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Doubles’ win by Sock, Harrison puts US in Davis Cup semis

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Jack Sock and Ryan Harrison put the United States in the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time since 2012 by beating Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen 5-7, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (3), 6-4 Saturday to finish off an American sweep.

The United States now will play either Croatia or Kazakhstan in the semifinals Sept. 14-16.

John Isner and Sam Querrey set up the doubles match for the clincher by winning both their singles matches Friday at the Curb Events Center at Belmont University. Sock, who came in ranked 26th in doubles, and Harrison, 17th in the world, put the U.S. into the semifinals after taking three hours to finish off the Belgians.

The U.S. now is 5-0 all-time in the Davis Cup against Belgium.

For Gille and Vliegen, this was their Davis Cup debut coming only a few hours away from where both played in college. Gille went to East Tennessee State, while Vliegen played at East Carolina. The Belgians broke Sock and Harrison in Game 11 and took the first set 7-5 showing no signs of nerves as they scored on 80 percent of their first serves.

The Americans took the second set by fighting off two break points in Game 11, then they dominated by taking the final six points.

In the third set, Vliegen started struggling with cramps and had a foot fault when serving in Game 11. The Americans had three break points, but the Belgians fought them off to go up 6-5.

Sock and Harrison finished off the set again in a tiebreaker, and they avoided a third tiebreaker by breaking the Belgians to finish off the quarterfinals and start the American celebration before the raucous crowd.

France took a 2-1 lead over Italy with Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut beating Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-3, 6-1. Germany leads Spain 2-1 after Tim Puetz and Jan-Lennard Struff downed Marc Lopez and Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (4), 7-5.

Croatia took a 2-1 lead over Kazakhstan with Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic beat Timur Khabibulin and Aleksandr Nedovyesov 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

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

Keys sends U.S. into second straight Fed Cup final

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AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France — Defending champion United States will play in a second consecutive Fed Cup final after defeating France on Sunday.

Madison Keys secured the decisive point for the visiting team by beating Pauline Parmentier 7-6 (4), 6-4 in the second reverse singles. Keys’ victory gave the defending champions an unassailable 3-1 lead over France in their semifinal.

The 13th-ranked Keys, a late replacement for CoCo Vandeweghe, came back from a 4-1 deficit in the first set and made the decisive break in the ninth game of the second set with two consecutive winners.

“The girls did so well, both today and yesterday. We are very fortunate to have such a strong group and now we are looking forward to what is going to be a great final,” U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi said.

Parmentier fought hard until the end and saved two set points in the opener, but ultimately surrendered to Keys’ deep groundstrokes. The Frenchwoman had the chance to break back while trailing 5-4 in the second set but Keys used her big serve to win the next three points and seal the match.

The U.S. will play the Czech Republic in the final.

Earlier, Sloane Stephens had given a 2-1 lead to the U.S. with a 6-2, 6-0 thrashing of Kristina Mladenovic.

The U.S. Open champion delivered a ruthless display against the 20th-ranked Mladenovic and prevailed in 54 minutes. Stephens hit 16 winners and converted five of six break chances at the 6,700-capacity Arena Pays d’Aix on indoor clay.

“That was a really good one. You never anticipate a scoreline like the way it turned out but it was really solid,” Stephens said. She also won her first singles match on Saturday.

The Americans extended their winning record to 12-2 against the French.

The Czech Republic qualified for the final by defeating Germany 4-1 in Stuttgart.

Nadal beats Nishikori to win Monte Carlo Masters

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MONACO — Rafael Nadal won a record 31st Masters title after beating Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-2 in the Monte Carlo Masters final on Sunday.

Nadal also became the first man in the Open era to win the same title 11 times – 13 years after his first title here – and moved one ahead of rival Novak Djokovic for career Masters titles.

“It’s great to have this trophy in my hands again,” Nadal said.

It gave him a 76th title overall and ensured the Spaniard keeps his top ranking ahead of Roger Federer.

Nishikori was chasing a first Masters title, but the Japanese player took 11 minutes to hold for 1-1.

He got some brief hope, breaking Nadal with a superb passing shot at full stretch to lead 2-1, but meekly surrendered the next four games.

“I knew it was going to be tough even though I was up break,” said Nishikori, who complained of tiredness. “My legs were very heavy today, playing three sets (for) three days in a row (before the final). It wasn’t easy physically.”

The second set was a procession and Nadal won on his first match point with a stinging backhand winner.

Nadal’s celebration was brief and low key. He thrust both hands into the air, and then jogged over to offer Nishikori a sympathetic hug after beating him for the 10th time in 12 meetings.

Nishikori saved a set point with a sharp, angled volley at the net. But Nadal was in relentless mood and sealed it on his next chance with a crisp forehand winner.

“It’s not easy to describe when you are coming back from injury and you start the clay-court season in this way,” Nadal said.

Nishikori is still working his way back to form and full fitness, after missing the 2017 U.S. Open and this year’s Australian Open because of a torn tendon in his right wrist.

“It was a great week for me, I had an injury and couldn’t play for a long time,” said Nishikori, whose ranking has slipped to 36.

Nadal has not dropped a set in seven matches since coming back from a recurrence of a right hip injury that forced him to abandon during the fifth set of his Australian Open quarterfinal against Marin Cilic.

The injury relapse subsequently forced him out of the Mexico Open and Masters tournaments at Indian Wells and Miami, but Nadal now looks back to his ruthless best on clay.

He has his sights firmly set on an 11th title at Barcelona next week and then an 11th French Open title at Roland Garros.