Djokovic beats Cressy in straight sets at Paris Masters

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PARIS — Defending champion Novak Djokovic started his chase for a record-extending 39th Masters title by beating Maxime Cressy of the United States 7-6 (1), 6-4 in the second round of the Paris Masters.

In the first meeting between the two, Cressy saved three break points in the eighth game but then hit two double-faults in the tiebreaker, which Djokovic won with an ace.

Cressy also double-faulted at 4-4 in the second set to hand two break points to Djokovic, who broke with a forehand return winner. The Serb converted his first match point with a backhand volley.

After lifting trophies in Israel and Kazakhstan, Djokovic stretched his winning streak to 10 matches since a loss at the Laver Cup in September. He will next play Karen Khachanov or Marc-Andrea Huesler.

Meanwhile, Andrey Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz stayed in contention for the two remaining spots at the ATP Finals.

Rublev cruised past John Isner 6-2, 6-3 in the second round while Hurkacz edged wild-card entry Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the first round.

The seventh-seeded Rublev beat Isner for the first time in four meetings. Isner dropped serve twice in the opening set and Rublev capitalized on three forehand errors by the American to break for a 3-1 lead in the second.

“From the baseline I was feeling really confident,” Rublev said. “As soon as I was returning or the ball was in the game, I feel like I have always advantage, I was not even nervous.”

Isner hit 11 aces, but Rublev did not face any break points and proved the better player in rallies, making only five unforced errors to 13.

Rublev currently occupies the last ATP Finals spot ahead of Fritz and Hurkacz.

Carlos Alcaraz, Rafael Nadal, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud, Daniil Medvedev and Djokovic have already qualified for the eight-man tournament.

Hurkacz served 20 aces, including on both set points, and saved all eight break points he faced. Hurkacz hit a forehand return winner at 5-4 in the second set to convert his only break point of the match.

In other first-round matches, No. 14 seed Pablo Carreno Busta ousted Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3, 6-3, French qualifier Corentin Moutet stunned Borna Coric 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, Daniel Evans overcame Brandon Nakashima 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, Jack Draper beat Arthur Rinderknech 6-3, 6-4, lucky loser Fabio Fognini defeated Arthur Fils 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-2, and Tommy Paul dispatched Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4.

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.