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.”

Djokovic to start 2023 in Adelaide ahead of Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic will open his 2023 campaign in Adelaide as he prepares for a shot at a 10th Australian Open crown a year after having his visa revoked on the eve of his title defense.

The 21-time major winner has been granted a visa by the Australian government and has been listed to play at the Adelaide International, which starts Jan. 1.

Serbia isn’t contesting the inaugural United Cup team competition, leaving Djokovic free to play regular warmup tournaments head of the Jan. 16-29 Australian Open.

He’ll be joined in the men’s draw at Adelaide by Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada and Andy Murray.

Ons Jabeur, Aryna Sabalenka will headline the women’s draw.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles last month confirmed Djokovic had been granted a visa to compete in Australia in January. The 35-year-old Serbian had been facing a possible three-year ban after being deported last January over his stance against COVID-19 vaccination.

Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times, including the last three times he played. Rafael Nadal won this year’s title in Djokovic’s absence.

Djokovic was not vaccinated against COVID-19 when he arrived in Melbourne ahead of the 2022 tournament, but Australia has since lifted strict rules for unvaccinated travelers.

Karolina Pliskova reuniting with Sascha Bajin

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Two-time Grand Slam finalist Karolina Pliskova is reuniting with coach Sascha Bajin ahead of the 2023 season.

Pliskova posted on her website and her Twitter account about the move, which comes about six months after she and Bajin stopped working together. The pair originally teamed up in November 2020.

While Bajin was her coach, Pliskova reached the final at Wimbledon in 2021 before losing to champion Ash Barty. Pliskova also was the runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open, where she defeated Serena Williams in the semifinals before being beat by Angelique Kerber for the trophy.

After splitting from Bajin in July, Pliskova was coached by Leos Friedl. Their results together included a quarterfinal run at the U.S. Open.

Bajin has worked as a coach or hitting partner with several top tennis players, including Grand Slam title winners Williams, Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

“Thank you for having me back,” Bajin wrote on Twitter. “Let’s go get it.”

Pliskova is a 30-year-old from the Czech Republic who reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings in 2017 and finished this season at No. 31 after going 21-21 with no titles.

Her team also includes fitness specialist Jez Green and physiotherapist Martin Salvador.

Next year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, begins Jan. 16.