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Thiem reaches 3rd French Open semifinal; Keys reaches 1st

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PARIS (AP) Dominic Thiem made it to a third straight French Open semifinal after swatting aside second-seeded Alexander Zverev 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 on Tuesday.

The seventh-seeded Thiem is in sight of a first final at Roland Garros.

In his way are 12-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic or unseeded Italian Marco Cecchinato. Their quarterfinal on Court Suzanne Lenglen was later Tuesday.

There was no stirring comeback this time for Zverev on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Heading into the match, the German had won three consecutive five-setters – trailing 2-1 in sets in each – but the rousing effort caught up to him against Thiem.

Just 10 minutes in, Zverev clutched at his left hamstring. He grabbed it again midway through the second set, after giving chase to one of several drop shots Thiem used to force Zverev to run a lot.

After falling behind 4-1 in that set an hour into the match, Zverev called for a trainer, who applied a thick bandage to his upper left leg.

Soon enough, Zverev lost the second set, too, and it proved to be too much of a deficit to overcome. He trailed 4-0 in the third set before getting a game.

Over on Lenglen, meanwhile, Madison Keys reached her first French Open semifinal by defeating unseeded Yulia Putintseva 7-6 (5), 6-4.

The 13th-seeded Keys has not lost a set at Roland Garros.

While Putintseva regularly lost her composure, Keys stayed calm throughout and the big-hitting American secured victory on her first match point with a powerful serve which clipped Putintseva’s racket and flew into the crowd.

Her box, including three-time major winner Lindsay Davenport, rose to acclaim Keys, who lost last year’s U.S. Open final to friend and countrywoman Sloane Stephens.

They could meet again in the semifinals.

The 10th-seeded Stephens was facing No. 14 Daria Kasatkina in a quarterfinals later Tuesday on Chatrier.

The 98th-ranked Putintseva was trying to become the first player from Kazakhstan to advance to a Grand Slam semifinal.

She had her chances against Keys, troubling her with deft drop shots and spinning, looping forehands, but could not hold her nerve.

After losing the first-set tiebreaker, she started ranting at her box and struck the ground with her racket in frustration.

Known for her short fuse, she lived up to it, regularly spinning around to glare at her box with looks of incomprehension and hand-flapping gestures; or at other times mumbling to herself in frustration.

In the second game of the second set, she was convinced an incorrect call went in favor of Keys and asked the chair umpire to come down and check it.

“My God,” Putintseva said as she walked away. “I can’t believe … unbelievable.”

Djokovic faced an unfamiliar opponent in 72nd-ranked Cecchinato, who was cleared of a match-fixing charge on a technicality in 2016 – the year Djokovic won the last of his 12 majors at Roland Garros.

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

Opelka edges top-seeded Isner to reach New York Open final

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UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) Reilly Opelka edged top-seeded John Isner the same way he knocked his fellow American out of the Australian Open, winning a match full of tiebreakers Saturday night in a New York Open semifinal that set a record for combined aces in a three-set match.

Opelka fought off six match points in a marathon second set and went on to win 6-7 (8), 7-6 (14), 7-6 (4) to move within a victory of his first ATP title.

The 6-foot-11 Opelka and 6-10 Isner combined for 81 aces and there were no breaks of serve. Opelka hit 43 aces, Isner had 38, and each had only one double fault.

It was similar to their meeting in Melbourne, when Opelka beat the ninth-ranked Isner in a first-round match that went four tiebreakers.

Opelka will play Canadian Brayden Schnur, a qualifier who had never won a tour-level match before this week.

Schnur recovered after blowing a 3-0 lead and eventually the second set to beat American Sam Querrey 7-6 (7), 4-6, 6-3.

Schnur was the final alternate accepted into the tournament’s qualifying draw and was nearly gone from Long Island quickly, eventually overcoming two match points to beat No. 3 seed Steve Johnson in the second round.

There was nothing quick about the second semifinal, which lasted 2 hours, 31 minutes and went well past the previous record of 71 aces, set earlier this year in a match between Nick Kyrgios and Ryan Harrison.

Isner was in good position to win in straight sets, taking a 3-1 lead in the tiebreaker when Opelka pushed a forehand long. But he wasted a chance to win the match on his serve, and Opelka then kept erasing the rest of the match points when he served.

Isner had dropped both matches this season, part of a six-match skid dating to the end of last year, before winning his first two matches here in straight sets.

But he was stopped again by Opelka, who fell two aces shy of Ivo Karlovic’s record for most aces in a three-set match.

More AP Tennis: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Mertens upsets Halep in Qatar Open final

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DOHA, Qatar – Unseeded Elise Mertens came from a set and a break down to beat recent No. 1 Simona Halep 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the Qatar Open final and capture the biggest title of her career on Saturday.

Halep led 6-3, 2-0, then lost a service game for a third time to see the second set back on serve. Mertens continued to pressure, missing two more break chances in the seventh game but finally breaking – to love – in the ninth. The set was the first Mertens took from Halep in three matchups.

Mertens broke again to start the third set, Halep leveled at 2-2, but Mertens finished stronger and won her fifth career title.

The Belgian beat two other top-10 players this week, Kiki Bertens and Angelique Kerber.

Halep’s first final appearance since August guaranteed she will rise one spot to No. 2 in the rankings on Monday.