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Nishikori advances, Zverev eliminated early in Barcelona

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BARCELONA, Spain — Second-seeded Alexander Zverev lost to 81st-ranked Nicolas Jarry in the Barcelona Open on Tuesday after failing to convert a match point, while former champion Kei Nishikori easily advanced to the third round.

Zverev lost 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (5) to Jarry, a 23-year-old Chilean who was given a lucky loser spot in the tournament. The German cruised in the first set but was broken late in the second and then three times in the third before falling in the decisive tiebreaker after more than 2 + hours.

It was the fifth win of the year for Jarry, who saved seven break points in total and a match point when Zverev led 6-5 in the third set.

Nishikori, the Barcelona champion in 2014 and 2015, defeated American Taylor Fritz 7-5, 6-2 for his 14th victory of the year. The fourth-seeded Japanese player lost his serve early but recovered with two breaks in each set to stay in contention for his second title of the season after winning in Brisbane in January. He had lost his first match in his last two tournaments, in Miami and Monte Carlo.

Nishikori is the only player other than Rafael Nadal to win the Barcelona title in the last eight years. The second-ranked Nadal, an 11-time champion in Barcelona, will play Leonardo Mayer in the second round on Wednesday.

Fabio Fognini, who won the Monte Carlo title after eliminating Nadal in the semifinals, will make his debut in Barcelona against Spaniard Nicola Kuhn, who on Tuesday defeated qualifier Federico Delbonis 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-2.

Jaume Munar advanced to the third round by defeating 14th-seeded Frances Tiafoe 6-4, 6-3. In first-round results, David Ferrer defeated Mischa Zverev 6-3, 6-1, Malek Jaziri beat Guido Andreozzi 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-2, and Albert Ramos-Vinolas ousted Cameron Norrie 6-2, 6-2.

Wild-card entry Tipsarevic advances at Geneva Open

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GENEVA (AP) Former top-10 player Janko Tipsarevic used his wild-card entry to beat Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 7-5, 7-5 in the Geneva Open first round on Monday.

Now ranked No. 317, the 34-year-old Tipsarevic is back in ATP Tour main draws after missing the 2018 season for hamstring injuries to heal.

Fifth-seeded Radu Albot advanced to the second round on a day when two seeded players lost in the final week of clay-court warmups for the French Open.

Albot beat qualifier Lorenzo Sonego 7-6 (6), 7-6 (3), after 92nd-ranked Hugo Dellien beat eighth-seeded Andreas Seppi 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, and seventh-seeded Matthew Ebden lost to Nicolas Jarry of Chile 6-2, 7-6 (4).

Rain cut short play and gave former No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov a day off after playing through two qualifying rounds.

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

Pliskova wins Italian Open for biggest clay title of career

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ROME (AP) – Karolina Pliskova captured the biggest clay-court title of her career by beating Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-4 Sunday in the Italian Open final.

Adding to a very consistent year from the 2016 U.S. Open runner-up, the victory will move Pliskova up to No. 2 in the rankings and makes her one of the contenders for the French Open, which starts next weekend.

“I just hope to take the tennis I was playing here to Paris,” Pliskova said. “For sure there’s going to be a chance for me if I play this way.”

Pliskova also reached the Australian Open semifinals and the Miami Open final after opening this season with a title in Brisbane, Australia. But she lost in the second round of her previous two tournaments on clay in Stuttgart, Germany, and Madrid.

“Nobody really gave me chance for this tournament – even me,” Pliskova said. “Before the tournament, I was not super confident, not thinking about the final at all. I was just happy with every match which I played. So it’s little bit like a miracle for me.”

The unseeded Konta appeared nervous at the start, double faulting then landing a backhand into the net to hand Pliskova a break in her opening service game.

In the second set, Pliskova used a swinging forehand volley putaway to break for a 4-3 lead and never looked back.

“It’s always tough playing Karolina,” Konta said. “There’s rarely really a rhythm to the match. She plays with big shots, quite flat, and big serves. It can feel sometimes you’re fighting an uphill battle. That was the case today.”

After converting her third championship point, Pliskova went over and slapped hands with Conchita Martinez, the four-time Rome champion who she recently named her head coach. Pliskova then asked Martinez and the rest of her team to come down onto the court for her victory celebration.

“She loved clay so she knows exactly what I should do,” Pliskova said of Martinez. “There were small differences: movement, maybe to put more topspin on the balls, use drop shots – which I never use, but I start little bit, and to mix also the serves. … I know she loved this tournament. I think she prayed so I could win today.”