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Thiem beats Nishikori at ATP Finals

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LONDON — Dominic Thiem kept alive his chances of reaching the last four at the ATP Finals – and helped out Roger Federer – with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Kei Nishikori on Thursday.

Thiem, who lost both his previous matches at the season-ending tournament, had to win in straight sets to have any hope of advancing at the O2 Arena.

Six-time champion Federer needs to win one set in the late match against Kevin Anderson to advance alongside his South African opponent. If Anderson wins in straight sets, Federer needs five games in total if both sets go to six, or six games in total if one or more sets go to seven.

“I don’t think it’s going to happen,” Thiem said, referring to his chances of reaching the semis.

Having been pummeled 6-0, 6-1 by Anderson on Tuesday, Nishikori made a disappointing start by allowing Thiem to break at the first attempt.

Two-time semifinalist Nishikori then had several chances to get back on serve at 1-3, but the Japanese player was unable to take his four break points, before Thiem broke again to seal the opening set.

The Austrian continued to apply pressure in the second set, and after failing to take an opportunity at 2-2, forced a backhand error from Nishikori to grab a 4-3 lead before going on to secure victory.

“I was the same last match,” Nishikori said. “There were too many unforced errors for me.”

Osaka opens clay campaign by beating Hsieh in Stuttgart

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STUTTGART, Germany (AP) Top-ranked Naomi Osaka opened her clay-court season by beating Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan 6-4, 6-3, on Thursday to reach the Porsche Grand Prix quarterfinals.

Osaka hit 22 winners and converted three of her six break points to seal the win in 1 hour, 24 minutes and set up a meeting with Donna Vekic of Croatia.

After saving two break points early, it was an unusually smooth victory for Osaka over Hsieh. She needed three sets to get past the Taiwanese veteran en route to her Australian Open victory and then lost to her at the Miami Open last month.

“I felt like this surface is more suited for me (than Hsieh),” Osaka said. “I was sort of in my plan. So, I just felt like I executed what I was trying to do.”

Two-time Stuttgart champion Angelique Kerber also advanced by beating fellow German Andrea Petkovic 6-2, 6-4. The fifth-seeded Kerber saved two break points to hold for 2-2 in the first set and then reeled off the next four games to take control. She then earned a decisive break for 4-3 in the second before closing out the win with her fourth match point.

Kerber will face sixth-seeded Kiki Bertens, who served 20 aces to rally for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Belinda Bencic.

No. 7 Anastasija Sevastova also advanced by beating former champion Laura Siegemund of Germany 6-4, 6-3 to set up a quarterfinal against Petra Kvitova, who advanced on Wednesday.

Vekic dispatched Russia’s Daria Kasatkina, 6-1, 7-5, earlier on Thursday.

More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Nadal rallies to beat Mayer in Barcelona Open

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BARCELONA, Spain – Rafael Nadal recovered from a slow start to defeat Leonard Mayer 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-2 and advance to the third round of the Barcelona Open on Wednesday, keeping alive his streak of never losing consecutive matches on clay.

The second-ranked Nadal was coming off defeat to Fabio Fognini in the semifinals of the Monte Carlo Open.

An 11-time champion in Barcelona, Nadal will next play fellow Spaniard David Ferrer. The 37-year-old Ferrer, who is playing in Barcelona for the last time, defeated Lucas Pouille 6-3, 6-1 in his second-round match.

The top-seeded Nadal squandered two set points after exchanging breaks late in the first set. He rebounded quickly by breaking Mayer’s serve in the first game of the second set, then cruised to victory against the 63rd-ranked Argentine.

Fognini won’t be able to add to his Monte Carlo win after withdrawing from the Barcelona tournament because of a hamstring injury. He was replaced by 104th-ranked Roberto Carballes Baena, who opened with a 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2 win over Nicola Kuhn.

Seventh-seeded Daniil Medvedev reached the third round by defeating Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3, 2-6, 6-1, while American Mackenzie McDonald advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over 11th-seeded Gilles Simon.