Top-ranked Rafael Nadal advances to semifinals at China Open

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Top-ranked Rafael Nadal moved into the semifinals of the China Open by beating sixth-seeded John Isner 6-4, 7-6 (0) on Friday.

The French Open and U.S. Open champion has won five titles this season and is closing in on the year-end No. 1 ranking.

“In general terms, I think I played with not many mistakes,” Nadal said. “I don’t remember a lot of mistakes. I went to the net very often. I think I did the things that I want to do, and I did it well, so very happy.”

Nadal saved all three break points he faced against Isner. He will next play third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov, who defeated Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-2.

Dimitrov spent time practicing with Nadal in Mallorca ahead of the hard-court season. The two also spent time fishing.

“We went out with the boat,” Nadal said. “We catch a few ones (fish), but not very big. But we had some good dinner.”

Nick Kyrgios also advanced. The eighth-seeded Australian won when opponent Steve Darcis retired from the match with a neck strain while trailing 6-0, 3-0.

Kyrgios will next face either second-seeded Alexander Zverev or Andrey Rublev.

Earlier, second-seeded Simona Halep reached the semifinals by beating Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 6-1.

The Romanian could take over the top ranking from Garbine Muguruza. She needs to reach the final and not lose to third-seeded Elena Svitolina.

Halep will next face either ninth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko or Sorana Cirstea.

Petra Kvitova advanced by beating Barbora Strycova 6-3, 6-4. The 12th-seeded Kvitova will next face either Svitolina or Caroline Garcia in the semifinals.

Top-ranked Swiatek, Kvitova reach quarters at Agel Open

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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Top-ranked Iga Swiatek advanced to the quarterfinals of the Agel Open after Ajla Tomljanovic retired with an injury during the second set of their second-round match on Wednesday.

The Polish U.S. Open champion was leading 7-5, 2-2 when her Australian opponent retired due to a left knee injury at the indoor hardcourt event in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava.

Swiatek, who also won the French Open in June, will next face American qualifier Catherine McNally or Karolina Muchova.

Home favorite and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova upset second-seeded Paula Badosa of Spain 7-6 (4), 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal against this year’s Wimbledon winner Elena Rybakina, who rallied to eliminate Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-5.

Czech players also won the last two first-round matches on the schedule.

Muchova knocked out seventh-seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 6-4, 6-4 and Barbora Krejcikova ousted American Shelby Rogers 6-2, 6-2 for her sixth straight victory after she won the Tallinn Open on Sunday for her first WTA title of the year.

Djokovic near flawless to reach second round in Astana

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ASTANA, Kazakhstan – Novak Djokovic delivered a near-flawless performance to ease into the second round of the Astana Open with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Cristian Garin on Wednesday as he goes for a third straight tournament title.

Djokovic dropped just six points on his serve and won the last five games to seal the win in just 62 minutes.

Djokovic is coming off a victory in Tel Aviv last week and – aside from a match at the Laver Cup – the Wimbledon champion hasn’t lost since the French Open quarterfinals.

“From the start to the end, (it was) a great performance,” Djokovic said. “Playing in a new tournament, different conditions, the first match is never easy. Obviously you are looking to see how you are going to adapt, but I did it perfectly, really, played as well as I can.”

Djokovic will next play Botic van de Zandschulp.

Top-ranked Carlos Alcaraz lost in the opening round on Tuesday in his first match since winning the U.S. Open title to capture the No. 1 spot.

Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the quarterfinals by beating 19-year-old Luca Nardi of Italy 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3). Nardi was playing just his fifth tour-level main-draw match and impressed the third-seeded Greek, who didn’t earn a single break point.

“He’s a player that can play very well in the future,” Tsitsipas said. “There weren’t any holes. I believe today he was able to sustain that level from the beginning to end, and that was extremely impressive.”

Roberto Bautista Agut also reached the quarterfinals as he followed up his first-round upset of Felix Auger-Aliassime by beating Pavel Kotov 6-1, 7-6 (5).

Marin Cilic, who lost the Tel Aviv final to Djokovic, had to come from behind to beat Oscar Otte 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-2 in the first round to set up a round-of-16 match against Karen Khachanov.