Nadal advances to Acapulco semifinals

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ACAPULCO, Mexico — Rafael Nadal ran his Mexican Open winning streak to 13 matches Thursday night, beating Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 7-6 (2), 6-3 to reach the semifinals.

The tournament winner in 2005 and 2013, Nadal needed almost two hours to finish off Nishioka. The 30-year-old Spanish star overcame a 4-2 deficit in the first set and got out of a 0-2 hole in the second

“Every game here is special. I did not play my best tennis, but that’s why it has a merit,” Nadal said. “I played great the previous rounds and today I was able to get over a tough situation. I’m happy to be in the semifinals, that’s great news.”

Nadal will face third-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia. Cilic advanced when American Steve Johnson withdrew because of a right ankle injury.

Nadal is playing in his first tournament since losing to Roger Federer in the Australian Open final. The Spaniard leads the series against Cilic 3-1, but they haven’t played since the Basel quarterfinals in 2015, when Nadal won 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.

“He’s one of the toughest rivals in the world, he has a great serve and is very aggressive,” Nadal said. “I will have to play so much better than today if I want to have a shot. It’s a big match. I hope to be prepared for it.”

Johnson was injured in his match against his countryman Ernesto Escobedo late Wednesday.

Later, American Sam Querrey knocked out defending champion Dominic Thiem 6-1, 7-5 to set up a semifinal against the winner of the late match between top-seeded Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios.

Querrey reached the semifinals for the second year in a row. In 2016 he lost to Thiem, but this time, the American got the win in just 66 minutes a day after taking down Belgian David Goffin, 11th in the ATP rankings.

Querrey ended Thiem’s seven-match winning streak

“I felt great the last couple of day and I kept it up today. I stayed aggressive the whole game and served great when it counted,” Querrey said. “I really like playing here.”

On the women’s side, top-seeded Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia beat France’s Pauline Parmentier 6-2, 6-3. Lucic-Baroni will face seventh-seeded Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine, a 6-3, 7-6 (5) winner over third-seeded Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.

American Christina McHale beat Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig 6-2, 6-2. The fifth-seeded McHale, in her second straight semifinal round in Acapulco, will play second-seed Kristina Mladenovic of France. Mladenovic beat Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens 6-4, 6-3.

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.”