Chardy keen for tips on beating Djokovic in Shanghai

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SHANGHAI — Jeremy Chardy has lost track of how many times he’s lost to Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion Novak Djokovic. It’s a lot.

Chardy set up a 12th career meeting against Djokovic – he thought it was a 15th – after beating Maximilian Marterer of Germany 6-3, 7-6 (5) in the first round at the Shanghai Masters on Sunday.

“He keeps on telling me that,” said Djokovic about Chardy crediting him with more wins than he’s actually earned.

“Joking aside, he’s a great guy. I get along very well with him. What I did well in the past in our matchups, I managed to neutralize his first serve, and also take advantage of his second serve, and try to be consistent on my service games, move him around the court, because he’s not the best mover.

“So I try to expose his weaknesses.”

In their 11 previous meetings, Djokovic has won all 26 sets they’ve played.

“I haven’t found the key … so I would like to try something different even if I get killed,” Chardy said while laughing. “It is not easy to believe once you lost all these times in a row and never won a set.

“The way I played the last times just didn’t work. I feel like I already tried different things. If you have an idea. I will listen.”

Chardy saved all three break points he faced in the match against Marterer.

“The courts here are really fast and I was surprised because I didn’t think we had courts this fast on tour,” Chardy said. “Maybe that will help me (against Djokovic).”

Djokovic, who has increased his Grand Slam titles to 14, is back in winning form after going through a nearly two-year period of lackluster results and injury. In January, he finally underwent right elbow surgery after alternate attempts to heal the injury failed.

“I am really glad that I put myself in a position to compete for No. 1 of the world,” the third-ranked Djokovic said. “Four, five months ago, that was looking a little bit far from reach, but with the recent results, I put myself in a pretty decent position to fight for No. 1, year-end No. 1, which of course is always one of the ultimate goals that you have as a professional tennis player.”

Djokovic has won the Shanghai title three times.

The 12th-seeded American Jack Sock is already out of the tournament, losing to Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3.

Linette keeps getting better; into Australian Open semis

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Two days after advancing to her first Grand Slam tournament quarterfinal, unseeded Magda Linette went one better and is into the Australian Open semifinals.

The 30-year-old Linette beat Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 7-5, adding the former No. 1 to the list of top players she has beaten at Melbourne Park during this tournament.

Linette, who had lost seven of nine previous matches against Pliskova, had defeated Anett Kontaveit, Ekaterina Alexandrova and WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia in successive rounds.

A player from Poland was favored to reach the latter stages of the tournament, but it was top-seeded Iga Swiatek that everyone would have expected – and not Linette.

“It’s so emotional I can’t really believe it,” Linette said. “I tried to stay composed and took my chances when I could.”

Linette will play No. 5 Aryna Sabalenka, who beat unseeded Donna Vekic 6-3, 6-2 in a later quarterfinal. The women’s semifinals are scheduled for Thursday night.

Vekic, who had 13 double faults against Sabalenka, had a succinct appraisal of her serve: “I mean, it was all over the place. But I think mostly in the net.”

The other women’s semifinalists were determined on Tuesday. Two-time former Australian champion Victoria Azarenka will play Wimbledon titleholder Elena Rybakina for a chance to play in Saturday night’s final. Rybakina beat Swiatek in the fourth round.

Later Wednesday, the remaining men’s semifinalists will be determined. Unseeded Americans Ben Shelton and Tommy Paul play before nine-time champion Novak Djokovic takes on Andrey Rublev.

Djokovic will be looking to qualify for his 44th Grand Slam semifinal and a win in that match on Friday would advance him on Sunday night to his 33rd major singles final.

The other men’s semifinal on Friday will see third-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas play Karen Khachanov.

Rybakina rules in Australian Open quarterfinal vs. Ostapenko

Mike Frey-USA TODAY Sports
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MELBOURNE, Australia – Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina advanced to the Australian Open semifinals with a 6-2, 6-4 win over former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

The match on Rod Laver Arena featured a rare rain delay of about 20 minutes while the roof was closed. Rybakina led 3-1 and was holding a break point before the delay. On return, Ostapenko saved the first break point, but Rybakina broke on her next opportunity to go up 4-1 and won the first set 6-2.

In the second set, Ostapenko was up a break but Rybakina leveled with a break of her own. It came on her first break point when Ostapenko had been unable to convert four in the previous game.

Rybakina, who beat top-seeded Iga Swiatek in the fourth round, set up match points with aces, both of which were saved by Ostapenko. But she clinched the match with another ace, her 11th of the match and a tournament-leading 35 overall.

“I was nervous in the last game, but I managed my emotions and played very well.” Rybakina said. “The conditions were different after the roof was closed. But it can happen here, you never know, on the morning one weather and later it changes.”

Rybakina will play the winner of the night quarterfinal between American Jessica Pegula, at No. 3 the highest women’s seed remaining, and two-time champion Victoria Azarenka.

In men’s quarterfinals, 22-year-old American Sebastian Korda played the next match at Rod Laver Arena against No. 18-seeded Karen Khachanov. In a night quarterfinal, third-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas plays Jiri Lehecka. The winners of those matches will play each other in the semifinals on Friday.