Federer beats Nadal in 3 sets to take Swiss Indoors title

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BASEL, Switzerland (AP) Roger Federer mastered Rafael Nadal in their first meeting in almost two years to win the Swiss Indoors final 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 on Sunday.

The top-seeded Federer ended a five-match losing streak against Nadal, including the last time they played for a title in May 2013.

With the match finely poised in the deciding set, Federer hit a series of ground strokes for winners and broke Nadal’s serve for a 5-3 lead.

Federer created his second match point with a backhand volley winner and clinched it when Nadal’s service return flew long.

Nadal still has a 23-11 career hold over Federer, including 14-7 in tournament finals.

Federer’s sixth title this season is also the seventh of his career at his hometown event in Basel.

The Swiss Indoors, where Federer was once a ball boy, is now the fifth tour event he was won at least seven times. He has eight titles at the Wimbledon warm-up tournament in Halle, Germany.

Federer dominated the first half of the match, finding the lines with his ground strokes and commanding at the net, but he was broken at 5-5 in the second set and Nadal forced a third.

The old rivals had not faced each other on court since Nadal won an Australian Open semifinal in three straight sets in January 2014. Their previous title match was another Nadal victory at the Rome Masters 2 1/2 years ago.

Federer broke Nadal for a 3-2 lead, creating the chance with a backhand passing shot and taking it with a fierce forehand winner.

Federer clinched the set with four straight points on Nadal’s serve, sealed by a forehand crosscourt winner.

The Swiss even stepped up his intensity to start the second set, needing just a few strokes to win the opening game.

Nadal again called for the trainer at a changeover, as he did in a semifinal victory over Richard Gasquet, and had his right knee taped.

The third-seeded Spaniard saved a break point midway through the set and soon unleashed his best shot of the match – stretching to fire a low forehand winner down the line.

Nadal broke for a 6-5 lead after Federer’s backhand briefly faltered, and served out the set.

In the deciding set, Nadal found a stunning backhand crosscourt winner to save a break point when trailing 2-1.

Novak Djokovic to start 2023 in Adelaide ahead of Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic will open his 2023 campaign in Adelaide as he prepares for a shot at a 10th Australian Open crown a year after having his visa revoked on the eve of his title defense.

The 21-time major winner has been granted a visa by the Australian government and has been listed to play at the Adelaide International, which starts Jan. 1.

Serbia isn’t contesting the inaugural United Cup team competition, leaving Djokovic free to play regular warmup tournaments head of the Jan. 16-29 Australian Open.

He’ll be joined in the men’s draw at Adelaide by Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada and Andy Murray.

Ons Jabeur, Aryna Sabalenka will headline the women’s draw.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles last month confirmed Djokovic had been granted a visa to compete in Australia in January. The 35-year-old Serbian had been facing a possible three-year ban after being deported last January over his stance against COVID-19 vaccination.

Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times, including the last three times he played. Rafael Nadal won this year’s title in Djokovic’s absence.

Djokovic was not vaccinated against COVID-19 when he arrived in Melbourne ahead of the 2022 tournament, but Australia has since lifted strict rules for unvaccinated travelers.

Karolina Pliskova reuniting with Sascha Bajin

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Two-time Grand Slam finalist Karolina Pliskova is reuniting with coach Sascha Bajin ahead of the 2023 season.

Pliskova posted on her website and her Twitter account about the move, which comes about six months after she and Bajin stopped working together. The pair originally teamed up in November 2020.

While Bajin was her coach, Pliskova reached the final at Wimbledon in 2021 before losing to champion Ash Barty. Pliskova also was the runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open, where she defeated Serena Williams in the semifinals before being beat by Angelique Kerber for the trophy.

After splitting from Bajin in July, Pliskova was coached by Leos Friedl. Their results together included a quarterfinal run at the U.S. Open.

Bajin has worked as a coach or hitting partner with several top tennis players, including Grand Slam title winners Williams, Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

“Thank you for having me back,” Bajin wrote on Twitter. “Let’s go get it.”

Pliskova is a 30-year-old from the Czech Republic who reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings in 2017 and finished this season at No. 31 after going 21-21 with no titles.

Her team also includes fitness specialist Jez Green and physiotherapist Martin Salvador.

Next year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, begins Jan. 16.