev.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Federer looked a little rusty at first after such a long period of inactivity.

While the Swiss ace applied most of the early pressure, earning a couple of break points in both the first and fourth games, he was unable to convert any of them, and Zverev was quick to make him pay.

When the German earned his first break point of the match in the eighth game, he immediately snatched it for a 5-3 lead before serving out the set in the next game.

Zverev proved a tough customer in the second set as well, immediately regaining a lost break after Federer was finally able to convert his first break point in the sixth game.

The defending Wimbledon champion was starting to look more at ease, however, and when another break point opportunity arose with Zverev serving to stay in the set, Federer pounced to win the set and level the scores.

The third set saw Federer take total control, converting two break points to race through the set in just 28 minutes and book his place in the second round.

“Three months is a long time, it's longer than the year-end break. So I'm very happy returning on good terms onto the Tour,” Federer said. “It was difficult, missed some chances maybe in the first set... He connected well at the right times.

“And then I found a way, I found my rhythm... I'm very happy with how I played. I'm super happy to be back on Tour. It's been a great start.”

Also back in action in Stuttgart on Wednesday was Milos Raonic, a former top-10 player from Canada who has been struggling with injury problems for most of the year.

Raonic eased back into the swing of things with a 7-6 (10-8), 6-2 victory over Mirza Basic.

Errani ‘disgusted’ by drugs ban increase

Italy’s Sara Errani said she was “disgusted” after her drugs ban was increased from two to 10 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Monday.

The former world number five and 2012 French Open runner-up tested positive for letrozole — a breast cancer drug.

The CAS accepted that medication taken by her mother had found its way into a family meal, but said that the 31-year old was guilty of a “light degree of fault” which justified a 10-month ban.

Errani's parents told a tribunal in July 2017 that they carried out an experiment  after the positive test which found the drug dissolved in a soup, plus a meat mixture for tortellini.

“I am really disgusted by this matter. I don’t think anything similar has ever happened or managed — in my humble opinion — in such a shameful manner,” Errani said in a statement posted on Twitter.

A winner of five grand slam doubles titles, Errani is currently ranked 72nd, must now serve another eight-month suspension.

She was initially banned for two months by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) in August 2017 and her results from February 16 to June 7 that year were declared void.

The CAS decision comes after the Italian anti-doping agency asked for a longer ban, while Errani asked for her voided results to be reinstated.

"I never took any performance-enhancing substance in all my life, I love tennis too much to do something like that," said Errani.

“I have already served seven months, between results disqualification and period of inactivity. I have been forced to restart with ranking position of 280, and I climbed back,” she added.

“And now they add an extra sanction of eight months. All of this is a total nonsense!

“I find, in all this matter, a very unfair treatment … I don’t know if I will be able to find the strength and the desire to play tennis again, after all this.”

Thiem reflects on superb tournament

Dominic Thiem may have gone down to Rafael Nadal in straight sets in the Roland Garros final, but the Austrian was still elated with his performance.

The 24-year-old reached his first grand slam final following a number of superb results in Paris, including an impressive straight set win over second seed Alexander Zverev. While the final proved a bridge too far for Thiem, he was under no illusions about his achievement.

"Of course it was a special thing for me to play the first slam final,” Thiem told atpwordtour.com.

"But on the other hand, I was pretty calm and I knew that I go into it like it would be any other match. I think this was the right approach because if I let too much happen, my emotions, everything, because it's the first Grand Slam final, it wouldn't suit my game very well, and that's why I went into it like every other match.”

The result comes off the back of reaching consecutive semi-finals on the Parisian clay, fast becoming his favoured surface. It was clear early on in the encounter that Thiem was not going to die wondering, attempting to out-rally Nadal from behind the baseline.

"It was a decent match from my side...he was playing very well, I think, and there is a reason why he won 11 times here," he continued.

“It's definitely one of the best things somebody ever achieved in sport. For sure I'm confident that this was not my last Grand Slam final, and that's my biggest goal, to get into the next one and then to do it better than today."

Nadal in heaven with title No. 11 in Paris

World number one Rafael Nadal claimed his eleventh title at Roland Garros, defeating Dominic Thiem in straight sets on Sunday.

The King of Clay confirmed that he is still the best player ever to grace the Parisian clay, easing past the Austrian 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 on Court Philippe Chatrier. The victory moves Nadal to 86-2 at the clay court slam.

