Djokovic beats Monfils to claim second title of season

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EASTBOURNE, England (AP) Novak Djokovic won his second title of 2017 on Saturday as he cruised to a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Gael Monfils in the Eastbourne International final.

The Serb remained unbeaten against Monfils on the ATP tour as he extended his head-to-head advantage over the Frenchman to 14-0 in one hour and 16 minutes.

Having ended a trophy-drought stretching back to the Qatar Open in January, Djokovic will begin his Wimbledon campaign on Tuesday full of confidence.

Earlier Saturday, third-seeded Karolina Pliskova beat Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark 6-4, 6-4 to win the women’s event on England’s south coast.

Monfils’s attempt to end his losing streak against the world No. 4 was quickly blunted as he dropped serve in the opening game, before being broken again in the final game of the first set.

Despite his renowned retrieval skills, Monfils was unable to impose his return game as Djokovic made 87 per cent of his first serves during the opening set.

Monfils emerged with renewed intent for the second set, but Djokovic was able to summon the grit that has so often been lacking this season as he fought off three break points.

Equally familiar was the sight of Djokovic increasing his intensity as Monfils served to stay in the match at 4-5, taking victory at the first opportunity.

Pliskova claimed her third title of 2017 and ninth overall as she broke once in each set to defeat 2009 champion Wozniacki.

The Czech was a beaten finalist in this tournament on England’s south coast last year, losing to Dominika Cibulkova.

“I’m really happy I got the trophy this time,” Pliskova said. “I feel quite okay on grass … The serve is definitely my biggest weapon and, if it’s working, then it’s real trouble for the opponent.”

Sixth-seeded Wozniacki had her only break points of the match in the sixth game of the second set but let four opportunities slip by.

“I thought I played really well, I did what I could today,” Wozniacki said. “I had trouble getting the serves back, but it’s great preparation before Wimbledon.”

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.