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Madison Keys tops Carla Suarez Navarro to reach 2nd U.S. Open semifinal

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NEW YORK (AP) — Madison Keys is into her third semifinal in the past five Grand Slam tournaments, including two in a row at the U.S. Open.

She’s still in search of major title No. 1.

The 14th-seeded American used her big-strike game built on serves and forehands to overpower No. 30 Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-4, 6-3 in the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows on Wednesday night.

Keys won all 10 of her service games, saving the only two break points she faced. One came in the last game as she served for the victory, but she erased it with a forehand winner, part of a 22-10 edge in that category.

It all took less than 1 1/2 hours against Suarez Navarro, who eliminated five-time major champion Maria Sharapova in straight sets in her previous match but has never made it to the semifinals at a major.

Keys was the runner-up in New York a year ago, beaten by Sloane Stephens in an all-American final. Keys also lost to Stephens in the French Open semifinals this June.

This time, Keys will play No. 20 Naomi Osaka on Thursday night for a chance to reach the final again. The other women’s semifinal is 23-time major champion Serena Williams against No. 19 Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia.

Osaka was an easy winner in her quarterfinal, eliminating unseeded Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine 6-1, 6-1 in all of 57 minutes.

With Kei Nishikori defeating 2014 champ Marin Cilic 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-4 in a rematch of the final four years ago at Flushing Meadows, Osaka and Nishikori give Japan semifinalists in both men’s and women’s singles at the same Grand Slam tournament for the first time in tennis history.

“It’s great to see,” Nishikori said.

He is into his third major semifinal — all in New York — but is still in search of his initially Slam trophy.

For Osaka, who is 20, this is her first trip past the fourth round at a major.

She purported to be “freaking out inside,” even if it certainly never showed.

Tsurenko had dealt with heat issues in the fourth round, when her opponent accused her of acting, and said after her lopsided loss to Osaka that she was dealing with a sore throat and problems breathing.

“Today was not my day, obviously,” Tsurenko said.

It was Osaka’s, though. She is strong at the baseline and has learned to control her strokes with the coaching help of Sascha Bajin, who used to be Williams’ hitting partner.

“I believe that they kind of want to play the same, you know. They are very powerful. Big serves. Big hitters, both of them,” Bajin said. “But even on court, Serena is very aggressive, you know, and Naomi — I have to push her to get a fist pump out of her.”

On Wednesday, Osaka only needed 12 winners because a whopping 31 of her other points came via unforced errors by Tsurenko.

The 21st-seeded Nishikori and No. 7 Cilic traded the lead and momentum for more than 4 hours. Cilic started well, taking the opening set and going up a break in the second. But then he faltered and they went to a tiebreaker, where Cilic led 4-3 before delivering two double-faults in a row.

He had a letdown at the very end, too, rallying from 4-1 down to 4-all, before Nishikori grabbed the last two games.

Nishikori missed last year’s U.S. Open with torn tendons in his right wrist.

“Especially after coming from injury,” he said, “I think I’m enjoying this challenge.”

Ball boy flub taints Zverev’s ATP Finals win vs. Federer

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LONDON — After pulling off one of the biggest wins of his career, Alexander Zverev was left apologizing for an unforced error he didn’t make.

Zverev denied Roger Federer a shot at a 100th career title by beating the Swiss great 7-5, 7-6 (5) on Saturday to advance to the championship match at the ATP Finals.

Federer was leading the second-set tiebreaker 4-3 and in the ascendancy of a rally on a Zverev service point when a ball boy at the back of the court dropped a ball. Zverev immediately signaled for the point to be stopped and the umpire ordered the point to be replayed.

Zverev served an ace before going on to close out the match moments later.

“I want to apologize for the situation in the tiebreak,” said Zverev, who was booed by some members of the crowd during his on-court interview. “The ball boy dropped the ball so it’s in the rules that we have to replay the point.

“I’m a little bit upset about the whole situation because this is not how I wanted it to end.”

Zverev is the youngest player at 21 to reach the final since 2009 and the first from Germany since 1996. He will next face Novak Djokovic or Kevin Anderson, who are in the other semifinal later Saturday.

Federer, 37, was seeking a record-extending seventh title, but was unable to cope with the pressure created by Zverev’s power and precision at the O2 Arena.

“He (Zverev) apologized to me at the net,” Federer said. “I was like, `Buddy, shut up. You don’t need to apologize to me here. Congratulations on a great match and a great tournament so far. All the best for the finals.’ And you move on.”

An inspired series of shots earned Zverev the first break points of the match in the 12th game and Federer sent a forehand wide to fall behind.

Federer willed himself to a break for 2-1 in the second set, but Zverev quickly composed himself to hit straight back in the following game.

Zverev overcame the freak interruption to establish a 5-4 lead in the tiebreaker, and Federer netted the simplest of forehand volleys to bring up match point.

He saved the first, but Zverev confidently put away a backhand drive volley to set up a shot at the biggest title of his career and leave Federer waiting until next season for his 100th title.

“Overall, I’m happy how the season went,” said Federer, who picked up his 20th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. “There’s many positives. So I’m excited for next season.”

Despite having reached only one Grand Slam quarterfinal, Zverev is the only active player outside the Big Four of Djokovic, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to have won three Masters titles. But victory at the tour’s flagship event would exceed those achievements.

“Novak right now is the best player in the world,” said Zverev, who lost to Djokovic in the round robin. “No matter who it’s going to be, I’ll be ready.”

Federer advances to record-extending 15th ATP Finals semi

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LONDON — Roger Federer advanced to the last four of the ATP Finals for a record-extending 15th time with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Kevin Anderson on Thursday.

Six-time champion Federer needed only a set to advance and produced his best performance at the season-ending tournament to end the round-robin stages with a 2-1 win-loss record.

Dominic Thiem’s 6-1, 6-4 victory over Kei Nishikori earlier had left Federer with a modest task and ensured that Anderson became the first South African ever to reach the semifinals.

Federer looked as if he was about to give up a break advantage for the second time in as many service games when he dropped to 0-40 attempting to close out the opening set at 5-4, but the 20-time Grand Slam champion found his first serve when it mattered most to hold.

Anderson hadn’t faced a break point in winning his first two matches. Federer, though, broke him twice more in the second set to claim top spot in the group and likely avoid a semifinal meeting with top-ranked Novak Djokovic.

Having struggled in an opening loss to Nishikori and relied mainly on his serve when defeating Thiem, Federer finally found some timing with his ground-strokes to apply consistent pressure on Anderson’s serve.

The previously impenetrable Anderson serve wilted, with two double faults gifting Federer a 4-3 lead. Much to the surprise – and disappointment – of the partisan crowd at the O2 Arena, the Swiss great handed the break straight back with a series of errors.

However, Federer steadied himself and made a delicate drop volley to break once more in the following game, before eventually closing out the set to maintain his record of having only missed the semifinals once in 16 appearances at the tournament.

Federer lost just four points on serve in the second set. He used a backhand slice to break for 4-3 and the same shot brought up two match points at 3-5, 15-40.

Having saved a match point on his way to securing a five-set quarterfinal victory over Federer at Wimbledon, Anderson threatened another comeback as he won a 21-shot rally to get back to deuce, but there was to be no repeat this time.

Two more Anderson forehand errors ended the match and Federer won the group by virtue of their head-to-head record.

With Djokovic clear favorite to top his group, which concludes Friday, Federer has boosted his chances of avoiding the in-form Serb until the final.