Thiem decided early on that he was not going to die wondering, attacking aggressively from behind the baseline, leading to a plethora of unforced errors.

Nadal enjoyed a fast start to the encounter, winning the opening six points on his way to going 2-0 up in the first set. The Spaniard would save just one breakpoint on his way to the business end of the set, where Thiem - serving 5-4 down - reeled off four enforced errors in a row to hand Nadal the set.

It was more of the same in the second, as Nadal won the opening three games in quick time to take a commanding lead he would never relinquish. Thiem did force Nadal to save a breakpoint, but a less aggressive approach due to the mounting enforced errors meant there was little pressure on Nadal.

Thiem put up a good fight in his opening service game of the third set, saving four breakpoints. But the unrelenting Nadal continued to fire winners from behind the baseline and again broke early, consolidating for a 3-1 lead.

There was a nervy moment when Nadal called his trainer to the court on several occasions as he appeared to be suffering from cramp in the fingers of his racket hand.

But this proved to be a minor sideshow to the Nadal juggernaut, who continued to control proceedings despite the discomfort. One more backhand error from Thiem would see Nadal raise his hands in triumph.

Nadal becomes just the second player to reach over $100 million in on-court winnings, behind rival Novak Djokovic.

Halep: I feared fresh final misery

Simona Halep admits she feared she had blown another chance to lift a Grand Slam trophy, before battling back to claim the Roland Garros title.

Halep ended her wait for a first major at the fourth time of asking on Saturday after she came from a set down to beat Sloane Stephens 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

After losing the opening set, the Romanian began to worry that she was heading for a third final defeat at Roland Garros.

But Halep used the experience of last year’s final, when unseeded Jelena Ostapenko fought back from a set down against her to win the trophy.

"I felt 'it's gone, it's not going to happen again, but it's OK. I have just to play'," said Halep.

"When I started to win games, I said that last year the same thing happened to me. So I said there is a chance to come back and win it,

"I believed in that, and my game was more relaxed. I could make more things on court, and that's why I could win.

”It's a special moment. I was dreaming for this moment since I started to play tennis.

"Roland Garros is my favourite Grand Slam. I always said that if I'm going to win one, I want it to be here."

Halep beats Stephens to lift Roland Garros title

Top seed Simona Halep of Romania was crowned Roland Garros champion when she defeated tenth-seeded Sloane Stephens of America in three-sets on Saturday in Paris.

The 26-year-old Halep seemed to get better and better as the match progressed and after dropping the opening set, went on to win the final against the 25-year-old Stephens 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in just over two hours for her first Paris title.

In the opening set, things progressed on serve until the fourth game when Stephens was able to break the top seed to lead 3-1.

When serving for the set, Stephens survived a break point to go on and win the opener 6-3 and looked to have the edge.

But Halep to her credit never stopped fighting, even though she dropped her serve in the opening game of the next set, she bounced back with two breaks of her own to lead 4-2.

Stephens got the break back the very next game but Halep, who was looking the better of the two, was rewarded for her efforts with another break in the tenth game to win the set 6-4 and tie things up at a set apiece.

Halep clearly had the momentum in the third by bossing the rallies and looking the stronger physically.

She was rewarded with a break in the second and fourth games to take a 4-0 lead looking totally in charge of proceedings.

She then held serve to lead 5-0 while Stephens held to make it 5-1 leaving Halep to serve for the title.

The Romanian made no mistake holding serve to win the set and match 6-1.

Nadal looking for more to win 11th title

Rafa Nadal believes he still needs to reach an extra level if he is to lift an 11th Roland Garros title this weekend.

Nadal crushed Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets in Friday’s semi-final to book a place against Austrian hot prospect Dominic Thiem in Sunday’s showpiece.

The world number one is an overwhelming favourite to lift the trophy again and continue his dominance on clay, yet the 31-year-old is taking nothing for granted.

“Sunday will be the moment when I have to give everything I have inside. I have to fight till the end,” he said.

“I know I have to give a little more than I have given until now in this tournament.

“This extra thing I have to give, I feel I have it inside me, but I have to go and get it.

“I have to find it inside me and find the right options for Sunday, the options that will be the right ones to succeed.

“But I will have to fight, and I'll do my best. I can't tell you more. The behaviour and the mental will be there, but the tennis can fail.

“You never know. You have to be prepared.”