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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.

Nadal doesn’t see himself skipping tournaments like Federer

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MONACO (AP) For now, Rafael Nadal doesn’t see himself skipping any major tournaments the way Roger Federer has been sitting out the French Open.

The veterans are back at the top of world tennis, with Nadal needing to win the Monte Carlo Masters this week to avoid losing his top ranking once again to Federer in their seemingly eternal battle for tennis supremacy.

For the second consecutive season, the 36-year-old Federer is skipping the entire clay-court season in order to be at his best on grass.

After coming back from injury to win the Australian Open last year, Federer skipped the clay-court season, won Wimbledon, and retained his Melbourne crown to extend his record tally to 20 majors.

The Swiss star is keeping his aging body fresher by playing a bit less – avoiding Nadal on clay at Roland Garros or elsewhere – and it is working for him.

But Nadal still thinks he can play a full schedule.

“There (are) tournaments that I can’t imagine missing on purpose, because (they are) tournaments that I love to play,” Nadal said on Wednesday. “I don’t see myself missing Monte Carlo on purpose. I don’t see myself missing Wimbledon on purpose, or the U.S. Open, or Australian, or Rome. These kind of events, I don’t see missing (them).”

The 31-year-old Spaniard recently returned from a right hip injury which forced him to retire during the fifth set of his Australian Open quarterfinal against Marin Cilic.

With his 32nd birthday coming up on June 3 – during the French Open – the 16-time Grand Slam champion accepts he may think differently when he gets closer to Federer’s age.

“Of course, when you get older, you need to adjust a little bit more the efforts and the calendar. But for me (it) is difficult to say I don’t play, for example, grass, or I don’t play hard (courts),” Nadal said. “(It) is not in my plan, but I can’t say `never’ because I cannot predict what’s going to be in the future.”

Nadal is chasing an 11th title at both Monte Carlo and Roland Garros, which begins on May 27.

More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

Jerome Pugmire on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jeromepugmire

Thiem reaches third round at Monte Carlo

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MONACO — Dominic Thiem saved a match point and beat Andrey Rublev of Russia 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Tuesday.

Rublev was serving for the match at 5-4, 40-30 but hit a forehand narrowly wide. Fifth-seeded Thiem broke him with backhand pass down the line and held for 6-5.

The Austrian was 15-40 up on Rublev’s serve and clinched victory on his first match point, when Rublev double-faulted with a weak serve into the net.

“I was 10 centimeters from being out of the tournament,” a relieved Thiem said. “But I’m happy that I played two hours and 40 (minutes).”

Thiem has reached the French Open semifinals for the past two years. He next meets 12-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic or Borna Coric of Croatia, who play their second-round match on Wednesday.

“I’m looking forward to watching Djokovic and Coric in front of the TV, and then playing the winner on Thursday,” Thiem said.

In the second round later Tuesday, fourth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria faced Pierre-Hugues Herbert and seventh-seeded Lucas Pouille played Mischa Zverev.

In remaining first-round play, there were wins for Gilles Simon of France, Marco Cecchinato of Italy and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany.