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Federer opens Indian Wells title defense with 2-day win

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) Roger Federer completed a rain-delayed debut match at the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday with a 6-3, 7-6 (6) win over Federico Delbonis of Argentina.

On Saturday, Federer led 6-3, 2-2 when the match was delayed by a heavy drizzle 56 minutes after it began. Federer, who earned his fifth title at Indian Wells last year, saved a set point in the second-set tiebreaker and advanced to face Filip Krajinovic on Monday.

Marin Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion who lost to Federer in the final of this year’s Australian Open, eased to a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Marton Fucsovics.

Taro Daniel, a 190th-ranked qualifier, upset five-time Indian Wells champion Novak Djokovic 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-1.

Djokovic was makings his first appearance since being stunned by Hyeon Chung at the Australian Open. Djokovic sprinted out to a 5-2 lead against the 25-yard-old from Japan, but his mistakes began to add up and he finished with 58 unforced errors.

It was the earliest loss for Djokovic at Indian Wells since a first-round exit in 2006.

“It felt like first match I ever played on the tour,” Djokovic said. “Very weird. I mean, I just completely lost rhythm, everything.”

Gael Monfils upset No. 15 seed and 2012 runner-up John Isner 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3), 7-5.

On the women’s side, top-ranked Simona Halep came back to top 19-year-old Caroline Dolehide 1-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2 in just over two hours.

American Amanda Anisimova took down two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 6-2, 6-4 in a match lasting just over an hour to become the first 16-year-old to move into the fourth round at Indian Wells since Viktoriya Kutuzova in 2005.

“It feels crazy. I mean, I’m still in shock,” Anisimova said. “She’s the best player I have ever played, and it was the biggest court I have ever played on. So it was definitely nerve-wracking kind of, but I was enjoying it so much out there and I was playing my best. It was a good day.”

Former No. 1 and tenth-seed Angelique Kerber rallied past Ekaterina Makarova 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 and Petra Martic upset last year’s French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-3.

Nadal beats Zverev for Italian Open title

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ROME — Rafael Nadal came out on top in a matchup of this year’s top two clay-court players, beating defending champion Alexander Zverev 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 Sunday to win a record-extending eighth Italian Open title.

Nadal recovered from an early break in the third set after a 50-minute rain delay.

The victory means Nadal will reclaim the No. 1 ranking from Roger Federer on Monday.

Federer is sitting out the clay season to prepare for Wimbledon.

Nadal and Zverev had each won two titles on clay this season entering the final, with Nadal lifting trophies in Monte Carlo and Barcelona and Zverev taking Munich and Madrid.

Nadal improved to 5-0 in his career against Zverev and gained an extra measure of confidence entering the French Open, which starts next Sunday.

Earlier, Elina Svitolina defended the women’s title, facing little resistance from top-ranked Simona Halep in a 6-0, 6-4 win.

Svitolina defends Italian Open title as Halep injured again

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ROME – Elina Svitolina faced little resistance from Simona Halep in a 6-0, 6-4 win Sunday to defend her Italian Open title.

Just like in last year’s final, Halep appeared bothered by an injury.

The top-ranked Romanian called a trainer onto the court for an apparent back problem while trailing 2-3 in the second set then exited the court for treatment under a medical timeout.

“I was a little bit too stiff with my body and I couldn’t stay in the rallies,” Halep said. “The muscles were stiff. I couldn’t run.”

Last year, Halep rolled her ankle in the final and lost a set lead to Svitolina.

This time, Svitolina didn’t face a single break point in a match that lasted just 67 minutes.

“It’s amazing that I could come and defend my title here,” Svitolina said. “It’s really something very, very special for me.”

Halep said her physical problems were the result of a long three-set win over Maria Sharapova in the semifinals a day earlier

“Every time I play against Sharapova the ball is coming very flat and I bend down a lot,” Halep said.

The fourth-ranked Svitolina became the first woman to defend her title at the Foro Italico since Serena Williams accomplished the feat in 2013 and 2014. The Ukrainian picked up a winner’s check of 507,000 euros (nearly $600,000) for her 12th career title.

Svitolina improved to 4-2 in her career against Halep, who had already secured the No. 1 ranking for another week by reaching the semifinals.

“She deserved to win for sure,” Halep said. “She didn’t miss. I missed.”

Later, Rafael Nadal was aiming for a record-extending eighth Rome title against defending champion Alexander Zverev.

This is the last major warmup for the French Open, which starts next Sunday.

“In a Grand Slam it’s very tricky,” said Svitolina, who has never made it beyond the quarterfinals at a major. “But I’m definitely going to Roland Garros on a high note.”