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Nadal wins 6th title of year in Beijing; Garcia beats Halep

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Rafael Nadal beat Nick Kyrgios of Australia 6-2, 6-1 Sunday in the China Open final to win his sixth ATP title of the year, and Caroline Garcia defeated soon-to-be-No. 1 Simona Halep 6-4, 7-6 (3) in the women’s event.

Top-ranked Nadal, who was tied with Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev at five titles this season, picked up his 75th career singles trophy with the win in Beijing.

The 15th-ranked Garcia, who lost to Halep the two previous times they played, won her second consecutive WTA title. The Frenchwoman will make her top-10 debut when the new rankings come out on Monday.

The 31-year-old Nadal’s six trophies this year include a record 10th title at the French Open and a third at the U.S. Open. The last time the Spaniard won at least six titles in a year was in 2013 when he captured 10 trophies for the season.

Kyrgios started Sunday struggling with his serve and never found a confident range throughout the match. His first-serve percentage mostly languished under the 50 percent mark.

In contrast, Nadal always looked in charge and saved all four break points he faced.

Kyrgios offered Nadal eight break points in the first set with Nadal taking two service breaks.

Kyrgios didn’t make it onto the board in the second set until he was serving with Nadal already leading 5-0.

Garcia also won in straight sets.

“She played amazing tennis,” Halep said of Garcia. “She deserved to win today. She was better.”

For Halep, the loss was particularly disappointing as she was unable to back up her guaranteed debut in the No. 1 ranking on Monday. She secured the top spot on Saturday with her semifinal victory over French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Halep’s best opportunity to rebound against Garcia ended when she failed to make good on any of the nine break points she had at 3-3 in the second set.

“For sure it definitely turned the second set,” Garcia said. “This game was definitely very important.”

In the second-set tiebreaker, the unseeded Garcia jumped out to 4-1, and on a first match point at 6-3 with Halep serving, the Romanian netted a forehand. Garcia fell to her knees in celebration.

She is enjoying an 11-match winning streak, having captured her first title of the season at Wuhan last week. This is the second time she’s won a career-best 11 straight matches.

“It was such an amazing two weeks,” Garcia said. “It went so fast.”

Garcia saved a match point in her three-set quarterfinal victory over third-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.

The last time Kyrgios played a No. 1 it was also against Nadal. In that 2014 Wimbledon fourth-round encounter, the then 144th-ranked Kyrgios emerged a four-set winner.

This was Nadal’s second China Open title in four trips to the final. He won his first in his Beijing debut in 2005.

Nadal leads Kyrgios 3-2 in career meetings, and 2-1 this season.

Nadal-Djokovic semifinal suspended after 3rd set

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LONDON (AP) It was the kind of tennis that Wimbledon’s Centre Court crowd would gladly have watched all night long.

The show being put on by Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal was so good it could have been an instant classic had they been able to finish their semifinal before the tournament’s 11 p.m. curfew.

Instead, the two players – and a disappointed audience – were sent home after the third set on Friday with Djokovic leading 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9) following a tense tiebreaker that had more entertaining rallies than some entire matches.

The two players didn’t even get onto the court until after 8 p.m. because of an earlier marathon semifinal won by Kevin Anderson and when Djokovic converted his second set point in the tiebreaker – having saved three of Nadal’s – the clock had ticked a couple of minutes past 11. That left organizers no choice but to call it a night, although the announcement from the chair umpire led to a scattering of boos from some fans who clearly wanted more.

Most of them will have to watch the rest on TV.

The match will resume at 1 p.m. local time on Saturday, before the women’s final between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber. At stake is a place in Sunday’s men’s final against the man who was partly at fault for keeping Nadal and Djokovic out there so late. Anderson’s win over John Isner lasted 6 + hours and went to 26-24 in the fifth set.

