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Stan Wawrinka’s Dubai title defense ends in first round

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Defending champion Stan Wawrinka was upset by Damir Dzumhur 7-6 (4), 6-3 in the first round of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Tuesday.

This was No. 3-ranked Wawrinka’s first match since his Australian Open semifinal loss to Swiss countryman Roger Federer. He left Melbourne with a right knee injury and began regular practices only a week ago. Wawrinka said his knee was fine, but suggested he needed more matches to get up to speed.

“In practice, (I) start to be OK the last few days, but today I was missing a little bit of something,” he said. “He started also to play a bit better, to put a little bit more first serves in, to put a little bit more pressure on.”

Wawrinka raced to a 4-1 lead.

“Three games in, like, six, seven minutes, he was playing outstanding there,” Dzumhur said. “I couldn’t even touch the ball.”

But that was also the point when Wawrinka slowed down and showed signs of becoming tentative, and allowed the Bosnian into the match. In the tiebreaker, Dzumhur went 5-2 up, which was more than enough to secure the first set.

“I was hoping that he’s gonna go down with his level of game, and that’s what happened,” Dzumhur said. “I started to fight, to grind.”

Dzumhur bolted to 5-1 in the second set, but became nervous when serving for the match. In the 10-point seventh game, Dzumhur served three double faults, and lost the third break point he faced.

He kept his composure when serving for the match two games later, setting up match point with a forehand cross-court volley, and watched Wawrinka sail a forehand long.

Nishikori saves three match points in Geneva Open QF win

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GENEVA — Kei Nishikori saved three straight match points in the deciding set before outlasting Kevin Anderson 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6) in the Geneva Open quarterfinals on Thursday.

The second-seeded Nishikori was serving at 4-5, 0-40 before rallying to beat the 62nd-ranked South African, who fired 14 aces without allowing any by his opponent.

Nishikori also trailed in the tiebreaker before creating a second match-point chance with a forehand crosscourt service return for a winner. He clinched with a forehand winner off a looping net-cord ball.

The No. 9-ranked Japanese player will face 33rd-ranked Mischa Zverev of Germany in the semifinals on Friday.

The Russian-born Zverev, who came through qualifying, beat fifth-seeded Steve Johnson of the United States 6-4, 7-5.

Madison Keys aiming to kick start her season at French Open

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PARIS (AP) After a disappointing start to 2017, Madison Keys is ready to kick start her season when the French Open begins on Sunday.

Keys missed the first two months of the year after undergoing surgery on her left wrist in the offseason.

“I’m fully recovered and happy to be back on the tour,” Keys said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday. “Obviously, I haven’t had the perfect start to the season, but really I’m just happy to be back on the court and be pain free.

“I’m very excited to play in Roland Garros. I feel like every year I love it a little bit more and it’s such a beautiful city to play in, so I’m very excited for the start.”

In her first tournament back, Keys reached the third round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in March. But since then, the American has made first round exits in Charleston, Madrid and Rome – where she reached the final last year.

However, Keys hasn’t gone out in the opening round of a Grand Slam since losing to Sara Errani at Roland Garros in 2014.

“I’m really just trying to have some good matches and looking at it that way and you know that’s all I’m really concerned about,” she said.

Long considered one of the world’s most promising young players, the 22-year-old Keys burst through to the semifinals of the 2015 Australian Open while still a teenager and went on to make the quarterfinals at Wimbledon that year.

The upward trajectory continued last season, with Keys reaching the Olympic semifinals as well as making three finals and winning her second WTA title.

Moreover, Keys became the first American woman to be ranked in the top 10 since Serena Williams in 1999.

That success had Keys targeting the top five and a Grand Slam. But following her injuries, the No. 13 is now taking it one match at a time.

“I’m really just trying to kind of get my match rhythm back and feel more comfortable on the tennis court, so right now that’s kind of my main goal and focus,” Keys said.

Keys was reunited with former coach Lindsay Davenport in the offseason and also recently added Maria Sharapova’s former hitting partner, Dieter Kindlmann, to her team.

“It’s going well,” Keys said. “Lindsey and I have been working together for a couple of months now and I think the addition of Didi is really going well.”