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Kvitova ends Anisimova’s run at Aussie Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia — It took two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova being on top of her game to bring a very abrupt ending to 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova run of upsets at the Australian Open.

The 28-year-old Kvitova wanted no part of another loss to Anisimova, who beat her last year at Indian Wells and was the youngest American since Jennifer Capriati in 1993 to make it this far at Melbourne Park.

It took 59 minutes to win 6-2, 6-1 on Sunday. Kvitova was the model of consistency that the two other seeded players previously vanquished by Anisimova – No. 24 Lesia Tsurenko and No. 11 Aryna Sabalenka – were not.

Kvitova broke Anisimova’s serve five times – including the opening game – and never faced a break point. She got 86 percent of her first serves into play, and won all but five of the points when she did.

She’s now on a nine-match winning streak, her four wins here come after a title run in Sydney last week, and is into the Australian Open quarterfinals for the first time since 2012.

Up next will be either five-time major winner Maria Sharapova, or local hope Ash Barty. That fourth-round meeting was the next match on Rod Laver Arena.

It’s no concern of Kvitova’s who wins that one.

“Doesn’t matter who I’m going to face in the quarterfinals,” she said. “I’m there – and that’s (what’s) important.”

Among other matches on Day 7, 17-time major winner Rafael Nadal was playing 2010 Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych, and six-time Australian Open champion Roger Federer was taking on 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Kvitova had to miss the Australian Open in 2017 because she was still overcoming injuries to her left hand she sustained in a home invasion the previous month at her place in the Czech Republic. She lost in the first round here last year.

Anisimova beat her 6-2, 6-4 in 70 minutes in their only previous meeting, but Kvitova came out ready this time.

She took the first three points of the match to immediately have Anisimoa under pressure, facing triple breakpoint.

The teenager saved two, but Kvitova’s powerful backhand service return had her scrambling and the first game was gone.

Anisimova won the first two points on Kvitova’s serve, but the former Wimbledon champion of 2011 and ’13 responded by winning the next four to hold.

A double-fault gave Kvitova three break points in the next game, and she forced an error on the backhand side to convert it. So quickly, it was 3-0.

Anisimova was still taking big swings at the ball and hitting cleanly, but the left-handed Kvitova was consistently in the right place to hit winners – including two important forehands down the line.

The first set was over in 32 minutes and Anisimova could only shrug, like she was asking what was happening.

In contrast to the first game, Anisimova held serve to open the second set. But that was her last. She was still in the contest in the fifth game when she was one point from holding again, but Kvitova won 10 straight points to take the match away from her again.

“It’s always pressure out there when you’re the favorite. You never know how the younger players are playing,” Kvitova said. “They’re here with nothing to lose, they’re fearless.

“I started pretty well (and) the nerves went a little bit out for me,” she added. “I’m really enjoying the time on court, and playing tennis.”

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.