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Federer beats Thiem to get back on track at ATP Finals

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LONDON — Roger Federer produced an improved performance to get his campaign for a seventh ATP Finals title back on track with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Dominic Thiem on Tuesday.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion was still some way from his fluent best, but dropped just six points on serve and took advantage of a wayward display from Thiem to break twice in both sets.

Having lost his opening round-robin match to Kei Nishikori, Federer will likely need to defeat Kevin Anderson on Thursday to improve his 14-1 record of reaching the semifinals at the season-ending tournament.

Anderson thrashed Nishikori 6-0, 6-1 to move to 2-0 earlier, with the lopsided scoreline all but assuring the South African debutant’s place in the last four.

Thiem is facing an opening-round exit at the O2 Arena for a third straight season and will need to defeat Nishikori to have any chance of progressing.

As had been the case in both players’ opening-match losses on Sunday, unforced errors flowed early on. While Federer was able to compensate with his serve, Thiem was left exposed.

The Austrian’s forehand gifted Federer a break for a 2-1 lead and then his volley came up short to help the Swiss star extend that advantage to 5-2.

Federer, who is chasing a 100th ATP Tour title, started to play more relaxed and seemed content with simply keeping the ball in play and waiting for mistakes. It worked, as another forehand mistake from Thiem put Federer in complete control in the second set.

A backhand up the line set up match point and another volley into the net from the French Open runner-up ended the day’s second one-sided contest.

The 32-year-old Anderson, who lost just eight points on serve, was on the verge of completing just the second whitewash in the competition’s history until Nishikori won the penultimate game.

“Among the best I’ve played,” Anderson said. “I think I did a really good job constantly applying the pressure and not letting up.”

Andy Roddick returns for exhibition match to start New York Open

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NEW YORK — Andy Roddick is trying to get his shoulder ready, hoping he can still bring the high heat on serve.

The former U.S. Open champion will be back in town and wants to have his game with him.

“Coming back to New York is certainly not a place where I want to not play well,” Roddick said.

He will play fellow tennis Hall of Famer Jim Courier on Feb. 9 in an exhibition match to kick off the New York Open, event organizers announced Wednesday.

Wimbledon finalist and defending champion Kevin Anderson and top American John Isner headline the field in February for the second year of the ATP Tour event, which Roddick won three times when it was based in Memphis, Tennessee.

It has since moved to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale and Roddick says it remains a valuable tournament for players who want to prepare in the U.S. for the big events that soon follow in Indian Wells, California, and Miami.

He found that worked for him and it certainly did last year for Anderson, who used his victory on Long Island as the springboard for his first career finish inside the top 10 at No. 6. Isner, whom he beat in a marathon Wimbledon semifinal, finished 10th.

“You want to kind of find form early in the year. You can train as hard as you want, you can work as hard as you want, you can’t put confidence in a bottle,” Roddick said. “Sometimes I’d play well in Australia and then I’d feel good in Memphis. It kind of does give you a little bit of rhythm to your year and especially a guy like me or Kevin, who might not like the clay as much as some of the other guys, those first three months through March are super important.”

Americans Jack Sock and Sam Querrey, last year’s runner-up, will also be in the field of the Feb. 9-17 event along with Alex de Minaur, the ATP Newcomer of the Year who will turn 20 the day of the final and is also playing doubles with fellow Australian Lleyton Hewitt. Mike and Bob Bryan headline the doubles field after Mike teamed with Sock to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year while his twin brother was recovering from a hip injury.

Roddick rode his fierce serve – he had one timed at 155 mph in a 2004 Davis Cup match – to the 2003 U.S. Open title, the world’s No. 1 ranking and nine straight finishes in the top 10. Only 30 when he retired in 2012, he said he could still play with guys on tour until a couple years ago but estimated he played fewer than 10 times this year.

But the opportunity to come back to New York, where he and Courier will also co-host a “Taste of New York Open” on opening night, renewed his enthusiasm to play.

“Tennis has been a part of my life since I was 6 years old so you don’t want to just completely throw it away,” Roddick said. “So I was pumped, I was excited.”

Tennis broadcaster Justin Gimelstob accused of assault in LA

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LOS ANGELES — Tennis broadcaster and coach Justin Gimelstob faces a felony assault charge following his Halloween night arrest for allegedly attacking a former friend in Los Angeles.

The 41-year-old former pro player is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

Gimelstob’s attorney, Shawn Holley, didn’t immediately respond Tuesday to an email and call seeking comment.

Gimelstob was arrested on suspicion of beating Randall Kaplan as they trick-or-treated with their kids. Kaplan says Gimelstob struck him multiple times and threatened to kill him.

Sean Walsh, a spokesman for Kaplan, says a motive is unknown. Kaplan alleges that Gimelstob previously threatened him because he was friends with the tennis commentator’s estranged wife.

Gimelstob won more than a dozen doubles titles as a player. He retired in 2007 and has since worked with the Tennis Channel.