Danish teenager Rune stuns Djokovic to win Paris Masters

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PARIS — Unseeded Danish teenager Holger Rune staged a stunning comeback to secure the biggest victory of his career by beating Novak Djokovic 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 in the final of the Paris Masters.

Rune denied Djokovic a record-extending 39th Masters title.

The 19-year-old Rune, who is a friend and former junior doubles partner of top-ranked Carlos Alcaraz, saved six break points when serving for the match.

Djokovic saved one match point when Rune double-faulted. But the audacious Dane took his chance on the next, whipping a forehand into Djokovic’s feet that he could only volley back into the net.

“It means everything to me, a perfect way to finish the week,” Rune said. “It’s a privilege to share the court with Novak.”

Rune, who is the same age as U.S. Open champion Alcaraz, slid on his back in disbelief after winning his first Masters title. He got back up and looked close to tears as he sank his head in his hands, then raised both fists in the air to celebrate a remarkable week where he beat five top 10-ranked opponents in a row. That run only came about after he saved three match points in the first round against three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka.

Djokovic, who missed out on a record-extending seventh Paris Masters title, hugged him warmly at the net.

“I feel exhausted. It was an incredible tournament,” Rune said. “I have so much respect for what (Djokovic) has done,” Rune said. “I’m so proud of myself, it hasn’t sunk in yet. The last game was one of the most stressful of my tennis life.”

His achievement is even

Those victories followed a thrilling first-round win in which he saved three match points against Stan Wawrinka,

Djokovic looked set to cruise to a 91st career title.

The sixth-seeded Serb wrapped up the first set with a love hold on serve, then had Rune 0-40 down in the opening service game of the second set.

Rune saved three break points and waved his arms to get the crowd going. They responded with chants of “Holger, Holger.”

Djokovic offered his first break point at 30-40 in the next game and was broken when he hit a loose forehand wide. Rune took control and won the second set with a love hold of his own.

But Rune found himself 0-40 down once again, this time in the fourth game of the decider. He saved one break point with an ace but double-faulted on his next serve as Djokovic broke for a 3-1 lead, again looking in command.

The match then turned when Djokovic missed a routine smash at the net on game point for a 4-1 lead, with Rune showing incredible reflexes to volley it back for a winner.

This let Rune back in the contest and he broke back with a fine cross-court forehand. Djokovic then had some massage treatment on his left thigh at the changeover and began to get agitated, remonstrating with his team.

A tired-looking Djokovic chopped a backhand long in the 11th game to trail 30-40, and Rune broke him again to serve for the match at 6-5.

It wasn’t over. Rarely is with Djokovic.

He drew on his experience as a 21-time Grand Slam singles champion to pressure Rune in a 12th game lasting nearly 20 minutes, but Rune held his nerve for his third title of the year and of his blossoming career.

Rune will enter the top 10, where he joins Alcaraz who is the youngest man to lead the ATP computerized rankings since they began in 1973.

“I’m feeling lovely to be honest, it’s the best feeling,” Rune said. “If you told me four weeks ago, I would be top 10 . I would be like, `What, sorry?’ Now I’m here, and I’m super proud.”

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.