Medvedev stops van de Zandschulp, returns to U.S. Open semis

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NEW YORK — Daniil Medvedev reached the U.S. Open semifinals for the third straight year, ending the surprising run of qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp with a 6-3, 6-0, 4-6, 7-5 victory.

The No. 2 seed from Russia dropped a set for the first time in the tournament but recovered to keep alive his bid for a first Grand Slam title.

Medvedev got close in 2019, falling to Rafael Nadal in a fifth set, before losing to eventual champion Dominic Thiem in last year’s semifinals.

“Just want to do a little bit better than last two times and get this last step, which is the toughest one actually,” Medvedev said.

His match couldn’t have started much easier. He broke six times in Van de Zandschulp’s first eight service games and won the second set in just 22 minutes.

Van de Zandschulp, a 25-year-old from the Netherlands, was trying to become the first man to come through the qualifying rounds to reach the U.S. Open semifinals but was completely overmatched early, disappointing his orange shirt-wearing fans inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Van de Zandschulp, who had never even been to New York before the U.S. Open, was attempting to become the first man to reach the semifinals in his tournament debut since 1948.

But the 25-year-old Medvedev held on. He will play either 18-year-old Carlos Alcazar of Spain or No. 12 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada, 21, in the semifinals.

The quarterfinal between Alcazar and Auger-Aliassime was the youngest matchup so late in a Grand Slam tournament since 20-year-old Nadal beat Novak Djokovic, 19, in the quarters of the 2006 French Open.

Another teenager could reach the women’s semifinals: 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez was playing No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina. Fernandez upset past U.S. Open champions Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber in her previous two matches and was trying to stop Svitolina from reaching the semifinals for the second time.

Fernando Verdasco accepts 2-month doping ban

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LONDON – Former top-10 player Fernando Verdasco accepted a voluntary provisional doping suspension of two months after testing positive for a medication for ADHD, the International Tennis Integrity Agency announced.

Verdasco, who turned 39 this month, said he was taking methylphenidate as medication prescribed by his doctor to treat ADHD but forgot to renew his therapeutic use exemption for the drug. The integrity agency said Verdasco has now been granted an exemption by the World Anti-Doping Agency moving forward.

He tested positive at an ATP Challenger tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in February.

The integrity agency said in a news release that it “accepts that the player did not intend to cheat, that his violation was inadvertent and unintentional, and that he bears no significant fault or negligence for it,” and so what could have been a two-year suspension was reduced to two months.

Verdasco will be eligible to compete on Jan. 8.

The Spaniard is a four-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, reaching that stage most recently in 2013 at Wimbledon, where he blew a two-set lead in a five-set loss to eventual champion Andy Murray.

Verdasco reached a career-best ranking of No. 7 in April 2009 and currently is No. 125.

Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov give Canada 1st Davis Cup title

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MALAGA, Spain — Felix Auger-Aliassime fell to his back behind the baseline, then waited for teammates to race off Canada’s bench and pile on top of him.

A few minutes later, the Canadians finally could lift the Davis Cup.

“I think of us all here, we’ve dreamt of this moment,” Auger-Aliassime said.

Canada won the title for the first time, beating Australia behind victories from Denis Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime.

Auger-Aliassime secured the winning point when he downed Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4 after Shapovalov opened the day by rolling past Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-2, 6-4.

Seven years after leading Canada to the top of junior tennis, Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov and their teammates finally got to lift the biggest team trophy in their sport.

“We wanted to grow up and be part of the team and try to help the country win the first title,” Shapovalov said, “so everything is just so surreal right now.”

Shapovalov had dropped both his singles matches this week and needed treatment on his back during a three-set loss in the semifinals to Lorenzo Sonego of Italy that lasted 3 hours, 15 minutes. But the left-hander moved quickly around the court, setting up angles to put away winners while racing to a 4-0 lead in the first set.

Auger-Aliassime then finished off his superb second half of the season by completing a perfect week in Spain. He twice had kept the Canadians alive after Shapovalov dropped the opening singles match, and he replaced his weary teammate to join Vasek Pospisil for the decisive doubles point.

This time, Auger-Aliassime made sure the doubles match wouldn’t even be necessary. After his teammates poured onto the court to celebrate with him, they got up and danced around in a circle.

Canada had reached the final only once, falling to host Spain in Madrid in 2019, when Rafael Nadal beat Shapovalov for the clinching point after Auger-Aliassime had lost in the opening match.

But with Auger-Aliassime having since surged up the rankings to his current spot at No. 6, the Canadians are a much more formidable team now. They won the ATP Cup in January and finally added the Davis Cup crown to the junior Davis Cup title Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov led them to in 2015.

Australia was trying for its 29th title and first since current captain Lleyton Hewitt was part of the title-winning team in 2003.

But it was finally time for the Canadians, who were given a wild card into the field when Russia was suspended because of its invasion of Ukraine.

“Look, I think we were very close today,” de Minaur said. “Just wait until the next time we get the same matchup. Hopefully we can get the win and prove that we can do it.”

But Canada will be tough to beat as long as Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov play.

Shapovalov is just 23 and Auger-Aliassime 22, but both already have been Grand Slam semifinalists and Auger-Aliassime ended 2022 as one of the hottest players on the ATP Tour. He won all of his four titles this year, including three straight weeks in October.

He also beat Carlos Alcaraz in the previous Davis Cup stage in September, just after the Spaniard had won the U.S. Open to rise to No. 1 in the rankings. That victory helped send the Canadians into the quarterfinals, which they started this week by edging Germany.

“They’re not kids anymore, that’s for sure. Not after today – well not after the last couple of years,” said Pospisil, the team veteran at 32. “They’ve been crushing it.”