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Federer beats Nadal 6-3, 6-4 in Miami Open final

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Roger Federer is playing so well this year he’s even dominating his longtime nemesis, Rafael Nadal.

Federer beat Nadal for the third time this year Sunday, 6-3, 6-4, to win the Miami Open and become the tournament’s oldest men’s champion.

Playing some of the best tennis of his career at age 35, Federer also beat his longtime nemesis in the Australian Open final in January, and two weeks ago en route to the Indian Wells title.

His latest win turned back the clock – Federer also won Key Biscayne in 2005 and 2006. Nadal fell to 0-5 in Key Biscayne finals, including in 2005 against Federer.

Federer was coming off a thrilling three-hour semifinal win over Nick Kyrgios but nonetheless looked fresh against Nadal and erased all four break points he faced. Federer failed to take advantage of five early break-point chances himself but broke in the next to last game of both sets.

Serving for the championship at 5-4, Federer hit his only double-fault on the first point but quickly regrouped. The next point was the longest of the match, and Federer ended the 19-shot rally with a forehand winner in the corner.

When Nadal sailed a return long on the final point, Federer took the ball on a bounce behind the baseline and happily whacked it into the stands, then waved with both hands in jubilation. The sellout crowd was evenly divided in its support but roared for the popular champion.

Federer saved two match points in his quarterfinal win against Tomas Berdych, and earned a three-tiebreaker win in the semifinals against Kyrgios. His route to the title was made easier by the absences of six-time champion Novak Djokovic and two-time time champion Andy Murray, both sidelined by elbow injuries.

Even so, Federer’s resurgence is remarkable. He has the best record on men’s tour this year at 19-1, including 7-0 against players ranked in the top 10, and he’s the first three-time champion this year on the men’s tour. His best start since 2006 comes after he missed the final six months of last year with a left knee injury.

Federer’s vast repertoire was on display throughout the tournament. Against Nadal he won all six points where he played serve and volley, and won six other points at the net. He served well and held at love three times in a row. He played terrific defense, robbing Nadal’s groundstrokes of their power, and finished with 30 winners to only 17 unforced errors.

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.