Getty Images

The Latest: Latvia’s Ostapenko into French Open semifinals

Leave a comment

PARIS (AP) The Latest on the French Open (all times local):

8:05 p.m.

Teenager Jelena Ostapenko advanced to the semifinals of the French Open by rallying past former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Ostapenko is the first woman from Latvia to make it to a Grand Slam semifinal in the professional era. At age 19, the 47th-ranked Ostapenko is also the youngest player in the tournament.

As she often has since the start of the tournament, Ostapenko took many risks, hitting 38 winners to make up for her 50 unforced errors on court Suzanne Lenglen.

That dangerous approach paid dividends as she hit a crosscourt forehand winner then a backhand down the line to break for 5-2 in the decider. She served out the match at love.

The last teenager to advance to the semifinals at Roland Garros was Ana Ivanovic 10 years ago.

7:50 p.m.

Timea Bacsinszky will celebrate her 28th birthday by playing in the semifinals of the French Open after a straight-set victory over home favorite Kristina Mladenovic.

Bacsinszky beat 13th-seeded Mladenovic 6-4, 6-4 in a match which was twice delayed by rain.

Mladenovic appeared to deal better with the initial delay. She fought off break point to hold at the start of the second set and then immediately broke.

But Bacsinszky broke back. The Swiss player then won 12 of the 15 points before rain started falling again.

Bacsinszky almost dropped her serve but held on and won the match when Mladenovic hit a forehand wide.

The No. 30 seed will next face either No. 11 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark or unseeded 19-year-old Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, who also celebrates her birthday on Thursday.

7:35 p.m.

The second rain interruption at the French Open was very brief, and play has resumed in the women’s quarterfinals.

Play was halted for about 30 minutes.

No. 30 Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland is leading 13th-seeded Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-4, 4-3 on Court Philippe Chatrier, while No. 11 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark is up 6-4, 2-6, 2-1 on Court Suzanne Lenglen against unseeded 19-year-old Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.

7:10 p.m.

Play has been halted again in the women’s quarterfinals at the French Open because of rain.

No. 30 Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland was leading 13th-seeded Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-4, 4-3 at Court Philippe Chatrier, while No. 11 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark was leading unseeded 19-year-old Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia 6-4, 2-6, 2-1 on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

After a more than three-hour rain interruption, play lasted about 20 minutes before covers were put back over the clay courts.

6:40 p.m.

Play has resumed in the women’s quarterfinals at the French Open after a delay of more than three hours because of rain.

No. 30 Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland is leading 13th-seeded Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-4, 1-1 at Court Philippe Chatrier, while No. 11 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark is leading unseeded 19-year-old Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia 6-4, 2-5 at Court Suzanne Lenglen.

6:15 p.m.

The French Open men’s quarterfinals involving Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have been postponed because of rain.

Because of showers and heavy wind much of the afternoon, the two men’s singles matches on Tuesday’s schedule have been moved to Wednesday: No. 4 Nadal vs. No. 20 Pablo Carreno Busta, and No. 2 Djokovic vs. No. 6 Dominic Thiem.

Nadal is a nine-time champion at Roland Garros. Djokovic is the defending champion. If they both win their quarterfinals, they would meet in a semifinal showdown.

The two women’s quarterfinals scheduled for Tuesday are still suspended in progress.

The tournament hopes to be able to resume those before the day is done.

4:45 p.m.

It’s gala time at the French Open with the world champions’ dinner taking place in Paris later Tuesday.

Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber, who sealed the year-end No. 1 rankings last year, will receive their awards from the International Tennis Federation at the Pavillon Cambon Capucines in downtown Paris.

Former Spanish players Sergio Casal and Emilio Sanchez will also be honored with the Philippe Chatrier Award “for their services to the game as players and coaches.”

They first teamed up in 1984 and won 44 tournaments together, including two Grand Slam titles. They later opened the Sanchez-Casal Academy in Barcelona.

3:45 p.m.

Davis Cup singles matches would be reduced to best-of-three-sets instead of the current best-of-five under a proposal recommended by the International Tennis Federation board of directors.

Davis Cup doubles matches will remain best-of-five.

Other possible changes that will be voted on in August include that Davis Cup and Fed Cup finalists will have the right to host first-round matches the following year, and the costs paid by host nations will be cut.

3:30 p.m.

