Felix Auger-Aliassime wins Swiss Indoors for 3rd title in October

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BASEL, Switzerland — Felix Auger-Aliassime won his third straight title in October, beating Holger Rune 6-3, 7-5 in the Swiss Indoors final.

Auger-Aliassime went through his five matches at Basel without dropping serve, and he saved all three break points Rune had.

The ninth-ranked Auger-Aliassime added the Basel title to wins in the last two weeks at Florence, Italy, and Antwerp, Belgium. He extended his winning streak to 13 matches.

The 22-year-old Canadian shares the same Aug. 8 birthday with Swiss great Roger Federer who had intended to return to tournament play at his hometown event. Federer announced his retirement last month at age 41 because of persistent knee injuries.

“I actually thought about him this morning, and thought how cool it would be if I win here, where he won 10 times,” Auger-Aliassime said of Federer.

Every winner of the Swiss Indoors from 2006 up to this edition also has a U.S. Open title. The others are Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro – who both had to beat Federer in their finals – and Marin Cilic.

“I’m very far from that, but it’s so cool to have my name with all these great champions at this prestigious tournament,” said Auger-Aliassime, who beat the current U.S. Open champion, top-ranked Carlos Alcaraz, on Saturday in the semifinals.

The combined age of Auger-Aliassime and the 19-year-old Rune added up to the same 41 years as Federer.

Rune is now 2-2 in finals though he will be ranked inside the top 20 for the first time on Monday.

Auger-Aliassime improved his career record in finals to 4-9 with all four titles won this year at indoor hard-court events in Europe.

The third-seeded right-hander won the only break-point chance of the first set to lead 3-1 – also the first time unseeded Rune’s service was broken this week – and pressured him into another service break to take a 6-5 lead in the second.

In that tense 11th game, Rune was distracted on one point by flickering, court-wide advertising boards behind his opponent which went black for a second as he prepared a shot and then lit up again.

Rune questioned chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani, who had not seen the screen malfunction, when the point ended. After having his service broken, Rune continued the discussion at the changeover with a stream of expletives.

Lahyani was heard on a court-side microphone telling Rune “I don’t want these kind of words,” and asked the Danish teenager to show respect.

Auger-Aliassime seemed untroubled by the dispute and quickly clinched with his third match point when Rune sent a forehand long.

Davis Cup: Australia beats Croatia 2-1 to reach final

Day Four - Davis Cup Finals 2022
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MALAGA, Spain – Australia had to fight back twice to reach its first Davis Cup final in 19 years after beating Croatia 2-1 on Friday.

Lleyton Hewitt’s team recovered from losing the first singles. Then the Australian doubles pair battled back from a set down in the decider.

Australia won its 28th and last title in 2003. It has finally got back to the final.

“I am so proud. Australia has a really rich history in this competition,” said Hewitt, who played a record 43 Davis Cup ties for Australia from 1999-2018.

“We have been fortunate to win it all on a number of occasions a long time ago. And I know what it meant to me as a player to play a final, and I am glad these guys can play it.”

Borna Coric put Croatia ahead by beating Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4, 6-3, but Alex de Minaur leveled after defeating Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-2 to send it to the doubles.

Jordan Thompson and Max Purcell then secured the semifinal win against Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic by 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-4.

“This is what this team is about, that never-say-die attitude,” De Minaur said.

Canada will face Italy on Saturday in the other semifinal.

In the opener, Kokkinakis struck 11 aces, but Coric was able to break him once in each set.

“On my serve, I felt like it was an ace or he put it back on my toes,” Kokkinakis said.

Cilic, who was on the Croatia team that won the title in 2018, committed 10 double faults. That erratic serve helped De Minaur break Cilic four times and level his head-to-head record with the former U.S Open winner at two wins each.

Thompson and Purcell bettered the more experienced pair of Mektic and Pavic, both ranked in the top 10 in doubles. Thompson and Purcell combined for 13 aces, broke the Croats twice, and never dropped a service game to come back after losing the first-set tiebreaker.

Two-time winner Croatia was the runner-up last year.

“It proved too difficult on the court today,” Cilic said. “(But) for us it has been a great year again after the finals last year to reach the semis.”

The final is on Sunday on the indoor court in Malaga.

Italy beats U.S. to reach Davis Cup semifinal with Canada

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MALAGA, Spain — Italy beat the United States in a doubles decider to advance to the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time in eight years.

Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini defeated Tommy Paul and Jack Sock 6-4, 6-4 to secure a 2-1 win for Italy after the teams split the singles matches.

Bolelli and Fognini broke once in each set to set up a semifinal against Canada, which beat Germany 2-1.

Earlier, Lorenzo Sonego used his big serve to defeat Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 7-6 (7) and give the Italians a 1-0 lead. Taylor Fritz pulled the U.S. level after beating Lorenzo Musetti 7-6 (8), 6-3.

The U.S. holds a record 32 Davis Cup trophies, but its last one came in 2007 under the previous format of best-of-five matches played in host countries instead of the revamped event where the final eight teams gather in one spot for a week of tennis. The American team led by captain Mardy Fish came to Spain with high hopes that it could break that dry spell.

“I have wanted to win this thing for a very long time as a player and captain,” Fish said. “It is not going to happen this year and it stinks. We are going home without the trophy, which is a bummer.”

Italy, whose only Davis Cup title came in 1976, won without its top two players as Jannik Sinner has an injured finger and Matteo Berrettini is recovering from a foot problem.

Sonego, ranked No. 45, struck 17 aces and never ceded a service game to Tiafoe. Sonego clinched the win after Tiafoe netted a forehand following a long rally to end the second-set tiebreaker.

No. 19-ranked Tiafoe, who reached the U.S. Open semifinals in September, won their only previous meeting at the Paris Masters just over three weeks ago.

This time Sonego took the initiative, Tiafoe said.

“A couple of weeks ago I was playing very aggressive, running him around, hitting much harder. Today, he was,” Tiafoe said.

Sonego saved two set points while serving at 6-5 in the second set to force the tiebreaker. He said he drew on the loud Italian fans who showed up to support him in Spain, which is home to more than 250,000 Italians.

“I am really proud of my team and of this unbelievable crowd, it looks like we are in Italy. They support us from the beginning,” said Italy captain Filippo Volandri.

Fritz hit 12 aces and had one break to beat the No. 23-ranked Musetti for a second time after defeating him at Wimbledon in June.

Canada’s Denis Shapovalov rebounded from losing his opening singles match to help clinch the winning point in doubles against Germany.

Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, ranked 152nd, beat the No. 18-ranked Shapovalov 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2) in the opener. Felix Auger-Aliassime kept Canada’s hopes alive with his 7-6 (1), 6-4 victory over Oscar Otte, sending it to doubles.

Shapovalov then teamed up with Vasek Pospisil to beat Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.

A Croatia team led by Marin Cilic advanced to the other semifinal after beating a Spain side that was missing Rafael Nadal and No. 1-ranked Carlos Alcaraz.

Croatia will face Australia in the other semifinal.