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Danielle Collins wishes roof stayed open at Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia — The way Danielle Collins looks at it, the end of her surprising run at Melbourne Park was something of an open-and-shut case.

The 25-year-old American was every bit Petra Kvitova’s equal during their Australian Open semifinal during the time Rod Laver Arena’s retractable roof was open – and she never really had a chance once it was shut as the temperature approached 105 degrees (40 Celsius) on Thursday.

The match was even at 4-all after 35 minutes, when the tournament’s extreme heat policy was invoked, and the cover was closed to block out the scorching sun. Collins did not appreciate that switch and wound up losing 7-6 (2), 6-0 to two-time major champion Kvitova.

“They need to start the match the way it’s going to finish, I think,” Collins said. “I think they do that in football, and I think it certainly changed a little bit of the rhythm in the match.”

There’s no doubt that Kvitova’s level of play rose substantially once it became an indoor contest.

She has made clear over the years that she does not love playing in high heat and humidity.

As for Collins?

“Honestly, I like playing in the heat. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly has its challenges,” said the 35th-ranked Collins, who won two NCAA titles at the University of Virginia.

“I grew up in Florida and am used to it being really hot all the time. So I kind of embrace that very well. Indoor tennis is a different game. Certainly had its effect.”

She also had her issues with chair umpire Carlos Ramos, who called three code violations on Serena Williams and docked her a game during the U.S. Open final last September.

In the tiebreaker, then early in the second set, Collins went back-and-forth with Ramos, complaining about his procedural rulings. The exchanges did not help Collins and seemed to distract her as she let Kvitova seize control of the match.

It was an abrupt ending to quite a debut performance by Collins at the Australian Open.

She arrived at the tournament with an 0-5 record in Grand Slam matches and a losing mark of 17-22 overall on tour. But Collins managed to beat No. 2-seeded Angelique Kerber – who owns three major titles – along with No. 14 Julie Goerges and No. 19 Carolina Garcia.

“There is a lot of great things to build off of, and I think I had a really great learning experience throughout the entire tournament, and especially today,” Collins said. “I’m really excited for my success to be recognized, and to continue playing on the biggest stage and against the biggest and best opponents in the world.”

Nadal beats Ferrer to reach Barcelona Open quarterfinals

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BARCELONA, Spain — Rafael Nadal looked closer to his clay-court best again as he beat David Ferrer 6-3, 6-3 on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals of the Barcelona Open.

The 11-time Barcelona champion saved four of five break points and broke four times in what could have been his last meeting with Ferrer, who is retiring after the Madrid Open next month. It was a sign of improvement for Nadal, who lost in the semifinals in Monte Carlo last week and then needed three sets to get past Leonard Mayer in his opening match in Barcelona.

“This match was important for me,” Nadal said. “Yesterday I had a tough match. I took a step forward and was able to play with more energy.”

The top-seeded Nadal will next face either Stefanos Tsitsipas, last year’s runner-up, or Jan-Lennard Struff.

Nadal was up 5-3 in the first set before play was stopped for a rain delay. He continued to dictate the match when play resumed, serving out the set and breaking Ferrer’s next service game.

Ferrer saved three match points before finally sending a forehand into the net to give Nadal the win.

The 37-year-old Ferrer was making his last appearance at the Barcelona Open and could not hold back the tears when he received an ovation from the audience. He placed his pink headband on the court as a mark that he had played his last match here.

“I am happy to be able to finish this tournament on the center court, playing against Nadal. I gave it my all,” Ferrer said.

Also, third-seeded Dominic Thiem broke Jaume Munar five times to earn a 7-5, 6-1 victory. Fourth-seeded Kei Nishikori, who won the tournament in 2014 and 2015, brushed off Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-1, 6-3.

Grigor Dimitrov was beaten 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2) by Nicolas Jarry, who will meet Daniil Medvedev after he beat American Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 6-2.

Osaka opens clay campaign by beating Hsieh in Stuttgart

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STUTTGART, Germany — 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.