Federer loses comeback match to Andujar at Geneva Open

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GENEVA – Roger Federer lost his comeback match after two months away, falling to Pablo Andujar 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the second round of the Geneva Open.

Federer’s first match on clay in almost two years kept him on court for almost two hours in only his second tournament since the 2020 Australian Open. The past 15 months have included two surgeries on his right knee.

In the decisive set, the top-seeded Federer forced a service break and led 4-2 before Andujar rallied.

Federer saved two match points on his own serve, but the third ended with a wayward forehand under pressure on the baseline.

Andujar put his hands to his head after clinching victory and exchanged an almost apologetic smile with Federer at the net.

The 39-year-old Federer and 35-year-old Andujar were playing each other on tour for the first time.

Before going on court, Federer was a spectator for part of the ATP Tour debut of perhaps the best prospect in Swiss men’s tennis since his own rise in the 1990s.

With Federer watching some of the match, 18-year-old Dominic Stephan Stricker beat former U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic 7-6 (5), 6-1 in the first round.

Stricker, last year’s French Open junior champion, is ranked 419th. Cilic, who won his only Grand Slam singles title in 2014, is ranked 46th.

The Swiss left-hander had nine aces and no double-faults. He broke Cilic’s serve four times and was broken only twice.

“I was getting nervous,” Stricker said. “It was actually OK until 5-1, 30-love. I was happy to finish it at 6-1 and not serve again.”

Stricker has practiced previously with Federer. His next opponent will be 40th-ranked Marton Fucsovics, who beat Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen 7-5, 7-5.

Linette keeps getting better; into Australian Open semis

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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

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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.