Federer reaches Dubai quarterfinals; Nishikori eliminated

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Roger Federer maintained his perfect record against Fernando Verdasco to reach the Dubai Championships quarterfinals on Wednesday, while top-seeded Kei Nishikori was eliminated.

Federer converted his first match point when Verdasco sent a forehand wide, finishing off a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win that improved his record against the Spaniard to 7-0. Nishikori, though, lost 7-5, 5-7, 6-2 against Hubert Hurkacz of Poland.

This was win No. 50 for Federer in Dubai, having won the tournament seven times.

“It’s a big number,” the 37-year-old Federer said when told it was his 50th win. “I’m not sure if I’m going to get to 100. Let’s put it that way.”

He’s only three matches away from a 100th tournament title, though, and will next face Marton Fucsovics of Hungary, who beat Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany 6-4, 6-2.

Federer has only played Fucsovics once, at last year’s Australian Open, but has trained with him in Zurich and said he’s been impressed with the Hungarian’s game.

“I know Marton quite well actually,” Federer said. “He’s improved. He likes the fast surfaces. He likes to play up in the court. He has the power when required. I think it’s going to be definitely a match that’s going to test me tomorrow.”

The second-seeded Federer is now an even bigger favorite for the title with Nishikori out. It was Hurkacz’s first win against top-10 ranked player and earned him a place in his first ATP tour quarterfinal.

“It’s a huge win for me,” Hurkacz said. “It gives me huge confidence. I’m going to try to keep going forward.”

Hurkacz converted six of his seven break points, including one when Nishikori was serving for the first set at 5-4. He also broke for a 3-1 lead in the final set with a backhand down the line and again in the last game when the Japanese player hit a forehand long.

“He played well today,” Nishikori said. “I didn’t serve well when I wanted to. It happens. That cost me some important points. I think he really played well in the important games.”

Hurkacz will next play fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who eased past Belarusian qualifier Egor Gerasimov 6-3, 6-1 in less than an hour. Tsitsipas beat Hurkacz last week in Marseille en route to his second career title.

Gael Monfils also advanced by knocking out Cypriot wild-card entry Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 6-2 and will face Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Berankis, who ousted Denis Kudla of the United States 6-4, 6-1.

At French Open, Francisco Cerundolo is mad at chair umpire over Holger Rune’s double-bounce

Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports
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PARIS – Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina was devastated about losing his French Open fourth-round match to Holger Rune of Denmark in a fifth-set tiebreaker Monday. He also was mad at chair umpire Kader Nouni for missing a double-bounce of the ball on a point that was awarded to Rune early in his 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (10-7) victory.

They were tied at a set apiece and on serve at 2-1 for the No. 6-seeded Rune early in the third at Court Suzanne Lenglen when the point of contention happened. Cerundolo, who was serving at deuce, hit a forehand that skidded low at the baseline and quickly bounced a second time – which normally would have meant that the point was his.

But Rune went ahead and got his racket on the ball, sending it back over the net. At about the same time, No. 23 seed Cerundolo was saying “sorry” to apologize for the odd way his forehand made the ball skim across the clay. Nouni was not immediately aware of the double-bounce, thought the ball was still in play and called Cerundolo for hindrance for talking during a point. That meant Rune got the point, and when he won the next one, too, he had a service break.

“It was unbelievable, because it was a clear double-bounce. I was mad at the umpire because he has to see it,” Cerundolo said. “It’s his fault.”

In tennis, electronic line-calling is used at many tournaments to make line calls, but replays are not used to check things like double-bounces or whether a point should be lost because a player touches the net, which is not allowed.

And while Cerundolo put the onus on the official, he also thought Rune could have ceded the point because of the double-bounce.

“For sure, I wish he would have done that, because it was a big moment,” Cerundolo said.

Rune, who moved into a matchup against No. 4 Casper Ruud in the quarterfinals, said he saw a replay after the following point, and “saw it was a double bounce. But the point already happened, and he called the score. So I felt sorry.”

But, Rune added: “This is tennis. This is sports. Some umpires, they make mistakes. Some for me; some for him. That’s life.”

Gael Monfils withdraws from French Open with wrist injury

Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports
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PARIS — A thrilling five-set victory took a toll on Gael Monfils, whose withdrawal from the French Open handed No. 6 Holger Rune a walkover to the third round.

The 36-year-old Frenchman said he has a strained left wrist and can’t continue.

He battled Sebastian Baez for nearly four hours on Court Philippe Chatrier before beating the Argentine 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 in a first-round match that ended at 12:18 a.m. local time.

The victory was Monfils’ first at tour level this year, as the veteran was coming back from heel surgery.

“Actually, physically, I’m quite fine. But I had the problem with my wrist that I cannot solve,” he said. “The doctor say was not good to play with that type of injury. Yesterday was actually very risky, and then today definitely say I should stop.”

Monfils reached the semifinals at the French Open in 2008 and made it to the quarterfinals on three other occasions.