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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.

Benedetti wins 12th stage; Polanc takes Giro lead

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PINEROLO, Italy (AP) Cesare Benedetti won the 12th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Thursday for his first victory as a professional while Jan Polanc took the overall leader’s pink jersey from UAE Emirates teammate Valerio Conti.

Benedetti, an Italian with the Bora team who has been a support rider for his entire career, was part of an early breakaway then accelerated from a select group of riders in a sprint finish.

“I’ve worked a lot for the others in the past but today I got my opportunity,” Benedetti said. “I’m not (usually) a winner.”

Benedetti required 3 hours, 41 minutes to complete the 158-kilometer (98-mile) leg from Cuneo to Pinerolo, which featured one major climb and another shorter but steeper ascent just before the finish.

Damiano Caruso crossed second and Eddie Dunbar came third, each with the same time as Benedetti. Polanc, a Slovenian who was also in the breakaway, finished 25 seconds behind.

In the overall standings, Polanc leads Primoz Roglic by 4 minutes, 7 seconds. Vincenzo Nibali, one of the pre-race favorites, is fifth overall, 5:51 behind.

“It was a team tactic that I would go in the breakaway so we could have a better control over the race,” Polanc said. “It was also a way to keep the pink jersey in the team.”

Mikel Landa and Miguel Angel Lopez attacked on the first-category climb to Montoso and gained about 30 seconds on the other overall favorites.

Before the stage began, sprinters Caleb Ewan and Elia Viviani withdrew from the race. Ewan won two stages, including the 11th leg a day earlier, while Viviani posted three second-place finishes.

Stage 13 on Friday is one of the race’s toughest, with two category one climbs and one category ascent, along with an uphill finish at the end of the 196-kilometer leg from Pinerolo to Ceresole Reale.

The Giro ends June 2 in Verona.

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Tsonga rallies past qualifier to reach quarterfinals in Lyon

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LYON, France (AP) Former champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga rallied past Canadian qualifier Steven Diez on Wednesday to reach the quarterfinals and extend his perfect record at the Lyon Open.

Tsonga, the 2017 champion, came within two points of losing but finally prevailed 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3 on his sixth match point after 2 hours, 42 minutes.

The clay-court event serves as a warmup for the French Open, which starts Sunday in Paris.

“It was good for me to play a long match like this,” Tsonga said. “I haven’t played a match this long for a while. I am not playing my best level, but I am giving everything mentally and that gives me confidence.”

Tsonga will next take on top-seeded Nikoloz Basilashvili, who beat lucky loser Tristan Lamasine 7-5, 7-5.

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