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Wozniacki to face Pliskova in rain-delayed Qatar Open final

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DOHA, Qatar — Former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki will face second-seeded Karolina Pliskova in the final of the Qatar Open after both were forced to play back-to-back matches in the quarterfinals and semifinals on Friday night due to rain playing havoc the schedule.

Wozniacki swept past Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig of Puerto Rico 6-1, 6-2 to reach her second final in Doha – six years after her first, which she lost to Vera Zvonareva.

“It sounds amazing, but also makes me feel a little old,” the 26-year-old Wozniacki said. “It’s been a great week, really tough conditions with all the waiting, but I managed to keep focus and play some of my best tennis out there.”

Pliskova hit a career-best 21 aces to beat third-seeded Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in the other semifinal, her first victory over the Slovakian player in four meetings.

“I’m really excited, especially after what a long, tough day it’s been,” Pliskova said. “Having two wins today is amazing, and I just beat Domi for the first time in my life.”

The schedule had been backed up due to frequent rain delays during the week, forcing the players into double duty on Friday.

Earlier in the evening, Wozniacki beat Lauren Davis of the United States 7-5, 6-1, while Pliskova defeated Zhang Shuai of China 6-2, 6-0.

Puig also had to complete her quarterfinal match earlier Friday, edging Daria Kasatkina 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. Cibulkova was the only one of the four semifinalists to make it through on Thursday.

Altogether, Wozniacki spent more than three hours on court Friday evening, while Pliskova played for just under three hours.

Wozniacki has won all three of her previous matches against Pliskova, but their last encounter came in 2014 before Pliskova reached last year’s U.S. Open final and became a top-10 player.

“She’s playing really well, serving really well. It’s going to be a great final and I’m excited for it,” Wozniacki said.

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.

Madison Keys aiming to kick start her season at French Open

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PARIS (AP) After a disappointing start to 2017, Madison Keys is ready to kick start her season when the French Open begins on Sunday.

Keys missed the first two months of the year after undergoing surgery on her left wrist in the offseason.

“I’m fully recovered and happy to be back on the tour,” Keys said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday. “Obviously, I haven’t had the perfect start to the season, but really I’m just happy to be back on the court and be pain free.

“I’m very excited to play in Roland Garros. I feel like every year I love it a little bit more and it’s such a beautiful city to play in, so I’m very excited for the start.”

In her first tournament back, Keys reached the third round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in March. But since then, the American has made first round exits in Charleston, Madrid and Rome – where she reached the final last year.

However, Keys hasn’t gone out in the opening round of a Grand Slam since losing to Sara Errani at Roland Garros in 2014.

“I’m really just trying to have some good matches and looking at it that way and you know that’s all I’m really concerned about,” she said.

Long considered one of the world’s most promising young players, the 22-year-old Keys burst through to the semifinals of the 2015 Australian Open while still a teenager and went on to make the quarterfinals at Wimbledon that year.

The upward trajectory continued last season, with Keys reaching the Olympic semifinals as well as making three finals and winning her second WTA title.

Moreover, Keys became the first American woman to be ranked in the top 10 since Serena Williams in 1999.

That success had Keys targeting the top five and a Grand Slam. But following her injuries, the No. 13 is now taking it one match at a time.

“I’m really just trying to kind of get my match rhythm back and feel more comfortable on the tennis court, so right now that’s kind of my main goal and focus,” Keys said.

Keys was reunited with former coach Lindsay Davenport in the offseason and also recently added Maria Sharapova’s former hitting partner, Dieter Kindlmann, to her team.

“It’s going well,” Keys said. “Lindsey and I have been working together for a couple of months now and I think the addition of Didi is really going well.”