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Wawrinka to face Djokovic for the U.S. Open title

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The Latest on the U.S. Open (all times local):

9:40 p.m.

Stan Wawrinka will face Novak Djokovic for the U.S. Open title in a rematch of last year’s French Open final.

Down a set and a break Friday, the third-seeded Wawrinka took control to oust Kei Nishikori 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2. He’ll seek his third major championship Sunday against the top-ranked Djokovic, who he defeated at Roland Garros in 2015.

Wawrinka needed to save a match point in the third round against 64th-ranked Dan Evans before prevailing in five sets. But he started to find his form in a quarterfinal victory over 2009 U.S. Open champ Juan Martin del Potro.

The sixth-seeded Nishikori rallied to upset Andy Murray in five sets Wednesday, and he picked up where he left off at the start of his semifinal. But with Wawrinka saving six straight break points during one stretch in the second set, Nishikori’s legs started to go on a humid evening.

9 p.m.

Stan Wawrinka is one set from his first U.S. Open final.

The No. 3 seed Wawrinka has come back after dropping the opening set of his semifinal against No. 6 Kei Nishikori 6-4 on Friday night, taking the next two 7-5, 6-4 by breaking in the last game of each of those sets.

Wawrinka won the 2014 Australian Open and the 2015 French Open.

Nishikori was the runner-up at Flushing Meadows in 2014.

8:45 p.m.

Arthur Ashe Stadium’s retractable roof is being closed because of rain during the third set of the U.S. Open semifinal between No. 3 Stan Wawrinka and No. 6 Kei Nishikori.

They split the first two sets, and Wawrinka is leading 4-3, on serve, in the third.

Wawrinka was up a break in that set, but Nishikori broke right before the rain delay.

8:05 p.m.

No. 3 seed Stan Wawrinka and No. 6 Kei Nishikori have split the opening two sets of their U.S. Open semifinal.

Nishikori took the first set 6-4, then went up an early break in the second. But Wawrinka broke back, saved four break points at 3-all, another pair at 4-all, then broke Nishikori in the last game to grab the second set 7-5.

Wawrinka is a two-time major champion and trying to reach his first final at Flushing Meadows. Nishikori was the U.S. Open runner-up in 2014.

The winner will face No. 1 Novak Djokovic for the title on Sunday.

7:15 p.m.

Gael Monfils says he was just trying to change up his strategy against Novak Djokovic, and he’s sorry John McEnroe thinks that’s “unprofessional.”

McEnroe, a commentator for ESPN, accused Monfils of not giving his full effort after falling behind 5-0 in a four-set, semifinal loss to the top-seeded Djokovic on Friday, at one calling him “unprofessional” in “one of the greatest lack-of-effort matches in the semifinal of a major that I’ve ever seen.”

Told about McEnroe’s comments, Monfils says he’s “very sad to learn that such a legend (would) criticize me, because at the end what I can say to John is, `You know, John, I want to be the best. It’s tough, you know. And I try my best.”‘

Monfils says what McEnroe – a seven-time Grand Slam titlist – saw as a lack of effort was actually an attempt to change up his strategy and give Djokovic another look. He appeared to be acting like he was not interested, and suddenly whip big shots.

“When you change, you change with what you got,” Monfils said. “What I got is my speed. I got a little bit of my instinct and flair.”

5:56 p.m.

Facing an opponent who occasionally played as if he had somewhere better to be, Novak Djokovic reached his 21st Grand Slam final and seventh at the U.S. Open with a bizarre 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 victory over Gael Monfils on Friday.

Djokovic, the No. 1 seed and defending champion, dipped in form in the third set, and had a trainer massage his left shoulder and, later, his right shoulder. Djokovic entered this match enjoying the easiest path to a major semifinal in the nearly half-century of the Open era: Three of his first five foes either stopped playing or pulled out of the tournament entirely because of injuries.

Then came this contest, which topped them all for oddness, drawing some jeers and whistles from the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium: The 10th-seeded Monfils, normally a showman and in only the second Grand Slam semifinal of his career, seemed to just give up at times.

On Sunday, Djokovic will try for his third U.S. Open championship and 13th major trophy overall, facing No. 3 Stan Wawrinka or No. 6 Kei Nishikori.

5:12 p.m.

Gael Monfils has come to play, suddenly, while Novak Djokovic is getting his left shoulder massaged, as they head to a fourth set in their unusual U.S. Open semifinal.

Djokovic took the first two sets 6-3, 6-2, and went up 2-0 in the third, with Monfils appearing barely interested at times. But Monfils came back to take the third set 6-3, and Djokovic got treatment on his shoulder during a couple of changeovers.

Djokovic ripped his white shirt off as he dropped the third set.

4:15 p.m.

Novak Djokovic has won a bizarre first set against Gael Monfils in their U.S. Open semifinal.

Djokovic raced to a 5-0 lead Friday, with Monfils looking extremely tight and struggling with double-faults. The 12-time major champion had triple set point while serving at 5-1, and Monfils was seemingly trying to give away the game. But that appeared to rattle Djokovic, and Monfils won that game and held in the next one, slicing everything back to draw errors from his opponent or lure him into the net for a passing shot.

