The Latest: Rafael Nadal has little trouble advancing to third round of Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Latest from the Australian Open on Thursday (all times local):

12:10 a.m.

Rafael Nadal swept aside 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 on Thursday to advance to the third round of the tournament the Spaniard won in 2009.

The 14-time major champion won on his third match point in 2 hours, 13 minutes.

Nadal, who lost in the first round here last year to Fernando Verdasco, is looking to win his first major since the 2014 French Open. He had two lengthy stints on the sidelines last year and played only four matches after a fourth-round exit at the U.S. Open.

He will play Alexander Zverev in the third round. The 24th-seeded Zverev beat Frances Tiafoe in straight sets earlier Thursday.

11:25 p.m.

Eighth-seeded Dominic Thiem is through to the Australian Open’s third round after beating Jordan Thompson 6-2, 6-1, 6-7 (6), 6-4 in the last match at Margaret Court Arena on Thursday.

Thompson was attempting to come back from two sets down for the second match in a row. He lost the first two sets to Joao Sousa on Tuesday in the first round, but came back for a five-set victory.

Thiem will next face Benoit Paire, who beat Fabio Fognini 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 earlier Thursday.

9:35 p.m.

Serena Williams has managed to do what another six-time Australian Open champion couldn’t achieve on Thursday – advance to the third round. Williams, playing on the same court that saw six-time winner Novak Djokovic lose in five sets to wild-card entry Denis Istomin, beat Lucie Safarova 6-3, 6-4.

It was their first meeting since Williams won their French Open final in 2015.

Safarova had saved nine match points in her first-round match, but there were no such theatrics in this one.

The Czech player double-faulted on break point in the seventh game of the second set, and Williams clinched the match three games later.

Williams will now play Nicole Gibbs, who beat another American, Irina Falconi, 6-4, 6-1.

The second-seeded Williams is bidding to become the first player in the Open era to win 23 Grand Slam singles titles. She lost in the final here last year to Angelique Kerber, but clinched her 22nd major, tying Steffi Graf, at Wimbledon.

8:25 p.m.

Croatian veteran Mirjana Lucic-Baroni has beaten third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 6-2 to reach the third round of the Australian Open, her best performance at the tournament in 19 years.

‘”‘t’s amazing. Oh my God, it’s been so long since I won a match or two. Well, this is the first time ever in Australia,” she said. “As I’m getting older, it seems I’m getting better.”

The 34-year-old Lucic-Baroni tends to play well against the top players at the Slams – she’s also beaten Simona Halep at the French Open and U.S. Open in recent years.

Lucic-Baroni won the 1998 Australian Open doubles title with Martina Hingis at the age of 15. She also made the 1999 Wimbledon singles semifinals before quitting the sport for several years.

“I was a little baby back then,” she says of her early success. “Now, I can be maybe more relaxed. I said to myself today on the court, don’t worry, be happy.”

7:15 p.m.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic is out of the Australian Open, beaten 7-6 (8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 by wild-card entry Denis Istomin in a second-round match on Thursday.

Istomin made the vital break in the fifth game of the deciding set, then held service the rest of the way in the marathon 4 hour, 48-minute match on Rod Laver Arena.

The match featured a little bit of everything.

In a 15-minute opening game, the six-time champion Djokovic saved six break points. In the second set, he appeared to hyperextend his left leg in the third game, and spent much of the following break stretching it over a chair.

In the 10th game of that set, Djokovic saved two sets points after serving a double-fault.

But Djokovic broke in the following game to lead 6-5, then held his service with four consecutive points to take the set.

Djokovic clinched the third set when he successfully challenged a line call.

Istomin had a set point in the 10th game of the fourth set, then went ahead 5-1 in the tiebreaker before slamming down an ace to send it to a fifth-set decider.

Fernando Verdasco accepts 2-month doping ban

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
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LONDON – Former top-10 player Fernando Verdasco accepted a voluntary provisional doping suspension of two months after testing positive for a medication for ADHD, the International Tennis Integrity Agency announced.

