AP

Nadal plays surging Querrey for Mexican Open title

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ACAPULCO, Mexico — Rafael Nadal routed Marin Cilic 6-1, 6-2 Friday night to advance to the Mexican Open final against Sam Querrey.

Seeking his first title this season and 70th overall, Nadal ran his Mexican Open winning streak to 14 matches. He won the event in 2005 and 2013, when it was played on clay.

Nadal will face the American Querrey, a 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 winner over Australian Nick Kyrgios.

The sixth-ranked Spaniard, playing his first tournament since losing to Roger Federer in the Australian Open final, last won a hardcourt title in January 2014 in Doha.

“You need to have a great day to get a result like this against Cilic,” Nadal said. “Anytime you play against someone like Cilic you expect to suffer in a tight match, but it was not like that. I believe that he had his chances, but I played a good game”.

In the late game, the 40th-ranked Querrey continued an inspired week in which he defeated No. 11 David Goffin, No. 9 Dominic Thiem and now No. 17 Kyrgios, who upset second-ranked Novak Djokovic on Thursday.

Querrey ended Thiem’s seven-match winning streak.

“It does not get any easier tomorrow, it will be the toughest test,” Querrey said. “I played great today, but I need to play even better tomorrow to beat Nadal”.

The American will try to win his ninth title, and first since Delray Beach in 2016. Querrey is 0-4 against Nadal.

In the women’s semifinal, second-seed Kristina Mladenovic of France beat American Christina McHale 7-5, 4-6, 6-2. Ukraine’s Lesiia Tsurenko led top-seeded Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia 5-0 when Lucic-Baroni retired because of a stomach virus.

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.”