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Dimitrov helps rival, advances to Brisbane semis

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BRISBANE, Australia — Grigor Dimitrov hurdled the net to check on the welfare of his rival and then help him to a courtside chair for treatment. Two games later, the defending champion had secured his spot in the Brisbane International semifinals.

Top-seeded Dimitrov beat Kyle Edmund 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-4 in the quarterfinals on Friday to set up a meeting with No. 3-seeded Nick Kyrgios, who rebounded for a 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over former finalist Alexandr Dolgopolov.

It was Dimitrov’s show of concern for Edmund that brought the crowd to its feet at Pat Rafter Arena. At 4-4 in the third set, Edmund tumbled to the court, clutching his right ankle with both hands.

Dimitrov jumped over the net from his side of the court and raced to help Edmund as he writhed in pain behind the baseline at the other end, giving the British player a hand to get up and then helping him limp to the side of the court.

“At the end of the day, health above all. It’s very unfortunate what happened,” Dimitrov said of Edmund’s injury. “I’ve seen this too many times. I know the feeling. I really hope he gets better.

“In the last two games he wasn’t at his best. I just had to find a way again.”

Earlier Friday, Kyrgios had his left knee heavily taped but didn’t appear to be hampered as he worked his way into the match after dropping the first set in 22 minutes.

Teenage wild-card entry Alex De Minaur followed up his upset victory over Milos Raonic with a routine 6-4, 6-0 win over Michael Mmoh to reach his first tour-level semifinal. The 18-year-old De Minaur will play Ryan Harrison, who led 7-6 (6), 4-2 when Denis Istomin retired from their quarterfinal match with a hip strain.

“There were a lot of nerves coming into this match. It was a big opportunity for me,” De Minaur said. “But I came in here a little more level-headed (than the Raonic match), had more time to play, and was able to play my best tennis.”

Belarusian qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich reached her first tour-level final with a 7-6 (3), 6-4 semifinal win over seventh-seeded Anastasija Sevastova.

Sasnovich, who has a career-high ranking of No. 85, will meet either defending champion Karolina Pliskova or No. 3-seeded seed Elina Svitolina in the championship match.

Djokovic lines up Dimitrov at Queen’s Club

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LONDON — Novak Djokovic’s first appearance at Queen’s Club in eight years was successful when he put away Australian qualifier John Millman 6-2, 6-1 on Tuesday.

Djokovic, entered as a wild card, will play second-seeded Grigor Dimitrov in the second round.

Also, Milos Raonic, runner-up to Roger Federer last week in Stuttgart, won his opener when Indian qualifier Yuki Bhambri retired hurt while trailing 6-1, 3-1.

Djokovic’s comeback from right elbow surgery in January has been gathering pace after reaching the Rome semifinals and French Open quarterfinals. He leads Dimitrov 6-1 in career matchups.

Dimitrov, the 2014 Queen’s champion, struggled past Damir Dzumhur 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3. Dimitrov saved six of eight break points.

Svitolina’s top ambitions survive grass-court struggle

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BIRMINGHAM, England — Elena Svitolina, who came within two wins of becoming world No. 1 in January, maintained her ambitious momentum to reach the top by surviving a tricky start to her Wimbledon build-up on Tuesday.

The second-seeded Svitolina stumbled within sight of a two-set victory, and briefly faltered again in the last set before beating Donna Vekic of Croatia 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.

Svitolina showed glimpses of the tenacious movement and consistently ferocious drives which have earned her the best win-loss record on the WTA tour since the beginning of last year, but also revealed glimpses of insecurity on the lush, low-bouncing surface.

Despite carving a lead of a set and 3-1, her gradually increasing attempts to win points in the forecourt were of variable quality, while Vekic, a former runner-up here, began to contain and counterattack more effectively.

Svitolina nearly let slip another lead of 3-1, in the last set, needing to save two break points on her next service game – one with a fine serve, and the other with a net attack finished off at the third attempt.

Eventually, the Ukrainian’s determination to adapt tactically to a surface on which she has yet to progress beyond any quarterfinal paid timely dividends, and she accelerated toward the finishing line at a canter.

“I was just trying to play well and to dominate, but she played a couple of great points to break back – which is always nice to have,” said Svitolina, apparently meaning she was pleased to gain extra practice on such a technique-testing surface.

“It was difficult for me because she hit the ball very flat and the first match on grass is always a challenge.”

She next faces Alize Cornet of France, who notably beat Serena Williams at 2014 Wimbledon, and who outlasted former top-10 player Ekaterina Makarova of Russia, by 5-7, 6-4, 6-1.