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.

Fernando Verdasco accepts 2-month doping ban

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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.”