Marc-Andrea Husler beat world number 31 Holger Rune 6-4 7-6 (10-8) to become the Sofia Open champion and earn his first tour-level title.

Rune reached Sunday's decider with a semi-final triumph over top seed Jannik Sinner, who was bidding to win three straight titles in Sofia.

But it was Husler who took the first set, breaking his Danish opponent in the first game of the match before holding in all five of his service games to clinch the opener.

The second set was another tight affair, as both players continued to dominate on their serve. However, the match hit a crucial juncture with Rune leading the second set 6-5, as he spurned two set points to break Husler and level the final up.

Husler survived to take the second set to a tie-break, though Rune again had the opportunity to make it one set apiece as he failed to convert another two set points in the tie-break.

And Husler took advantage with two crucial breaks of Rune's serve to seal the victory and become the first Swiss player to win an ATP Tour title since Roger Federer in 2019.

"I am completely taken aback," Husler said in his on-court interview.

"I am lost for words. It was a great match. I played a great, great match for sure. I just tried to stay focused, stayed calm and I am just really happy I was able to make it."

Novak Djokovic is yet to drop a set at the Tel Aviv Open as he reached the final with a 6-1 7-6 (7-3) success over Roman Safiullin.

The Serb broke his Russian opponent twice as he cruised to the opening set, and though Safiullin took the 21-time grand slam champion to a tie-break in the second, Djokovic's class showed as he won the tie-break 7-3 to ensure his place in Sunday's decider.

It was far from plain sailing for Djokovic, who conceded the tension in the second set was hard to handle.

Djokovic said: "I think it was a very competitive match, especially in the second set.

"I must say I was quite emotional on the court today in the second set, there was a lot of tension, and that was also due to his aggressive style of tennis. Big serves, and when he has time, he's so solid from the forehand and backhand corner.

"I knew that I had to stay very strong, and that he was definitely going to raise his level in the second set, which happened. I was serving for the match and played a couple of loose points, but credit to him for fighting back. It was an enjoyable evening on the court for sure."

Marin Cilic secured his spot as Djokovic's final opponent with a comfortable straight sets triumph over Constant Lestienne.

The Croatian second seed served 14 aces as he eased to victory in under two hours, winning 11 out of his 12 first-serve points en route to a 7-5 6-3 win.

Holger Rune is into the Sofia Open final after Jannik Sinner was forced to retire through injury with the Dane leading 5-7 6-4 5-2.

Sinner won the opening set but lost the second, and with Rune just one game away from winning the match, the top seed chose to retire with ankle pain, putting an end to his hopes of winning three straight titles in Sofia.

Rune will face Marc-Andrea Huesler in the final, after the world number 95 upset fourth seed Lorenzo Musetti.

The first set went to a tie-break as neither could find a break of serve, though Musetti found two in the tie-break to help him to a 5-1 lead.

However, the Italian surrendered the next six points as Huesler pulled off an incredible comeback to take the first set.

The second set was another tight affair as both held serve after serve, but Huesler finally found a crucial break to prevail 7-6 (7-5) 7-5.

Novak Djokovic sealed his place in the final four at the Tel Aviv Open after beating one of his "best friends" Vasek Pospisil on Friday.

The Serbian was made to work hard by his Canadian opponent, particularly in the first set, but eventually won 7-6 (7-5) 6-3.

Djokovic was particularly impressive on his second serve, winning 70 per cent of them, only four per cent less than his first serve success rate, and he hit just eight unforced errors compared to Pospisil's 21.

"It was a great, positive win," Djokovic said afterwards. "Vasek is one of my best friends on the Tour. We have known each other for many years. It is never easy playing someone you respect so much and like so much, but we are both professionals and wanted to win the match and you can see that.

"I think the level of tennis was really high. Especially towards the end of the first set and the second set. Credit to him for fighting. It's great to see him back."

The number one seed will play Roman Safiullin in the semi-finals after the Russian beat Arthur Rinderknech 6-4 6-1.

Constant Lestienne came through a tight contest with Maxime Cressy, winning 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 7-6 (7-3), and will face number two seed Marin Cilic in the other semi after the Croatian was handed a bye following Liam Broady's withdrawal prior to their match.

At the Sofia Open, Jannik Sinner remains on course for a third successive title at the tournament, setting up a final-four encounter with Holger Rune after easing past Aleksandar Vukic 6-2 6-3, with Rune eventually dispatching Ilya Ivashka 6-2 5-7 6-4.

The other semi-final in Bulgaria will see Lorenzo Musetti take on Marc-Andrea Huesler after both won their respective quarter-finals against Jan-Lennard Struff and Kamil Majchrzak.

