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Kei Nishikori defeated Frenchman Richard Gasquet in an exhibition match on Thursday and came through it without any fitness issues ahead of Wimbledon, which gets underway on Monday.

Nishikori, who pulled out of the Gerry Weber Open for the second straight season earlier this month due to an injury to his oblique muscles, beat Gasquet 6-2, 6-1 in a rain-interrupted match.

“I played solidly,” said Nishikori, who lost to Gasquet in the fourth round of the French Open in May. “I am playing now without any pain and am 80-90 percent (fit).”

Nishikori withdrew in the second round of Wimbledon last year with a left leg injury and it remains the only Grand Slam in which he has failed to reach the quarterfinals.

“Making the last eight is my first objective,” said Nishikori.

Azarenka withdraws

AFP-JIJI

Victoria Azarenka will miss Wimbledon with a knee injury which flared up at the French Open, organizers announced on Thursday.

“Victoria Azarenka has withdrawn from #Wimbledon due to a knee injury. Get well soon, @vika7” Wimbledon posted on Twitter.

The two-time Australian Open champion and former world No. 1 had to retire from her opening-round tie against Karin Knapp at Roland Garros with the problem.

The 26-year-old from Belarus, Australian Open champion in 2012 and 2013, was seeded sixth at the All England Club with the third Grand Slam of the year starting on Monday.

It is the second time that Azarenka, a two-time Wimbledon semifinalist, has been forced to withdraw from the grass-court tournament.

She suffered a right knee injury in Wimbledon in 2013 after an awkward fall in the first round and withdrew before the second round of the tournament in which she was seeded second.

The injury has also cast a shadow over her Olympic bid with the Rio Games just six weeks away in August.

Azarenka won bronze in the women’s singles and gold in the mixed doubles at the 2012 London Olympics.

Puig extends dream

Eastbourne England AFP-JIJI

Qualifier Monica Puig had to dig deep to extend her fairy-tale run in Eastbourne, battling past Kristina Mladenovic to move into the semi-finals of the Wimbledon warm-up event on Thursday.

Shortly after the 43rd-ranked Puerto Rican booked her place, Agnieszka Radwanska’s quarterfinal against Dominika Cibulkova was forced off court by rain.

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