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In contrasting fashion, Djokovic, Muguruza advance in Paris

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PARIS — One struggled, the other had a stroll in the park.

In contrasting fashion, defending champions Novak Djokovic and Garbine Muguruza both advanced to the third round at the French Open on Wednesday.

Second-seeded Djokovic barely put a foot wrong in a 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 win over Joao Sousa, while Muguruza had to dig deep to avoid becoming the first reigning champion at Roland Garros to lose in the second round since 2014, when she upset Serena Williams.

The fourth-seeded Muguruza was made to work hard for more than two hours on the Philippe Chatrier show court before rallying past 53rd-ranked Anett Kontaveit 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2.

Playing at Roland Garros for the 20th time, a record in the Open era, Venus Williams also reached the third round after defeating Kurumi Nara of Japan 6-3, 6-1.

As often in Paris, Djokovic spoke in French during his on-court interview, and joked.

“I’m sorry for my French, my teacher is on holiday,” he said.

On a more serious note, Djokovic said he was pleased with his form after coming through some difficult times since completing a career Grand Slam at Roland Garros last year.

“I felt better than in the first round, that’s exactly what I wanted,” he said.

After dropping the opening set against Kontaveit, Muguruza was down a break in the second before coming back. Playing close to the lines, she got back into her stride and took the decider in 32 minutes on the first of two match points.

“I think she was playing so, so good for the first two sets,” Muguruza said. “I was just hanging in there, being aggressive and waiting for my moment.”

Earlier in the day, Petra Kvitova’s first tournament since being injured in a knife attack at her home was brought to an early end.

The two-time Wimbledon champion, who was seeded 15th, lost 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) to American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Kvitova threw her racket in frustration after double-faulting on match point, but the players warmly embraced at the net.

Kvitova returned to tennis in Paris after being attacked in the Czech Republic in December.

Home favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also exited the tournament, unable to turn around a first-round match against Roland Garros debutant Renzo Olivo that had been suspended on Tuesday due to darkness.

Back on court with the 12th-seeded Tsonga trailing 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 5-4, the Frenchman lasted less than eight minutes, losing the first three points on his serve but managing to save the three match points. Olivo converted the next one with a forehand crosscourt winner to prevail 6-4.

Tsonga had never lost to a player ranked as low as No. 91 at a Grand Slam.

There was also an unexpected visitor at the French Open, Serena Williams.

The winner of 23 Grand Slam singles titles is not playing for the rest of this season because she is pregnant. Williams found a seat in the shade at Court Philippe Chatrier during her older sister Venus’ match against Nara.

Serena Williams’ baby is due in the fall. She has said she will return to the tour in 2018.

 

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.