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Federer reaches Indian Wells final after Nadal withdrawal

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Dominic Thiem outlasted Milos Raonic 7-6 (3), 6-7 (3), 6-4 on Saturday to reach the BNP Paribas Open final after Roger Federer advanced when Rafael Nadal withdrew because of a knee injury.

A somber Nadal announced his withdrawal a couple hours before he was scheduled to take the court at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

“I warm up today in the morning, and I felt that my knee was not enough good to compete at the level that I need to compete,” he said.

Federer was warming up on another court at the same time as Nadal and figured the match was on. However, Nadal soon texted him it wasn’t going to happen.

“It’s a big letdown,” said Federer, who came on court in khaki shorts and a gray cardigan to address fans. “I know the anticipation is there from the crowd and also us players. I’m excited to be in the finals but not this way.”

The 32-year-old Spaniard’s right knee flared up in the second set of his 7-6 (2), 7-6 (2) victory over Karen Khachanov on Friday in the quarterfinals. He twice called for a trainer, who applied tape just below Nadal’s knee. It was obvious that Nadal’s movement was hampered.

Nadal said he won’t play again until the Monte-Carlo Masters on clay in mid-April.

“I don’t have doubts today that I will be ready for Monte Carlo,” he said.

It would have been the 39th career meeting between Nadal and Federer, who seeks a record sixth title at Indian Wells and the 101st in his career on Sunday.

“I know every one we have now could be our last,” Federer said. “It’s a special rivalry, maybe the most special with Rafa and Novak (Djokovic).”

Sunday’s women’s final features 18-year-old Canadian wild-card Bianca Andreescu against two-time major champion Angelique Kerber.

Thiem reached the semifinals via walkover after Gael Monfils withdrew from their quarterfinal with a strained left Achilles.

Against Raonic, Thiem earned the only break of the third set in the fifth game. He led 5-3 and served it out, winning on his second match point with a backhand volley.

“The only break point I had to save was in the last game, and that was what I wanted to do, to play my service games well and not let him have too many chances,” Thiem said.

Thiem and Federer have split their four previous meetings, with only one going three sets. Federer won the last time they played at the ATP Finals in London in November.

“It’s always something special to play him,” he said.

Thiem has never won a Masters 1000 title, losing in two previous finals.

Knee problems have dogged Nadal for years, and they cut short his 2018 season after the U.S. Open in September. He was forced to quit two sets into his semifinal against Juan Martin del Potro.

Nadal choked up discussing his withdrawal last fall, and he appeared near tears on Saturday.

He admitted that he sometimes is sad because he feels at a disadvantage against his opponents due to his continued knee issues that force him to limit his practice and playing time.

Then he gathered himself, saying, “It’s not the moment to complain much. With all this stuff, I still where I am today.”

The year began promisingly enough. Nadal didn’t drop a set in reaching his fifth Australian Open final, where he lost to Djokovic. He’s ranked No. 2 in the world and has a match record of 11-2.

“Still tough because I felt more or less OK during this beginning of the season in terms of my knee,” he said. “Now it starts the process that I have to decide what direction we have to take to recover well and to recover as soon as possible.”

Even with all of his injuries, Nadal indicated he has no intention of giving up playing on hard courts, the surface for two of the four Grand Slam events.

“My goal is to play on all the surfaces,” he said.

With time to fill before the women’s and men’s doubles finals, Djokovic and Pete Sampras teamed for a one-set doubles match against John McEnroe and tournament director Tommy Haas. Comedian Jon Lovitz served as chair umpire.

Murray completes fairytale return, Lopez claims 2 titles

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LONDON (AP) Andy Murray completed a fairytale return from hip surgery by winning the Queen’s Club doubles title with Feliciano Lopez, who ended Sunday with two titles after earlier winning the singles title as well.

The Spaniard is the first man to win both titles at the grass-court tournament in London since Mark Philippoussis in 1997.

Murray spent five months away from the sport until this week. He and Lopez defeated Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury 7-6 (6), 5-7, 10-5 in the doubles final – not long after Lopez outlasted Gilles Simon 6-2, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (2) in the singles.

Murray capped a remarkable week 146 days after undergoing what he hopes was career-saving hip surgery. In January he had said he was planning to retire after Wimbledon because of the severe pain he felt on a daily basis.

The three-time Grand Slam champion is approaching Wimbledon, which starts July 1, full of confidence after playing freely and without pain as he secured his first doubles title since winning with his brother Jamie Murray in Tokyo in 2011. Murray won’t play singles at Wimbledon but has already confirmed that Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert will partner him in the men’s doubles.

Murray and Lopez hadn’t played together in a tournament before beating top-seeded Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah on Thursday. They completed their darkness-delayed quarterfinal win over British duo Daniel Evans and Ken Skupski on Saturday, right before their semifinal win over Henri Kontinen and John Peers.

Lopez, who had been forced to play in three matches on Saturday including his singles semifinal, played almost 5 hours of tennis altogether on Sunday. He reaffirmed his status as the tournament’s oldest winner at age 37 with the singles title.

The veteran Spaniard was already its oldest winner when he took the title in 2017.

Lopez was playing his first final since defeating Marin Cilic in the decider two years ago and was made to work hard by the 34-year-old Simon.

Lopez saved all but one of the break points he faced and converted three of his 13 opportunities to prevail in 2 hours, 49 minutes. Lopez had won five of their previous seven meetings and all four on grass.

Lopez is the first wild card to claim the title since Pete Sampras defeated Tim Henman to win in 1999. He would have been the oldest player to win a tour-level title since the 43-year-old Ken Rosewall won the Hong Kong Grand Prix final in 1977, but Roger Federer beat him to that accolade after winning his 10th Halle Open title earlier Sunday. Federer is a month older than Lopez.

Barty beats Goerges in Birmingham final to take No. 1 spot

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BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) Ashleigh Barty defeated Julia Goerges 6-3, 7-5 to win the Birmingham Classic title on Sunday, a victory that ensures the Australian will be No. 1 in the rankings on Monday.

The 23-year-old Barty, who lost the final to Petra Kvitova in 2017, did not drop a set all week at the grass-court tournament, and she fought back from being 4-5 down in the second set to beat the German in 1 hour, 28 minutes.

Goerges fought back tears as she congratulated her friend on taking top spot in the rankings ahead of Wimbledon, which starts July 1.

French Open champion Barty, currently ranked No. 2, will take over from Naomi Osaka, who lost 6-2, 6-3 loss to Yulia Putintseva in the second round on Thursday.

Barty is only the second Australian woman to hold the top spot after Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976.

Barty, who extended her winning streak to 11 matches, and Goerges reached the semifinals in doubles together before Barty withdrew from their semifinal with a right arm injury.