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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.

Djokovic wins World Sportsman of the Year at Laureus World Sports Awards

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MONACO  — Novak Djokovic, Tiger Woods, Lindsey Vonn and the France national soccer team were among the winners at the Laureus World Sports Awards, with Woods claiming the Comeback Award 19 years after he was first recognized.

Djokovic matched Usain Bolt’s record by being named World Sportsman of the Year for the fourth time after winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. He also earned the honor in 2012, 2015 and 2016.

Woods, who won the inaugural World Sportsman of the Year award in 2000, won the Tour Championship in September for his 80th PGA Tour title and his first since August 2013.

Vonn, who retired during the recent Alpine skiing world championships , took home the Spirit of Sport Award, which is given to an athlete for relentless dedication to his or her career, and France was honored for winning the World Cup in July.

Simone Biles was named World Sportswoman of the Year for winning four gold, one silver and one bronze medal at the gymnastics world championships. Naomi Osaka won the Breakthrough Award for winning the U.S. Open and Chloe Kim was named the World Action Sportsperson of the Year.

The awards were given in recognition of outstanding sports performance in 2018.

Wawrinka loses to Monfils in first final since knee surgeries

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ROTTERDAM, Netherlands — Three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka’s rebuilt knee couldn’t quite carry him to the title in Rotterdam on Sunday.

Wawrinka lost his first final since his comeback a year ago from left knee surgeries, succumbing 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 to Gael Monfils of France at the ABN AMRO World Tournament.

It was the Frenchman’s eighth career title.

“I tried a couple of times here. I lost the final in 2016,” Monfils told Dutch national broadcaster NOS courtside. He said it was special to win a tournament that his idol, Arthur Ashe, also won. Ashe won back-to-back titles in Rotterdam in 1975 and ’76.

Unseeded Wawrinka reached the final by beating top-seeded Kei Nishikori in three sets on Saturday.

But the Swiss finally ran out of steam in the final set as Monfils stepped up his game.

“In the third set I was a little bit more aggressive and I go a bit more for my shots, I served bigger and that helped me a lot,” Monfils said.

Wawrinka was going for his 17th career title and second in Rotterdam, after winning in 2015.

It was his first final since the 2017 French Open, where he previously met Monfils in the fourth round.

Monfils also needed three sets to overcome fifth-seeded Daniil Medvedev in the semifinals, but outlasted Wawrinka in a match that took 1 hour, 44 minutes.

After they shared the first two sets, Monfils was more consistent than Wawrinka in the decisive third.

Already trailing 4-2, Wawrinka hit three unforced errors to lose the seventh game and allow Monfils to serve out the match.