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BEIJING - Rafael Nadal is back in form on the court, and in his sharp-tongued critiques of the ATP tour. Nadal reached his first quarterfinal since his record ninth French Open title in June with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Peter Gojowczyk at the China Open on Thursday, then blasted the tennis balls at the tournament. "This week we are playing with one ball. Next week we are playing with a different ball," he said. "That's dangerous for the shoulder, dangerous for the elbow." Ball manufacturer Head is a tour sponsor, but each tournament can choose the ball it wants from an approved list. Andy Murray,who defeated Pablo Cuevas 6-2, 6-2, echoed Nadal's complaints about adjusting to a new ball each week. In women's singles, top-ranked Serena Williams recovered to defeat Lucie Safarova 6-1, 1-6, 6-2. Williams skipped her postmatch news conference, releasing a statement saying she had "a little swelling" in her knee. Simona Halep defeated Andrea Petkovic 7-6 (7-4), 5-7, 7-6 (7-1), then withdrew from the tournament with a left hip injury. Petra Kvitova advanced when Venus Williams withdrew before their match with a virus. Her illness came days after sister Serena retired at last week's Wuhan Open in China from a virus as well.


U.S. meets France again

Maya Moore and the U.S. women's national team will play France in the FIBA world championship quarterfinals today at Istanbul, Turkey. France handed the Americans a 76-72 on Sept. 21 in an exhibition game. Moore and Diana Taurasi shot a combined 4-for-23 from the field in that game, and center Brittney Griner wasn't with the team. "Naturally losing a game is going to open your eyes," Moore said. The last time these teams met before France's win was in the gold-medal game of the 2012 London Olympics that the Americans won by 36 points. The U.S. team has won 29 straight games at the world championship and the Olympics since falling to Russia in the semifinals of the 2006 worlds.


Messi closing on Spain mark

Barcelona's Lionel Messi is three goals away from equaling the Spanish league's all-time scoring record. Athletic Bilbao great Telmo Zarra scored 251 goals in 271 games from 1940-55. Since netting his first goal for Barcelona in 2005, Messi has 248 goals in league games. Barcelona plays at Rayo Vallecano on Saturday. Messi, 27, scored his 402nd goal for combined club (360) and Argentina's national team (42) last week at Paris Saint-Germain.

EUROPA LEAGUE: Defending Europa League champion Sevilla recorded a 2-2 draw at Rijeka in Croatia, while Everton salvaged a 1-1 tie at Russian side Krasnodar off Samuel Eto'o'sgoal with seven minutes left. In other matches, Tottenham was held 1-1 at home by Turkish team Besitkas, and host Celtic beat Dinamo Zagreb 1-0.

BECKHAM's Loss: David Beckham's income from sponsorship deals dropped by $3 million after the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star retired in 2013. Beckham's company showed $24 million in revenue in 2013, down from $27 million in 2012. Beckham is part of an ownership group starting an MLS expansion team in Miami.

Et cetera

SWIMMING: Former Gator Ryan Lochte, Natalie Coughlin, Matt Grevers and Tyler Clary lead the U.S. team for the short course world championships on Dec. 3-7 in Doha, Qatar. The 37-member team announced by USA Swimming doesn't include Michael Phelps, who hasn't competed in a 25-meter short course meet since the 2004 championships. Lochte is expected to swim in a team-high six individual events.

Times wires