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Norrie and Clarke split over Wimbledon record near-miss

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LONDON (AP) After being knocked out in the second round of the men’s doubles on Friday, Cameron Norrie and Jay Clarke had contrasting emotions over how close they had come to a Wimbledon record.

The British duo came up short in a three-day, 87-game, 5-hour, 2-minute first-round marathon against Hans Podlipnik-Castillo of Chile and his Argentine partner Marcelo Arevalo.

The 6-4, 6-7 (5), 5-7, 6-4, 22-20 scoreline left the match tied for the fifth-most games in men’s doubles at Wimbledon, 15 short of the 102 played when Marcelo Melo and Andre Sa defeated Kevin Ullyett and Paul Hanley 28-26 in the fifth set of their second-round encounter in 2007.

Norrie, ranked 75 in singles, doesn’t take doubles “too seriously”, but was down after being told how close they had come to topping the long-match list.

“It’s tough we just missed the record,” he said.

Clarke, who spoke later after returning to the court to win a first-round mixed doubles match alongside fellow British player Harriet Dart, held a different view.

“We will happily settle for this loss rather than 27-29 or something,” Clarke said. “I wouldn’t have enjoyed going that long. This match was long enough.”

Having started on Wednesday evening, the encounter resumed late on Thursday and was suspended once more with Norrie and Clarke leading 4-3 in the fourth set.

The British pair saved eight match points, before the fifth set finally came to an end after 2 hours and 24 minutes.

“I thought it was pretty poor scheduling,” said Norrie, who felt the match should have resumed earlier on Thursday.

Melo was also in men’s doubles action on Friday, as he and Lukasz Kubot made a second-round exit.

The Brazilian was happy to have held on to his record.

“Only at Wimbledon can this happen,” said Melo, referencing the fact the other three Grand Slams have made men’s doubles best of three sets. “That’s why I love to play here.”

Those doubles tussles pale in comparison to Wimbledon’s longest-ever match.

It took John Isner 183 games to defeat Nicolas Mahut in a 2010 first-round men’s singles clash. The American player prevailed 70-68 in the fifth set after 11 hours and five minutes.

Norrie said he was thinking about Isner and Mahut as his match went on, and also the possibility of a plaque like the one on Court 18 that commemorates their encounter.

“That would have been nice,” Norrie said

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

Fognini stuns Nadal 6-4, 6-2 to reach Monte Carlo final

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MONACO (AP) Fabio Fognini ended Rafael Nadal’s long winning streak at the Monte Carlo Masters, stunning the defending champion 6-4, 6-2 Saturday to reach the final for the first time and hand Nadal his first defeat here since 2015.

The 13th-seeded Italian had beaten Nadal twice before on clay, and also once at the U.S. Open in five sets, but this was arguably the most impressive.

Not since the 2005 final, a five-setter which Nadal won in four sets, had the 11-time champion Nadal been beaten 6-0 in a set here. And Fognini came so close to doing just that.

He served for the match at 5-0 and 40-0, but Nadal saved three match points – and some pride – by breaking back and then holding.

Serving again for the match at 5-2, Fognini hit a superb forehand down the line to clinch victory on his fourth match point.

Nadal’s last defeat here was also in the semifinals, against Novak Djokovic in 2015. He had not lost a set at the clay-court tournament since conceding one in the second round against Britain’s Kyle Edmund in 2017.

Fognini next plays unseeded Serb Dusan Lajovic in their first-ever meeting, and one few would have predicted happening here.

The 48th-ranked Lajovic earlier staged a remarkable comeback from 5-1 down to beat 10th-seeded Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-1.

Lajovic won 10 straight games to open up a 4-0 lead in the second set before Medvedev finally held serve. But after saving one match point, the Russian player tamely hit a return long on his opponent’s next opportunity.

It could have been an all-Serb semifinal but Medvedev knocked out the top-ranked Djokovic in Friday’s quarterfinals.

Saturday’s match started in difficult conditions, with a heavy wind coming in from the Mediterranean.

Serving for the first set at 5-1, Medvedev dropped his serve and remonstrated with himself.

Lajovic clinched the first set on serve, with Medvedev completely mistiming the ball and sending it skyward.

The 28-year-old Lajovic was ill before the tournament and said he needed antibiotics to recover.

He struggled to describe his surprise run.

“Incredible … Unreal,” he said, before settling on “It’s been a great week.”

Lajovic stages comeback to reach Monte Carlo final

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MONACO (AP) Unseeded Serb Dusan Lajovic staged a remarkable comeback from 5-1 down to beat 10th-seeded Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-1 in the Monte Carlo Masters semifinals on Saturday.

Lajovic won 10 straight games to open up a 4-0 lead in the second set before Medvedev finally held serve. But after saving one match point, the Russian player tamely hit a return long on his opponent’s next opportunity.

The 48th-ranked Lajovic now plays in his first career final against 11-time champion Rafael Nadal or 13th-seeded Fabio Fognini.

It could have been an all-Serb semi but Medvedev knocked out top-ranked Novak Djokovic in Friday’s quarterfinals.

Saturday’s match started in difficult conditions, with a heavy wind coming in from the Mediterranean blowing clay around the court.

Serving for the set at 5-1, Medvedev dropped his serve and remonstrated with himself.

He had good cause.

The first-set turnaround was complete when Lajovic clinched it on serve, with Medvedev completely mistiming the ball and sending it skyward.