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Thiem withdraws from Qatar Open semifinal due to fever

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DOHA, Qatar — Top-seeded Dominic Thiem withdrew from his Qatar Open semifinal against Gael Monfils on Friday due to a cold and fever.

In Saturday’s final, Monfils of France will play the winner of the semifinal between Andrey Rublev of Russia and Guido Pella of Argentina.

The fifth-ranked Thiem, the only remaining seeded player in the draw, did not drop a set on the way to the semifinals. But there were signs of illness Thursday when the Austrian coughed through his answers after winning his quarterfinal.

“I am in bed with fever and there is almost no chance of a recovery until tonight,” Thiem wrote on Facebook. “Of course I am disappointed, but nevertheless I had a solid start into the new season.”

The Australian Open starts in 10 days.

“Now I am focusing on Melbourne and being fit and prepared for the first Grand Slam of the year,” Thiem said.

Defending champ Djokovic advances to Qatar Open semis

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DOHA, Qatar — Defending champion Novak Djokovic advanced to the Qatar Open semifinals by beating Czech qualifier Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-3 on Thursday.

Djokovic holds a 13-1 career record over the 38-year-old Stepanek, and has won their last 12 meetings.

Djokovic took a 4-2 lead in the first set before Stepanek broke his serve when the second seed netted a backhand on a third break point in the game.

Djokovic won the next two games, winning the set on an overhead smash to an open court.

In the second set, Djokovic established a 3-1 lead and held on to the advantage.

He will play Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the semifinals. Verdasco defeated sixth-seeded Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 6-2, 7-5.

Top-seeded Andy Murray plays Nicolas Almagro of Spain in the first evening match, followed by third-seeded Tomas Berdych and fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.