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.

Raonic withdraws from Miami Open with hamstring injury

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Milos Raonic has pulled out of the Miami Open after aggravating a right hamstring injury that sidelined him for nearly a month.

The No. 3-seeded Raonic withdrew before Sunday’s match against American qualifier Jared Donaldson, who advanced to the fourth round.

Raonic said his injury became progressively worse after his opening match, his first since Feb. 25. He expects to be sidelined at least two weeks and perhaps longer.

The Canadian said he hasn’t made it through an entire tournament healthy since Wimbledon last July.

Nadal advances to start bid for first Key Biscayne

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Rafael Nadal’s first fist pump Friday followed his second point in the Miami Open, when he kissed a forehand off the sideline to win a long rally.

He accompanied the celebratory gesture with a skip in his step and then hit the accelerator, holding every service game to beat Dudi Sela 6-3, 6-4.

Thus began Nadal’s latest bid to win Key Biscayne.

“A lot of big motivation,” he said.

He’s playing the tournament for the 13th time and has never won it, although he was the runner-up in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2014. At 0 for 12, it’s Nadal’s longest drought at any event, and perhaps the most glaring gap in the 14-time Grand Slam champion’s resume.

Does it bug him? He won’t admit to any frustration, but lets slip that he still remembers the exact score when he was two points from the title in the third set versus Novak Djokovic.

That was six years ago.

“Against Novak – 6-5, 15-30,” Nadal said. “It didn’t happen.”

The Spaniard has always enjoyed the atmosphere in Miami, where Latin fans give him enthusiastic support, and he likes the tournament’s hard courts. He’s simply overdue.

“I’m trying my best every year,” Nadal told the stadium crowd after dispatching Sela. “I’ve been very close four times. I will try to give myself another chance.”

Nadal is 15-4 this year and pleased with his play. He lost to Roger Federer in the Australian Open final, and again in the fourth round at Indian Wells last week.

Against Sela, Nadal served well, erased the only two break points he faced and overcame the occasional errant groundstroke on a windy afternoon.

“It was very difficult to find the right feelings,” Nadal said. “These kind of days, what you have to do is try to win. That’s what I did, and I’m happy with that.”

Making Nadal’s title bid easier will be the absence of six-time champion Djokovic and two-time champion Andy Murray, both out with elbow injuries.

But No. 3-seeded Milos Raonic is back. He won in his first match since Feb. 25, beating Viktor Troicki 6-3, 7-5. Raonic had been sidelined by a right leg injury.

“I’ve prepared the best I can for this tournament,” Raonic said. “I’m not necessarily in the best position right now, but fortunately it’s a long tournament. Doesn’t mean things can’t change and I can’t get better throughout this event.”

No. 2 Kei Nishikori beat Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-3. No. 7 Marin Cilic lost to Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

In women’s play, Elena Vesnina made a quick exit only five days after winning the biggest title of her career. Seeded 13th, Vesnina lost her opening match to wild card Ajla Tomljanovic 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Vesnina beat Svetlana Kuznetsova in the Indian Wells final.

In a match that took two days because of rain, No. 6 Garbine Muguruza rallied past Christina McHale 0-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4. No. 3 Simona Halep beat Naomi Osaka 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. American qualifier Taylor Townsend eliminated No. 25 Robert Vinci 6-3, 6-2.