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Nadal and Federer win in straight sets at Shanghai Masters

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SHANGHAI (AP) Rafael Nadal lost only four points on serve Wednesday in a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Jared Donaldson in the second round of the Shanghai Masters.

The top-ranked Spaniard and No. 2 Roger Federer both advanced by winning their opening matches in straight sets.

“It was a very quick match,” said Nadal, who won his sixth title of the year in Beijing last week. “I was happy to have that early break in the sixth game. After that I played a great match, not many mistakes, played aggressively.”

Federer defeated Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (4), 6-4, winning the match with his 14th ace on his second match point.

“I knew going in it was not going to be easy because he’s had a great run the last few weeks, months,” Federer said. “He was confident. He was shaking off misses, no problems. He was serving well, making the right decisions.

“He was confident and as an opponent you can feel that. I felt that today it was going to be dangerous down the stretch of every set.”

Nadal and Federer are both in contention for the season-ending No. 1 ranking, although only Nadal can clinch that honor this week. Nadal will be guaranteed to retain the No. 1 ranking through the end of the season if he wins his first career Shanghai title and Federer loses before reaching the semifinals.

Earlier, sixth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov saved three match points before finally defeating Ryan Harrison 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (6).

The 46th-ranked Harrison led 4-2 in the third set and then 6-3 in the tiebreaker. But Dimitrov won the final five points to get through.

“I just had to be there (on those match points),” Dimitrov said. “At (my) match point, I just had to make my first serve because I knew he would go for it if not.”

Also, U.S. Open finalist Kevin Anderson lost to Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6 (5), 7-6 (2), while Gilles Simon, Alexander Zverev, Sam Querrey and John Isner all advanced.

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.

Magdalena shows form on grass in Birmingham

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BIRMINGHAM, England — Magdalena Rybarikova, who climbed almost 90 places last year to reach a career-high No. 17 in March, showed she might rise even further after rallying against Kristina Mladenovic 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 Wednesday to advance to the quarterfinals in Birmingham.

The Slovak accelerated toward victory against the former top 10 player from France with an array of slice ground strokes, clever approaches and sharp volleys. The range of shots worked excellently on the lush surface at the grass-court Nature Valley Classic and helped her take control midway through the second set.

Rybarikova last year reached the Wimbledon semifinals. She is a former champion here, winning the title in 2009.

In the first round she beat third-seeded Karolina Pliskova for the loss of only five games but found it tougher against Mladenovic.

“I started to play very well,” Rybarikova said of her improvement from the fourth game of the second set against Mladenovic. “She served great to begin with and I struggled with my returns, but I kept fighting and my game improved a lot.

“I think I’d been a bit passive. The key was when I played more cross-court slices and drops and made an early break in the second set.

“That’s the way I am trying to play on grass. I am thankful that I have the game to do that. This court here really suits my game.”

At the changeover in the fifth game of the second set, Mladenovic’s morale appeared to plunge, and afterward her error ratio rose sharply with her standard dropping significantly.

The third set of a match which lasted nearly two hours took only 22 minutes, and long before the end the outcome had ceased to be in doubt.

Rybarikova next faces Slovenian qualifier Dalila Jakupovic, who on Tuesday overcame a difference in rankings of almost 100 places and saved four match points while beating seventh-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium.

Jakupovic followed up Wednesday by getting past 18th-ranked Naomi Osaka of Japan, who recently beat four former top-ranked opponents. Osaka was forced to retired injured after losing the first set 6-3.