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Young upsets Isner to reach Memphis Open semifinal

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Donald Young upset No. 2 seed John Isner 7-6 (5), 3-6, 7-6 (6) on Friday night in the quarterfinals at the Memphis Open for his first victory in four tries over the world’s 23rd-ranked player.

Young reached his seventh career semifinal and second in Memphis by overcoming the big-serving American in the tiebreakers of a match that took 2 hours, 23 minutes.

“With him, it comes down to a couple points here and there, and I was able to get those today and I was able to hold my serve for the most part of the match and just defend well,” Young said. “I’m happy to get through it. I don’t know how it happened. I just stayed focused and battled.”

Young will play fellow American Ryan Harrison on Saturday with the indoor tournament up for grabs with Isner having been the last seeded player left. Harrison beat Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia-Herzegovina 6-3, 6-4 in the late match.

Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan upset fourth-seeded Steve Johnson 6-0, 6-4 earlier Friday, needing only 70 minutes to advance to the semifinals. Kukushkin will play Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia on Saturday. Basilashvili, who upset top-seeded Ivo Karlovic in the second round, reached his second straight ATP Tour semifinal by beating qualifier Matthew Ebden of Australia 7-6 (3), 6-4.

Isner took the first three matches against Young. This was their first match since Miami in 2014.

Young took advantage of Isner’s mistakes to win the tiebreaker. While serving, Isner came to the net and hit a forehand into the net to drop to 4-3. Then he hit a forehand into the net on the next point. Young had three set points up 6-3 before Isner held his serve. Young then took the set when Isner hit another forehand into the net.

Isner finally converted on Young’s ninth break point in the second set and then held serve to take the second set 6-3.

But Isner hurt himself in the third-set tiebreaker. He hit a backhand long before sending a forehand into the net. Then Isner hit a backhand long to fall behind 4-1. Young failed to convert on three match points up 6-3, then Isner hit another backhand into the net. After serving, Isner came to the net for Young’s return and smacked it into the net for the final point.

“He’s beaten me every other time we’ve played so I wanted to get at least one,” Young said. “I’m just happy I was able to stay focused, come through, deal with a little tightness and still prevail. So I’m happy with the performance.”

Johnson won his first career ATP title at Nottingham last summer and came into this event ranked 30th. Against Kukushkin, Johnson managed to save only one of the six break points he faced.

Basilashvili broke Ebden to finish off his match in 1 hour, 44 minutes.

Victoria Azarenka misses direct entry for U.S. Open

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NEW YORK — Two-time U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka is ranked just below the cutoff for direct entry into the year’s last Grand Slam tournament.

Azarenka, a former No. 1 and twice the champion at the Australian Open, is No. 108 this week, seven spots outside of an automatic spot in the main draw.

The U.S. Tennis Association announced Wednesday that defending champion and top-ranked Rafael Nadal is one of six past male singles champions in the U.S. Open field, along with Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Juan Martin del Potro and Marin Cilic. Another past title winner at Flushing Meadows, Stan Wawrinka, is ranked 199th this week.

The women’s winners with direct entry based on this week’s rankings are six-time champion Serena Williams, two-time champ Venus Williams, defending champ Sloane Stephens, Maria Sharapova and Samantha Stosur.

Nadal-Djokovic semifinal suspended after 3rd set

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LONDON (AP) It was the kind of tennis that Wimbledon’s Centre Court crowd would gladly have watched all night long.

The show being put on by Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal was so good it could have been an instant classic had they been able to finish their semifinal before the tournament’s 11 p.m. curfew.

Instead, the two players – and a disappointed audience – were sent home after the third set on Friday with Djokovic leading 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9) following a tense tiebreaker that had more entertaining rallies than some entire matches.

The two players didn’t even get onto the court until after 8 p.m. because of an earlier marathon semifinal won by Kevin Anderson and when Djokovic converted his second set point in the tiebreaker – having saved three of Nadal’s – the clock had ticked a couple of minutes past 11. That left organizers no choice but to call it a night, although the announcement from the chair umpire led to a scattering of boos from some fans who clearly wanted more.

Most of them will have to watch the rest on TV.

The match will resume at 1 p.m. local time on Saturday, before the women’s final between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber. At stake is a place in Sunday’s men’s final against the man who was partly at fault for keeping Nadal and Djokovic out there so late. Anderson’s win over John Isner lasted 6 + hours and went to 26-24 in the fifth set.

Djokovic-Nadal had clearly been the headline act of the day – they have five Wimbledon titles between them and met in the 2011 final while Anderson and Isner had never made the semifinals before – and their tennis was at another level from the earlier match. Even Anderson said he could feel during his match that the crowd would rather be watching the next one.

“They’ve paid to see two matches, and they came pretty close to only seeing one match,” Anderson said. “I can feel the crowd (get) pretty antsy for us to get off the court. They’ve been watching us for over six hours.”

While Anderson-Isner was mostly a serving duel with a few longer rallies thrown in, Djokovic and Nadal repeatedly slugged it out from the baseline, chasing each other around the court and coming up with spectacular winners from every corner.

Many of the best points came in the tiebreaker, including a 23-shot rally that Nadal finished off with a forehand half-volley drop shot to set up his first set point.

It was one of three successful drop shots from the Spaniard in the tiebreaker alone, but Djokovic answered with one of his own to save the second set point at 7-6.

He eventually went up 10-9 with the help of a backhand passing shot and an errant shot into the net by Nadal brought the entertainment to an end – for now.

It led to the unusual situation of both players leaving the court to a huge ovation – and applauding the fans in return – but without there being a clear winner or loser.

To be continued.