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Shapovalov shoots up the rankings with Italian Open win over Berdych

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ROME – Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov pulled off another big win, overcoming a slow start to beat 15th-seeded Tomas Berdych 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5) in the first round of the Italian Open on Tuesday.

Also on the red clay of the Foro Italico, three-time Rome champion Maria Sharapova defeated 16th-seeded Ashleigh Barty 7-5, 3-6, 6-2.

The 19-year-old Shapovalov is coming off a semifinal appearance in last week’s Madrid Open, where he beat fellow Canadian Milos Raonic in the Round of 16.

Already up to a career-high ranking of 29th this week, the victory over Berdych will move Shapovalov ahead of No. 22 Raonic when next week’s rankings come out – making him the top Canadian.

Shapovalov is already the youngest player in the top 30 since Richard Gasquest reached No. 17 in 2005 at the age of 19.

Showing off his crafty game, Shapovalov made an audacious foray to the net to conclude one point with an overhead smash as he ran out to a 4-0 lead in the decisive tiebreaker.

Berdych came back to make it 5-5 but the left-handed Shapovalov then drew his opponent into the net and unleashed a wicked one-handed backhand passing shot down the line.

On his first match point, Shapovalov wrong-footed Berdych with another shot down the line that his opponent couldn’t get back.

The risk-taking Shapovalov committed twice as many unforced errors as Berdych but also hit more than three times as many winners.

On a day in which the start of play was delayed and then interrupted by rain, 14th-seeded Diego Schwartzman eliminated Chilean qualifier Nicolas Jarry 6-4, 6-1, and 16th-seeded Lucas Pouille held off Italian wild card Andreas Seppi before a partisan crowd, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (3)

Greek qualifier Stefanos Tsitsipas, who reached the final of the Barcelona Open last month, advanced when Borna Coric retired while trailing 4-1.

In the women’s tournament, 11th-seeded Angelique Kerber defeated Kazakh qualifier Zarina Diyas 6-2, 7-6 (6), and 14th-seeded Daria Kasatkina beat Australian qualifier Ajla Tomljanovic 6-0, 6-4.

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Novak Djokovic moves step closer to first Cincinnati title

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MASON, Ohio — Novak Djokovic closed in on the one title that has eluded him, reaching the final of the Western & Southern Open on Saturday with a three-set victory over Marin Cilic.

His 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win moved him one victory away from the only ATP Masters 1000 title he’s never claimed. Djokovic is trying to become the first to win all nine events since the series started in 1990.

One big hurdle: a potential rematch with Roger Federer, who faced David Goffin in the other semifinal. Federer has won an unprecedented seven Cincinnati titles, beating Djokovic three times in championship matches.

“It’s been a roller-coaster week with matches and the interruptions with the rain and all that’s happened,” Djokovic said.

Djokovic completed his long recovery from elbow surgery by winning Wimbledon for the fourth time last month. He then set out to get his hard-court game in form for the U.S. Open.

Along the way, he dearly wants to get a title in Cincinnati, where he’s 0-5 in the finals.

Frustrated by his ragged play early in his semifinal win over Milos Raonic, Djokovic slammed his racket on the court, sending pieces of the frame into the air. The racket-busting became a turning point.

When he closed out the victory Saturday, he walked calmly to the net to congratulate Cilic and then raised both arms in triumph.

In the women’s bracket, Kiki Bertens advanced to her first Western & Southern Open final, wearing down No. 8 Petra Kvitova 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 for a chance at her second title of the season.

Bertens is an unexpected finalist, winning only one match during three previous appearances in Cincinnati. Her only title this season was at Charleston.

Known as more of a clay court player, Bertens has reached a hard-court final for the first time, spending more time getting accustomed to the different style of play.

“I think also I’m less stressed,” she said. “So before the match, I’m less nervous than I used to be. Before I was like, `Oh, I play on center court and a lot of people are watching.’ But now I’m just more relaxed.”

Top-ranked Simona Halep played later Saturday against Aryna Sabalenka, trying to reach the finals for the third time. Halep has never won a Cincinnati title, losing the final match last year to Garbine Muguruza.

A week of rain delays and double-duty days wore on players, many of whom wound up playing twice in a day. Kvitova faded in her second straight three-set match, ending her best showing in Cincinnati. She’d made five previous appearances in semifinals this season, winning each tournament.

“My legs were pretty heavy,” Kvitova said. “I just couldn’t really jump at all. It was very, very tiring, the second set, and I just think that I couldn’t really find energy in the third one. I was really trying, but nothing.”

Bertens tops Kvitova, advances to finals in Cincinnati

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MASON, Ohio – Kiki Bertens advanced to her first Western & Southern Open final on Saturday, wearing down No. 8 Petra Kvitova 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 for a chance at her second title of the season.

Bertens is an unexpected finalist, winning only one match during three previous appearances in Cincinnati. Her only title this season was at Charleston.

Top-ranked Simona Halep plays later, trying to reach the finals for the third time. She has never won a Cincinnati title.

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic highlight the men’s semifinals, needing a win on Saturday to play each other for the title. Federer is trying for a record eighth Cincinnati title. Djokovic is trying to win the tournament for the first time.