Novak Djokovic cruised past Pablo Andujar to reach the quarter-finals of the Tel Aviv Open on Thursday, showing no signs of rustiness on his first Tour-level outing since July.

Djokovic had not featured in an ATP-level match since his final victory over Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon, having been forced to miss the US Open due to his COVID-19 vaccination status.

But the Serbian needed little time to find his feet in Israel, winning the first seven games of the match and breaking the Spaniard's serve four times en route to a 6-0 6-3 victory.

Speaking on court afterwards, Djokovic said: "Fantastic atmosphere here tonight, thank you very much. I like the court, it's very intimate and it's very loud. 

"The crowd here is very passionate about the sport, about tennis and I'm really, really happy to be here and to perform here in front of you, so thank you for your support."

The 21-time grand slam winner will face Canada's Vasek Pospisil in the last eight after he beat home hopeful Edan Leshem 6-3 6-2.

Two of Djokovic's fellow seeds fared less well, however, with Diego Schwartzman and Botic van de Zandschulp both being ousted after three-set contests.

Third seed Schwartzman failed to capitalise on a third-set match point in his 6-3 2-6 7-6 (9-7) loss to Arthur Rinderknech, while Britain's Liam Broady teed up a clash with Marin Cilic by beating Van de Zandschulp 6-4 4-6 6-3.

The Sofia Open also saw a couple of seeds fall to surprise defeats on Thursday, although Jannik Sinner avoided any drama in his 6-3 6-4 win over Nuno Borges.

Sinner now has a perfect 10-0 record at the event, which he won in both 2020 and 2021, and will face Australia's Aleksandar Vukic for a place in the final four.

Holger Rune also progressed to the last eight, though he was forced to rally after losing the opener against Lorenzo Sonego, but Pablo Carreno Busta and Oscar Otte were both dumped out.

Second seed Carreno Busta fell to a 6-3 3-6 6-2 reverse against Switzerland's Marc-Andrea Huesler, who will face Poland's Kamil Majchrzak in the quarter-finals after he came back to beat Otte 4-6 6-2 6-4.

Carlos Alcaraz believes New York provides a perfect stage for the first grand slam semi-final of his career after the Spanish teenager edged a late-night thriller with Jannik Sinner.

In the last of the men's singles quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows, Alcaraz prevailed in the latest finish on record at the tournament, sealing a 6-3 6-7 (7-9) 6-7 (0-7) 7-5 6-3 victory at 02:50 local time on Thursday.

Sinner was left crestfallen, saying the defeat was in his "top list" and would hurt "for quite a while". He had served for the match in the fourth set but could not see it out, the 21-year-old seeing Alcaraz exact revenge for defeat in the fourth round at Wimbledon.

At the age of 19, Alcaraz is leading the men's tour for wins this season, one short of reaching 50 for the year, and the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowds have taken him to their hearts.

He is the youngest men's grand slam singles semi-finalist since Rafael Nadal marched to the 2005 French Open title, and the youngest man to reach the last four at the US Open since Pete Sampras in 1990, also on a run to the trophy.

The clash with Sinner was an epic that spanned five hours and 15 minutes, yet Alcaraz said afterwards: "During the whole match, I feel great physically.

"I feel great to be in my first semi-final in a grand slam. I feel better reaching the semi-final here in the US Open. This tournament is amazing. The crowd is amazing, I would say the best in the world.

"The energy I receive in this court at 3am, it was unbelievable. Probably in other tournaments, other places, everybody would have gone to their house to rest. But they keep in the court, supporting me. It was unbelievable.

"I feel great to have a semi-final here in the US Open."

Frances Tiafoe awaits him, after the American took down Andrey Rublev in straight sets on Wednesday, following up his fourth-round win over Rafael Nadal with another accomplished display. The crowd will likely have split allegiances for that semi-final on Friday.

"It's going to be really, really tough," said Alcaraz. "Everybody knows the level of Frances. He has beaten Rafa Nadal, Rublev in three sets. He's playing unbelievable right now, high in confidence.

"He loves the crowd. He loves this court. I'm going to have to play my best. But right now I'm thinking about this match. I'm enjoying this moment. I have a day of rest to think about the semi-final."

Alcaraz also said the possibility of becoming world number one did not cross his mind during the Sinner battle. He would hit the top spot by winning the title, and would also be assured of number one by reaching the final if Casper Ruud loses to Karen Khachanov in the other semi-final.

Sinner can only dream of reaching such heights for now, although his time may come.

He has a 9-20 losing record against top-10 opponents after this setback, but wins over Alcaraz at Wimbledon and later at a smaller event in Umag, Croatia, suggest his game is developing nicely.

