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Murray beats Simon to reach Madrid Open quarterfinals

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MADRID (AP) Andy Murray put on another impressive performance on clay Thursday, defeating Gilles Simon 6-4, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals of the Madrid Open.

The second-seeded Murray broke Simon’s serve in the final game of the first set and twice in the second to stay on track to defend his title.

“I didn’t return that well at the beginning,” Murray said. “But when I got into a rhythm, I was able to dictate a lot of points. I used my variety well and served well. He wasn’t able to put me under much pressure on my serve after the first couple of games.”

In the women’s tournament, 19-year-old qualifier Louisa Chirico defeated Daria Gavrilova of Australia 7-6 (1), 6-2 to reach the semifinals.

The 130th-ranked Chirico became the first American teenager to reach the semifinals of a top clay-court event since Ashley Harkleroad in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2003.

Chirico beat 14th-seeded Ana Ivanovic in the second round, and took advantage of the late withdrawal of Victoria Azarenka in the third round. She will next face either 38th-ranked Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia or wild-card entry Sorana Cirstea of Romania.

Murray’s match against Simon was a rematch of the 2008 final in Madrid, when the British player won his first title at the tournament.

The match at the “Magic Box” was interrupted for a few minutes late in the second set after a spectator fell ill and had to be attended to by paramedics. The match was allowed to resume while doctors stayed on the stands.

Murray’s win in Madrid last year was his first at a Masters tournament on clay. This year, he reached the semifinals of the Monte Carlo Masters, losing to eventual champion Rafael Nadal in three sets.

He will next face either Joao Sousa of Portugal or Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic.

The 16th-seeded Simon was trying to reach the quarterfinals of a tournament for the third time this season. He had already done so in Miami and Portugal, failing to advance both times.

“It’s obviously very tricky against Simon,” Murray said. “He lulls you into a false sense of security in points. Sometimes the better you hit the ball, the better it comes back. It’s tough to get the balance between being aggressive and being patient.”

John Isner advances to Atlanta Open quarterfinals

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ATLANTA — Second-seeded John Isner beat Canada’s Vasek Pospisil 6-3, 6-4 on Wednesday night in the 6-foot-10 former University of Georgia star’s opening match in the BB&T Atlanta Open.

Coming off a victory Sunday in the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, Rhode Island, Isner is seeking his fourth Atlanta title in five seasons. He lost to Nick Kyrgios in the final last year.

Isner set up a quarterfinal match at Atlantic Station against Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko, a 6-3, 6-1 winner over sixth-seeded Donald Young. The American has 11 career titles, all at the ATP World Tour 250 level.

Third-seeded Gilles Muller of Luxembourg and Tommy Paul also reached the quarterfinals. Muller beat France’s Quentin Halys 6-4, 6-7 (1), 6-3, and Paul topped Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-3.

In the top half of the draw, top-seeded Jack Sock will open play Thursday with a second-round match against Israel’s Dudi Sela.

Top-seeded John Isner wins 3rd Hall of Fame title

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NEWPORT, R.I. — Top-seeded John Isner beat Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden 6-3, 7-6 (4) on Sunday for his third Hall of Fame Open title.

The hard-serving American also won the grass-court event in 2011 and 2012. He has 11th career titles, all at the ATP World Tour 250 level.

“It’s hard to win a tournament,” Isner said. “It’s no small feat to come out here and be the last man standing. I’m very happy about that. It’s been two years since I won a tournament, so I had that weighing on my mind.”

Isner became the second player to win an ATP title without facing a break point since records began in 1991. Tommy Haas also accomplished the feat in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2007.

“I’m very happy with how I played all week,” Isner said. “It was a perfect week and I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Ebden was playing his first tour-level final.

“It’s a lot of reward for a lot of hard work, a lot of years of sacrifice,” Ebden said. “It’s disappointing, but at the same time I have to be happy with my week.”