Novak Djokovic holds off Ernests Gulbis, Rafa Nadal exits in Montreal

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Disappointing: Rafa Nadal is out of Montreal Masters.

Novak Djokovic had to fight off an upset bid from qualifier Ernests Gulbis, defeating the Latvian 5-7, 7-6 (9/7), 6-1 to reach the semi-finals of the Montreal Masters.

But Rafael Nadal, like Djokovic a former champion at the event, was unable to escape an on-form Kei Nishikori as the fourth seed sent out the Spaniard 6-2, 6-4 thanks in part to six double-faults from Nadal.

The red-hot Nishikori is riding a wave of momentum from his hardcourt title last week in Washington and will next face second seed Andy Murray who beat French 10th-seeded holder Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-4 and took revenge for a semi-final loss a year ago in Canada.

Nishikori won his first match against Nadal after seven losses, taking just under 90 minutes to advance in his best Canadian showing.

“It took a long time to finally beat him, but I’m very happy to win my first match against Rafael,” said Nishikori.

“I knew I have to be aggressive, so I have to change some tactics to play against Rafa. “Everything was feeling well today. I felt like everything was going in.

“I mean, he’s still not maybe 100 per cent, but he’s Rafa.” Seventh seed Nadal was playing in Canada for the first time since winning his third title here in 2013 and he now stands 28-7 in the country. Djokovic found himself down a set and a break against Gulbis.

– #360view: Kyrgios’ latest debacle and his below-the-belt comment
– DOWN THE LINE: Stephens ready to fly after maiden WTA crown
– ATP: Nishikori outguns John Isner in Washington to claim 10th title

Gulbis, whose career best was a Roland Garros semi-final in 2014, has since gone into a funk in 2015. But he forced his world number one to save two match points in the second-set tiebreaker of a thriller lasting two and a half hours. Djokovic levelled at a set apiece and re-established order as he ran away with the third set for the win.

“Ernests was a better player for two sets — unfortunately he missed two match points,” Djkovic said.

“I wasn’t very happy with my game. But you have to muscle it out sometimes and I had to put in the effort. “One day you play well, the other you don’t. It’s important to stay committed to every point, believe, fight. That’s what gets you out of trouble.”

Djokovic is bidding for his fourth Canadian title and the win puts him into a semi-final against unseeded Jeremy Chardy. Chardy booked his first career appearance in the semi-final of an ATP Masters 1000 event, struggling for three hours to defeat John Isner 6-7 (9/11), 7-6 (15/13), 7-6 (7/4).

Chardy overcame 32 aces from the big American to reach the final four. The match, which began two hours late due to rain, lasted three hours and eight minutes.

“I’m very proud to reach my first Masters semi-final,” said the 49th-ranked winner who levelled his season record at 18-18. “I was lucky to come back in the second. “I’m really happy. I stayed really focused and really strong in my head the whole match.”

Chardy advanced with 12 aces and a single break of serve while saving break points on six of seven occasions. The Frenchman has cast a spell over Isner in their career meetings, winning all four of their matches including at Roland Garros in the second round in May.

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Simona Halep roars back to reach Toronto WTA semi-finals

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Serena Williams returns a shot during her quarter-final match against Agnieszka Radwanska.

Romanian second seed Simona Halep advanced to the semi-finals of the WTA Rogers Cup on Friday by roaring back to defeat Polish sixth seed Agnieszka Radwanska 0-6, 6-3, 6-1.

Halep next will face the winner of a later match between Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko and Italy's Sara Errani.

World number one Serena Williams plays later against Italy's Roberta Vinci with that winner set to face either Swiss Belinda Bencic or Serbian fifth seed Ana Ivanovic in the semi-finals.

Radwanska won the first seven games of the match and looked in control.

But Halep battled to 3-3 in the second set and then seized command, winning eight games in a row to reach the brink of victory.

Radwanska held at love in the penultimate game but Halep matched her in the concluder to claim her 300th career singles victory after one hour and 40 minutes on the court.

"It was a tough match," Halep said. "She played an amazing first set. I couldnt move my legs first set. I made many mistakes. But I kept my concentration and a changed a few things and was able to come back."

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#360view: Kyrgios' latest debacle and comments towards Wawrinka

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Nick Kyrgios has been making the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Let’s just preface any comment on Nick’s actions by saying: yes, I find Wawrinka allegedly dating a teenager was/is wildly creepy (it’s also none of my business). That doesn’t excuse any of Nick’s behavior on court and is far from being the issue right now.

*The fact that women continue to be used in such derogatory manner just for the sake of taking a jab or making a quip at an opponent is both completely unacceptable and sad. We may be in the 21st century but men are still fighting like they were in the dark ages.

*The ATP trying to take down every video and vine of the incident is disappointing, laughable and futile. The fact that they think they can outsmart the internet makes me realize they don’t get it and never will. Instead of pooling their efforts into attempting to hide what is already all over the globe, how about putting out a statement or announcing a suitable fine for the offence? It’s been 11 hours (and counting) since the incident happened yet no word has emerged from their side yet. Such ridiculous use of their time and resources! (UPDATE: The ATP said Kyrgios has been fined $12,500 and is under investigation which could result in further sanctions)

*Many people have been going on and on about how Kyrgios behaves inappropriately on court. The shocking part is he barely gets any code violations or fines. Just the random code for dropping an F-bomb (he dropped MANY while talking to Carlos Bernardes on Wednesday by the way) or smashing a racquet. If umpires and tournament referees were doing their job properly from day one, this kid would have spent half his prize money on fines, maybe gotten defaulted once or twice, and he probably would be keeping his outbursts in check by now. Instead, his behavior is just getting worse which makes you wonder if the ATP is actually happy with his conduct and are even happier to be enabling it.

*Kyrgios’s mother, Nill, and brother, Christos, coming to his defense every time he does something indefensible has just GOT TO STOP. They are not helping him in any way whether from a life-lessons-learned standpoint or from a PR perspective. Nill’s Twitter account was shut down, probably at the behest of his PR time. Christos’ account should be next.

His brother Christos posted this tweet but later deleted it after Kyrgios had said in his on-court interview that Wawrinka had got “lippy” which is why he said those things:

*There is no point in comparing the ATP’s reaction – or lack thereof – to this issue with respect to others in the past, such as Sergiy Stakhovsky’s comments for example, because the lack of reaction to previous incidents doesn’t mean they should continue to do so. This is about Kyrgios’ behavior on Wednesday night and not about anything else. 

*History has shown that you can be racist or misogynistic or just plain rude but a few years later people can call you a hero for fighting hard on a tennis court or whatever. Case in point: how many people remember Lleyton Hewitt’s racist innuendos in a conversation with an umpire during his match with James Blake and still hold it against him till this day? Not many. He tried to apologize after that and in simple terms: life goes on. This incident might not define Kyrgios’ future in the sport but what he learns from it certainly could. 

*Kyrgios will definitely regret not coming up with a better answer in his on-court interview with Arash Madani. Granted he had just won the match and didn’t have time to think but not thinking before speaking was what got him into this mess to begin with. What he told Wawrinka needlessly dragged two more people into the conversation and that is something Kyrgios will come to deeply regret. 

*The one thing Kyrgios had on his side was the fact that many top players – including Andy Murray and Richard Gasquet – have repeatedly said that he is very respectful towards others on tour which implied there is a side to him that many don’t see. This incident shatters that theory.

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