The Italian had a strong tournament in New York but was left with regrets after failing to see this one through.

"I've had some tough losses, for sure. This is in the top list," Sinner said. "I think this one will hurt for quite a while.

"But tomorrow I wake up, or today I wake up, trying to somehow take only the positives, trying to take away the other part.

"But it's tough, for sure. In my next tournament I will play Davis Cup. Before, I want to practise again in the best possible way, trying to improve. Maybe next time I can win this, no?"

Carlos Alcaraz survived a Jannik Sinner match point before going on to clinch his maiden grand slam semi-final berth with an epic five-set victory in more than five hours at the US Open.

The Spanish third seed triumphed 6-3 6-7 (7-9) 6-7 (0-7) 7-5 6-3 in the latest-ever finish at the US Open, officially ending at 2:50am Thursday local time.

The match was within nine minutes of being the longest ever in US Open history, the record held by Michael Chang and Stefan Edberg from 1992 of five hours and 26 minutes.

The 19-year-old fought back from a Sinner match point in the fourth set, rallying to force a fifth, where he broke the Italian 11th seed in the eighth game before serving it out for victory.

Alcaraz blew opportunities too, including five set points in the second set, while he failed to serve out the third set before Sinner won the tie-break 7-0 to take all the momentum into the fourth.

But the emerging Alcaraz showcased his doggedness even after falling a break behind in the fourth, to set up a semi-final date against 22nd seed Frances Tiafoe, who has beaten Andrey Rublev and Rafael Nadal in his past two matches.

The win also means Alcaraz is a step closer to claiming the world number one ranking for the first time, which will be achieved if he wins the title, or even if he makes the final and fifth seed Casper Ruud does not.

Data slam: Alcaraz cannot help Nadal comparisons

Alcaraz, 19, is not fond of comparisons to compatriot Rafael Nadal, but his victory means he becomes the youngest grand slam semi-finalist since the 22-time major winner in 2005. 

Little separated Alcaraz and Sinner who will both have won huge admiration, but the Italian's 63 unforced errors compared to the Spaniard's 38 was an outlier.

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Alcaraz – 5/5
Sinner – 8/11

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Alcaraz – 58/38
Sinner – 61/63

BREAK POINTS WON

Alcaraz – 11/26
Sinner – 7/16

The career of Carlos Alcaraz could be one that takes up a great deal of space in the record books, and he is getting started early.

Not yet old enough to buy a stiff drink in a New York bar, the 19-year-old was the toast of Flushing Meadows after a late-night win over Marin Cilic that ran into the early hours of Tuesday.

That five-set win against the 2014 champion, combined with the shock exit of Rafael Nadal at Frances Tiafoe's hands, has raised expectations that Alcaraz could scoop a first grand slam title on Sunday.

Should he land that breakthrough major, there will be another feather in his cap, making Alcaraz the youngest world number one since the ATP rankings were established in 1973, and the first teenager to hold down top spot. He has climbed from 32nd at the start of the year to his current position of fourth on the list.

Nadal is poised to go to number one, which he last held in February 2020, unless Alcaraz or 23-year-old Norwegian Casper Ruud reach the title match. They are the only two players remaining in the draw who can clamber to the top ranking, which Daniil Medvedev will relinquish after his fourth-round exit to Nick Kyrgios.

If both reach the final, the champion will go to number one.

In the city that never sleeps, Alcaraz completed a 6-4 3-6 6-4 4-6 6-3 win over Croatian Cilic at 02:23 local time, three minutes short of matching the latest finish in US Open history, shared jointly by three matches: Mats Wilander vs Mikael Pernfors (1993), John Isner v Philipp Kohlschreiber (2012), Kei Nishikori v Milos Raonic (2014).

The victory on Arthur Ashe Stadium made Alcaraz the youngest man to reach back-to-back US Open quarter-finals since Australians Lew Hoad and Ken Rosewall both achieved the feat before turning 19 in 1953. It was called the US Championships in that era.

Alcaraz has won a tour-leading 48 matches in 2022 and has become the youngest man to reach three grand slam quarter-finals since Michael Chang over 30 years ago.

However, he next faces a player making his own history.

Alcaraz's quarter-final opponent is a recent nemesis: Jannik Sinner, the 21-year-old Italian who beat him in round four at Wimbledon and again in the final of the clay-court event in Umag, Croatia, at the end of July.

"I played a couple of times against him," Alcaraz said. "He's a great player, really tough one. I lost twice in two months [to him] so I will have to be ready for this battle against Jannik."