Djokovic-Nadal had clearly been the headline act of the day – they have five Wimbledon titles between them and met in the 2011 final while Anderson and Isner had never made the semifinals before – and their tennis was at another level from the earlier match. Even Anderson said he could feel during his match that the crowd would rather be watching the next one.

“They’ve paid to see two matches, and they came pretty close to only seeing one match,” Anderson said. “I can feel the crowd (get) pretty antsy for us to get off the court. They’ve been watching us for over six hours.”

While Anderson-Isner was mostly a serving duel with a few longer rallies thrown in, Djokovic and Nadal repeatedly slugged it out from the baseline, chasing each other around the court and coming up with spectacular winners from every corner.

Many of the best points came in the tiebreaker, including a 23-shot rally that Nadal finished off with a forehand half-volley drop shot to set up his first set point.

It was one of three successful drop shots from the Spaniard in the tiebreaker alone, but Djokovic answered with one of his own to save the second set point at 7-6.

He eventually went up 10-9 with the help of a backhand passing shot and an errant shot into the net by Nadal brought the entertainment to an end – for now.

It led to the unusual situation of both players leaving the court to a huge ovation – and applauding the fans in return – but without there being a clear winner or loser.

To be continued.

Former No. 1 Kerber tops Ostapenko; into second Wimbledon final

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LONDON – It was clear right from the opening game of Angelique Kerber’s Wimbledon semifinal how things were going to go. She was not going to dictate or control much.

She was, instead, going to employ spectacular defense and solid, steady play, while letting her opponent, Jelena Ostapenko, be the one to determine the outcomes of nearly every point.

It worked. The 11th-seeded Kerber reached her second final at the All England Club by avoiding too many mistakes and using a seven-game run to seize control for a 6-3, 6-3 victory over the 12th-seeded Ostapenko on Thursday.

“These are the matches I was working for as a young kid,” Kerber said, “and to stand here again in the final at Wimbledon is great.”

Kerber is a former No. 1 and a two-time major champion, both coming in 2016 at the Australian Open and U.S. Open. That was also the year the German was the runner-up at Wimbledon, losing to Serena Williams in the title match.

She could find herself up against Williams yet again: The 36-year-old American was scheduled to face No. 13 Julia Goerges of Germany in Thursday’s second semifinal on Centre Court.

Williams took a 19-match Wimbledon winning streak into the day. She won the grass-court tournament the last two times she played it, in 2015 and 2016, before missing it last year while pregnant. Williams gave birth to a daughter in September.

The left-handed Kerber was mainly a passive participant in the early going against Ostapenko. That first game consisted of eight points: Three were unforced errors by Ostapenko, including a double-fault to begin the proceedings; the other five were winners by her, including a 100 mph ace to close the hold.

Five games in, Ostapenko led 3-2, and the numbers were still tilted toward her. She had 14 winners and 10 unforced errors, while Kerber had three winners and – this was key – zero unforced errors.

There were no drawn-out points in the early going, no lengthy baseline exchanges, essentially because Ostapenko wouldn’t allow it. The Latvian plays an aggressive brand of first-strike tennis that carried her to the 2017 French Open title as an unseeded 20-year-old.

Kerber, in contrast, bides her time, working the back of the court to get everything back over the net, often kneeling to get low enough to reach shots.

Eventually, Kerber’s style ruled the day. She went on a half-hour run in which she took the last four games of the first set and took a 3-0 lead in the second. Ostapenko’s strokes were missing and she grew increasingly frustrated, slapping a thigh after a miss or leaning forward and putting her hands on her knees after others. By the time she flubbed a backhand while falling behind 5-1 in the second, she dropped her racket and screamed.

It took Kerber two tries to serve out the victory, getting broken to 5-2. But unlike in the quarterfinals, when she needed seven match points to win, this time it required only two, with the match ending – fittingly enough – on a forehand by Ostapenko that sailed wide.

The final tally told the story: Ostapenko had far more winners, 30-10, but also far more unforced errors, 36-7.