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John Isner reaches Stockholm semifinals

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STOCKHOLM — On the day Wimbledon introduced final-set tiebreakers, the player behind the two longest ever matches at the All England Club needed yet another one to advance to the semifinals of the Stockholm Open.

Big-serving John Isner won his second all-American matchup of the week in the Swedish capital, beating Tennys Sandgren 7-6 (8), 6-7 (5), 7-6 (2) in the last of the quarterfinals on Friday. All six sets played by the top-seeded Isner at the tournament have gone to tie-breakers.

Two epic matches involving the big-serving Isner at Wimbledon likely prompted the Grand Slam to announce earlier Friday that final-set tiebreakers will be played at the grass-court event from next year, when the score reaches 12-12 in the decider. He beat Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the final set of a match that took more than 11 hours in 2010, and lost 26-24 to Kevin Anderson in the fifth set in the semifinals this year.

They are the two longest matches in the history of a tournament that began in 1877.

Both of Isner’s wins in Stockholm have been hard-fought and involved late-night finishes.

“It was very tough,” said the 10th-ranked Isner, who beat Bradley Klahn 7-6 (2), 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5) in the second round on Thursday. “It’s similar to last night – very late.

“I need to take care of myself and go to bed.”

Isner concluded the march of the top three seeds into the semifinals.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, the third seed from Greece, beat Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-3, 7-6 (4) and second-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini advanced after his opponent, Chung Hyeon, retired during their match. Fognini was leading this year’s Australian Open semifinalist 7-5, 2-1.

In the other quarterfinal, fourth-seeded American Jack Sock lost 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to Latvian Ernests Gulbis, the 2014 French Open semifinalist, who next takes on Isner.

Nadal gets his revenge over Tsitsipas to reach Rome final

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ROME (AP) After losing in the semifinals of three straight clay-court tournaments, Rafael Nadal looked more like his old, dominant self when he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 Saturday to reach the Italian Open final.

It was a measure of revenge for Nadal after losing to Tsitsipas in three sets at this stage in Madrid last week. The victory should also restore Nadal’s confidence as he seeks a record-extending 12th title at the French Open starting next weekend.

“I’m playing better every match, every weekend,” Nadal said.

Aiming for a ninth trophy in Rome, Nadal’s opponent in Sunday’s final will be either Novak Djokovic or Diego Schwartzman, who were playing later.

Nadal is in the middle of his longest title drought to begin a season since he came onto the scene in 2004. His last trophy came in Toronto last August.

The crowd attempted to encourage Tsitsipas with chants of “Tsi-Tsi-Tsi; Pas-Pas-Pas” but the 20-year-old Greek player couldn’t keep up with Nadal on the long rallies – even though he didn’t play a day earlier after Roger Federer withdrew from the quarterfinals.

Conditions were much slower than on the high-altitude court in Madrid, which favored Nadal and made it tougher for Tsitsipas to execute his attacking game.

Midway through the first set, Nadal produced an awesome forehand winner up the line on the run, drawing a loud roar from the packed Campo Centrale crowd.

Nadal broke Tsitsipas’ serve early in both sets.

In the women’s tournament, Johanna Konta rallied past sixth-seeded Kiki Bertens 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 in nearly three hours to reach the biggest clay-court final of her career.

Konta’s only previous final on clay came recently in Rabat, Morocco, where she lost the title match to Maria Sakkari.

Konta could get a rematch with Sakkari if the Greek qualifier beats fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova in the other semifinal.

Midway through the first set, Konta surprised Bertens with a drop shot winner during a baseline rally, causing Bertens to fall on her stomach to the clay as she rapidly changed directions. Then in the next game, Konta ran down a drop shot and produced an angled winner.

Bertens was coming off the Madrid Open title.

“She played really smart with the drop shots,” Bertens said. “I was all the time getting myself together and trying to push for more energy. But it was not there.”

The 42nd-ranked Konta served for the first set at 5-4 but was broken at love. But Bertens double faulted to let Konta serve for the second set and Konta got an early break in the third.

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John Isner out of French Open with injury

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PARIS — John Isner has pulled out of the French Open because of an injured left foot, ending his streak of 24 consecutive appearances at Grand Slam tournaments.

The 34-year-old Isner announced his withdrawal Friday on Twitter.

He is ranked No. 11, the top American man, but has not competed since hurting his foot during the Miami Open final March 31.

Isner was a Wimbledon semifinalist last year, his best Grand Slam performance. He hasn’t missed a major since the 2013 Australian Open.

He’s reached the fourth round at Roland Garros three times, including in 2018, and is one of only two men to push 11-time champion Rafael Nadal to a fifth set there.

Isner is best known for winning the longest match in tennis history, 70-68 in the fifth set against Nicolas Mahut in Wimbledon’s first round in 2010. The match lasted more than 11 hours over three days.