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Federer beats Kyrgios to reach Miami Open final

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Roger Federer’s season of resurgence took another thrilling turn Friday night when he won a seesaw semifinal against Nick Kyrgios at the Miami Open, 7-6 (9), 6-7 (9), 7-6 (5).

Federer was unable to convert two match points in the second-set tiebreaker but finished off the flashy, unpredictable Kyrgios an hour later.

When Federer hit a service winner on the final point, Kyrgios angrily whacked his racket three times against the hard court. Federer patiently waited until the Aussie was done before triumphantly swatting a ball into the stands.

Kyrgios then gave his racket a fling as the crowd booed before sharing a warm, weary exchange with Federer at the net.

Federer saved two match points in his quarterfinal win over Tomas Berdych. Now he’s in the final Sunday against Rafael Nadal, 13 years after their first career encounter, also at Key Biscayne.

There will be a first-time Miami Open women’s champion Saturday when Caroline Wozniacki plays Johanna Konta.

Federer won Key Biscayne in 2005 and 2006 and hasn’t been to the final since. But the 18-time Grand Slam champion is on the rise at age 35.

He’s 18-1 this year, his best start since 2006, including titles at the Australian Open in January and at Indian Wells two weeks ago, and has won 10 matches in a row. None was more harrowing than the latest victory.

A sellout crowd was firmly in Federer’s corner, and the big-hitter Kyrgios played the role of unpopular spoiler brilliantly. He drew jeers every time he took his frustration out on his racket, received code violations for swearing and slow play, and complained about the fans when they shouted during a rally in the final tiebreaker.

And then there was Kyrgios’ high-wire game, including huge groundstrokes that forced his opponent to play some dazzling defense.

Federer rallied from a break down in the first set, and overcame two set points in the first tiebreaker. He didn’t face a break point in the final two sets.

Kyrgios’ final risky shot backfired – a 128-mph second serve sailed long for a double fault. That gave Federer his third match point – the last one he needed.

The victory was payback for Federer after Kyrgios overcame two match points to win their only other meeting, at Madrid in 2015. That match also was a three-setter with three tiebreakers.

Nadal was so eager to reach the Key Biscayne final that he ran out of his shoe. Chasing a shot in the second set of his semifinal, Nadal lost his right sneaker – and the point. But he quickly regained his footing and beat unseeded Fabio Fognini 6-1, 7-5.

Nadal is 0-4 in finals at Key Biscayne, losing in 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2014. He’s playing in the tournament for the 13th time, making it his longest title drought at any event.

“Winning here would be something great, and an important title I haven’t won,” Nadal said.

The crowd chanted Fognini’s first name in an attempt to get the Italian going after a slow start, and flying footwear did the job. Fognini hit a drop shot to cause the sneaker malfunction, laughed at length while Nadal retied his shoe and played better after that.

Nadal said he also lost a shoe while practicing recently, the only other time he can remember it happening to him.

“Strange,” he said. “Maybe I need to tie it stronger.”

Sharapova loses to Rybarikova at Kremlin Cup

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MOSCOW (AP) Maria Sharapova was beaten by Magdalena Rybarikova 7-6 (3), 6-4 in the first round of the Kremlin Cup on Tuesday, ending her bid for a second title in two weeks.

Sharapova, who won the Tianjin Open two days ago, brought her usual power but lacked accuracy with some wild swings on key points.

“I felt fine physically, to be honest, especially after having played five matches in five days (in Tianjin). That was a big surprise,” Sharapova said. “Maybe I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been … Maybe if this tournament hadn’t been in Moscow, I wouldn’t have played it.”

Sharapova was under pressure on serve from the start and saved six break points before finally being broken to 6-5. She responded by breaking Rybarikova, but Sharapova’s double fault at 4-3 in the tiebreaker handed the Slovakian the momentum to close out the set.

Rybarikova, seeded eighth, sealed the match after saving two break points to lead 5-4, then breaking Sharapova in the next game. Rybarikova will play Alize Cornet in the second round.

Six months after she returned from a 15-month doping ban, Sharapova is still trying to move back up the rankings from her current position of 57th. Her first tour appearance in Moscow in a decade drew a large and enthusiastic crowd despite taking place on a Tuesday afternoon.

Also Tuesday, seventh-seeded Julia Goerges beat Russian qualifier Polina Monova 6-0, 6-3 to set up a second-round meeting with Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.

In the men’s Kremlin Cup tournament, sixth-seeded Damir Dzumhur defeated Thomas Fabbiano 6-3, 0-6, 6-2.

Maria Sharapova wins her 1st title since doping ban

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TIANJIN, China (AP) Maria Sharapova won her first WTA title since returning from a doping ban after defeating Aryna Sabalenka to win the Tianjin Open on Sunday.

The Russian, a tournament wild card, overcame Belarusian teenager Sabalenka 7-5, 7-6 (8) despite trailing heavily in both sets.

Sharapova last won a title at the Italian Open in May 2015.

The former top-ranked player and owner of five major titles, including the 2006 U.S. Open, tested positive for the newly banned drug meldonium at the Australian Open in January 2016. That led to a 15-month doping ban, which expired in April.

“Such a special, special tournament, and victory for me, one that I’ll remember forever,” Sharapova said. “Sometimes you never know when it will all come together but it happened to me this week in Tianjin.”

Sharapova displayed resilience as she came from behind in both sets to overcome her 19-year-old opponent.

Sabalenka led 4-1 in the opener and 5-1 in the second before relenting to Sharapova’s greater big-match experience. It was Sharapova’s 36th WTA singles title.

The 30-year-old Sharapova played in her first Grand Slam tournament following the ban at the U.S. Open in August, where she reached the fourth round. Sunday’s result will lift Sharapova up to No. 57 in the world rankings.