Monfils had two break points at 5-3 to get the set back on serve, but Djokovic saved them to finally close it out.

2:30 p.m.

The second edition of the new Laver Cup exhibition event, pitting six men’s tennis players from Europe against six from the rest of the world, will be held in the United States in 2018.

The U.S. Tennis Association held a news conference during the U.S. Open on Friday to announce its partnership with the team event, which will debut in Prague in September 2017.

Neither a date nor site has been chosen for 2018.

Roger Federer, whose management company TEAM8 is behind the Laver Cup, and Rafael Nadal have said they will participate next year, when Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe will be the captains of the two squads.

The format includes three singles and one doubles match each day.

1:45 p.m.

Mate Pavic of Croatia and Laura Siegemund of Germany won the U.S. Open mixed doubles championship in their first tournament together, beating the American duo of Rajeev Ram and CoCo Vandeweghe 6-4, 6-4 in the final Friday.

Pavic and Siegemund decided to pair up shortly before the deadline to sign up for the draw at Flushing Meadows and did not drop a set during the tournament.

“I have a great partner. Now I know him a little bit better,” Siegemund said during the trophy ceremony. “Our games match. He’s a great server. Any girl would like that, I guess.”

They will split $150,000 in prize money for earning the title. Neither had played in a Grand Slam final before.

Ram and Vandeweghe also were first-time partners and eliminated defending champions Martina Hingis and Leander Paes in the second round.

Ram won a silver medal in mixed doubles with Venus Williams at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last month.

Andy Murray, Angelique Kerber out in 4th round of Australian Open

2017 Australian Open - Day 7
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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) There was some symmetry about the fourth-round exits of top-ranked Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber at the Australian Open.

Both had the top seeding for the first time at a Grand Slam tournament. Both went out on the same court and, at least on paper, the same day.

It was tough at the top on Sunday: Five-time finalist Murray lost 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 to No. 50-ranked Mischa Zverev in the afternoon match on Rod Laver Arena, and defending women’s champion Kerber lost 6-3, 6-2 to CoCo Vandeweghe in an upset that finished at six minutes past midnight.

It was the first time since the French Open in 2010 that both top-seeded players went out in the same round. In the quarterfinals at Roland Garros that year, Roger Federer lost to Robin Soderling and Serena Williams lost to Sam Stosur.

Murray and Kerber didn’t make it to the second week.

Vandeweghe had never been past the third round at the season-opening Grand Slam, and lost in the first round here last year. But she pounded Kerber with a powerful forehand, clubbing 13 of her 30 winners from that wing.

Kerber saved a match point in the first round last year before winning her first major title, beating Serena Williams in the final. She replaced Williams atop the rankings after winning the U.S. Open.

Murray lost the final here to six-time champion Novak Djokovic last year, but finished 2016 at No. 1 after a strong finish to the season that included titles at Wimbledon, the Olympics and the ATP Finals.

He was undone by some old-school serve and volley from Zverev, who played the match of his life. He’ll now meet 17-time major winner Federer in the quarterfinals.

In between the upsets was pretty rocky, too. Federer was down 5-1 in the first set against Kei Nishikori but found a way to fend off the 2014 U.S. Open finalist, who was cramping and needed late treatment on his back, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.

It was his 200th career win over a top 10 player.

Federer was ecstatic. “It was about staying with him. … almost going down 6-0, I thought `It’s not going to get any worse from there,'” said Federer, on the comeback from six months on the sidelines to repair his injured left knee. “Huge win for me in my career.”

Murray was stunned.

“Right now I’m obviously very down because I wanted to go further in this event,” Murray said. “I’ve had tough losses in my career in the past. I’ve come back from them. This is a tough one.”

Murray’s exit follows the second-round departure of Djokovic, beaten in the second round by No. 117-ranked wild-card entry Denis Istomin.

It’s the first time since 2002 that the top two seeds in the men’s draw haven’t reached the Australian Open quarterfinals, and the first time at a Grand Slam since the French Open in 2004.

The absence of Djokovic and Murray certainly opens up it up for others.

U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka, who had his major breakthrough here in 2014, is a growing contender after beating Andreas Seppi 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4). He’ll play a quarterfinal against 2008 Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat Dan Evans 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.

In the bottom half of the draw, 14-time major winner Rafael Nadal is the only man still in contention who has won a Grand Slam title.

The top half of the women’s draw is open, too. Venus Williams returned to the quarterfinals for the ninth time with a 6-3, 7-5 win over No. 181-ranked Mona Barthel.

The seven-time major winner next plays No. 24-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who beat No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-3.

French Open champion Garbine Muguruza beat Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-3 and will next play Vandeweghe – they’re both in the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park for the first time.

Kerber’s loss contined a poor run since she won the U.S. Open last September. She’s played seven tournaments without winning a title, only reached one final, and was 5-7 against top 50 players.

