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Federer beats Kyrgios to reach Miami Open final

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Roger Federer’s season of resurgence took another thrilling turn Friday night when he won a seesaw semifinal against Nick Kyrgios at the Miami Open, 7-6 (9), 6-7 (9), 7-6 (5).

Federer was unable to convert two match points in the second-set tiebreaker but finished off the flashy, unpredictable Kyrgios an hour later.

When Federer hit a service winner on the final point, Kyrgios angrily whacked his racket three times against the hard court. Federer patiently waited until the Aussie was done before triumphantly swatting a ball into the stands.

Kyrgios then gave his racket a fling as the crowd booed before sharing a warm, weary exchange with Federer at the net.

Federer saved two match points in his quarterfinal win over Tomas Berdych. Now he’s in the final Sunday against Rafael Nadal, 13 years after their first career encounter, also at Key Biscayne.

There will be a first-time Miami Open women’s champion Saturday when Caroline Wozniacki plays Johanna Konta.

Federer won Key Biscayne in 2005 and 2006 and hasn’t been to the final since. But the 18-time Grand Slam champion is on the rise at age 35.

He’s 18-1 this year, his best start since 2006, including titles at the Australian Open in January and at Indian Wells two weeks ago, and has won 10 matches in a row. None was more harrowing than the latest victory.

A sellout crowd was firmly in Federer’s corner, and the big-hitter Kyrgios played the role of unpopular spoiler brilliantly. He drew jeers every time he took his frustration out on his racket, received code violations for swearing and slow play, and complained about the fans when they shouted during a rally in the final tiebreaker.

And then there was Kyrgios’ high-wire game, including huge groundstrokes that forced his opponent to play some dazzling defense.

Federer rallied from a break down in the first set, and overcame two set points in the first tiebreaker. He didn’t face a break point in the final two sets.

Kyrgios’ final risky shot backfired – a 128-mph second serve sailed long for a double fault. That gave Federer his third match point – the last one he needed.

The victory was payback for Federer after Kyrgios overcame two match points to win their only other meeting, at Madrid in 2015. That match also was a three-setter with three tiebreakers.

Nadal was so eager to reach the Key Biscayne final that he ran out of his shoe. Chasing a shot in the second set of his semifinal, Nadal lost his right sneaker – and the point. But he quickly regained his footing and beat unseeded Fabio Fognini 6-1, 7-5.

Nadal is 0-4 in finals at Key Biscayne, losing in 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2014. He’s playing in the tournament for the 13th time, making it his longest title drought at any event.

“Winning here would be something great, and an important title I haven’t won,” Nadal said.

The crowd chanted Fognini’s first name in an attempt to get the Italian going after a slow start, and flying footwear did the job. Fognini hit a drop shot to cause the sneaker malfunction, laughed at length while Nadal retied his shoe and played better after that.

Nadal said he also lost a shoe while practicing recently, the only other time he can remember it happening to him.

“Strange,” he said. “Maybe I need to tie it stronger.”

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.