Djokovic beats Rublev to reach ATP Finals semifinals

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TURIN, Italy — Novak Djokovic advanced to the semifinals of the ATP Finals by beating Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-2.

The top-ranked Djokovic is attempting to match Roger Federer’s record of six titles at the season-ending event for the top eight players in the world.

Djokovic was again almost perfect on his serve, although Rublev managed to break him in the opening game. Djokovic broke twice in each set and won the match with his 12th ace.

“I knew that I had to be on my toes and start well,” Djokovic said. “I dropped my serve again like in the first match. It was quite a nervous start from both of us until 4-3, then with new balls I somehow managed to find the right shots at the right time.

“Winning the first set I put additional pressure on him, and I started to maybe play more consistently from the back of the court. I served well, that helped tremendously. I wanted to put him out of his comfort zone, taking away the time and mix up the pace.”

Djokovic is now 2-0 in the Green Group. He beat Casper Ruud in his opening group match.

Ruud will face Cameron Norrie later Wednesday. Norrie was called in as the second alternate after 2019 champion Stefanos Tsitsipas was forced to withdraw with an injured elbow. Matteo Berrettini was replaced by Jannik Sinner.

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.