Play has been halted in the women’s quarterfinals at the French Open because of rain.

No. 30 Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland was leading 13th-seeded Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-4, 1-1 at Court Philippe Chatrier, while No. 11 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark was leading unseeded 19-year-old Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia 6-4, 2-5 at Court Suzanne Lenglen.

2:20 p.m.

Play has started in the French Open women’s quarterfinals.

No. 13 Kristina Mladenovic of France is playing No. 30 Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland at Court Philippe Chatrier, while No. 11 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark faces unseeded 19-year-old Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia at Court Suzanne Lenglen.

It is windy on both courts and dust from the clay is getting in players’ eyes.

But the rain that pelted Roland Garros earlier Tuesday has gone away – at least for the moment. The forecast calls for showers to return.

1 p.m.

It has been rainy and windy before the scheduled start of the French Open quarterfinals. And the forecast calls for similar weather later.

First up on each of the tournament’s two main courts on Tuesday’s schedule are women’s matches: No. 13 Kristina Mladenovic of France against No. 30 Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland at Court Philippe Chatrier, and No. 11 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark against unseeded 19-year-old Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia at Court Suzanne Lenglen.

None of the eight women’s quarterfinalists, including those playing Wednesday, owns a major title.

The men’s quarterfinals slated for later Tuesday are No. 4 Rafael Nadal vs. No. 20 Pablo Carreno Busta in an all-Spanish matchup, and No. 2 Novak Djokovic of Serbia vs. No. 6 Dominic Thiem of Austria.

More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

Nadal-Djokovic semifinal suspended after 3rd set

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

Former No. 1 Kerber tops Ostapenko; into second Wimbledon final

AP Images
Leave a comment

LONDON – It was clear right from the opening game of Angelique Kerber’s Wimbledon semifinal how things were going to go. She was not going to dictate or control much.

She was, instead, going to employ spectacular defense and solid, steady play, while letting her opponent, Jelena Ostapenko, be the one to determine the outcomes of nearly every point.

It worked. The 11th-seeded Kerber reached her second final at the All England Club by avoiding too many mistakes and using a seven-game run to seize control for a 6-3, 6-3 victory over the 12th-seeded Ostapenko on Thursday.

“These are the matches I was working for as a young kid,” Kerber said, “and to stand here again in the final at Wimbledon is great.”

Kerber is a former No. 1 and a two-time major champion, both coming in 2016 at the Australian Open and U.S. Open. That was also the year the German was the runner-up at Wimbledon, losing to Serena Williams in the title match.

She could find herself up against Williams yet again: The 36-year-old American was scheduled to face No. 13 Julia Goerges of Germany in Thursday’s second semifinal on Centre Court.

Williams took a 19-match Wimbledon winning streak into the day. She won the grass-court tournament the last two times she played it, in 2015 and 2016, before missing it last year while pregnant. Williams gave birth to a daughter in September.

The left-handed Kerber was mainly a passive participant in the early going against Ostapenko. That first game consisted of eight points: Three were unforced errors by Ostapenko, including a double-fault to begin the proceedings; the other five were winners by her, including a 100 mph ace to close the hold.

Five games in, Ostapenko led 3-2, and the numbers were still tilted toward her. She had 14 winners and 10 unforced errors, while Kerber had three winners and – this was key – zero unforced errors.

There were no drawn-out points in the early going, no lengthy baseline exchanges, essentially because Ostapenko wouldn’t allow it. The Latvian plays an aggressive brand of first-strike tennis that carried her to the 2017 French Open title as an unseeded 20-year-old.

Kerber, in contrast, bides her time, working the back of the court to get everything back over the net, often kneeling to get low enough to reach shots.

Eventually, Kerber’s style ruled the day. She went on a half-hour run in which she took the last four games of the first set and took a 3-0 lead in the second. Ostapenko’s strokes were missing and she grew increasingly frustrated, slapping a thigh after a miss or leaning forward and putting her hands on her knees after others. By the time she flubbed a backhand while falling behind 5-1 in the second, she dropped her racket and screamed.

It took Kerber two tries to serve out the victory, getting broken to 5-2. But unlike in the quarterfinals, when she needed seven match points to win, this time it required only two, with the match ending – fittingly enough – on a forehand by Ostapenko that sailed wide.

The final tally told the story: Ostapenko had far more winners, 30-10, but also far more unforced errors, 36-7.