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Danielle Collins wishes roof stayed open at Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia — The way Danielle Collins looks at it, the end of her surprising run at Melbourne Park was something of an open-and-shut case.

The 25-year-old American was every bit Petra Kvitova’s equal during their Australian Open semifinal during the time Rod Laver Arena’s retractable roof was open – and she never really had a chance once it was shut as the temperature approached 105 degrees (40 Celsius) on Thursday.

The match was even at 4-all after 35 minutes, when the tournament’s extreme heat policy was invoked, and the cover was closed to block out the scorching sun. Collins did not appreciate that switch and wound up losing 7-6 (2), 6-0 to two-time major champion Kvitova.

“They need to start the match the way it’s going to finish, I think,” Collins said. “I think they do that in football, and I think it certainly changed a little bit of the rhythm in the match.”

There’s no doubt that Kvitova’s level of play rose substantially once it became an indoor contest.

She has made clear over the years that she does not love playing in high heat and humidity.

As for Collins?

“Honestly, I like playing in the heat. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly has its challenges,” said the 35th-ranked Collins, who won two NCAA titles at the University of Virginia.

“I grew up in Florida and am used to it being really hot all the time. So I kind of embrace that very well. Indoor tennis is a different game. Certainly had its effect.”

She also had her issues with chair umpire Carlos Ramos, who called three code violations on Serena Williams and docked her a game during the U.S. Open final last September.

In the tiebreaker, then early in the second set, Collins went back-and-forth with Ramos, complaining about his procedural rulings. The exchanges did not help Collins and seemed to distract her as she let Kvitova seize control of the match.

It was an abrupt ending to quite a debut performance by Collins at the Australian Open.

She arrived at the tournament with an 0-5 record in Grand Slam matches and a losing mark of 17-22 overall on tour. But Collins managed to beat No. 2-seeded Angelique Kerber – who owns three major titles – along with No. 14 Julie Goerges and No. 19 Carolina Garcia.

“There is a lot of great things to build off of, and I think I had a really great learning experience throughout the entire tournament, and especially today,” Collins said. “I’m really excited for my success to be recognized, and to continue playing on the biggest stage and against the biggest and best opponents in the world.”

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.