Rafael Nadal maintained his perfect record against Pablo Carreno Busta to reach the Paris Masters semi-finals and send Diego Schwartzman to the ATP Finals.

World number two Nadal is bidding to win the ATP Masters 1000 tournament for the first time and fought from a set down to triumph 4-6 7-5 6-1 and improve his record against his fellow Spaniard to 7-0.

With Schwartzman having lost his quarter-final against Daniil Medvedev 6-3 6-1 earlier on Friday, Carreno Busta needed to win back-to-back titles in Paris and Sofia to stop the Argentinian taking the last remaining qualifying spot for the season-ending tournament.

He appeared to have a significant chance of keeping his hopes alive when he engineered three break points at the start of the second set, but 20-time grand slam champion Nadal held firm and forced his way into a final-four meeting with Alexander Zverev or Stan Wawrinka.

Nadal came under early pressure on his serve and Carreno Busta took his second chance to break, his impressive groundstrokes proving difficult for his opponent to cope with.

Back-to-back brilliant backhands put him on the brink of going a set and a break up in the first game of the second, but Nadal dug in to hold and began to step through the gears.

Carreno Busta showed impressive resilience to keep the contest on serve in games two and eight, before a wicked forehand down the line forced the match to a decider.

The ninth seed was broken to love in game four of the decider and won just two more points as Nadal surged to victory.

In the other semi-final Medvedev will take on Milos Raonic after the Russian took just 63 minutes to dispatch of Schwartzman.

Things were not as easy for Raonic, who staved off two match points and sent down 25 aces as he overcame Ugo Humbert 6-3 3-6 7-6 (9-7).

The Canadian saved all three of the break points he faced in the third set – and five out of six overall – and closed out the victory with a final ace.

Diego Schwartzman eased to a straight-sets win over home hope Oscar Otte but there was a shock in store for Denis Shapovalov at the Cologne Championships.

Second seed Schwartzman, ranked ninth in the world, needed just 81 minutes to seal a 6-3 6-2 victory, setting up a third-round meeting with Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

It was a less happy outing for third seed Shapovalov in Germany, the Canadian succumbing to a 6-1 4-6 6-2 loss against Gilles Simon.

The result represented a measure of revenge for Simon after the Frenchman lost to world number 12 Shapovalov in the first round of the French Open.

"I am really happy with the way I played, with the focus I had over all of the match," Simon said in his on-court interview. 

"I am really happy to beat him, because it is a very, very good win. I had a tough match with him at Roland Garros. I lost it unfortunately, so I am happy that I am the winner this time."

Jannik Sinner awaits for Simon after he defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert, while Yoshihito Nishioka also made it through.

At the European Open in Antwerp, top seed and home favourite David Goffin suffered a stunning 6-3 7-5 defeat to American qualifier Marcos Giron.

Giron's surprise victory put him in the last eight of a ATP Tour event for the first time and he saved 10 of 13 break points he faced for a maiden victory over a top-20 opponent.

Milos Raonic was not to be denied a place in the quarter-finals, though, and a 7-5 7-6 (7-4) defeat of Cameron Norrie means he will now meet Grigor Dimitrov.

Alexander Zverev started his quest to win back-to-back ATP tournaments in Cologne with a battling victory over John Millman.

Zverev was crowned Cologne Indoors champion last weekend and the US Open runner-up moved into the quarter-finals of the Cologne Championships on Wednesday.

The top seed beat Australian Millman 6-0 3-6 6-3, despite double-faulting 10 times, and has now won 11 of his last 12 matches on hard courts.

Zverev saved six of the seven break points Millman earned and won 79 per cent of points behind his first serve, setting up a last-eight meeting with eighth seed Adrian Mannarino.

Mannarino was a 6-3 6-3 winner against Miomir Kecmanovic, while Alejandro Davidovich Fokina advanced to the quarter-finals following a 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 victory over Steve Johnson.

Felix Auger-Aliassime, beaten by Zverev in the final on Sunday, rallied past qualifier Egor Gerasimov 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-4).

