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The Latest: Rafael Nadal has little trouble advancing to third round of Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Latest from the Australian Open on Thursday (all times local):

12:10 a.m.

Rafael Nadal swept aside 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 on Thursday to advance to the third round of the tournament the Spaniard won in 2009.

The 14-time major champion won on his third match point in 2 hours, 13 minutes.

Nadal, who lost in the first round here last year to Fernando Verdasco, is looking to win his first major since the 2014 French Open. He had two lengthy stints on the sidelines last year and played only four matches after a fourth-round exit at the U.S. Open.

He will play Alexander Zverev in the third round. The 24th-seeded Zverev beat Frances Tiafoe in straight sets earlier Thursday.

11:25 p.m.

Eighth-seeded Dominic Thiem is through to the Australian Open’s third round after beating Jordan Thompson 6-2, 6-1, 6-7 (6), 6-4 in the last match at Margaret Court Arena on Thursday.

Thompson was attempting to come back from two sets down for the second match in a row. He lost the first two sets to Joao Sousa on Tuesday in the first round, but came back for a five-set victory.

Thiem will next face Benoit Paire, who beat Fabio Fognini 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 earlier Thursday.

9:35 p.m.

Serena Williams has managed to do what another six-time Australian Open champion couldn’t achieve on Thursday – advance to the third round. Williams, playing on the same court that saw six-time winner Novak Djokovic lose in five sets to wild-card entry Denis Istomin, beat Lucie Safarova 6-3, 6-4.

It was their first meeting since Williams won their French Open final in 2015.

Safarova had saved nine match points in her first-round match, but there were no such theatrics in this one.

The Czech player double-faulted on break point in the seventh game of the second set, and Williams clinched the match three games later.

Williams will now play Nicole Gibbs, who beat another American, Irina Falconi, 6-4, 6-1.

The second-seeded Williams is bidding to become the first player in the Open era to win 23 Grand Slam singles titles. She lost in the final here last year to Angelique Kerber, but clinched her 22nd major, tying Steffi Graf, at Wimbledon.

8:25 p.m.

Croatian veteran Mirjana Lucic-Baroni has beaten third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 6-2 to reach the third round of the Australian Open, her best performance at the tournament in 19 years.

‘”‘t’s amazing. Oh my God, it’s been so long since I won a match or two. Well, this is the first time ever in Australia,” she said. “As I’m getting older, it seems I’m getting better.”

The 34-year-old Lucic-Baroni tends to play well against the top players at the Slams – she’s also beaten Simona Halep at the French Open and U.S. Open in recent years.

Lucic-Baroni won the 1998 Australian Open doubles title with Martina Hingis at the age of 15. She also made the 1999 Wimbledon singles semifinals before quitting the sport for several years.

“I was a little baby back then,” she says of her early success. “Now, I can be maybe more relaxed. I said to myself today on the court, don’t worry, be happy.”

7:15 p.m.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic is out of the Australian Open, beaten 7-6 (8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 by wild-card entry Denis Istomin in a second-round match on Thursday.

Istomin made the vital break in the fifth game of the deciding set, then held service the rest of the way in the marathon 4 hour, 48-minute match on Rod Laver Arena.

The match featured a little bit of everything.

In a 15-minute opening game, the six-time champion Djokovic saved six break points. In the second set, he appeared to hyperextend his left leg in the third game, and spent much of the following break stretching it over a chair.

In the 10th game of that set, Djokovic saved two sets points after serving a double-fault.

But Djokovic broke in the following game to lead 6-5, then held his service with four consecutive points to take the set.

Djokovic clinched the third set when he successfully challenged a line call.

Istomin had a set point in the 10th game of the fourth set, then went ahead 5-1 in the tiebreaker before slamming down an ace to send it to a fifth-set decider.

John McEnroe: Serena Williams would be ranked ‘like 700’ on men’s tour

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LONDON — John McEnroe says Serena Williams would be “like 700” in the world tennis rankings if she played on the men’s tour.

McEnroe, speaking to NPR about his memoir “You Cannot Be Serious,” says Williams is the best female player ever, “no question.” But when asked about her being the best ever, without gender qualifiers, McEnroe was clear that he didn’t think so.

McEnroe says “if she played the men’s circuit she’d be like 700 in the world.”

The former tennis bad boy added that he thought Williams could beat some male players, “but if she had to just play the circuit — the men’s circuit — that would be an entirely different story.”

McEnroe won seven Grand Slam titles in his career. Williams has won 23.

Federer beats Alexander Zverev 6-1, 6-3 for 9th Halle title

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HALLE, Germany– Roger Federer defeated Germany’s Alexander Zverev 6-1, 6-3 to win the Gerry Weber Open for a record ninth time on Sunday.

Playing in his 140th career final, Federer saved the only break point he faced and converted four of his eight opportunities to clinch his 92nd career title in 53 minutes. At 35, the Swiss player became the oldest winner of the grass-court tournament.

“I played unbelievably well. I felt good and never let up,” said Federer, who dropped just nine points on his serve. “It was my best game this week. Nearly everything worked out for me.”

Federer, who skipped the clay-court season after winning the Miami Open in early April, claimed his fourth title of the year, matching Rafael Nadal’s tally, and he will be seeded ahead of his Spanish rival for Wimbledon, which starts in eight days.

Federer had already won the Australian Open before titles in Indian Wells and Miami in 2017.

The 18-time Grand Slam champion was surprised by German veteran Tommy Haas on his return from the two-month break last week in Stuttgart but brushed off any doubts over his form in Halle.

Against the 20-year-old Zverev, who lost last year’s final to Florian Mayer, Federer raced to a 4-0 lead before wrapping up the first set in 22 minutes. Zverev created his only break chance in the opening game of the second, but ultimately was unable to show why he is regarded as one of the sport’s brightest prospects.

“You could have been a bit nicer and allowed me a couple more points,” Zverev joked to his idol.

Federer had words of affection for Zverev, who won their semifinal in Halle last year.

“He’s a very nice lad. I’m very happy for him, how he’s developed in the last years. The future belongs to him,” Federer said.