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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.”

Bencic beats 2-time defending champ Svitolina in Dubai semi

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Unseeded Belinda Bencic stopped Elina Svitolina’s bid for a third consecutive title at the Dubai Championships by beating her 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (3) in the semifinals Friday.

The 45th-ranked Bencic won her third match in a row against a top-10 opponent and will face yet another, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, in Saturday’s final at the hard-court tournament.

Kvitova advanced to her third final of 2019 by edging Hsieh Su-wei 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. The No. 2-seeded Kvitova picked up her tour-high 17th victory of 2019.

Bencic is seeking her third career title, Kvitova her 27th.

Against No. 6 seed Svitolina, Bencic trailed 5-3 in the third set. This was her latest in a string of comebacks. She saved six match points against eighth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka in the third round, then erased a set deficit to beat third-seeded Simona Halep in the quarterfinals.

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Bencic upsets Halep to reach Dubai semifinals

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Unseeded Belinda Bencic rallied to beat second-ranked Simona Halep 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 Thursday to reach the Dubai Championships semifinals.

Bencic, who saved six match points in the previous round against Aryna Sabalenka, failed to capitalize on an early break in the first set but Halep continued to struggle with her serve and was broken seven times in total. Bencic broke for a 5-4 lead in the second and then raced out to a 3-0 lead in the decider, having won six games in a row. Halep, who was playing her ninth match in 13 days after reaching the final in Qatar last week, got one break back but Bencic broke again for a 5-2 lead before converting her third match point.

Second-seeded Petra Kvitova had no such problems, winning the last eight games to oust Viktoria Kuzmova 6-4, 6-0 to book her spot in the last four. Kvitova, the 2013 Dubai champion, needed just 62 minutes to wrap up the win. She will next face Su-wei Hsieh of Taiwan, who came from 5-1 down in the final set to beat fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 1-6, 7-5. It was the latest upset for Hsieh, who ousted Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber on Wednesday.

In the final quarterfinal, Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain was playing Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.

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