Pablo Carreno Busta slumped to a surprise defeat at the European Open in Antwerp, Ugo Humbert beating the second seed 5-7 6-3 6-4.

Frenchman Humbert was joined in the quarter-finals by Grigor Dimitrov, Alex De Minaur and Dan Evans, while Milos Raonic and Taylor Fritz progressed to the round of 16.

ATP Finals hopefuls Andrey Rublev and Denis Shapovalov will meet in the semi-finals of the St Petersburg Open after claiming straight-sets victories on Friday. 

Rublev holds the final automatic qualification spot for the season-ending tournament in London next month following a 6-2 6-1 win over Cameron Norrie. 

The third seed was a cut above Brit Norrie, improving his record to 32 victories and just seven defeats this year, which has included three titles. 

Shapovalov, meanwhile, beat Stan Wawrinka 6-4 7-5 in a battle between youth and experience, the 21-year-old Canadian winning 84 per cent of his first-service points. 

Milos Raonic defeated fellow seed Karen Khachanov 6-1 7-6 (7-1) and will face Borna Coric in the other semi-final, the Croatian having ousted Reilly Opelka in straight sets.

Top seed Alexander Zverev moved into the last four of the Cologne Indoors on home soil, beating South African qualifier Lloyd Harris 6-4 3-6 6-0. 

Zverev will come up against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in his third semi-final of the year after the unseeded Spaniard got past Dennis Novak 6-3 2-6 6-3. 

Roberto Bautista Agut and Felix Auger-Aliassime will do battle for a place in the final following wins over Hubert Hurkacz and Radu Albot respectively. 

Marco Cecchinato and Lorenzo Musetti will be hoping to contest an all-Italian Sardegna Open in their homeland after advancing to the last four on Friday, along with Serbian duo Laslo Djere and Danilo Petrovic.

 

Andy Murray suffered another disappointing defeat as he lost to Fernando Verdasco in the first round of the Cologne Indoors tournament.

A 6-4 6-4 loss came against a player he once led 13-1 in their career head-to-head, a gap which has now closed to 13-4 after a hat-trick of wins for Spanish left-hander Verdasco.

Following victories for Verdasco at the US Open and Shenzhen Open in 2018, the Madrid man again got the better of the two-time Wimbledon champion, beating the Scot on an indoor hard court for the first time after five previous defeats.

It was a tough draw for Murray, who also struck unlucky at the French Open last month when he was paired with former champion Stan Wawrinka in the first round and also lost in straight sets.

The former world number one had entered the Cologne event, a low-level ATP 250 tournament, in the hope of building up match practice and registering the wins he needs to improve his ranking, which stands at 115 after his battle with injury in recent seasons.

Marin Cilic and Gilles Simon won through to the second round earlier in the day at the German event.

At the St Petersburg Open, Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka survived an on-court meltdown to beat French player Adrian Mannarino 6-3 7-6 (8-6) in the first round.

Trailing 3-2 in the second set, Ivashka insisted on taking a toilet break and was penalised a game on his return to court, for delaying the match.

Ivashka explained to the chair umpire he had asked for a medical timeout because he "wasn't able to stand on court", only to be told such a break could not be used for a toilet trip.

The red mist descended as a seething Ivashka shouted: "That is not possible. It is not possible."

The punishment meant the 26-year-old fell 4-2 behind in the set, but he managed to turn around the situation to progress to the last-16 stage, where Denis Shapovalov or Viktor Troicki will await.

At the same tournament, Russian Andrey Rublev began his first week as a top-10 player by scoring a comfortable 6-2 6-4 win over Canadian Vasek Pospisil.

Milos Raonic, who skipped the French Open where Rublev reached the quarter-finals, fired 21 aces in a 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 win against JJ Wolf.

In Italy, home player Lorenzo Sonego followed up his run to the fourth round of the French Open with a 6-2 7-6 (7-4) opening win over 18-year-old compatriot Giulio Zeppieri at the Sardegna Open.

