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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.

Petra Kvitova to play at French Open

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PARIS — Only two months after picking up her racket for the first time following a knife attack at her home, Petra Kvitova will be playing at the French Open.

The two-time Wimbledon champion said Friday she will make her comeback at Roland Garros, although she still lacks power and strength.

“I knew this day would come,” said Kvitova, who was attacked by an intruder last year. “I’m really happy that really here, the dream comes true.”

Kvitova has missed all season while recovering from surgery on her racket-holding left hand. She sustained damage to the tendons in her left hand, along with injuries to all five fingers and two nerves, during the attack.

Doctors initially thought she would need more time before returning to tennis. But Kvitova’s recovery was faster than expected and she said last month that she was signing up for the French Open, which begins Sunday, in hopes of being able to compete.

“It wasn’t easy, but I’m happy that I work through this and I can play tennis and I can be in the draw,” she said.

Kvitova, who won the Wimbledon title in 2011 and 2014 and climbed as high as No. 2 in the WTA rankings, was not allowed to speak about the attack itself because a police investigation is still ongoing. However, she spoke about the anxiety associated with her dreadful experience.

“I didn’t sleep well the days after, but I wasn’t really staying alone,” she said. “From the beginning I was really feeling really weird when I went in the city or somewhere. I was always staring to the guys and looking if there are no strangers there. But with the time, it’s better.”

Kvitova also provided details on the intense rehabilitation process that preceded her “last-minute” decision to try her luck in Paris.

“I worked very hard behind the scenes,” she said. “From the beginning I had this hand in a splint for two months, and even then I was practicing every day, always putting the splint away and trying to make this scar softer. So from the second day after surgery I started to work with that, which was kind of easy, just passive work with the fingers. I couldn’t move them.”

Kvitova got rid of the splint after two weeks and started to move her fingers slightly. She said she can’t still move them completely.

Kvitova also consulted with a hand specialist in the French city of Grenoble every month and she started practicing with a racket at the end of March.

“I hit a few forehands with soft balls from the net, and it felt very, very weird,” she said. “I didn’t really have touch in the hand for holding the racket. I’m happy that I didn’t have to change any techniques or something. Everything seems OK. Of course the hand doesn’t have that power and the strength yet, but I’m working on it. Hopefully one day will be everything perfect.”

Kvitova will open her campaign on the red clay against 86th-ranked Julia Boserup. She is making her ninth appearance at Roland Garros, where she reached the semifinals in 2012.

“Not many people believe that I can play tennis again. So I’m happy that I can play,” Kvitova said. “I actually already won my biggest fight. I stayed in life and I have all my fingers.”

Nishikori saves three match points in Geneva Open QF win

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GENEVA — Kei Nishikori saved three straight match points in the deciding set before outlasting Kevin Anderson 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6) in the Geneva Open quarterfinals on Thursday.

The second-seeded Nishikori was serving at 4-5, 0-40 before rallying to beat the 62nd-ranked South African, who fired 14 aces without allowing any by his opponent.

Nishikori also trailed in the tiebreaker before creating a second match-point chance with a forehand crosscourt service return for a winner. He clinched with a forehand winner off a looping net-cord ball.

The No. 9-ranked Japanese player will face 33rd-ranked Mischa Zverev of Germany in the semifinals on Friday.

The Russian-born Zverev, who came through qualifying, beat fifth-seeded Steve Johnson of the United States 6-4, 7-5.