AP Images

Nadal and Federer win in straight sets at Shanghai Masters

Leave a comment

SHANGHAI (AP) Rafael Nadal lost only four points on serve Wednesday in a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Jared Donaldson in the second round of the Shanghai Masters.

The top-ranked Spaniard and No. 2 Roger Federer both advanced by winning their opening matches in straight sets.

“It was a very quick match,” said Nadal, who won his sixth title of the year in Beijing last week. “I was happy to have that early break in the sixth game. After that I played a great match, not many mistakes, played aggressively.”

Federer defeated Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (4), 6-4, winning the match with his 14th ace on his second match point.

“I knew going in it was not going to be easy because he’s had a great run the last few weeks, months,” Federer said. “He was confident. He was shaking off misses, no problems. He was serving well, making the right decisions.

“He was confident and as an opponent you can feel that. I felt that today it was going to be dangerous down the stretch of every set.”

Nadal and Federer are both in contention for the season-ending No. 1 ranking, although only Nadal can clinch that honor this week. Nadal will be guaranteed to retain the No. 1 ranking through the end of the season if he wins his first career Shanghai title and Federer loses before reaching the semifinals.

Earlier, sixth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov saved three match points before finally defeating Ryan Harrison 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (6).

The 46th-ranked Harrison led 4-2 in the third set and then 6-3 in the tiebreaker. But Dimitrov won the final five points to get through.

“I just had to be there (on those match points),” Dimitrov said. “At (my) match point, I just had to make my first serve because I knew he would go for it if not.”

Also, U.S. Open finalist Kevin Anderson lost to Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6 (5), 7-6 (2), while Gilles Simon, Alexander Zverev, Sam Querrey and John Isner all advanced.

Two-time champ Azarenka gets Australian Open wild card

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Two-time former champion Victoria Azarenka has been awarded a wild card for the Australian Open.

Azarenka, who won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, has been involved in a custody dispute involving her son Leo, who was born last Dec. 19.

She hasn’t competed anywhere since Wimbledon, where she lost to Simona Halep in the fourth round on July 10. The dispute with her former partner started shortly after Wimbledon ended.

Azarenka has played only six matches this year and is ranked 208th.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said on Wednesday that every assistance would be provided to the former No. 1, adding “Vika’s current situation is obviously very difficult for her and we have reached out to offer any support we can.”

The Australian Open starts on Jan. 15.

Nadal, Muguruza win ITF player of the year awards

AP Photo
Leave a comment

LONDON — Rafael Nadal and Garbine Muguruza have won the International Tennis Federation’s player of the year awards.

At 31, Nadal becomes the oldest ITF men’s world champion after a season in which he won a 10th French Open and a third U.S. Open.

The Spaniard also became the oldest player to finish the year at No. 1 since the ATP rankings began in 1973.

Muguruza dropped only one set en route to her first Wimbledon title and finished the year at No. 2 behind Simona Halep.

“Becoming ITF world champion in such a competitive year is amazing for me,” said Muguruza, who is also Spanish. “(Nadal) is a great role model for all of us, so it is a great moment for tennis in Spain.”