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No. 1 Nadal crushes Dolgopolov, returns to US Open quarters

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NEW YORK (AP) Rafael Nadal easily returned to the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the first time in four years by routing Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 on Monday.

Nadal turned in his most powerful performance yet on a dominant day for the No. 1 seeds, and moved a victory away from a potential semifinal showdown with longtime rival Roger Federer.

Shortly after top-seeded Karolina Pliskova overwhelmed American Jennifer Brady 6-1, 6-0 in just 47 minutes, Nadal punished an opponent who had beaten him in two of the previous three meetings.

He never gave the unseeded Dolgopolov a chance on Monday, breaking serve six times in the 1 hour, 41 minute match.

Federer was trying to keep alive his hopes of the long-awaited first matchup at the U.S. Open with Nadal when he brought an 11-0 record against No. 33 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber into their night matchup.

Nadal hadn’t reached the quarterfinals in Flushing Meadows since the last of his two U.S. Open titles in 2013. He advanced to face No. 9 David Goffin or unseeded teenager Andrey Rublev.

Nadal had dropped the first set in the two previous rounds but he was locked in from the start of his 50th U.S. Open victory, never losing serve and facing just two break points.

The second match of the day at Arthur Ashe Stadium started perhaps a little earlier than expected, thanks to the ease of Pliskova’s victory.

Two days after having to fight off a match point to advance, the Czech ran her unseeded opponent off the court as fans were still just filing into the grounds at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The Czech won 22 of 24 points on her first serve, broke Brady’s serve six times and advanced to face either No. 20 CoCo Vandeweghe or unseeded Lucie Safarova.

“Sometimes you just need to have some of those matches where you can just really get through it. You don’t even know why, but the game improves so much,” Pliskova said. “So I didn’t change anything. I didn’t even practice yesterday. So there is nothing really what I did different. But I just felt much better.”

Pliskova was the runner-up to Angelique Kerber at Flushing Meadows last year and needs to get back to the final in order to remain atop the WTA rankings.

She wouldn’t have much problem if she plays as she did in a nearly flawless fourth-round performance, looking nothing like the player who nearly went home a round earlier.

Pliskova also played the first match on Ashe on Saturday. She dropped the first set and had to fight off a match point in the second before rallying to beat No. 27 Zhang Shuai 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

This time, she raced to a 4-0 lead against an obviously nervous opponent, then won the second set in even more lopsided fashion. She won 25 points to just seven for Brady in the second set.

“I felt like she was playing pretty well today. I didn’t play my best. Maybe I gave her the opportunity to play well,” Brady said. “But, you know, I think she was hitting her spots and her serves well. She came out playing, I felt, like the No. 1 player.”

Former champion Juan Martin del Potro, the No. 24 seed, faced sixth-seeded Dominic Thiem, with the winner getting Federer if the five-time champion can improve his 31-1 record in night matches at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Women’s No. 4 Elina Svitolina meets No. 15 seed Madison Keys in the nightcap.

Keys and Vandeweghe are trying to join fellow Americans Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens into the women’s quarters.

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

Dimitrov defeats Goffin to win ATP Finals title

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LONDON — Grigor Dimitrov claimed the biggest title of his career at the season-ending ATP Finals on Sunday, prevailing on his fifth match point to beat David Goffin of Belgium 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

“It’s such an honor to play here,” Dimitrov said. “This week has been one of the best I’ve ever had.”

The sixth-seeded Bulgarian won in 2 hours, 30 minutes, 15 seconds for the longest final since the tournament returned to a three-set format in 2008.

Dimitrov won all five of his matches at the O2 Arena to become the first player to win the elite tournament on debut since 1998, when Alex Corretja of Spain triumphed in Hanover.

Goffin saved three match points on his own serve, but Dimitrov kept his cool, taking the second opportunity on his own delivery to close it out.

By reaching the final, Dimitrov had already secured a career-high No. 3-ranking to end the year. Goffin also moves up to a career-best No. 7.

The final lasted more than 11 minutes longer than Roger Federer took to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2011. It was a nervous start as both players failed to hold serve in the opening three games before Goffin settled down to control the opener as Dimitrov struggled with his timing.

However, Dimitrov fought his way back into the set. He leveled in the eighth game before breaking once more in the 12th to snatch the set in which Goffin hit eight more winners.

Dimitrov’s confidence carried into the second set, where he brought up the first break point in the sixth game, only for Goffin to produce a stunning cross-court backhand winner to save it. The momentum back with him, Goffin broke the following game for a 4-3 lead and calmly closed out the set.

Having come from behind to beat Federer in Saturday’s semifinal, Goffin had every reason to be confident and could have gone ahead. But he wasted four break points in the opening game – they would turn out to be his only chances in the decider.

Dimitrov was more clinical, striking in the sixth game to take control. Goffin tested Dimitrov’s nerve by saving three match points on his own serve, before saving one on Dimitrov’s. However the Belgian’s resistance came to an end as he netted a backhand volley, leaving Dimitrov in tears.

(This story has been corrected to show it was the longest three-set final since the tournament returned to a three-set format in 2008, not longest three-set final ever.)

Goffin ousts Federer in ATP Finals semis

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LONDON — David Goffin ended Roger Federer’s bid for a seventh ATP Finals title by stunning the favorite 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals on Saturday.

The Belgian claimed the biggest win of his career and qualified for the final on Sunday, when he will face Grigor Dimitrov or Jack Sock. They play later Saturday.

Federer looked to be heading toward his 11th final at the elite season-ending tournament when he cruised through the first set, but Goffin took advantage of a drop in his play to level.

Despite having lost all six of his previous encounters with Federer, Goffin was able to execute better in the deciding set, breaking in the third game and producing a nerveless display of serving to seal victory.