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Osaka into China Open quarters; Zhang upsets Kerber

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BEIJING — Naomi Osaka maintained her strong form since winning the U.S. Open by reaching the China Open quarterfinals by crushing Julia Goerges 6-1, 6-2 on Thursday.

Osaka made a slow start, saving a break point and enduring five deuces in the eight-minute first game. But she broke Goerges’ serve in the next game and raced to 5-0.

Osaka won four consecutive points on Goerges’ serve to open the second set and rolled on.

When asked why she’s risen into the top 10 this year, Osaka said: “I think my biggest improvement is mental.

“My game is more consistent, there are not so many unforced errors. I’m not sure how many I hit today, but sometimes last year I was hitting a lot.”

In the quarterfinals, Osaka will play Zhang Shuai, who came back from a set down to defeat third-ranked Angelique Kerber 6-1, 2-6, 6-0.

This is Osaka’s second tournament since she defeated Serena Williams in the U.S. Open final on Sept. 8. In the first last week, she got to the Pan Pacific Open final in Tokyo.

Also, 2010 champion Caroline Wozniacki beat Anett Kontaveit 7-5, 6-4 and qualified for the WTA Finals, where she will be the defending champ.

On the men’s side, fourth-seeded Fabio Fognini downed Andrey Rublev 6-4, 6-3, Marton Fucsovics of Hungary beat Marco Cecchinato of Italy 6-4, 6-2, and Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia defeated Fernando Verdasco of Spain 7-6(3), 6-4.

Joao Souza provisionally suspended

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LONDON — Brazilian tennis player Joao Souza has been provisionally suspended again amid a corruption investigation by the Tennis Integrity Unit.

Souza had already been provisionally suspended on March 29 but was reinstated on April 8 following a successful appeal.

The TIU says that the provisional suspension has been put back in place “following consideration of additional evidence submitted by the TIU,” adding that no more appeals will be accepted.

No further details were given for the reason of the suspension.

The 30-year old Souza is currently ranked No. 422, having reached a career-high of No. 69 in 2015.

Also in 2015, Souza played in the longest Davis Cup singles match ever, losing to Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 15-13 in the fifth set after 6 hours, 42 minutes.

The TIU is a joint initiative of the Grand Slam Board, the International Tennis Federation and the ATP and the WTA tours.

Medvedev shocks Djokovic to reach Monte Carlo semis

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MONACO – An erratic Novak Djokovic suffered a surprise 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 defeat against Daniil Medvedev in the Monte Carlo Masters quarterfinals Friday.

The 10th-seeded Russian was appearing in the last eight of a Masters tournament for the first time but was not overawed. In fact, it was the top-ranked Djokovic who made the most mistakes. The two-time champion looked out of sorts in tricky conditions and produced 47 unforced errors.

“On a windy day like today, conditions are changing every game,” Djokovic said. “It’s tough to find rhythm and he doesn’t give you much rhythm. He was very patient and played well tactically.”

After failing to serve out the match, when his Serbian opponent broke back to 5-2 down, Medvedev broke for the fifth time to seal a memorable victory.

Djokovic double-faulted at 30-30 to give Medvedev his first match point and a backhand winner secured a first win against his top-ranked rival at the fourth attempt, and a first victory against a No. 1.

“It was amazing,” Medvedev said. “He played worse than before and I am gaining more experience. He was not so good in the first set and made a lot of mistakes.”

Medvedev twice had his thighs massaged during changeovers in the third set. “Cramp didn’t affect my game,” he said.

The 23-year-old Monaco resident next faces the unseeded Dusan Lajovic, who also reached a Masters semi for the first time when he beat Italian qualifier Lorenzo Sonego 6-4, 7-5.

Lajovic has not dropped a set at the clay-court event and is more surprised than anybody.

“I didn’t expect this. I was sick before the tournament and taking antibiotics,” the 28-year-old Serb said. “But it’s the best week of my career.”

The same goes for the 23-year-old Medvedev, who is ranked 14 and is chasing a fifth career title.

He had lost the three previous matches against Djokovic, including a tough four-setter in the fourth round of this year’s Australian Open.

“In Australia he was at his best, but I made him run for his win there,” said Medvedev.

Djokovic won that tournament to secure a third straight Grand Slam title and 15th overall, moving two behind Nadal and five adrift of Roger Federer’s record haul of 20.

But Djokovic has now failed to reach the last four in three straight tournaments, after also falling short at Indian Wells and Miami.

“I am lacking that determination to go for shots on some points,” he said.

At times it looked like Djokovic would take control and he clinched the second set with two aces. But his shot-making was below its usual high standards and his drop shot rarely worked.

Nadal has won at Monte Carlo a record 11 times. The second-ranked Spaniard plays the unseeded Guido Pella of Argentina later.

The other match is between No. 9 Borna Coric of Croatia and No.13 Fabio Fognini of Italy.