The bigger upset of the day, then, was produced by Zverev, the older and apparently lesser-talented brother of Alexander who had never gone past the third round of a major and was appearing at only his third Grand Slam in six years.

Zverev attacked Murray, unsettling his natural baseline game, and won 65 of 118 points at the net.

He made some stunning, lunging volleys on clutch points, but for him it was all a blur.

“It was like I was in a little coma, I just served and volleyed my way through,” Zverev said. “Honestly there were a few points where I don’t know how I pulled it off.”

Murray couldn’t do a lot to counter it.

“It’s the shots he was coming up with when he did come forward.” Murray said. “He came up with some great pickups, you know, reflex volleys especially at the end when it was tight.”

Murray had reached the quarterfinals or better on his previous seven trips to Australia but never won the title – losing finals in 2010 to Federer and in `11, `13, `15 and `16 to Djokovic.

He had not lost to a player ranked as lowly as Zverev at a major since his loss to No. 51 Juan Ignacio Chela here in 2006. It was also the earliest exit by a top-seeded player at the Australian Open since Lleyton Hewitt in 2003.

Murray out in 4th-round upset, Federer advances in Australia

2017 Australian Open - Day 7
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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Andy Murray had already been upset by Mischa Zverev, undone by some old-school serve and volley, and Roger Federer was down 5-1 in the first set against Kei Nishikori.

As Sunday stretched from afternoon to evening, the second week of the Australian Open appeared set to take on a drastically different complexion than any in a decade.

Unlike newly-installed No. 1 Murray, though, the long-time top-ranked Federer found a way to fend off his fourth-round rival.

The sum result of back-to-back long matches on Rod Laver Arena was a quarterfinal pairing of 17th-seeded Federer against No. 50-ranked Zverev.

Five-time finalist Murray lost in a 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 to Zverev, the older and apparently lesser-talented brother of Alexander who had never gone past the third round of a major and was appearing at only his third Grand Slam in six years.

Federer held off 2014 U.S. Open finalist Nishikori, who was cramping and needed late treatment on his back, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.

Murray’s exit follows the second-round departure of six-time defending champion Novak Djokovic, beaten in the second round by No. 117-ranked wild-card entry Denis Istomin.

It’s the first time since 2002 that the top two seeds haven’t reached the Australian Open quarterfinals, and the first time at a Grand Slam since the French Open in 2004.

“Right now I’m obviously very down because I wanted to go further in this event, and it wasn’t to be,” Murray said. “I’ve had tough losses in my career in the past. I’ve come back from them. This is a tough one. I’m sure I’ll come back OK.”

The absence of Djokovic and Murray from the quarterfinals – the first time since 2007 that at least one of them hasn’t reached the last eight at a major – opens up opportunities.

U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka, who had his major breakthrough here in 2014, is a growing contender after beating Andreas Seppi 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4). He’ll play a quarterfinal against 2008 Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat Dan Evans 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.

On the other half of the draw, 14-time major winner Rafael Nadal is the only man still in contention who has won a Grand Slam title.

Zverev attacked Murray, unsettling his natural baseline game, and won 65 of 118 points at the net.

He made some stunning, lunging volleys on clutch points, but for him it was all a blur.

“Honestly, I don’t know, it was like I was in a little coma, I just served and volleyed my way through,” Zverev said. “Honestly there were a few points where I don’t know how I pulled it off.”

Murray couldn’t do a lot to counter it.

“It’s the shots he was coming up with when he did come forward.” Murray said. “I mean, he came up with some great pickups, you know, reflex volleys especially at the end when it was tight.

“He served very well when he needed to … he deserved to win because he played great when he was down, and also in the important moments.”

Seven-time major winner Venus Williams returned to the quarterfinals for the ninth time with a 6-3, 7-5 win over No. 181-ranked Mona Barthel.

She will next play No. 24-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who beat No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-3.

French Open champion Garbine Muguruza reached the quarterfinals in Australia for the first time, beating Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-3.

Murray had reached the quarterfinals or better on his previous seven trips to Melbourne Park – losing the finals in 2010 to Federer and in ’11, ’13, ’15 and ’16 to Djokovic.

He had not lost to a player ranked as lowly as Zverev at a major since his loss to No. 51 Juan Ignacio Chela here in 2006. It was also the earliest exit by a top-seeded player at the Australian Open since Lleyton Hewitt’s fourth-round departure in 2003.

The younger Zverev brother was in the crowd at Rod Laver, where the bulk of fans were pulling heavily for Murray as the fourth set began, shouting “Come on Andy!” after nearly every point.

Murray was agitated right from the start, hitting into the net early on and screaming loudly as glanced at his players’ box.

Serving at 4-3, Zverev hit two easy shots into the net, including a routine-looking overhead from Murray’s defensive lob, drawing gasps from the crowd.

But as he held on for what turned out to be the biggest win of the year, he gained support with daring play and frequent trips to the net.

After closing it out on his first match point, he walked calmly to the net and clasped his hands together in front of his chest, almost in relief.