Djokovic beats Nadal to reach Indian Wells final

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) Novak Djokovic continued his recent mastery of Rafael Nadal on hard courts, winning 7-6 (5), 6-3 on his sixth match point Saturday to reach the BNP Paribas Open final for the second straight year.

The world’s top-ranked player will meet Milos Raonic in Sunday’s final, with Djokovic trying to win a record fifth title in the California desert.

Djokovic extended his advantage over Nadal on hard courts to 18-7, winning the last seven times since the Spaniard beat him in the 2013 U.S. Open final. The Serb also owns a 25-23 edge in the longest running rivalry in the Open era, having won six straight meetings and 10 of the last 11.

Nadal, a three-time winner here, came up short in making his 100th career singles final with his second loss to Djokovic this year. The Serb won in the final at Doha in January. Nadal hasn’t won a title on hard courts since 2014 in Doha.

Djokovic and Nadal traded service breaks in the first before Djokovic held at 6-all to force the tiebreaker.

Helped by three straight errors from Nadal, Djokovic built a 5-2 lead. Nadal recovered to win three straight points – two on errors by Djokovic – and tie it 5-all. But the momentum quickly swung back to Djokovic, who closed out the set on Nadal’s service return error and his netted backhand.

Nadal survived a four-deuce game to tie the second set 1-all and faced three deuces on his serve to hold at 2-all. Djokovic earned the only break in the sixth game to go up 4-2 and then served a love game for a 5-2 lead.

Nadal made one last stand on his serve, fighting back from a triple match point with a big forehand in the corner to get to deuce. But his forehand let him down on two subsequent deuce points and Djokovic closed it out on his sixth match point.

Raonic fired 10 aces on his way to overpowering David Goffin 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the other semifinal, improving to a career-best 14-1 this year.

Last year, Raonic saved three match points to beat Nadal in the semis before losing to Roger Federer in the final.

Raonic simply overwhelmed his smaller opponent, connecting on 63 percent of his first serves in the two-hour match. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Canadian averaged 131 mph on his first serve and even his second serve was 2 mph faster than Goffin’s first serve of 110. Raonic has yet to drop a set in four matches.

“Definitely have been playing higher level this year, but I think also when I have had those difficult moments or let’s say some kind of crisis throughout matches, I have found solutions better,” Raonic said. “Maturity is a big part of it.”

Raonic is 8-8 heading into his 17th career ATP Tour final. In his only other Masters 1000 finals, he lost to Nadal in 2013 and to Djokovic in 2014.

“I have obviously a big challenge ahead of me, but I have been pretty good this year at finding solutions,” he said.

Goffin, who gave up 6 inches and 66 pounds to Raonic, needed three sets to win his first three matches, including a third-set tiebreaker in his opener when he saved two match points against young American Frances Tiafoe. The 25-year-old Belgian upset No. 3 seed Stan Wawrinka in the fourth round to end a 14-match skid against top-10 players and beat Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals.

“It was a tough match against Wawrinka and tough one against Cilic, but against Milos I had also many opportunities,” he said. “Maybe I just lost my concentration during three or four points and then that’s why I lost the match.”

Top-seeded Sakkari reaches semifinals at Parma Ladies Open

Maria Sakkari
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PARMA, Italy — Top-seeded Maria Sakkari rallied past 97th-ranked Maryna Zanevska 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday at the Parma Ladies Open to reach her first semifinal since the grass-court season.

Sakkari, who has gone three sets in all three of her matches this week, will face Danka Kovinic for a spot in the final of the clay-court event after Kovinic beat Jasmine Paolini 6-4, 6-4.

In her previous semifinal, Sakkari lost to Belinda Bencic in Berlin in June. The seventh-ranked Greek player was eliminated by Wang Xiyu in the second round of the U.S. Open on Aug. 31.

In the bottom half of the draw, Mayar Sherif of Egypt beat American opponent Lauren Davis 7-6 (2), 6-3 to reach her second career semifinal. Sherif next faces Ana Bogdan, who defeated fellow Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-2, 7-6 (6).

Sakkari through to Parma Open quarterfinals; Stephens loses

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PARMA, Italy — Top-seeded Maria Sakkari rallied past Arantxa Rus 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals of the Parma Ladies Open.

Sakkari, who accepted a late wild card to the red clay court tournament, was playing her first event since losing to Wang Xiyu in the second round of the U.S. Open.

The Greek player will next face Maryna Zanevska of Belgium after she eased past Dalma Galfi 6-1, 6-3.

Fourth-seeded Sloane Stephens of the United States, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, lost to Danka Kovinic 7-5, 2-6, 7-5.

Kovinic will face Jasmine Paolini in the quarterfinals after the Italian defeated compatriot Elisabetta Cocciaretto 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

There will be an American in the final eight, however, as Lauren Davis rallied to beat Sara Sorribes Tormo 3-6, 6-4, 7-5. Sorribes Tormo had eliminated second-seeded Martina Trevisan in straight sets in the opening round.

Davis will play Mayar Sherif after the Egyptian player defeated Simona Waltert 6-3, 7-6 (1).

Also, third-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania eased past Italian wild card Matilde Paoletti 6-4, 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal against sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan, who beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.