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Federer beats del Potro in Swiss Indoors final

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BASEL, Switzerland — Roger Federer finally beat Juan Martin del Potro in a Swiss Indoors final, winning 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-3 Sunday to go clear in second place on the Open era title list.

Federer’s 95th ATP tournament win – the eighth in his hometown Basel event where he was once a ballboy – lifted him out of a tie with Ivan Lendl, trailing only Jimmy Connors who has 109.

The top-seeded Federer succeeded on the same court where he lost the 2012 and 2013 Basel finals to del Potro.

Federer rallied from a break down in the decisive set and clinched when the fourth-seeded Argentine sent a service return long.

Trailing in the second set, the 36-year-old Swiss had slammed his racket on the net cord in frustration when wasting a break-point chance.

Federer improved to 7-1 in finals this season. They include his previous event, the Shanghai Masters two weeks ago, and Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

He now has a 18-6 lifetime record against del Potro, who has a 3-2 edge over Federer in finals.

Federer served for the first set with a 5-4 lead – before del Potro immediately broke back – and let a 3-0 lead slip in the tiebreaker.

Del Petro reeled off six straight points in the tiebreaker, including one after a 23-shot exchange, then clinched with his third set point keyed by a strong serve.

Both players had break-point chances early in the second set, and Federer hit his racket on the net cord after spurning his with a backhand volley sent wide.

Federer gifted del Potro a chance to break with two double faults but held with strong serves.

Forcing two set points on del Potro’s serve, Federer took the second when seeing his opponent’s baseline forehand fly long.

They traded service breaks to open the decisive set, and Federer stood head bowed for several seconds with his hands on the net when a wild forehand gifted del Potro his chance.

On the next point, Federer netted a backhand volley to fall behind 1-0, though soon leveled with a fierce forehand winner.

Federer broke again for a 3-1 lead and served out the match under little pressure.

Nadal doesn’t see himself skipping tournaments like Federer

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MONACO (AP) For now, Rafael Nadal doesn’t see himself skipping any major tournaments the way Roger Federer has been sitting out the French Open.

The veterans are back at the top of world tennis, with Nadal needing to win the Monte Carlo Masters this week to avoid losing his top ranking once again to Federer in their seemingly eternal battle for tennis supremacy.

For the second consecutive season, the 36-year-old Federer is skipping the entire clay-court season in order to be at his best on grass.

After coming back from injury to win the Australian Open last year, Federer skipped the clay-court season, won Wimbledon, and retained his Melbourne crown to extend his record tally to 20 majors.

The Swiss star is keeping his aging body fresher by playing a bit less – avoiding Nadal on clay at Roland Garros or elsewhere – and it is working for him.

But Nadal still thinks he can play a full schedule.

“There (are) tournaments that I can’t imagine missing on purpose, because (they are) tournaments that I love to play,” Nadal said on Wednesday. “I don’t see myself missing Monte Carlo on purpose. I don’t see myself missing Wimbledon on purpose, or the U.S. Open, or Australian, or Rome. These kind of events, I don’t see missing (them).”

The 31-year-old Spaniard recently returned from a right hip injury which forced him to retire during the fifth set of his Australian Open quarterfinal against Marin Cilic.

With his 32nd birthday coming up on June 3 – during the French Open – the 16-time Grand Slam champion accepts he may think differently when he gets closer to Federer’s age.

“Of course, when you get older, you need to adjust a little bit more the efforts and the calendar. But for me (it) is difficult to say I don’t play, for example, grass, or I don’t play hard (courts),” Nadal said. “(It) is not in my plan, but I can’t say `never’ because I cannot predict what’s going to be in the future.”

Nadal is chasing an 11th title at both Monte Carlo and Roland Garros, which begins on May 27.

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

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Thiem reaches third round at Monte Carlo

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MONACO — Dominic Thiem saved a match point and beat Andrey Rublev of Russia 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Tuesday.

Rublev was serving for the match at 5-4, 40-30 but hit a forehand narrowly wide. Fifth-seeded Thiem broke him with backhand pass down the line and held for 6-5.

The Austrian was 15-40 up on Rublev’s serve and clinched victory on his first match point, when Rublev double-faulted with a weak serve into the net.

“I was 10 centimeters from being out of the tournament,” a relieved Thiem said. “But I’m happy that I played two hours and 40 (minutes).”

Thiem has reached the French Open semifinals for the past two years. He next meets 12-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic or Borna Coric of Croatia, who play their second-round match on Wednesday.

“I’m looking forward to watching Djokovic and Coric in front of the TV, and then playing the winner on Thursday,” Thiem said.

In the second round later Tuesday, fourth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria faced Pierre-Hugues Herbert and seventh-seeded Lucas Pouille played Mischa Zverev.

In remaining first-round play, there were wins for Gilles Simon of France, Marco Cecchinato of Italy and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany.