Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

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Stephens, Kerber headline WTA Elite Trophy field

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ZHUHAI, China — A year after finishing the season as the No. 1-ranked player in the world, Angelique Kerber will be playing at the WTA Elite Trophy with an eye on 2018.

Kerber won the Australian Open and U.S. Open last year, but has struggled in 2017 and has dropped to No. 19.

“I’m not trying to look back at the year. I’m trying to look ahead and trying to end the year as well as I can by putting everything on the court, winning as many as matches as I can and going to my holidays with a good feeling,” Kerber said. “It’s a tough tournament but it’s an opportunity to get better, have good competition and maybe also going with a good feeling to next season.”

The WTA Elite Trophy is a round-robin tournament for the top players who failed to qualify for the WTA Finals. The tournament splits 12 players in four groups of three, with the group winners reaching the semifinals.

Kerber is in a group with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Ashleigh Barty.

Other players at the tournament include U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, who is in a group with Anastasija Sevastova and Barbora Strycova.

“I just want to compete well because obviously every match is really important,” Stephens said. “I just hope to play well and get in a few matches out there.”

In the other groups, it’s: CoCo Vandeweghe, Peng Shuai and Elena Vesnina; and Julia Goerges, Kristina Mladenovic and Magdalena Rybarikova.

The 12 players at the tournament won a combined 11 WTA singles titles in 2017.

Wozniacki upsets Muguruza to reach Pan Pacific Open final

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TOKYO — Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki upset top-ranked Garbine Muguruza 6-2, 6-0 to advance to the final of the Pan Pacific Open on Saturday.

Wozniacki, a champion here in 2010 and 2016, converted six of seven break points to reach her seventh final of 2017.

Playing in her first tournament since earning the WTA’s top ranking, Wimbledon champion Muguruza had 29 unforced errors to drop the final 10 games of the match.

“I didn’t feel that fresh,” Muguruza said. “In the long rallies, I was struggling a little bit. I felt my energy was a little bit low, but I think she just had a good match. I didn’t make the important shots in the important moments so the match went to her side very fast.”

Sixth-ranked Wozniacki will face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Sunday’s final. Pavlyuchenkova rallied from being down 3-0 in the final set to beat former No. 1 Angelique Kerber 6-0, 6-7 (4), 6-4.

Pavlyuchenkova, who is aiming for her third title of 2017, broke serve seven times and won six of the final seven games.

Pavlyuchenkova admitted her slow start in the final set had her thinking about the next tournament in China.

“I was already thinking about going to Wuhan,” Pavlyuchenkova said. “In my head I was booking flights. But at the same time, I always fight to the last point.”

Roger Federer makes quick work of Rafael Nadal in Indian Wells

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Roger Federer defeated Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-3 at the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday in a fourth-round match that saw the longtime rivals meeting much earlier in a tournament than usual.

Federer broke Nadal four times in advancing to the quarterfinals in just over an hour. Although Nadal owns a 23-13 lead in their series, Federer has won the past three in a row, including an epic comeback in the Australian Open final two months ago.

Federer broke Nadal to open the match in front of a packed Stadium 1 crowd. Federer faced just one break point on his serve in the match, but he recovered with a big serve and two winning backhands to go up 2-0 in the first set.

“The main thing he take the break in the first game, and I had break point in the next game and come back and he had a good serve,” Nadal said. “When Roger has the advantage, his serve is so good, he has a lot of confidence with his serve, he’s able to play much more relaxed.”

Nadal wasn’t too shabby either, serving three love games. But Federer’s shotmaking was superb, frequently kissing the lines off both sides.

The four-time Indian Wells winner was crafty, too. Leading 5-1, Federer moved in quickly on Nadal’s second serve, surprising the Spaniard, whose forehand sailed long. Federer’s drop shots were well-timed and even when a scrambling Nadal got to them in time, Federer answered with one of his 26 winners.

The two superstars hadn’t played each other before the quarterfinals of an event since 2004 when they met in the third round at Miami. Wednesday’s match was just the fifth time they weren’t opposing each other in a final.

Another one of tennis’ Big Four went down, too.

Novak Djokovic’s 19-match winning streak at the desert tournament ended in a 6-4, 7-6 (3) loss to Nick Kyrgios. Djokovic joined Nadal and top-ranked Andy Murray, who was upset in the second round.

Djokovic, Federer and Nadal were all in the same quarter of the draw, ensuring the tournament would lose some of its biggest names before the second weekend.

Kyrgios beat Djokovic for the second time in two weeks, having earned a straight-set victory over the world’s No. 2 player at Acapulco on March 2.

“Conditions like today where the ball travels through the air very fast and it bounces very high, it’s a gamble,” Djokovic said. “On his first serves, to try to anticipate and read his serve, where he’s going to go 140 miles per hour down the T and also pretty good angle wide, it’s hard to position yourself well.”

Djokovic was bidding for a fourth consecutive title at Indian Wells, having won a total of five in his career. But he unraveled with 25 unforced errors, including a forehand service return on Kyrgios’ second match point.

“The run was amazing,” Djokovic said. “It had to end at some stage. Unfortunately, it was today.”

Kyrgios advanced to the quarterfinals, where he will face Federer. The 15th-seeded Australian hit 14 aces, with his fastest serve clocking 141 mph, and won 86 percent of his first serve points.

Also joining Kyrgios in the quarterfinals were No. 4 seed Kei Nishikori, who defeated Donald Young 6-2, 6-4; 17th-seeded Jack Sock, a 4-6, 7-6 (1), 7-5 winner over Malek Jaziri; No. 21 Pablo Carreno Busta, who beat qualifier Dusan Lajovic; and No. 27 Pablo Cuevas, who outlasted 11th-seeded David Goffin 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

On the women’s side, No. 8 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova beat 19th-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 6-2 to reach the semifinals.