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Thiem eliminates Sock to reach Paris Masters semifinals

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PARIS — Dominic Thiem beat defending champion Jack Sock 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the Paris Masters semifinals on Friday.

The Austrian served out the match and clinched victory on his first match point when Sock hit a big forehand long.

Thiem broke the American in the fifth game of the third set, and then showed good composure to save two break points of his own at 15-40 in the eighth game.

Four-time champion Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, who is seeking a 100th career title, were playing their quarterfinals later Friday.

Djokovic, who is guaranteed to take the No. 1 ranking on Monday, played Marin Cilic, and Federer faced Kei Nishikori.

The sixth-seeded Thiem, meanwhile, next faces unseeded Karen Khachanov of Russia.

Khachanov, who won the Kremlin Cup in Moscow last month, broke fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev’s serve six times in a 6-1, 6-2 win.

Zverev had treatment on his right shoulder late in the first set and made a string of unforced errors. He took exception to some comments made in Khachanov’s box and spoke to his opponent at the end of the first set.

“I told him my shoulder is hurting and that his uncle, or something, that he’s going a bit crazy. I told him to tell him to keep it down a little bit because he was going a little bit too much over the edge,” Zverev said. “I was never going to win the match, so I told him to calm down a little bit.”

Zverev said he was struggling all week with his troublesome right shoulder.

“I did hours of treatment. And after yesterday’s match, you know, I had a lot of pain in the evening and during the night. Today, during the warmup, especially on my second serve where I was doing the kick motion, I had a lot of pain.”

Khachanov played down the incident with Zverev.

“When you are playing and you are losing sometimes, you just get a little bit frustrated and upset. And maybe some calls or some noise makes more problems and more frustration for you,” Khachanov said. “Everything is fine between us and there is no problem. Just during the match sometimes it’s tough to control the emotions.”

Opelka edges top-seeded Isner to reach New York Open final

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UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) Reilly Opelka edged top-seeded John Isner the same way he knocked his fellow American out of the Australian Open, winning a match full of tiebreakers Saturday night in a New York Open semifinal that set a record for combined aces in a three-set match.

Opelka fought off six match points in a marathon second set and went on to win 6-7 (8), 7-6 (14), 7-6 (4) to move within a victory of his first ATP title.

The 6-foot-11 Opelka and 6-10 Isner combined for 81 aces and there were no breaks of serve. Opelka hit 43 aces, Isner had 38, and each had only one double fault.

It was similar to their meeting in Melbourne, when Opelka beat the ninth-ranked Isner in a first-round match that went four tiebreakers.

Opelka will play Canadian Brayden Schnur, a qualifier who had never won a tour-level match before this week.

Schnur recovered after blowing a 3-0 lead and eventually the second set to beat American Sam Querrey 7-6 (7), 4-6, 6-3.

Schnur was the final alternate accepted into the tournament’s qualifying draw and was nearly gone from Long Island quickly, eventually overcoming two match points to beat No. 3 seed Steve Johnson in the second round.

There was nothing quick about the second semifinal, which lasted 2 hours, 31 minutes and went well past the previous record of 71 aces, set earlier this year in a match between Nick Kyrgios and Ryan Harrison.

Isner was in good position to win in straight sets, taking a 3-1 lead in the tiebreaker when Opelka pushed a forehand long. But he wasted a chance to win the match on his serve, and Opelka then kept erasing the rest of the match points when he served.

Isner had dropped both matches this season, part of a six-match skid dating to the end of last year, before winning his first two matches here in straight sets.

But he was stopped again by Opelka, who fell two aces shy of Ivo Karlovic’s record for most aces in a three-set match.

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Mertens upsets Halep in Qatar Open final

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DOHA, Qatar – Unseeded Elise Mertens came from a set and a break down to beat recent No. 1 Simona Halep 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the Qatar Open final and capture the biggest title of her career on Saturday.

Halep led 6-3, 2-0, then lost a service game for a third time to see the second set back on serve. Mertens continued to pressure, missing two more break chances in the seventh game but finally breaking – to love – in the ninth. The set was the first Mertens took from Halep in three matchups.

Mertens broke again to start the third set, Halep leveled at 2-2, but Mertens finished stronger and won her fifth career title.

The Belgian beat two other top-10 players this week, Kiki Bertens and Angelique Kerber.

Halep’s first final appearance since August guaranteed she will rise one spot to No. 2 in the rankings on Monday.