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Djokovic beats del Potro to reach Italian Open semifinals

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ROME — Four-time champion Novak Djokovic picked up right where he left off in a rain-delayed Italian Open quarterfinal against Juan Martin del Potro, closing out a 6-1, 6-4 win Saturday to set up a semifinal later against Dominic Thiem.

Djokovic was leading 6-1, 1-2 before heavy rain Friday night caused the conclusion of the match to be postponed by a day.

In clearer conditions at the Foro Italico, Djokovic held serve when the match resumed and then got the decisive break in the next game with a drop-shot winner.

Djokovic waved his arms to get the crowd behind him as the set wore on, dictating play from near the baseline while del Potro stood further back retrieving balls in the corners.

In the other semifinal, 16th-seeded Alexander Zverev was playing big-serving John Isner.

In the women’s tournament, fourth-ranked Simona Halep advanced to the final and extended her clay-court winning streak to 10 matches with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Kiki Bertens.

After dropping five set points while serving for the opening set at 5-4, Halep started knocking her head with her finger as if saying, `Wake up.” After getting broken in that game she held at love in her next service game to end the set.

Halep then cruised past her 20th-ranked Dutch opponent amid intermittent rain.

Bertens committed 31 unforced errors to Halep’s nine.

Halep is looking for back-to-back clay-court titles after taking the title in Madrid last weekend.

The Romanian will face either Garbine Muguruza or Elina Svitolina in Sunday’s final.

 

Matteo Berrettini breaks through on grass to win Stuttgart Open

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STUTTGART, Germany — Matteo Berrettini beat Canadian teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 7-6 (11) to win the Stuttgart Open and his third tour-level title on Sunday.

The Italian saved five set points in a second-set tiebreaker and clinched his first title on grass. His other titles came at Budapest in April, and Gstaad, Switzerland, last year.

The 18-year-old Auger-Aliassime previously reached championship matches in Rio de Janeiro in February and the Lyon Open in May – both on clay.

Berrettini won all 50 of his service games during the week in Stuttgart. He did not face a break point against Auger-Aliassime.

Auger-Aliassime progressed to the final in his first professional grass tournament without playing Saturday as compatriot Milos Raonic withdrew ahead of their semifinal due to back problems.

Playing on two surfaces, Vekic reaches Nottingham semis

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NOTTINGHAM, England — Former champion Donna Vekic finally got to play on grass at the Nottingham Open on Friday but had to overcome multiple rain delays and another switch indoors before reaching the semifinals.

The second-seeded Vekic defeated Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 6-4 in a match played on two surfaces as rain again played havoc with the schedule.

The opening two days were completely washed out before organizers decided to switch the first and second rounds indoors as rain fell for four consecutive days.

Vekic, who won the tournament in 2017, will play Germany’s Tatjana Maria in her third straight semifinal in Nottingham. Maria earlier defeated Ajla Tomljanovic 6-3, 7-6 (7) in the only match completed on grass so far at the tournament.

Also Friday, American Jennifer Brady defeated fourth-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece 7-5, 6-3 to set up a semifinal against top-seeded Caroline Garcia.

Garcia rallied to beat Romanian qualifier Elena-Gabriela Ruse 4-6, 7-6, 6-1 in the last quarterfinal.