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Andy Murray ousted at U.S. Open, worries about rules

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NEW YORK — Andy Murray‘s return to the U.S. Open was brief. His briefest Grand Slam singles stay in 10 years.

The three-time major champion was ousted by No. 31 Fernando Verdasco of Spain 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the sweltering second round on Wednesday.

It’s his earliest Grand Slam singles exit since the 2008 Australian Open.

Murray, who won his first Slam at the 2012 U.S. Open, was playing his first major since 2017 Wimbledon.

Murray cut short his 2017 season and missed the first three Slams of 2018 due to a hip injury that required winter hip surgery.

“I think some of the tennis I played today was some of the best I’ve played since I had the surgery or since I came back,” Murray said. “But there were also periods in the match, especially in the first set, where, you know, I really didn’t play particularly well.”

Murray, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medalist, came to New York ranked No. 382 due to the absence, having played just seven ATP matches in the last year.

“The last 10 years or so I’ve been coming and trying to prepare to win the event, whereas I don’t feel like that’s realistic for me this year,” Murray said before the tournament.

“There’s for sure doubts about [returning to the top],” he said Wednesday. “I mean, when I got the injury, I was ranked No. 1 in the world. Twelve months later, you know, things completely changed.”

Verdasco, a 34-year-old whose deepest Grand Slam run was a 2009 Australian Open semifinal, gets No. 3 Juan Martin del Potro in the third round.

Murray complained that Verdasco might have flouted the rules during their 10-minute heat break.

Murray also said that the tournament did not do a good enough job of making clear exactly what is allowed and what isn’t during the time away from the court. The U.S. Tennis Association decided on the fly to allow rest periods in men’s matches for the first time in U.S. Open history as the temperature soared past 95 degrees (33 Celsius) this week.

While the women’s rules already call for a break if the conditions are too extreme, there is no such provision for the men. But on Tuesday, the USTA offered men a chance to rest after the third set if they want, then applied that rule on Wednesday, too.

“I went for a shower. He was having an ice bath,” Murray said about Verdasco. “When I came out of the shower … one of the Spanish doubles players was in there chatting to him, and you’re not allowed to speak to your coach. I went and told the supervisor. I said, ‘What are you guys doing? I mean, there’s clear rules here and you’re allowing this to take place. I don’t get it.’”

The USTA said players were not allowed to consult coaches during the heat breaks.

Verdasco said that’s not what he was doing. He said he was chatting with another player and that player’s coach.

“I didn’t talk one word with my coach or any one member of my team,” said Verdasco, who had been 1-13 against Murray head-to-head entering this match. “I know exactly the rule, and I don’t want to be the one breaking it.”

But Murray was upset that there wasn’t better policing of players while they were off the court.

“This is one of the biggest events in the world. If you have rules like that, you need to stick with them, because one player getting to speak to the coach and the other not is not fair,” said the three-time major champion and former No. 1.

“I shouldn’t be in that position, in the middle of a match at a Slam, having to make sure they’re doing their job,” he said.

Murray also said he was never given a complete written list of the relevant rules.

“The players and teams should know. I’m not blaming Fernando and his team. They probably weren’t aware that that was the rules. They certainly weren’t trying to break any rules. It shouldn’t be for the player that’s competing against him to have to go to the supervisor,” Murray said. “If I hadn’t said anything, they would have been chatting, chatting about the match, giving tactics and stuff.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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David Boudia adjusts diving event, goal for world championships

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David Boudia earned diving medals at his last three world championships and the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, but that was on the platform. He competes on the global stage on the springboard for the first time at worlds this week.

“I don’t have a lot of high hopes,” Boudia, who is still learning the springboard after switching to it in the last year, said in a phone interview from South Korea, where he begins competition Wednesday (TV schedule here). “But I think my biggest goal is to walk away with an Olympic spot.”

An Olympic spot not necessarily for himself, but for the U.S.

Boudia, a 30-year-old father of three, and any other American will clinch 2020 Olympic quota spots by placing in the top 12 in their respective individual events this week. Those spots, and any others earned at later competitions in the next year, will be filled at trials in June in Indianapolis.

NBC Sports analyst Cynthia Potter believes Boudia, who left the sport to sell homes in 2017 and came back and suffered a concussion off the platform in 2018, can meet his goal of making Friday’s 12-man final in Gwangju.

“He would have to dive well, but not better than he’s been diving,” she said. “His springboard is really well-timed, rhythmic, and he’s for a long time known how to go into the water without making a splash.”

But challenging Rio Olympic gold and silver medalists Cao Yuan of China and Jack Laugher of Great Britain, plus defending world champion Xie Siyi of China would be very tough.

Boudia lacks their degrees of difficulty, for now. He hopes to switch out two of his six dives before his first competition of 2020, though he could insert one of them should he make the world final.

“I need a good six months, so from August to December is when we’re kind of really drilling the fundamentals of learning those new dives and getting them perfected,” he said.

Boudia rallied to beat Rio Olympic springboard diver Michael Hixon for the title in May at nationals, where the top two per event earned world berths. But Boudia competed there with about a month of competition dive practice, about half as long as he would prefer.

“Hix and I are going to have a lot of training to do if we want to be even close to cracking that top five,” at worlds, Boudia said in May, according to TeamUSA.org.

Boudia is the lone U.S. diver to earn an individual world medal in an Olympic diving event since 2009.

The U.S. produced breakthroughs at worlds so far. Sarah Bacon became the first American woman to earn a world title since 2005, taking the non-Olympic 1m springboard event. Murphy Bromberg and Katrina Young bagged bronze in synchronized platform, ending a decade-long medal drought in any synchro event.

But Boudia’s goal must be shared among the whole team — as many top-12 finishes individually and top three in synchro events to gobble up Tokyo 2020 quota spots. The U.S. failed to qualify full teams for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

“Getting in the top 12 in the four individual Olympic events is the big deal right now,” Potter said. “Whether you are on the awards stand or not, that would be icing on the cake for a lot of these divers.”

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Anita Wlodarczyk, one of track and field’s most dominant, sidelined

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Poland hammer thrower Anita Wlodarczyk, the only woman to win the last five combined Olympic and world titles in a track and field event, will not go for a fourth straight world championship this fall.

Wlodarczyk had season-ending, arthroscopic left knee surgery on Monday, according to Polish media citing her coach.

Wlodarczyk, 33, has the top 15 throws on the IAAF’s all-time list, and 27 of the top 29. Her world record of 82.98 meters (scribbled on her leg pre-op) is 11 and a half feet farther the second-best woman in history. She originally took silver at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 Worlds but was upgraded to gold after Russian Tatyana Lysenko was stripped for doping.

Wlodarczyk won a reported 42 straight finals between 2014 and 2017, then suffered three losses in 2018 and two so far this year in three lower-level meets before the operation.

Americans DeAnna Price and Brooke Anderson rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the world this year. A U.S. woman has never finished in the top five of an Olympic or world championships hammer throw, which debuted at worlds in 1999 and the Olympics in 2000.

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