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Federer, Djokovic reach Paris Masters quarterfinals

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PARIS — Roger Federer’s bid for a 100th career title remains on as he beat Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-3 on Thursday to reach the Paris Masters quarterfinals.

If he wins that, against Kei Nishikori, he could face Novak Djokovic in the semifinals – but Federer is thinking more about winning the season-ending ATP Finals, which start Nov. 11.

“My objective is London. If I can do well here in Paris and beat (Djokovic), all the better,” Federer said. “But I’m not there yet. We’ll see.”

Federer, 37 and returning to the tournament for the first time since 2015, was hardly tested as he beat Fognini for the fourth time in four matches. He was fresh after Milos Raonic pulled out injured before their second-round match on Wednesday.

“It was welcome because my body needed it,” Federer said. “I needed an extra day and this is what I got. It was a lot of luck.”

A double break of serve put Federer 4-1 up before Fognini broke back with a backhand winner down the line. Fognini had a chance to pressure Federer in the 10th game when the 20-time Grand Slam champion was 15-40 down on serve.

But Federer, who got through a few difficult situations last week on his way to winning the Swiss Indoors for the ninth time, saved both and then held to clinch the first set.

Federer responded well in the eighth game of the second set, again saving two break points at 15-40 down on his way to leading 5-3. Fognini cracked in the next game and was broken to love, double faulting on match point.

Federer was given a standing ovation after his win.

“It was wonderful to have such a welcome from the French public,” he said. “The atmosphere was wonderful.”

Djokovic also feels at home in Paris.

He is chasing a record-extending fifth Paris Masters title and advanced toward that when Damir Dzumhur retired trailing 6-1, 2-1.

Dzumhur had a lengthy massage on his lower back late in the first set. But Djokovic was in total control and did not face a break point, breaking Dzumhur’s serve three times.

Djokovic, who will reclaim the No. 1 ranking next week regardless of where he finishes, faces Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals.

“I’m obviously very proud of the achievement,” said Djokovic, whose ranking slipped to No. 22 in May as he struggled to shake off a persistent elbow problem. “Five months ago, if you told me that (I would be No. 1 now), it was highly improbable at that time considering my ranking and the way I played and felt on the court.”

Although Djokovic leads Cilic 15-3 overall, Cilic won two of their past three matches – including two years ago in the Paris Masters quarterfinals.

“He has a big serve and big game from back of the court. It’s just a very powerful style of tennis,” Djokovic said. “Tough to receive his missiles. You know, first serves are really, really fast, and he uses a lot of rotation and variation with his serve.”

The 10th-seeded Nishikori did not face break points in beating the seventh-seeded Anderson – the Wimbledon runner-up to Djokovic – 6-4, 6-4.

Earlier, fifth-seeded Cilic beat ninth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (5), 6-4, needing six set points to win the first set.

Cilic trailed 5-4 during the tiebreaker but won both points on Dimitrov’s serve before serving out the first set.

Fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev saved all four break points he faced in beating Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 6-2.

Zverev next faces unseeded Karen Khachanov.

Khachanov beat John Isner 6-4, 6-7 (9), 7-6 (8) in a match in which the eighth-seeded Isner had 19 aces but missed two match points.

Defending champion Jack Sock did not face a break point and needed less than one hour to beat lucky loser Malek Jaziri 6-0, 6-4.

Sock next faces No. 6 Dominic Thiem, who used 14 aces as he rallied to beat No. 11 Borna Coric 6-7 (3), 6-2, 7-5.

Djokovic wins World Sportsman of the Year at Laureus World Sports Awards

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MONACO  — Novak Djokovic, Tiger Woods, Lindsey Vonn and the France national soccer team were among the winners at the Laureus World Sports Awards, with Woods claiming the Comeback Award 19 years after he was first recognized.

Djokovic matched Usain Bolt’s record by being named World Sportsman of the Year for the fourth time after winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. He also earned the honor in 2012, 2015 and 2016.

Woods, who won the inaugural World Sportsman of the Year award in 2000, won the Tour Championship in September for his 80th PGA Tour title and his first since August 2013.

Vonn, who retired during the recent Alpine skiing world championships , took home the Spirit of Sport Award, which is given to an athlete for relentless dedication to his or her career, and France was honored for winning the World Cup in July.

Simone Biles was named World Sportswoman of the Year for winning four gold, one silver and one bronze medal at the gymnastics world championships. Naomi Osaka won the Breakthrough Award for winning the U.S. Open and Chloe Kim was named the World Action Sportsperson of the Year.

The awards were given in recognition of outstanding sports performance in 2018.

Wawrinka loses to Monfils in first final since knee surgeries

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ROTTERDAM, Netherlands — Three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka’s rebuilt knee couldn’t quite carry him to the title in Rotterdam on Sunday.

Wawrinka lost his first final since his comeback a year ago from left knee surgeries, succumbing 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 to Gael Monfils of France at the ABN AMRO World Tournament.

It was the Frenchman’s eighth career title.

“I tried a couple of times here. I lost the final in 2016,” Monfils told Dutch national broadcaster NOS courtside. He said it was special to win a tournament that his idol, Arthur Ashe, also won. Ashe won back-to-back titles in Rotterdam in 1975 and ’76.

Unseeded Wawrinka reached the final by beating top-seeded Kei Nishikori in three sets on Saturday.

But the Swiss finally ran out of steam in the final set as Monfils stepped up his game.

“In the third set I was a little bit more aggressive and I go a bit more for my shots, I served bigger and that helped me a lot,” Monfils said.

Wawrinka was going for his 17th career title and second in Rotterdam, after winning in 2015.

It was his first final since the 2017 French Open, where he previously met Monfils in the fourth round.

Monfils also needed three sets to overcome fifth-seeded Daniil Medvedev in the semifinals, but outlasted Wawrinka in a match that took 1 hour, 44 minutes.

After they shared the first two sets, Monfils was more consistent than Wawrinka in the decisive third.

Already trailing 4-2, Wawrinka hit three unforced errors to lose the seventh game and allow Monfils to serve out the match.