Dusan Lajovic set up a meeting with Rafael Nadal as a host of seeds and big names fell by the wayside at the Internazionali d'Italia on Thursday.

Neither Novak Djokovic nor Nadal was in action after scoring victories a day earlier, but there was no shortage of shocks.

Home hopeful and seventh seed Fabio Fognini was among those to lose, going down 7-5 7-6 (7-4) to Ugo Humbert.

The match saw a remarkable 11 breaks of serve, including the first six games of the opener before Fognini was broken to love, then losing an early advantage in the second-set tie-break.

He was joined in making an early exit by US Open quarter-finalist Andrey Rublev.

Beaten by brilliant Russian compatriot Daniil Medvedev in the last eight at Flushing Meadows, Rublev lost in three sets to Hubert Hurkacz on this occasion.

Fifth seed Gael Monfils succumbed 6-2 6-4 to qualifier Dominik Koepfer, while Milos Raonic fell to Lajovic as the Serbian secured the Nadal clash, landing a 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-2 success.

Kei Nishikori also tumbled out as he struggles to regain his rhythm on the ATP Tour.

The former world number four was appearing in just his second tournament of the year due to an elbow injury and then the coronavirus pandemic but could not get past Lorenzo Musetti.

Musetti, an 18-year-old qualifier, had already dumped out Stan Wawrinka and said after his 6-3 6-4 success: "I think I played really smart. It was different to Wawrinka.

"They are great champions and I am really happy right now."

He was the only Italian man to win, though, with Casper Ruud seeing off Lorenzo Sonego.

Denis Shapovalov had a straightforward victory and Diego Schwartzman also headed through in two sets.

Andy Murray's return at the US Open ended in the second round, while Daniil Medvedev's strong form continued on Thursday.

In singles action at a grand slam for the first time since the 2019 Australian Open, Murray produced a gutsy win in his opener, but fell in the second round in a rainy New York.

The three-time grand slam champion was joined by Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov in exiting the major, which is being played behind closed doors at Flushing Meadows.

Medvedev, meanwhile, continued to cruise, while Dominic Thiem was also untroubled.

 

MURRAY BOWS OUT

Murray fought hard but was sent packing by Felix Auger-Aliassime, the Canadian 15th seed recording a 6-2 6-3 6-4 win.

Auger-Aliassime was in impressive form on Arthur Ashe Stadium, hitting 52 winners and just 30 unforced errors.

Murray needed more than four and a half hours to get past Yoshihito Nishioka in the opening round, but Auger-Aliassime was too good.

The 20-year-old lost just 14 points on serve for the match, winning in two hours, seven minutes.

MEDVEDEV, THIEM EASE THROUGH

 

Medvedev is yet to drop a set at the grand slam after brushing past Australian Christopher O'Connell 6-3 6-2 6-4.

The Russian third seed and last year's runner-up was satisfied with his performance as he mixed 32 winners with 31 unforced errors.

"It was great. It was a great match. Nothing special but really happy to win in three sets," Medvedev said.

"I didn't lose my serve, which is always important. Managed to break early in the second and third set, and first set was, I think, under control also.

"Happy to be through, and let's see what the next rounds will give us."

Up next for Medvedev is J.J. Wolf, the American 21-year-old recording a 6-2 6-4 6-3 win over Roberto Carballes Baena in the second round.

Thiem, the three-time grand slam runner-up and second seed, cruised past Sumit Nagal 6-3 6-3 6-2 on his 27th birthday.

A tougher test is awaiting the Austrian, who will meet Marin Cilic after the 2014 champion beat Norbert Gombos 6-3 1-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-5.

 

RAONIC, DIMITROV STUNNED

Having reached the Western & Southern Open final, Raonic looked in fine form in the United States.

However, the 25th seed fell in the second round, losing to fellow Canadian Vasek Pospisil 6-7 (1-7) 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-3.

Dimitrov, the 14th seed, also exited, edged by Marton Fucsovics 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 6-4 6-1 after four hours, 50 minutes.

