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Murray loses to Coric in third round of Madrid Open

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MADRID — Andy Murray’s struggles continued with a 6-3, 6-3 loss to lucky loser Borna Coric in the third round of the Madrid Open on Thursday, while defending champion Novak Djokovic made it to the quarterfinals by defeating Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 7-5.

The top-ranked Murray was outplayed by the 20-year-old Croatian to lose his fifth match of the year.

Murray has won only one tournament this season and hasn’t made it past the semifinals in the three clay-court tournaments he has played.

“Most things weren’t working particularly well,” Murray said. “I started the match OK, but when I started to go behind I didn’t find any way to improve my game or to make it more difficult for him. I just kind of let the same things keep happening, making mistakes very early in a lot of the rallies. I wasn’t building any points really.”

The 59th-ranked Coric became the first lucky loser to reach the quarterfinals in Madrid. He only made it to the main draw after Richard Gasquet withdrew because of a back injury.

“It’s a huge win, for sure. It’s going to mean to me a lot,” Coric said. “Obviously he didn’t play very good today. That was very obvious. I have noticed it from the beginning.”

Coric will try to win his second tournament this season. He won his first career title in Marrakech, Morocco last month.

Murray, who lost last year’s final to Djokovic in Madrid, had 28 unforced errors in a disappointing outing under the closed roof of the center court in Madrid. He was broken three consecutive times in the first set, and once in the second to give Coric a 5-3 lead that the young Croatian converted to close out the match.

Murray won his only title of the year in Dubai and had started the clay season trying to regain his form following a right elbow injury that kept him out of the Miami Open and the Davis Cup quarterfinals. He lost to Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the third round in Monte Carlo after blowing a 4-0 lead in the deciding set, then was eliminated by Dominic Thiem in the semifinals of the Barcelona Open.

Second-ranked Djokovic has also struggled this season, but stayed alive in Madrid with the two-set victory over Lopez.

The Serbian player was in control during his service games and broke Lopez once in each set to secure the victory. Djokovic saved the only break point he conceded to Lopez, who was playing in the tournament for a record 16th time.

“The level was definitely very high today I thought from both players,” Djokovic said. “I think Feliciano played really well, especially in the second set. I wasn’t winning too many points on his service games until the last one where I managed to return many balls back in play and then win the match.”

Djokovic won in Doha to start the year but failed to make it past the quarterfinals in the following four tournaments he played since then.

He will next play against sixth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan, who defeated David Ferrer 6-4, 6-3 to deny the Spaniard his 700th career win.

A finalist in Madrid in 2014, Nishikori is playing in his first tournament since March. He withdrew from Barcelona last month because of a right wrist injury.

Ninth-seeded David Goffin of Belgium cruised to a 6-4, 6-2 win over fifth-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada and will play the quarterfinal against either Nick Kyrgios of Australia or four-time Madrid champion Rafael Nadal.

On the women’s side, third-seeded Simona Halep of Romania reached the semifinals by beating Coco Vandeweghe of the U.S. 6-1, 6-1 in less than an hour.

“I was a little bit nervous, to be honest, before the match, because she has a big serve,” Halep said. “It’s always tough to play with someone who has a big serve.”

Halep will play Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia, who defeated Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-3.

Kristina Mladenovic of France advanced to the final four by overcoming seven double faults to beat Sorana Cirstea of Romania 6-4, 6-4. She will play either Canadian Eugenie Bouchard or eighth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia.

 

Federer again pushed hard, advances to Halle semifinals

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HALLE, Germany (AP) Defending champion Roger Federer defeated Matthew Ebden 7-6 (2), 7-5 to reach the semifinals of the grass-court Gerry Weber Open on Friday.

Federer was made to work hard by Ebden, who saved five of the eight break points he faced and was leading 5-3 in the second set.

Federer, who saved two match points against Benoit Paire in the second round the day before, recovered to go 6-5 up and then broke Ebden to take his first match point for a meeting with American qualifier Denis Kudla.

Kudla earlier defeated Japan’s Yuichi Sugita 6-2, 7-5 to book his semifinal place.

Federer, who won his 18th grass-court title in Stuttgart on Sunday, is just three match wins away from matching Jimmy Connors’ all-time record of 174 victories on grass.

Federer extended his grass-court winning streak to 19 including the Stuttgart title and last year’s titles in Halle and Wimbledon. He is bidding for a record-extending 10th trophy in Halle.

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.