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Top-seeded Muguruza, Pavlyuchenkova reach Linz quarterfinals

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LINZ, Austria (AP) Top-seeded Garbine Muguruza and defending champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova advanced to the quarterfinals of the Generali Ladies with straight-set wins on Thursday.

The French Open champion defeated Monica Niculescu of Romania 6-1, 6-1, while Pavlyuchenkova recovered from dropping 4-1 behind in the opening set to beat Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 6-4, 7-6 (2).

Muguruza held off two break points in her opening service game then was in control of the match.

“This was maybe close to my best,” the sixth-ranked Spaniard said.

Muguruza’s next opponent is Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland, who defeated Julia Goerges of Germany 7-5, 6-4. Golubic saved a set point when Goerges served at 5-4 in the opening set.

Pavlyuchenkova next plays second-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, who defeated Annika Beck of Germany 6-1, 6-3.

“This is the best year of my career,” said the 10th-ranked Cibulkova, who has won two titles and appeared in three more finals. “It just feels great to be a consistent player.”

Earlier, Madison Keys advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating Misaki Doi of Japan 6-2, 6-0. Dominating throughout, the third-seeded American had five aces and avoided break points, while the 30th-ranked Doi won only 40 percent of the points on her serve.

Keys will next play French qualifier Oceane Dodin.

Federer survives scare to advance in Halle

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HALLE, Germany (AP) Defending champion Roger Federer survived two match points against Benoit Paire to reach the quarterfinals of the Gerry Weber Open with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7) win on Thursday.

Paire rallied after losing the first set to take the second, and the Frenchman defended two match points at 6-5 in the decider to force a tiebreaker. Eight minutes later, it was a match point for the 48th-ranked Paire, and again when a mistake from Federer left it 7-6 in Paire’s favor.

But the top-ranked Swiss took the next three points to close the match in just under two hours at the grass-court tournament.

Federer extended his grass-court winning streak to 18 matches, including his titles in Stuttgart last week and at Halle and Wimbledon last year.

Federer skipped the entire clay-court season for the second year in a row and is now just four wins away from matching Jimmy Connors’ all-time record of 174 victories on grass.

Federer next faces Matthew Ebden of Australia, who upset former champion Philipp Kohlschreiber 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

Also Thursday, Borna Coric defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-2.

The Croat next faces either Florian Mayer or Andreas Seppi.

Magdalena shows form on grass in Birmingham

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BIRMINGHAM, England — Magdalena Rybarikova, who climbed almost 90 places last year to reach a career-high No. 17 in March, showed she might rise even further after rallying against Kristina Mladenovic 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 Wednesday to advance to the quarterfinals in Birmingham.

The Slovak accelerated toward victory against the former top 10 player from France with an array of slice ground strokes, clever approaches and sharp volleys. The range of shots worked excellently on the lush surface at the grass-court Nature Valley Classic and helped her take control midway through the second set.

Rybarikova last year reached the Wimbledon semifinals. She is a former champion here, winning the title in 2009.

In the first round she beat third-seeded Karolina Pliskova for the loss of only five games but found it tougher against Mladenovic.

“I started to play very well,” Rybarikova said of her improvement from the fourth game of the second set against Mladenovic. “She served great to begin with and I struggled with my returns, but I kept fighting and my game improved a lot.

“I think I’d been a bit passive. The key was when I played more cross-court slices and drops and made an early break in the second set.

“That’s the way I am trying to play on grass. I am thankful that I have the game to do that. This court here really suits my game.”

At the changeover in the fifth game of the second set, Mladenovic’s morale appeared to plunge, and afterward her error ratio rose sharply with her standard dropping significantly.

The third set of a match which lasted nearly two hours took only 22 minutes, and long before the end the outcome had ceased to be in doubt.

Rybarikova next faces Slovenian qualifier Dalila Jakupovic, who on Tuesday overcame a difference in rankings of almost 100 places and saved four match points while beating seventh-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium.

Jakupovic followed up Wednesday by getting past 18th-ranked Naomi Osaka of Japan, who recently beat four former top-ranked opponents. Osaka was forced to retired injured after losing the first set 6-3.