But last year's semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini is embarking on another run, the Italian sixth seed beating Ugo Humbert 6-4 6-4 7-6 (8-6).

Roberto Bautista Agut, Andrey Rublev, Karen Khachanov, Alex de Minaur and Casper Ruud also advanced on what was another good day for male seeds.

Milos Raonic has called on the ATP and WTA tours to "band together" in the fight against racial inequality and social injustice, believing stronger action is required,

All three NBA playoff games scheduled to take place on Wednesday were postponed amid protests following the shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, by police in the state of Wisconsin.

Other sports followed suit: MLB saw three games postponed, while five of the six scheduled MLS fixtures also did not go ahead. In tennis, Naomi Osaka withdrew from the Western and Southern Open, a move she hopes "can get a conversation started in a majority white sport".

The United States Tennis Association, along with the ATP and WTA, which run men's and women's tennis, announced there would be no play in the tournament in New York on Thursday, with the semi-finals moved to Friday instead.

Canadian Raonic, who is due to play Stefanos Tsitsipas in the last four, offered his support, insisting previous steps taken "can only do so much".

The world number 30 also made clear he believes the time has come to make a stand in a way that has financial implications, what he described as "real disruption".

"I think having a sign somewhere, of support, banners at a tournament or wearing a shirt in a warmup at an NBA game, it can only do so much," Raonic told the media.

"I think real disruption ... that's what makes change. I think real disruption is caused by affecting people in a monetary way. And that can cause some kind of change.

"And I'm hoping with what the NBA does, and I'm hoping that we at least on the men's tour as well as the women's [tour], we band together and show our support because there are many people that are not being treated fairly, are being disrespected, having to live in fear and a lot of things that I've never had to experience.

"It's very unfortunate, it's very sad, and I'm hoping that there is a change, I'm hoping that the actions that do take course, over the next days, weeks, months, years, this isn't going to change in a day, but really do provide a change, systematic change, equal opportunity for everybody, especially in the free world."

Osaka released a statement on Twitter confirming she would not be participating in her semi-final against Elise Mertens, explaining there were "more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis".

"I don't expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction," the two-time major winner wrote.

"Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of police is honestly making me sick to my stomach. I'm exhausted of having a new hashtag pop up every few days and I'm extremely tired of having this same conversation over and over again.

"When will it ever be enough? #JacobBlake, #BreonnaTaylor, #ElijahMcclain, #GeorgeFloyd."

Novak Djokovic cruised into the Western & Southern Open semi-finals, while defending champion Daniil Medvedev fell on Wednesday.

Djokovic, the world number one, continued his impressive run in New York, where the ATP 1000 event is being held instead of Cincinnati due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Serbian may have been expecting to have Medvedev awaiting him in the last four, but the Russian exited.

Meanwhile, Stefanos Tsitsipas is also into the semi-finals.

 

DJOKOVIC RACES THROUGH

Djokovic needed just 62 minutes to breeze past Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3 6-1 to reach a record-equalling eighth Western & Southern Open semi.

The 17-time grand slam champion, who is yet to drop a set at the tournament, improved to 21-0 this year.

Djokovic tied Jimmy Connors, Stefan Edberg, Roger Federer and Bill Talbert's semi-final totals at the ATP 1000 tournament.

BAUTISTA AGUT BEATS MEDVEDEV

Defending champion and last year's US Open runner-up, Medvedev departed in the quarter-finals.

Medvedev, the third seed, was beaten by eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut 1-6 6-4 6-3.

Bautista Agut has lost eight of his 11 meetings with Djokovic, but won two of their three clashes last year.

TSITSIPAS THROUGH AS RAONIC SAVES MP

Tsitsipas was only on court for 38 minutes before Reilly Opelka retired due to a right knee injury.

Opelka led 6-5 against the fourth seed before retiring due to the injury.

Tsitsipas will face Milos Raonic, who saved a match point before overcoming Filip Krajinovic 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-5.

Raonic saved a match point in the 10th game of the third set, winning 11 of the final 13 points to advance.

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