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Federer upset by qualifier Donskoy in Dubai, Murray wins

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Roger Federer squandered three match points in a shock 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (5) second round loss to Russian qualifier Evgeny Donskoy at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Wednesday.

Federer, who has just won his 18th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, failed to take advantage of three match points in the second set tiebreaker, losing two of the three opportunities on unforced errors.

“(I) surprised everyone I think today,” the 116th-ranked Donskoy said. “Whoever win against Roger surprises himself, I think.”

Adding to the challenge for the Russian was playing against Federer for the first time.

“It was really tough in the beginning, because it was too much pressure,” Donskoy said. “Because it’s Roger, and I never even practice with him.”

Federer netted a forehand on Donskoy’s one set point in the second set tiebreaker to extend the match to a third set.

Donskoy’s dream of a quarterfinal berth seemed over when he forfeited his serve in the sixth game of the third set. But Federer wasn’t able to close out the match when serving for it at 5-3 in the third, and then watched the Russian work his way to victory.

Federer led 5-1 in the third set tiebreaker, but Donskoy refused to fold.

“I had my chances,” Federer said. “I should somehow close it out. Don’t know how it got away, but he did very well, and yeah, it’s a rough one, for sure.”

Federer, who skipped last year’s tournament because of arthroscopic knee surgery, was in the hunt for an eighth Dubai title.

The initial excitement in the match occurred with Federer leading 6-3, 3-4 – when one set of the court floodlights went dark. Fans in the crowd turned on their cellphone flashlights and start waving them in the air as if they were at a rock concert.

Both players then agreed to play on despite the problem and by two games later full lighting was restored.

“I felt, if he wants to keep playing, I’m happy to keep playing,” Federer said. “I didn’t want to wait. It wasn’t just, like, dark. It was just darker.”

Donskoy will play seventh-seeded Lucas Pouille in the quarterfinals. Pouille defeated qualifier Marius Copil 6-1, 6-4.

“It’s tough to judge this one, because I could have won in two and I’d be already almost hitting the pillow now thinking about Pouille,” Federer said. “But now here I’m explaining what didn’t go well.”

The day went a lot better for top-seeded Andy Murray, who earned a place in the last eight with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

Murray, playing in his first tournament since a fourth round defeat at the Australian Open last month, is showing no signs of being match rusty despite having to deal with a case of shingles.

The top-ranked Briton needed only 72-minutes to bypass the 97th-ranked Garcia-Lopez, saving the one break point he faced on serve at 30-40 in the first game of the match.

He broke Garcia-Lopez’s serve for the first of five times in the fourth game of the first set.

“When I got the early break, pretty much was almost 30 minutes in and we’d only played four games,” Murray said. “Mentally, that was important for me, you know, to be up at that stage.

“I loosened up a bit after that and played really well.”

Murray, who only dropped one point on serve in the second set, will play Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarterfinals. Kohlschreiber posted a 6-4, 6-4 second round win over Daniil Medvedev.

“Every time we have played, we have had a lot of close matches,” Murray said of Kohlschreiber. “He’s a talented guy. He uses the angles of the court well. He plays with a lot of spin.”

Fourth-seeded Gael Monfils struggled with Dan Evans before securing a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win to reach the quarterfinals, where he faces left-hander Fernando Verdasco.

In an all-Spanish second-round outing, Verdasco upset sixth-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

Robin Haase upset fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal meeting against Damir Dzhumur, who defeated Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-4.

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.”