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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, Dimitrov advance to Australian Open quarterfinals

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) After snuffing out local hopes for yet another Australian Open, Grigor Dimitrov huddled with Nick Kyrgios at the net and the pair exchanged encouraging words.

It was Kyrgios, having just lost 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (4) in the fourth round in a typically tempestuous performance, who left No. 3-ranked Dimitrov with this message: “Believe.”

Dimitrov has never won a major, coming closest here last year before losing a semifinal to Rafael Nadal in five sets, but is enhancing his credentials as a next generation champion.

Nadal secured his spot in a 10th Australian Open quarterfinal earlier Sunday on Rod Laver Arena, beating Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3 in 3 hours and 51 minutes.

The 16-time major winner draped an arm around his Argentine friend and patted him on top of the head. If he needed a fitness test in the first week in his comeback from an injured right knee, he got it.

“A great battle … he’s a good friend of mine,” Nadal said. “This is the first big match that I played in 2018. That’s confidence for myself … confidence I can resist for four hours on court at a good intensity.”

Nadal will next play 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic, who collected his 100th Grand Slam match win with a 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-6 (0), 7-6 (3) victory over No. 10 Pablo Carreno Busta.

“I had the 300th win of my career at the U.S. Open in 2014, so this is also beautiful one,” Cilic said of his latest major milestone. “I hope I’m going to continue and gather three more here.”

Nadal lost last year’s Australian Open final to Roger Federer, but went on to regain the No. 1 ranking and win the French and U.S. Open titles before bringing his season to a premature end because of an injured right knee.

Despite not playing any competitive matches in his Aussie Open preparation, Nadal advanced through three rounds without dropping a set.

That streak finished when Schwartzman took the second set, rebounding three times after dropping serve to break back and win the tiebreaker.

Nadal lifted to win the third, but Schwartzman didn’t relent.

The second game of the fourth set lasted almost 13 minutes, with Nadal finally holding after saving five break points.

He broke again in the next game to regain control.

“It was a good test for me. It was a lot of hours on court. Moments under pressure,” Nadal said.

Britain’s Kyle Edmund reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinal with a 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 afternoon win over Andreas Seppi and could relax and watch the night-time entertainment featuring Dimitrov and Kyrgios. They all played two weeks ago in Brisbane, where Edmund lost to Dimitrov, who lost to eventual champion Kyrgios.

Both Dimitrov and Kyrgios got tense at key times in the night match. Dimitrov was broken while serving for the match. Kyrgios was called for a foot fault, double-faulted on a set point and smashed an easy overhead into the net on a break point after dominating the rally. He had 36 aces, and some second serves recorded at faster than 202 kph (125 mph).

“Only a couple points in it, you know. It wasn’t like I got demolished out there,” said Kyrgios, who missed the chance to end the drought for local men that dates back to the 1976 Australian Open. “I had a lot of chances to win the match and I just came up short.”

He tipped his mate Dimitrov to go far.

“He hasn’t even found his best form yet and he’s still getting through all those matches, which is pretty frightening,” Kyrgios said. “Once he finds his feet and he has more confidence, he’s got a real chance at winning it.”

Dimitrov thanked him for the support, and said he’s growing more confident in his game.

Caroline Wozniacki continued to cash in on her second chance, reaching the quarterfinals here for the first time since 2012 with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Magdalena Rybarikova.

After saving match points and coming back from 5-1 down in the third set of her second-round win, No. 2-ranked Wozniacki said she was “playing with the house money” and had nothing to lose.

Wozniacki next plays Carla Suarez Navarro, who rallied from a set and 4-1 down to beat No. 32 Anett Kontaveit 4-6, 6-4, 8-6.

The other quarterfinal will feature the winners of two tune-up events. Brisbane International champion Elina Svitolina beat Denisa Allertova 6-3, 6-0 in a match that started just before midnight.

Fourth-seeded Svitolina next plays Hobart International winner Elise Mertens, who beat Petra Martic to reach the quarterfinals in her Australian Open debut.

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More AP coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/AustralianOpen

Kerber beats Sharapova in 3rd round; Halep in long-haul win

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Angelique Kerber is the only major winner remaining in the Australian Open women’s draw after ending Maria Sharapova’s comeback tour to Melbourne Park.

The 2016 champion routed Sharapova 6-1, 6-3 in the third-round match on Saturday night to extend her winning streak to 12 matches, including winning the Sydney International title last week.

Five-time major winner Sharapova was back at the Australian Open for the first time since 2016, when a failed test for meldonium led to a 15-month doping ban.

It was all over in one hour and four minutes, a vast contrast to top-ranked Simona Halep’s 4-6, 6-4, 15-13 win in three hours, 45 minutes over American Lauren Davis in the opening match on Rod Laver.

The third set took 2:22 and momentum swung. Halep wasted chances to serve for the match in the ninth, 11th and 15th games, then had to save three match points in the 22nd. There were 11 service breaks and two medical timeouts – for Davis to get treatment on both feet – before Halep converted on her first match point.

“I never played the third set so long, so I’m really happy I could stay and win it. I’m almost dead,” Halep said of the match which equaled Chanda Rubin’s win over Arantxa Shanchez Vicario in 1996 – also 48 games – for the Australian Open record in terms of most games.

“I just feel that my muscles are gone,” said Halep, who badly twisted her left ankle in the first round. “My ankle is, I don’t know how it is because I don’t feel it anymore! But … it was nice to win this match.”

Halep will play Naomi Osaka, who beat 18th-seeded Ashleigh Barty 6-4, 6-2 in a match that was moved from the center court to Margaret Court Arena because of the two long matches on Rod Laver.

No. 20 Barbora Strycova beat U.S. qualifier Bernarda Pera 6-2, 6-2, leaving U.S. Open finalist Madison Keys as the only American woman to reach the fourth round.

Keys advanced 6-3, 6-4 over Ana Bogdan and will next play No. 8 Caroline Garcia, who beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3, 5-7, 6-2.

Sixth-seeded Karolina Pliskova beat No. 29 Lucie Safarova 7-6 (6), 7-5 in a match featuring just one service break.

On the men’s side, Hyeon Chung took out a Zverev for the second time this week. Chung beat fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev 5-7, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 six days after a win over No. 32 Mischa Zverev in the first round.

Another unexpected loss at a major had the highly-touted Zverev admitted he may have a problem.

“Definitely not physical, so… I have some figuring out to do, what happens to me in deciding moments in Grand Slam,” he said.

The 20-year-old Zverev has five titles on the elite tour but his fourth-round exit at Wimbledon last year remains his best run at a major.

Tomas Berdych ended 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro’s return to Melbourne Park for the first time since 2014 with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 win.

Fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem beat Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 to set up a fourth-round match against Tennys Sandgren, who continued his career-best run by beating Maximilian Marterer 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (5).

Former world junior No. 1 Marton Fucsovics beat Nicolas Kicker 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 and No. 25 Fabio Fognini overcame Julien Benneteau 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.

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More AP coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/AustralianOpen