Rafael Nadal out of Indian Wells, Miami with injured hip

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Rafael Nadal pulled out of the upcoming hard-court tournaments at Indian Wells and Miami because of the left hip flexor injury that has sidelined him since the Australian Open.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion tweeted about his withdrawals, which were expected but still raise questions about when he will be able to return to action.

“Took my time off, started rehab, gym and physiotherapy as instructed by the doctors,” Nadal wrote as part of a thread on Twitter that included videos showing him in the gym. “Getting ready to come back … in the best conditions.”

He is a three-time winner and reached the 2022 final at the BNP Paribas Open in California, where the men begin main-draw play on March 8. That will be followed by the Miami Open, another Masters 1000 tournament, where ATP action starts on March 22 and Nadal last competed in 2017. He has never won the title there and is a five-time runner-up, including two losses apiece in finals against rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

After Miami, the men’s tennis circuit shifts to the European red clay, leading up to the French Open in late May.

Nadal has won 14 of his major titles at Roland Garros, including last year while dealing with chronic pain in his left foot. He then made it to the semifinals at Wimbledon but did not play in that round at the All England Club because of an abdominal injury.

And then, in January at Melbourne Park, the 36-year-old from Spain hurt his hip flexor during a second-round loss to Mackenzie McDonald of the United States.

An MRI exam the next day revealed the extent of the injury. Nadal and his manager said at the time that the usual recovery time is about six to eight weeks.

Nadal has lost seven of his past nine matches, dating to a fourth-round defeat at the U.S. Open in September, and the former No. 1-ranked player slid to No. 8 in the ATP standings this week. The longer he is out, the more he will drop – including because he will not be defending the points he earned at Indian Wells a year ago by reaching the final.

The brackets at Indian Wells and Miami might also be missing the current No. 1 – and the player who shares the men’s Grand Slam title record with Nadal: Novak Djokovic, who currently is not allowed to travel to the U.S. as a foreign citizen who has not been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Djokovic said last week that he has asked American authorities for special permission to be able to enter the country to play at Indian Wells and Miami. The Transportation Security Administration has said the requirement for foreign air travelers to be fully vaccinated against the disease would be in place at least until mid-April.

Elena Rybakina hits 10 aces in Miami for 12th straight win

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina extended her winning streak to 12 matches by delivering 10 aces – her fourth consecutive outing with at least that many – in a 6-3, 6-0 victory over 25th-seeded Martina Trevisan in the Miami Open quarterfinals.

Rybakina has 46 aces through four matches at the hard-court tournament in Florida and a WTA-leading 201 this season.

The 23-year-old, who represents Kazakhstan, improved to 20-4 in 2023, including a run to the Australian Open final in January and a title at Indian Wells, California, last week.

She is trying to become only the fifth player to win the women’s trophies at Indian Wells and Miami in the same season. Top-ranked Iga Swiatek did it a year ago; she withdrew from Miami this time because of a rib injury.

“Of course it would be amazing to achieve something like that,” the 10th-seeded Rybakina said about the prospect of completing what’s known as the Sunshine Double, “but it’s still far away.”

So far in Rybakina’s career, 13 of her 18 semifinal appearances have come on hard courts. She will face No. 3 Jessica Pegula for a berth in the final after the American fought off two match points and outlasted No. 27 Anastasia Potapova 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2) in a match that ended just before 1:30 a.m. after play had been delayed by rain.

“I haven’t been that physically tired in just a really long time,” Pegula said. “Just the humidity was taking so much out of me, and I haven’t been able to play in humidity like that in a while. It was just really tough, so really, it was just pure will.”

Trevisan reached the French Open semifinals in 2022.

In fourth-round men’s action Tuesday, No. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was beaten 7-6 (4), 6-4 by No. 14 Karen Khachanov, while defending champion Carlos Alcaraz, Taylor Fritz and Jannik Sinner all beat seeded opponents in straight sets.

Alcaraz, who returned to No. 1 in the ATP rankings last week, got past Australian Open semifinalist Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-4 to set up a meeting against Fritz, the top-ranked American man and seeded ninth in Miami.

Fritz compiled twice as many winners, 22, as unforced errors, 11, and only dropped serve once during a 6-3, 6-4 victory over No. 7 Holger Rune. That put Fritz into his first quarterfinal in seven appearances in Miami – and his first matchup against Alcaraz, a 19-year-old from Spain who won the U.S. Open in September for his first Grand Slam title.

“I’m really excited for it,” Fritz said. “I think that a lot of people are really excited for that, too.”

No. 10 Sinner eliminated No. 6 Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-4 and has yet to drop a set in the tournament.

Sinner’s next opponent will be unseeded Emil Ruusuvuori, a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 winner against No. 26 Botic van de Zandschulp.

No. 4 Daniil Medvedev, forced to start late and off his scheduled court after the rain, beat Quentin Halys 6-4, 6-2. He will face American Christopher Eubanks, who edged Adrian Mannarino in a pair of tiebreakers.

Khachanov will play Francisco Cerundolo, a semifinalist in Miami last year, in the other men’s quarterfinal.

Fritz, Sinner reach Miami Open quarterfinals with 2-set wins

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Taylor Fritz and Jannik Sinner beat seeded opponents in straight sets at the Miami Open to move into the quarterfinals.

No. 9 Fritz compiled twice as many winners, 22, as unforced errors, 11, and only dropped serve once during a 6-3, 6-4 victory over No. 7 Holger Rune.

That put Fritz, the highest-ranked American man, into his first quarterfinal in seven appearances at the hard-court tournament.

He will face either No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz or Australian Open semifinalist Tommy Paul next. Alcaraz is the defending champion in Miami.

No. 10 Sinner eliminated No. 6 Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-4 and has yet to drop a set in the tournament.

Sinner’s next opponent will be No. 26 Botic van de Zandschulp or unseeded Emil Ruusuvuori.