There is a victory that Alcaraz could point to, having defeated Sinner on an indoor hard court at the Paris Masters last November, but they have never played on an outdoor hard court, which is where they will do battle on Wednesday.

Sinner has now reached the quarter-final stage of all four majors, becoming the youngest man to pull off that feat since a 20-year-old Novak Djokovic completed the set in 2008.

The last-eight duel with Alcaraz could be a sizzling clash, albeit Alcaraz and Sinner had some recharging to do on Tuesday after both were pushed to five sets in round four, in Sinner's case by Ilya Ivashka of Belarus. Alcaraz now has a 6-1 win-loss record in five-set matches.

Nobody remaining in the men's quarter-finals has a slam title to their name, and Alcaraz will hope he continues to have the backing of the crowd in Queens.

He said after fending off Cilic: "Of course, the support today in Arthur Ashe was crazy. After losing the fourth set, it was tough for me to come back in the fifth set, to stay strong mentally. But the energy I received today made me win."

Australia's Nick Kyrgios has now won 15 of his past 16 matches after defeating compatriot Alex de Minaur 6-2 6-3 in the third round of the Canadian Open – with his only loss coming in the Wimbledon final against Novak Djokovic.

Fresh off his first singles title since 2019 when he won last week's Washington Open, Kyrgios collected his ninth consecutive victory in impressive fashion, showing no difficulty in navigating his first-ever matchup against his fellow countryman.

He won the first four games of the match, and snatched a break in the first game of the second set to book his quarter-final against Poland's Hubert Hurkacz.

Hurkacz, the eighth seed, had to come back from a set down to defeat Spain's Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-7 (6-8) 6-2 7-6 (7-3). He struggled with his serve early, with four double faults in the opening frame, but cleaned it up as the match went on, double-faulting only once in the last two sets.

England's top hope Cameron Norrie suffered a disappointing 6-3 6-4 defeat at the hands of world number nine Felix Auger-Aliassime, but Daniel Evans and Jack Draper made it through to fly the flag.

Evans pulled off an upset win to beat 10th seed Taylor Fritz 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-5, and 20-year-old Draper was up a set when 17th seed Gael Monfils retired with an injury at 6-2 0-2.

American Tommy Paul claimed another scalp with his 6-4 6-2 victory against 13th seed Marin Cilic, giving him back-to-back wins against top-15 opponents after emerging triumphant against Carlos Alcaraz in the previous round.

In the final match of the day, Pablo Carreno-Busta beat his third top-30 opponent of the week with a 6-2 6-4 result against Italy's Jannik Sinner, following strong successes against Matteo Berrettini and Holger Rune.

Jannik Sinner scored his second big win over Carlos Alcaraz in July as he toppled the Spanish teenager in Sunday's Croatia Open final.

The 20-year-old Italian won his sixth career title on the ATP Tour and the first not on a hard court, beating Alcaraz 6-7 (5-7) 6-1 6-1 on clay at the Goran Ivanisevic Stadion in Umag.

Victory improved Sinner's win-loss record against Spanish players in 2022 to 8-0, and gave him a first trophy of the year. It was Alcaraz's 100th match of his career at ATP level but did not go according to his plan.

A victorious Sinner told Tennis TV: "I am obviously very happy. I come from a tough year until now. We had some unfortunate moments, but we worked every time to play better, to be a better player, to be a better person. So, I'm very happy to be finally lifting a trophy this year, but I know that I still have a lot of things to improve."

Alcaraz, who lost to Sinner's compatriot Lorenzo Musetti in last week's Hamburg European Open final, had six break points in the second game of the second set but failed to break through and fell away.

Sinner said: "He made some unforced errors, and I was very happy that I won this game. Then I returned well and raised my level a little bit, and I think I found a solution then."

Alcaraz was attempting to become the first player since Carlos Moya (2001-03) to win this title in consecutive years but fell short. He said he would have to "keep working hard to win tournaments" and hailed Sinner's "amazing level" over the week.

The 19-year-old will rise into the ATP top four for the first time on Monday but will be wary of Sinner currently having a hold over him.

Their Wimbledon match on July 3 went Sinner's way in four sets.

Small consolation for Alcaraz may have come in the fact he won a set, meaning he has done so in all 49 matches he has played this year, last losing in straight sets when he went down to Hugo Gaston at the Paris Masters last year.

Carlos Alcaraz's defence of his Croatian Open title will go down to the wire, with the Spaniard set to face Jannik Sinner in Sunday's final.

Alcaraz, the number one seed, defeated Giulio Zeppieri over three sets in Saturday's semi-final – securing his 42nd win of the year. That is the joint-most victories in 2022 on the men's tour alongside Stefanos Tsitsipas, and extends his record in Umag to 8-0.

