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Goffin beats Thiem to set up ATP Finals semi with Federer

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LONDON (AP) David Goffin is into the last four of the ATP Finals, to go any further he’ll have to do something he’s never done before: beat Roger Federer.

The No.7-seeded Goffin beat Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-1 at the O2 Arena on Friday to set up a semifinal meeting with Federer.

From 0-3, 0-15 down in the opening set, Goffin won 15 consecutive points to take control of the match, and never looked back.

“I’ve never found a key to beat Roger,” said Goffin, who has lost all of his six meetings with the 19-time Grand-Slam champion. “Honestly, I don’t know what to do tomorrow. But I’m going to try something, something different, something that I’ve never done in the past.”

The victory took Goffin to 2-1 in the round-robin stage of the elite season-ending tournament after a win over Rafael Nadal and defeat to Grigor Dimitrov, who will meet Jack Sock in Saturday’s other semifinal.

Dimitrov plays Pablo Carreno Busta later, with qualification already secured after two wins.

Unlike during his 74-minute thrashing by Dimitrov on Wednesday, Goffin was able to recover from a slow start.

Thiem produced some blistering groundstrokes to break in the second game of the match and held for a 3-0 lead, but from there his game disintegrated.

“Well, I had a very, very good start obviously,” Thiem said. “Again, some very bad mistakes. I let him back into the game. Somehow after the 3-0, I lost it until the end.”

When Thiem finally ended his opponent’s run of five straight games, Goffin kept his composure to serve out the set. Thiem then received treatment on his left knee, but it didn’t seem to help.

He was broken again in the third game of the second set and then twice more as Goffin cruised to victory.

Goffin was far from faultless himself, with both players’ unforced error totals doubling their winner counts.

However, in the major moments Goffin was able to keep his game under control, taking five of his seven break point opportunities. Thiem was wasteful, completing just one of his six.

“As soon as I came back at 3-3 with a good service game, I knew that he was struggling a little bit with his groundstrokes,” Goffin said. “He was hitting too hard maybe a little bit. He lost his timing in his backhands. He started to think about how to hit the ball.”

Goffin is making his full debut at the event, having stepped in as an alternate for one match last year.

Reaching the semifinals in London is the latest step in a groundbreaking season for the Belgian. He broke into the top 10 for the first time in February and reached a career high No. 8-ranking earlier in November.

Top-ranked Halep wins tough 3-setter in Miami

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Top-ranked Simona Halep of Romania struggled to post a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 second-round win over French lucky loser Oceane Dodin at the Miami Open on Thursday.

In the first career meeting between the players, Halep allowed the 98th-ranked Dodin to break her serve on six of seven opportunities she presented in the match, which lasted more than two hours.

Halep broke Dodin’s serve for the seventh time at 4-4 in the third set before closing it out.

Halep played in her third career Grand Slam final at the Australian Open in January, but has yet to secure a Grand Slam trophy.

Halep’s best Miami Open was reaching the 2015 semifinals.

Also Thursday, former No. 1 Angelique Kerber of Germany advanced to the third round with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Johanna Larsson of Sweden.

Kerber is 19-4 this year and has reached at least the quarterfinals of all five tournaments she’s played.

Kerber, the 2016 Australian Open and U.S. Open champion, won her first tournament since that U.S. Open at Sydney in January. She also reached the Australian Open semifinals.

Serena Williams loses in first round at Miami Open to Osaka

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Serena Williams lost in the first round of the Miami Open on Wednesday, still rusty in her return from pregnancy and unable to overcome a tough draw against Naomi Osaka, who won 6-3, 6-2.

The 20-year-old Osaka, who earned her first career title Sunday at Indian Wells, showed no signs of letup and overpowered the erratic Williams. Osaka had the stronger serve, and in rallies wore down Williams working her from side to side.

The matchup worthy of a final came about because both players are unseeded. Osaka is ranked a career-best 22nd, while Williams’ ranking is 491st after her layoff of more than a year.

Another new mother and former No. 1, three-time Key Biscayne champion Victoria Azarenka, defeated Catherine Bellis 6-3, 6-0.

Williams has endured a first-round defeat only four other times, most recently at the 2012 French Open. The latest loss came at a tournament she has won a record eight times and considers her hometown event.

The match was the last for Williams at Key Biscayne, 90 miles south of her home in Palm Beach Gardens. The tournament is moving next year to the Miami Dolphins’ stadium, and Williams helped with the ceremonial groundbreaking Monday.

After her defeat, she left without speaking to the media.

Because of Williams’ ranking, she entered the draw as a wild card, and looked the part. She was a step slow to balls in the corners and often late with her swing, while she put barely half her first serves in play.

Osaka, who has both American and Japanese citizenship and lives in Fort Lauderdale, was playing her idol for the first time but didn’t seem a bit fazed. She improved to 14-4 this year.

Things may get tougher for her in the second round, when she’ll face No. 4-seeded Elina Svitolina.

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