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Federer beats Mayer to set up semifinal with Thiem

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STUTTGART, Germany – Top-seeded Roger Federer cruised in the tiebreakers to beat German qualifier Florian Mayer 7-6 (2), 7-6 (1) for a place in the Mercedes Cup semifinals on Friday.

Federer struggled in some parts of the match but was at his best when most needed. He saved a set point to force the second tiebreaker, and fired a powerful forehand to clinch the match.

“I am very happy to have made it two sets,” Federer said.

His next opponent will be rising star and third-seeded Dominic Thiem, who beat him in the third round of the Italian Open before Federer went on a monthlong break that included the French Open because of a back injury.

Thiem, from Austria, came from behind to beat Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Federer fired 15 aces to gain his 1,072nd win on the tour, surpassing Ivan Lendl for second place in the Open era behind Jimmy Connors with 1,256.

“It’s crucial to serve well in a tiebreaker,” Federer said. Two months shy of his 35th birthday, Federer is looking for his first title of the year following knee surgery and the back problem.

“It’s good to be back and to win two matches,” he said.

Thiem, a semifinalist at the French Open, said he was surprised to find himself at the same stage on grass.

“I really didn’t expect it. But against Roger on grass, I’m not expecting anything,” Thiem said.

Thiem reaches third round at Monte Carlo

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MONACO — Dominic Thiem saved a match point and beat Andrey Rublev of Russia 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Tuesday.

Rublev was serving for the match at 5-4, 40-30 but hit a forehand narrowly wide. Fifth-seeded Thiem broke him with backhand pass down the line and held for 6-5.

The Austrian was 15-40 up on Rublev’s serve and clinched victory on his first match point, when Rublev double-faulted with a weak serve into the net.

“I was 10 centimeters from being out of the tournament,” a relieved Thiem said. “But I’m happy that I played two hours and 40 (minutes).”

Thiem has reached the French Open semifinals for the past two years. He next meets 12-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic or Borna Coric of Croatia, who play their second-round match on Wednesday.

“I’m looking forward to watching Djokovic and Coric in front of the TV, and then playing the winner on Thursday,” Thiem said.

In the second round later Tuesday, fourth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria faced Pierre-Hugues Herbert and seventh-seeded Lucas Pouille played Mischa Zverev.

In remaining first-round play, there were wins for Gilles Simon of France, Marco Cecchinato of Italy and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany.

Jared Donaldson fined $6K for ranting at umpire

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MONACO — Jared Donaldson has been fined $6,200 for unsportsmanlike conduct after angrily ranting at the chair umpire during his first-round loss to Albert Ramos-Vinolas at the Monte Carlo Masters.

The American became irate with a call when Ramos-Vinolas was serving at 3-2, 40-0 in the second set on Monday. Donaldson thought the serve was out and pointed to the ground, shouting, “There’s a mark right here,” and then screaming the same words in the face of French umpire Arnaud Gabas.

He then squared up to Gabas and shouted: “Yes it is, yeah it is,” as he insisted his mark was right and the umpire’s call of in was wrong.

Donaldson, who yelled again at Gabas before the supervisor came on, received a code violation. He lost 6-3, 6-3.