Verdasco, who turned 39 this month, said he was taking methylphenidate as medication prescribed by his doctor to treat ADHD but forgot to renew his therapeutic use exemption for the drug. The integrity agency said Verdasco has now been granted an exemption by the World Anti-Doping Agency moving forward.

He tested positive at an ATP Challenger tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in February.

The integrity agency said in a news release that it “accepts that the player did not intend to cheat, that his violation was inadvertent and unintentional, and that he bears no significant fault or negligence for it,” and so what could have been a two-year suspension was reduced to two months.

Verdasco will be eligible to compete on Jan. 8.

The Spaniard is a four-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, reaching that stage most recently in 2013 at Wimbledon, where he blew a two-set lead in a five-set loss to eventual champion Andy Murray.

Verdasco reached a career-best ranking of No. 7 in April 2009 and currently is No. 125.

Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov give Canada 1st Davis Cup title

Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports
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MALAGA, Spain — Felix Auger-Aliassime fell to his back behind the baseline, then waited for teammates to race off Canada’s bench and pile on top of him.

A few minutes later, the Canadians finally could lift the Davis Cup.

“I think of us all here, we’ve dreamt of this moment,” Auger-Aliassime said.

Canada won the title for the first time, beating Australia behind victories from Denis Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime.

Auger-Aliassime secured the winning point when he downed Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4 after Shapovalov opened the day by rolling past Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-2, 6-4.

Seven years after leading Canada to the top of junior tennis, Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov and their teammates finally got to lift the biggest team trophy in their sport.

“We wanted to grow up and be part of the team and try to help the country win the first title,” Shapovalov said, “so everything is just so surreal right now.”

Shapovalov had dropped both his singles matches this week and needed treatment on his back during a three-set loss in the semifinals to Lorenzo Sonego of Italy that lasted 3 hours, 15 minutes. But the left-hander moved quickly around the court, setting up angles to put away winners while racing to a 4-0 lead in the first set.

Auger-Aliassime then finished off his superb second half of the season by completing a perfect week in Spain. He twice had kept the Canadians alive after Shapovalov dropped the opening singles match, and he replaced his weary teammate to join Vasek Pospisil for the decisive doubles point.

This time, Auger-Aliassime made sure the doubles match wouldn’t even be necessary. After his teammates poured onto the court to celebrate with him, they got up and danced around in a circle.

Canada had reached the final only once, falling to host Spain in Madrid in 2019, when Rafael Nadal beat Shapovalov for the clinching point after Auger-Aliassime had lost in the opening match.

But with Auger-Aliassime having since surged up the rankings to his current spot at No. 6, the Canadians are a much more formidable team now. They won the ATP Cup in January and finally added the Davis Cup crown to the junior Davis Cup title Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov led them to in 2015.

Australia was trying for its 29th title and first since current captain Lleyton Hewitt was part of the title-winning team in 2003.

But it was finally time for the Canadians, who were given a wild card into the field when Russia was suspended because of its invasion of Ukraine.

“Look, I think we were very close today,” de Minaur said. “Just wait until the next time we get the same matchup. Hopefully we can get the win and prove that we can do it.”

But Canada will be tough to beat as long as Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov play.

Shapovalov is just 23 and Auger-Aliassime 22, but both already have been Grand Slam semifinalists and Auger-Aliassime ended 2022 as one of the hottest players on the ATP Tour. He won all of his four titles this year, including three straight weeks in October.

He also beat Carlos Alcaraz in the previous Davis Cup stage in September, just after the Spaniard had won the U.S. Open to rise to No. 1 in the rankings. That victory helped send the Canadians into the quarterfinals, which they started this week by edging Germany.

“They’re not kids anymore, that’s for sure. Not after today – well not after the last couple of years,” said Pospisil, the team veteran at 32. “They’ve been crushing it.”