Federer, Wawrinka set up all-Swiss semifinal at US Open

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NEW YORK (AP) Roger Federer is back in the semifinals of the U.S. Open for the 10th time. To get back to his first final at Flushing Meadows in six years, he’ll have to beat someone he knows quite well: Swiss Olympic and Davis Cup teammate Stan Wawrinka.

The No. 2-seeded Federer and No. 5 Wawrinka both won quarterfinals about as handily as can be Wednesday night.

Federer never faced a break point, compiled a remarkable 50-8 advantage in winners, and needed less than 1 1/2 hours to dismiss 12th-seeded Richard Gasquet of France 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“No doubt about it: I think I played a very good match,” Federer said. “I felt the ball great.”

He won five consecutive titles at the U.S. Open from 2004-08, then lost in the 2009 final – and hasn’t been that far again since.

Forced to play in Louis Armstrong Stadium because of two lengthy women’s quarterfinals plus a 1 1/2-hour rain delay earlier, Wawrinka eliminated 15th-seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-4, 6-4, 6-0. The match took 1 hour, 47 minutes in all, but the third set, in particular, was about as lopsided as possible: Wawrinka won 24 of the 29 points.

Wawrinka solved the 6-foot-8 Anderson’s serve, converting 5 of 8 break points. Anderson had been broken a total of four times through his first four matches combined.

“For sure,” Wawrinka said, “the best match of the tournament for me.”

Most of his career, Wawrinka has lived in the shadow of his older – and far more successful – countryman, Federer. While Federer owns a record 17 Grand Slam singles titles, Wawrinka didn’t break through with his first until the 2014 Australian Open. But Wawrinka added No. 2 this year at the French Open, beating Federer in the quarterfinals along the way.

Still, that was only Wawrinka’s third victory in 19 career matches against Federer.

“Stan played a wonderful match against me in Paris, and I was very happy for him that he went on to win the tournament. He deserved it. He’s been such a great player throughout his career. He always improved a lot, kept on working really hard,” Federer said.

“Couldn’t be happier to play him here, to be quite honest,” Federer added. “Two Swiss in the semis of the U.S. Open – it’s very cool for both of us.”

Asked whether he expects a vast majority of spectators to be pulling for Federer on Friday, Wawrinka replied: “Everybody loves Roger. He’s the best player ever.”

In Friday’s other men’s semifinal, No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia will play defending champion Marin Cilic of Croatia. Djokovic has won all 13 of their previous meetings.

The women’s semifinals are Thursday night: No. 1 Serena Williams of the United States vs. unseeded Roberta Vinci of Italy, and No. 2 Simona Halep of Romania vs. No. 26 Flavia Pennetta of Italy.

It’s the first time two Italians reached the semifinals at the same major tournament.

Halep and Pennetta advanced Wednesday by beating two-time major champions. Halep rested up and composed herself after the third-set rain break and defeated Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, while Pennetta edged Kvitova 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

Maria Sharapova wins her 1st title since doping ban

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TIANJIN, China (AP) Maria Sharapova won her first WTA title since returning from a doping ban after defeating Aryna Sabalenka to win the Tianjin Open on Sunday.

The Russian, a tournament wild card, overcame Belarusian teenager Sabalenka 7-5, 7-6 (8) despite trailing heavily in both sets.

Sharapova last won a title at the Italian Open in May 2015.

The former top-ranked player and owner of five major titles, including the 2006 U.S. Open, tested positive for the newly banned drug meldonium at the Australian Open in January 2016. That led to a 15-month doping ban, which expired in April.

“Such a special, special tournament, and victory for me, one that I’ll remember forever,” Sharapova said. “Sometimes you never know when it will all come together but it happened to me this week in Tianjin.”

Sharapova displayed resilience as she came from behind in both sets to overcome her 19-year-old opponent.

Sabalenka led 4-1 in the opener and 5-1 in the second before relenting to Sharapova’s greater big-match experience. It was Sharapova’s 36th WTA singles title.

The 30-year-old Sharapova played in her first Grand Slam tournament following the ban at the U.S. Open in August, where she reached the fourth round. Sunday’s result will lift Sharapova up to No. 57 in the world rankings.

Federer beats Nadal to win Shanghai Masters title

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SHANGHAI (AP) Roger Federer extended his winning streak over Rafael Nadal this year to four matches after beating the top-ranked Spaniard 6-4, 6-3 to win the Shanghai Masters on Sunday.

The Swiss 19-time grand slam winner, who still trails Nadal 23-15 in their overall head-to-head record, didn’t face a break point and started and ended the match with service breaks.

“I don’t know what my expectations were going in,” Federer said. “I thought I might struggle early on because it was a late finish last night.

“I had no nerves before the match, surprisingly. I think I was pretty clear about how I wanted to play the match. I started off very well and relaxed from then on.”

Despite his dominance in 2017, Federer doesn’t rate his chances of catching Nadal in their head-to-head record.

“It’s not going to happen. We don’t have enough years left on the tour. We ranked too good so we play each other only in finals at the moment… You can’t win them all against Rafa, to be honest. He’s too good of a player,” Federer said.

Federer took advantage of three of seven break point opportunities in the match to snap Nadal’s 16-game winning streak, which included his China Open victory last week.

Federer, who has won the last five encounters between the pair dating back to the 2015 Basel final, also beat Nadal in the Australian Open final, a round of 16 match at Indian Wells and the Miami final this year.

“Have been a very difficult match for me,” Nadal said. “He played very fast and he played well.

“Of course was not the best match for me of the week. When somebody plays better than you, sport is not very difficult. That’s the real thing, no? When you play against somebody that is better than you in most of the things that really matters in this sport, in this kind of surface, then it’s tougher.”

The Shanghai Masters is Federer’s 94th career title, moving him into a tie with Ivan Lendl in second place on the Open era list.

Nadal arrived on court with a bandage under his right knee, the same leg he twice smacked with his racket after losing his serve for the first time this week in the semifinal.

Federer said he was surprised to see the wrap and didn’t feel Nadal was struggling with his movement.

In his post-match press conference, Nadal elected not to discuss the knee injury, saying, “I don’t want to talk about that now, sorry, but after losing final is not the moment.”

When asked if he would play upcoming tournaments in Basel, Switzerland and Paris, Nadal refused to confirm his participation.

Federer took advantage of a third break point in the first game of the match with a winning backhand passing shot. He broke Nadal’s serve again on a second break point in the fifth game of the second set when Nadal sailed a backhand crosscourt wide. In the final game, Nadal netted a forehand at 15-40 to end the 72-minute match.