The 7-5 4-6 6-3 win sees Alcaraz reach an ATP Tour-leading sixth final in 2022 and will lift him to fourth in the world rankings ahead of Tsitsipas – a career high for the 19-year-old.

"It's amazing to be in a final here again. I enjoy playing here in Umag and I'm really happy with the win today," Alcaraz said in an on-court interview.

Alcaraz will bring up his first century of ATP matches when he tackles Italian Sinner.

"It would be amazing in my 100th match to get the win, and of course it is amazing to be number four on Monday," Alcaraz said. "It's something great for me, but right now I am just focused on the final."

Sinner, who beat Alcaraz at Wimbledon to set up a quarter-final against Novak Djokovic, saw off compatriot Franco Agamenone 6-1 6-3 in Saturday's other semi-final.

The 20-year-old Sinner is looking for his first title of 2022, having won at Antwerp, Sofia, Washington and Melbourne last year. He has reached the quarter-finals in two of the three grand slams played so far this year.

Roberto Bautista Agut beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas in straight sets to reach the Austrian Open final, but the Spaniard must wait until Saturday to discover his opponent.

Third seed Bautista Agut proved too strong for compatriot Ramos-Vinolas as he prevailed 6-3 7-6 (7-3) in a little over two hours, despite squandering three match points.

The world number 20 now can now look forward to a first clay-court final since suffering defeat to Matteo Berrettini at the 2018 Swiss Open Gstaad.

However, the other semi-final between Yannick Hanfmann and home wild card Filip Misolic was dramatically suspended in a third-set tie-break due to heavy rain.

Misolic, who had earlier beaten Dusan Lajovic in a clash delayed from Thursday, led 1-0 in the breaker against Hanfmann when play was halted and ultimately called off until Saturday.

The final between Bautista Agut and either Hanfmann or Misolic is still scheduled to go ahead as planned shortly after that second semi-final concludes.

At the Croatian Open, defending champion Carlos Alcaraz beat Facundo Bagnis 6-0 6-4 and will now face Giulio Zeppieri, who saw off Bernabe Zapata Miralles in straight sets.

Jannik Sinner is also through to his first semi-final of 2022 after beating Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4 7-6 (7-5), with Franco Agamenone up next after overcoming Marco Cecchinato.

Dominic Thiem battled his way into the quarter-finals of the Austrian Open at the expense of compatriot Sebastian Ofner on Wednesday.

Thiem reached his first semi-final since May 2021 at the Swiss Open last week and is looking to make further strides on home soil this week, having endured an injury nightmare.

The 2020 US Open champion made it through to the last eight in Kitzbuhel but had to dig deep for a 6-2 3-6 6-3 victory over qualifier Ofner.

Thiem only lost one point in the opening two games and wrapped up the first set in commanding fashion, but Ofner claimed the only break of the second set to force a decider.

The former world number three twice came from a break down in the final set to ensure he will face Yannick Hanfmann for a place in the semi-finals.

Seeds Aslan Karatsev and Joao Sousa bowed out, losing to Dusan Lajovic and Jiri Lehecka respectively.

Spanish trio Roberto Bautista Agut, Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Pedro Martinez advanced in straight sets.

Two of the top five seeds were knocked out of the Croatia Open, with Holger Rune and Alex Molcan falling in the round of 16.

Bernabe Zapata Miralles got the better of third seed Rune 3-6 6-3 6-2, while Roberto Carballes Baena ousted Molcan 3-6 6-2 6-3. Jannik Sinner and Giulio Zeppieri secured their quarter-final spots in Umag.

Dominic Thiem started his bid for a second Austrian Open title with a comfortable triumph over Alexander Shevchenko.

Thiem, a 2019 winner at the tournament in his home country, prevailed 6-4 6-2 in Kitzbuhel.

He will next face compatriot Sebastian Ofner as he seeks a first title since his grand slam breakthrough at the US Open in 2020.

Ofner came from a set down to beat former world number seven Richard Gasquet 1-6 7-5 7-5.

Meanwhile, seventh seed Pedro Martinez saved six out of six break points en route to a 7-6 6-3 victory over Chilean Nicolas Jarry.

At the Croatia Open in Umag, Bernabe Zapata Miralles set up a round of 16 meeting with third seed Holger Rune by beating Croatian Dino Prizmic, who retired when facing a 6-4 3-0 deficit.

Alex Molcan is safely through to the next round after defeating Duje Ajdukovic, while French 23-year-old Corentin Moutet cruised to a straight-sets victory over sixth seed Daniel Altmaier.

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