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Novak Djokovic says elbow healed, looking to return to competition

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) With his elbow better and his body rested, Novak Djokovic is ready to get back on court when Serbia faces Spain in the Davis Cup quarterfinals.

“I haven’t had too many matches recently, and that’s what I need to get back in shape,” Djokovic said Tuesday.

The Serb has dropped from his No. 1 ranking after a slump in form following his French Open title last year. His most recent match was a loss to Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, in March. He withdrew from Miami Open because of a lingering right elbow injury.

“I skipped Miami and I haven’t done much in Indian Wells, so the start of the season wasn’t ideal,” Djokovic said. “I had luck and pleasure to play at an exceptionally high level for six years and had fantastic results. … Things are a bit different now.

“I needed some rest. But I’m not disappointed because I spent some quality time with my family.”

Spain will be without both Rafael Nadal and Roberto Bautista Agut in the best-of-five series starting next Friday.

“Spain is one of the most successful nations in the Davis Cup,” Djokovic said. “Their best players are not here, but we should not underestimate them.”

Spain, a five-time champion, is trying to make the semifinals for the first time since 2012. Djokovic led Serbia to its only title in 2010.

Nadal cruises into Barcelona Open quarterfinals

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rafael Nadal cruised into the Barcelona Open quarterfinals by defeating fellow Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-1, 6-3 on Thursday.

The top-ranked Nadal converted on his second match point to clinch his 16th straight victory on clay and set up an encounter with Martin Klizan, who eliminated Novak Djokovic in the second round.

Nadal, coming off his 11th Monte Carlo title, has won 11 of his 12 ATP Tour matches this season, with the only loss coming from an injury retirement in the Australian Open quarterfinals.

He has won 40 consecutive sets on clay to extend his own record, and has won 33 of his last 34 matches on the dirt.

Nadal needs to win his 11th Barcelona title this week to retain his No. 1 ranking.

Klizan, the 140th-ranked Slovak who defeated Nadal in the quarterfinals of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, reached the last eight by ousting veteran Feliciano Lopez 6-1, 6-4.

Second-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria defeated Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (8), while third-seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria got past Jozef Kovalik of Slovakia 7-6 (5), 6-2.

More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

Djokovic falls to Klizan; Nadal advances

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BARCELONA, Spain — While Novak Djokovic struggles, Rafael Nadal keeps impressing.

Djokovic lost again on Wednesday, this time falling to 140th-ranked Martin Klizan 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 in the second round of the Barcelona Open.

Nadal, however, won again. He beat Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4, 6-4 for his 10th win in 11 ATP Tour matches this season.

Djokovic is trying to return to form after a lingering right elbow injury. He hasn’t made it past the last 16 in five tournaments this year.

The 12th-ranked Serb got off to a slow start against Klizan but rebounded to force a third set. He was then broken while trailing 4-3, allowing the Slovak to serve out for the victory.

“It’s a great feeling, amazing,” said Klizan, who had never beaten Djokovic in four previous matches. “I know that he didn’t play top tennis but a win is a win and I’m happy to be in the third round. I always play good tennis in Barcelona, I’m just enjoying it.”

Djokovic decided to play in Barcelona after losing to Dominic Thiem in the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters. He also lost in the second round in Miami and in Indian Wells, and failed to advance past the last 16 at the Australian Open.

Nadal, coming off his 11th Monte Carlo title, trailed early in his match but closed it out to reach the third round.

The top-ranked Spaniard has won 38 consecutive sets on clay, extending his own record. He has won 32 of his last 33 matches on the surface, including 15 straight.

Nadal will next face Guillermo Garcia Lopez of Spain, who defeated Kei Nishikori after the Japanese player retired because of an injury.

Nadal needs to win his 11th Barcelona title this week to retain his No. 1 ranking.

Earlier, second-seeded Grigor Dimitrov defeated Gilles Simon of France 6-2, 6-1, while third-seeded Thiem beat qualifier Jaume Munar 7-6 (8), 6-1.