Tommy Paul into first ATP final, plays Shapovalov in Stockholm

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STOCKHOLM – Tommy Paul reached his first ATP Tour final by outlasting fellow American Frances Tiafoe at the Stockholm Open.

With a 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-4 win, the 24-year-old Paul followed up his victory over Andy Murray in the quarterfinals in what is proving to be a breakthrough tournament for the former junior French Open champion.

“That was the best level I’ve played all year long,” Paul said after his comeback win that took 2 hours, 30 minutes.

To claim his first senior title, Paul will have to get past defending champion Denis Shapovalov, who won an all-Canadian semifinal against Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 7-5 in just under two hours.

Shapovalov won the title in Stockholm in 2019 and the 2020 edition was canceled after the coronavirus outbreak.

Tiafoe was looking to reach his second final in three tournaments – after the Erste Bank Open in Vienna two weeks ago – by recording a fourth straight win over Paul since their days in the juniors.

Paul finished the match stronger, though, chasing down a drop shot for a winner on his fourth break point to make it 2-1 in the third set and then losing just two of his next 16 service points.

“I tried to have fun, and I ended up playing my best tennis,” said Paul, who was born in New Jersey. “The more matches I’ve played, the more comfortable I’ve played in pressure situations. I’ve enjoyed playing in front of the big crowds.”

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.

Ruud loses, Kyrgios wins at Japan Open

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TOKYO — Top-seeded Casper Ruud lost and Nick Kyrgios won at the Japan Open.

Ruud, who reached the final at both the French Open and the U.S. Open this year, lost to Jaume Munar 6-3, 6-3.

Kyrgios, who lost in the Wimbledon final, defeated Tseng Chun-hsin 6-3, 6-1 to reach the round of 16. He will next face Kamil Majchrzak, who beat Sho Shimabukuro 7-6 (2), 6-2.

The victory for Kyrgios came on the same day that his lawyer asked an Australian court to dismiss assault charges against him on mental health grounds. Magistrate Glenn Theakston adjourned the case until Feb. 3.

The 27-year-old Kyrgios will appear in court in person on that date for the first time since he was charged by police by summons in July.

The common assault charge, which has a potential maximum sentence of two years in prison, relates to an incident in January 2021 that was reported to local police last December. The charge reportedly relates to an incident involving his former girlfriend.