Federer loses to Basilashvili in 2nd match back on tour

Getty Images
2 Comments

DOHA, Qatar (AP) Roger Federer failed to convert a match point before losing 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 to Nikoloz Basilashvili in the Qatar Open quarterfinals on Thursday, his second match back on tour after a 13-month injury layoff.

Basilashvili saved a match point at 5-4 in the deciding set and then broke Federer’s serve in the next game.

It was a second straight grueling three-setter for Federer after his win Wednesday over Dan Evans took nearly 2 1/2 hours. The 39-year-old Federer was playing in his first tournament since the 2020 Australian Open following knee surgery.

And he didn’t seem too upset about the loss.

“I would have loved to play tomorrow, don’t get me wrong. But at the same time, I’m also happy to get a rest,” he said. “I’m happy how I played today. I’m happy how I did yesterday. I’m happy I am back on the Tour. I’m pleased I came here to Doha. So it’s really, really a positive return for me.”

Federer announced later on Twitter that he decided it was best to resume training and had therefore decided to withdraw from next week’s tournament in Dubai.

Basilashvili has now won three consecutive tour matches for the first time since 2019. His semifinal opponent will be Taylor Fritz after the American upset fourth-seeded Canadian Denis Shapovalov 5-7, 6-3, 7-5.

For the first time in the 31-year history of the ATP Tour, a player reached the semifinals without hitting a ball after getting his second walkover in a row.

Russia’s Andrey Rublev benefited from a first-round bye, before Richard Gasquet withdrew ahead of their second-round match. Marton Fucsovics then withdrew from their quarterfinal Thursday with a lower back injury.

Rublev will face either top-seeded Dominic Thiem or fifth-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut for a place in Saturday’s final.

Linette keeps getting better; into Australian Open semis

Mike Frey-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

MELBOURNE, Australia — Two days after advancing to her first Grand Slam tournament quarterfinal, unseeded Magda Linette went one better and is into the Australian Open semifinals.

The 30-year-old Linette beat Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 7-5, adding the former No. 1 to the list of top players she has beaten at Melbourne Park during this tournament.

Linette, who had lost seven of nine previous matches against Pliskova, had defeated Anett Kontaveit, Ekaterina Alexandrova and WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia in successive rounds.

A player from Poland was favored to reach the latter stages of the tournament, but it was top-seeded Iga Swiatek that everyone would have expected – and not Linette.

“It’s so emotional I can’t really believe it,” Linette said. “I tried to stay composed and took my chances when I could.”

Linette will play No. 5 Aryna Sabalenka, who beat unseeded Donna Vekic 6-3, 6-2 in a later quarterfinal. The women’s semifinals are scheduled for Thursday night.

Vekic, who had 13 double faults against Sabalenka, had a succinct appraisal of her serve: “I mean, it was all over the place. But I think mostly in the net.”

The other women’s semifinalists were determined on Tuesday. Two-time former Australian champion Victoria Azarenka will play Wimbledon titleholder Elena Rybakina for a chance to play in Saturday night’s final. Rybakina beat Swiatek in the fourth round.

Later Wednesday, the remaining men’s semifinalists will be determined. Unseeded Americans Ben Shelton and Tommy Paul play before nine-time champion Novak Djokovic takes on Andrey Rublev.

Djokovic will be looking to qualify for his 44th Grand Slam semifinal and a win in that match on Friday would advance him on Sunday night to his 33rd major singles final.

The other men’s semifinal on Friday will see third-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas play Karen Khachanov.

Rybakina rules in Australian Open quarterfinal vs. Ostapenko

Mike Frey-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

MELBOURNE, Australia – Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina advanced to the Australian Open semifinals with a 6-2, 6-4 win over former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

The match on Rod Laver Arena featured a rare rain delay of about 20 minutes while the roof was closed. Rybakina led 3-1 and was holding a break point before the delay. On return, Ostapenko saved the first break point, but Rybakina broke on her next opportunity to go up 4-1 and won the first set 6-2.

In the second set, Ostapenko was up a break but Rybakina leveled with a break of her own. It came on her first break point when Ostapenko had been unable to convert four in the previous game.

Rybakina, who beat top-seeded Iga Swiatek in the fourth round, set up match points with aces, both of which were saved by Ostapenko. But she clinched the match with another ace, her 11th of the match and a tournament-leading 35 overall.

“I was nervous in the last game, but I managed my emotions and played very well.” Rybakina said. “The conditions were different after the roof was closed. But it can happen here, you never know, on the morning one weather and later it changes.”

Rybakina will play the winner of the night quarterfinal between American Jessica Pegula, at No. 3 the highest women’s seed remaining, and two-time champion Victoria Azarenka.

In men’s quarterfinals, 22-year-old American Sebastian Korda played the next match at Rod Laver Arena against No. 18-seeded Karen Khachanov. In a night quarterfinal, third-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas plays Jiri Lehecka. The winners of those matches will play each other in the semifinals on Friday.