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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.

Two-time champ Azarenka gets Australian Open wild card

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Two-time former champion Victoria Azarenka has been awarded a wild card for the Australian Open.

Azarenka, who won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, has been involved in a custody dispute involving her son Leo, who was born last Dec. 19.

She hasn’t competed anywhere since Wimbledon, where she lost to Simona Halep in the fourth round on July 10. The dispute with her former partner started shortly after Wimbledon ended.

Azarenka has played only six matches this year and is ranked 208th.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said on Wednesday that every assistance would be provided to the former No. 1, adding “Vika’s current situation is obviously very difficult for her and we have reached out to offer any support we can.”

The Australian Open starts on Jan. 15.

Nadal, Muguruza win ITF player of the year awards

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LONDON — Rafael Nadal and Garbine Muguruza have won the International Tennis Federation’s player of the year awards.

At 31, Nadal becomes the oldest ITF men’s world champion after a season in which he won a 10th French Open and a third U.S. Open.

The Spaniard also became the oldest player to finish the year at No. 1 since the ATP rankings began in 1973.

Muguruza dropped only one set en route to her first Wimbledon title and finished the year at No. 2 behind Simona Halep.

“Becoming ITF world champion in such a competitive year is amazing for me,” said Muguruza, who is also Spanish. “(Nadal) is a great role model for all of us, so it is a great moment for tennis in Spain.”