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Djokovic loses to Edmund in 2nd round of Madrid Open

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MADRID (AP) Novak Djokovic added another early elimination to his disappointing season, losing to Kyle Edmund 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 on Wednesday in the second round of the Madrid Open.

It’s the sixth straight tournament in which Djokovic has failed to reach the quarterfinals. The 12-time Grand Slam champion has struggled this year after saying he returned to action too quickly following a lingering right elbow injury.

“There are obvious things that are not working well for me,” Djokovic said. “But I have to keep working on them and pray that … and hope that my game will get stronger.”

Djokovic lost in the third round in Monte Carlo and in the second round in both Miami and Indian Wells. The 12th-ranked Serb also failed to advance past the last 16 at the Australian Open.

“One or two points decide really these kind of matches,” Djokovic said. “Luck was on his side a little bit. But, also, he was courageous enough to attack the balls when it mattered and deserved to win.”

Djokovic played poorly in the first set but recovered to comfortably win the second. He had a chance to go up a break early in the third set but lost five straight points to allow Edmund to come back from 0-40. The unseeded British player then broke Djokovic’s serve to go up 5-3 and easily closed out the match on his serve.

“I just felt good today, felt I was hitting the ball well,” Edmund said. “I just knew that if I put myself in the match hopefully in the closing stages I would give myself a chance. That game in the third set was very key. When Novak gets a lead it’s very hard to break him down because he becomes a bit more aggressive.”

Edmund will next play eighth-seeded David Goffin, who defeated Robin Haase 7-5, 6-3.

Eighth-ranked Kevin Anderson defeated qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-2 to set up a third-round match against Philipp Kohlschreiber, who beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.

Also, top-ranked Simona Halep beat Kristyna Pliskova 6-1, 6-4 to stay on track for a third straight title in Madrid, while Caroline Wozniacki’s bid to return to the top of the rankings ended with a 6-2, 6-2 loss to 20th-ranked Kiki Bertens.

“At this tournament it’s really nice that I know I can play my best tennis,” Halep said.

The second-ranked Wozniacki needed to win the title in Madrid to overcome Halep for the No. 1 spot.

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Bertens defeats Halep to win Western & Southern Open

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MASON, Ohio — Kiki Bertens served a 109 mph ace , flipped her racket away, fell to her knees and raised both arms. Moments later, she covered her face for a joyous cry, wiping the tears away with her sweat-soaked blue wristband.

One point away from another loss, she had pulled off her biggest win.

Top-ranked Simona Halep let a match point slip away during the second-set tiebreaker, and Bertens rallied for a 2-6, 7-6 (6), 6-2 victory and the Western & Southern Open title on Sunday that left her as stunned as everyone else.

“I cannot find words for this moment,” she said.

Playing her first hard-court final, the Dutch clay-court specialist ended Halep’s streak of nine straight wins, including the title at Montreal a week earlier. She’d never beaten a top-ranked player, but wore down Halep at the end of her two draining weeks.

During the week in Cincinnati, Halep had one match suspended overnight by rain and wound up playing twice in one day to reach the semifinals. She controlled the first set on Sunday and had a chance to close it out, leading 6-5 in the tiebreaker.

When that slipped away, she never recovered, playing her worst in the final set – 13 unforced errors that gave Bertens a chance to pull away.

“I am a little bit tired,” she said.

Halep will be ranked No. 1 through the U.S. Open. She fell to 0-3 in Cincinnati finals, finishing as the runner-up in 2015 and each of the last two years.

Bertens has worked on her hard-court game and her confidence on the surface. In three previous appearances in Cincinnati, she won a total of one match. She became the first unseeded player to win in Cincinnati since Vera Zvonareva in 2006.

In the men’s bracket, Novak Djokovic was looking for a breakthrough win against nemesis Roger Federer. Djokovic was 0-5 in Cincinnati, the only ATP Masters 1000 event he hasn’t won. He’d become the first to claim all nine.

Federer has won the tournament an unmatched seven times, going 7 for 7 in the finals. He’s beaten Djokovic three times for the Rookwood pottery trophy.

Djokovic beats Federer for first Cincinnati title

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MASON, Ohio — Novak Djokovic finally mastered the one tournament that’s eluded him, beating nemesis Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4 on Sunday for his first Western & Southern Open championship.

He got the better of a nostalgic rematch — they hadn’t played in two years because of injuries — and broke through in a tournament that Federer has won seven times, never losing a title match.

After Federer’s forehand sailed wide for the deciding point, Djokovic raised both arms and roared. Then he jumped and punched the air before giving his racket to a fan and tossing his sweatbands into the stands.

No need for mementos. That first Rookwood pottery trophy will be enough.

Djokovic is the first to claim all nine ATP Masters 1000 events since the series started in 1990. It had become his personal quest after he lost in the finals five times — three against Federer.

Djokovic leads their all-time series 24-22, doing much better in the biggest matches. He’s 3-1 against Federer in Grand Slam finals and 12-6 overall in championship matches, including wins at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2015.

Djokovic completed a long comeback from elbow surgery by winning his fourth Wimbledon title last month, then set out to get his hard-court game in order for the U.S. Open. He got better as the rainy week went on in Cincinnati, playing his best at the end.

Federer’s serve had been untouchable all week — held for 46 consecutive games. Djokovic broke that streak to go up 4-3 in the opening set, prompting Federer to mutter angrily. Djokovic served out the set, and then traded breaks with Federer early in the second set.

Federer’s game was off — 28 unforced errors — and Djokovic took full advantage. He broke him again to go up 4-3 and served it out.

In the women’s bracket, top-ranked Simona Halep let a match point slip away during the second-set tiebreaker, and Kiki Bertens rallied for a 2-6, 7-6 (6), 6-2 victory in her first hard-court final.

Bertens served a 109 mph ace , flipped her racket away, fell to her knees and raised both arms. Moments later, she covered her face for a joyous cry, wiping the tears away with her sweat-soaked blue wristband.

One point away from another loss, she had pulled off her biggest win, one that left her as stunned as everyone else.

“I cannot find words for this moment,” she said.

The Dutch clay-court specialist ended Halep’s streak of nine straight wins, including the title at Montreal a week earlier. She’d never beaten a top-ranked player, but wore down Halep at the end of her two draining weeks.

During the week in Cincinnati, Halep had one match suspended overnight by rain and wound up playing twice in one day to reach the semifinals. She controlled the first set on Sunday and had a chance to close it out, leading 6-5 in the tiebreaker.

When that slipped away, she never recovered, playing her worst in the final set — 13 unforced errors that gave Bertens a chance to pull away.

“I had a match (point), so I was there,” Halep said. “I didn’t take my chance. In the third set , I was empty and I couldn’t fight anymore.”

Halep will be ranked No. 1 through the U.S. Open. She fell to 0-3 in Cincinnati finals, finishing as the runner-up in 2015 and each of the last two years.

“I need a little bit of rest because I’m exhausted,” Halep said. “But I also take the positive from these two weeks. It’s a great confidence (boost).”

Bertens has worked on her hard-court game and her confidence on the surface. In three previous appearances in Cincinnati, she won a total of one match. She became the first unseeded player to win in Cincinnati since Vera Zvonareva in 2006.