Nishikori wins in Dubai; Cilic loses to Monfils

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Top-seeded Kei Nishikori eased into the second round of the Dubai Championships on Tuesday by beating Benoit Paire 6-4, 6-3, while No. 3 Marin Cilic was eliminated by the resurgent Gael Monfils.

Making his debut in Dubai, Nishikori saved all eight break points he faced and needed just 81 minutes to set up a meeting with qualifier Hubert Hurkacz.

All eight of Paire’s break points came in the first four games, as Nishikori continually found a way to get out of trouble en route to taking a 3-1 lead.

“I think the key was the longest game at 2-1. (I was) able to get the game. I was more confident. If he broke back, anything (could have) happened,” said Nishikori, who improved his record against Paire to 6-2.

Cilic, meanwhile, has still never won against Monfils, falling to 0-4 against the Frenchman after a 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 loss. The 32-year-old Monfils, who is coming off his eighth career ATP tour title in Rotterdam two weeks ago, won 24 of 29 points in the final set against an inconsistent Cilic.

“I had this momentum going on his service game (in the third set),” Monfils said. “For me, it was just about putting him under pressure. Obviously it worked.”

Stefanos Tsitsipas also extended his good form after winning his second ATP title in Marseille on Sunday, beating Mathew Ebden 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. He will next face Belarusian qualifier Egor Gerasimov, who edged Robin Haase 7-6 (2), 7-6 (5).

Czech veteran Tomas Berdych also advanced after a 2 +-hour struggle against Ilya Ivashka, winning 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (4).

Other winners included American Denis Kudla, who outlasted Matteo Berrettini of Italy 2-6, 7-5, 7-5 and wild-card entry Marcos Baghdatis, who rallied to beat Mohamed Safwat 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

U.S. sweeps Uzbekistan, advances to group stage in Davis Cup

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The United States swept its way into the group stage of the Davis Cup Finals, getting the winning point in a 4-0 victory over Uzbekistan from the doubles team of Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek.

They beat Sergey Fomin and Sanjar Fayziev 6-2, 6-4, after Tommy Paul and Mackenzie McDonald had won singles matches in Tashkent.

Ram is No. 3 in the ATP Tour doubles rankings and partnered with Joe Salisbury to win the last two U.S. Open men’s doubles titles. But the Americans opted not to use Ram last year in the final round, when they dropped the doubles match in a 2-1 defeat against Italy in the quarterfinals.

Krajicek was making his Davis Cup debut, having reached No. 9 in the doubles rankings late last year.

“They had five great days of preparation, and as anticipated they came out really sharp and got the early break in the first set. And after that it was like two freight trains, there was no stopping them,” interim captain David Nainkin said.

Denis Kudla then beat Amir Milushev 6-4, 6-4.

The winners of the 12 qualifiers being held this weekend advance to the Davis Cup Finals group stage in September, along with reigning champion Canada, 2022 runner-up Australia and wild-card recipients Italy and Spain.

Eight teams will advance to the closing matches of the Davis Cup Finals scheduled for Nov. 21-26 in Malaga, Spain.

In other matches:

France 3, Hungary 2: On indoor hard courts in Tatabanya, Hungary, Ugo Humbert won it for the French with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Fabian Marozsan. Adrian Mannarino had forced the deciding match by beating Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (6), 6-2.

Serbia 4, Norway 0: On indoor hard courts in Oslo, the visitors, playing without top-ranked Novak Djokovic, put away the match when Filip Krajinovic and Nikola Cacic edged Viktor Durasovic and Herman Hoeyeraal 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Hamad Medjedovic then outlasted Durasovic 6-4, 6-7, 10-4.

Sweden 3, Bosnia 1: On indoor hard courts in Stockholm, Mikael Ymer sent the hosts through by beating Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.

Lesia Tsurenko to face Zhu Lin in Thailand Open final

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HUA HIN, Thailand — Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine reached her first final in four years after the top-seeded Bianca Andreescu retired with a shoulder injury during their semifinal match at the Thailand Open.

Tsurenko, in search of her fifth WTA title, was leading the 2019 U.S. Open champion 7-5, 4-0 when the Canadian stopped playing.

The former world No. 23 fought from 3-5 down to take the first set and reeled off eight straight games before Andreescu retired with a right shoulder problem.

“Bianca is such an amazing player. She is capable of hitting all kinds of shots and gave so much trouble today,” said the 33-year-old Tsurenko, now ranked 136th. “But I was just fighting and I told myself positive things that I can do it. Unfortunately, she had to retire.”

The Ukrainian last lifted a WTA trophy in Acapulco in 2018 and hasn’t been to a final since Brisbane in 2019.

She will face Zhu Lin of China in the final.

“She had some good wins in the Australian Open,” Tsurenko said. “She is one of the dangerous players in this tournament. She is going to give a good fight.”

In the all-Chinese semifinal earlier, Zhu benefited from a barrage of unforced errors from Wang Xinyu and prevailed 6-2, 6-4 for her first WTA final.

The world No. 54 player, who reached the last 16 at the Australian Open in January, relied on her solid baseline game to force errors.

“It was very windy, so I tried to be patient and keep my first serves in,” said the 29-year-old Zhu, who will team up with Wang in the doubles final against Hao-Ching Chan and Fang-Hsien Wu of Taiwan.