Paul holds off Murray to reach semifinals at Stockholm Open

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STOCKHOLM – Tommy Paul held off Andy Murray’s comeback attempt to beat the former No. 1 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 and reach the semifinals at the Stockholm Open.

Paul jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first set but struggled with his first serve in the second, allowing the two-time Wimbledon champion back in the match. But Murray double-faulted to hand Paul a 4-3 lead in the deciding set, missing out on a chance to reach his first semifinal since the European Open in October 2019, before undergoing hip surgery.

“He is a legend,” Paul said of Murray. “I played some of my best tennis today and I even looked over at my coach mid-match and thought it was fun to battle him today.”

Paul will face fellow American Frances Tiafoe, who became the first player to reach the semis by rallying to beat Dan Evans 1-6, 6-1, 6-1.

That earned the eighth-seeded American a place in the semifinals for the second time in three weeks, having got to the final at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna where he lost to Alexander Zverev.

Earlier, Felix Auger-Aliassime reached his fifth semifinal of the season with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Botic de Zandschulp.

The second-seeded Canadian’s serve was the bedrock of his victory, with Auger-Aliassime hitting 11 aces and winning 27 of 33 first-service points.

“I moved well and I mixed up the ball speeds and heights,” he said. “The court suits me well here.”

Auger-Aliassime will play defending champion Denis Shapovalov, who beat Arthur Rinderknech 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.

Alcaraz loses to Goffin in 1st match as No. 1

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ASTANA, Kazakhstan — Carlos Alcaraz’s first match as the No. 1-ranked player ended with a straight-set loss to David Goffin at the Astana Open.

The 19-year-old Spaniard lost 7-5, 6-3 in his first tour match since winning the U.S. Open and capturing the No. 1 ranking.

“David was playing really, really well. To come back to competition is never easy,” Alcaraz said. “It’s really tough for me, for my confidence.”

Alcaraz came from 5-2 down to level the first set at 5-5, only to be broken again by his Belgian opponent.

“When you play against the World No. 1 on a big stage, big crowd, the fire inside gives you so much power to play your best tennis because you don’t have any choice,” Goffin said. “You have to fight and give your best and that was the case today.”

Second-seeded Daniil Medvedev and No. 3-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas both avoided similar upsets. Medvedev beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain 6-3, 6-1 and Tsitsipas ousted Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3. 6-4.

Kasatkina knocks out Raducanu at Agel Open

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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — Fifth-seeded Daria Kasatkina defeated 2021 U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu 7-5, 6-4 to advance to the second round of the Agel Open.

Kasatkina was playing her first match since losing in the first round of the U.S. Open and will next face Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Sixth-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland rallied to eliminate former top-five player Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 6-7 (7), 6-1, while Aliaksandra Sasnovich upset eighth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-2.

American qualifiers Alycia Parks and Catherine McNally both advanced. Parks upset Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 7-6 (3) and McNally eased past Anna Blinkova 6-1, 6-2 at the indoor hardcourt event in the Czech eastern city of Ostrava.