Monaco, Apr 13 (AP) Stefanos Tsitsipas stayed on course for a third Monte Carlo Masters title after beating a tiring Jannik Sinner 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the semi-finals on Saturday, handing the Australian Open champion only his second defeat of the season.

The 12th-seeded Greek plays the winner of a later semifinal between top seed Novak Djokovic and No. 8 Casper Ruud, a two-time French Open runner-up.

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Sinner, who already has three titles this year, looked in control in the deciding set when he led 4-3 with a service game to follow.

But, he called for a medical timeout during the changeover and a trainer massaged his right knee and thigh.

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Although a smiling Sinner shared a joke with the trainer, things got more serious in the next game when Tsitsipas broke his serve on the fifth attempt to level the score.

Sinner limped a little at the end of the next game and clutched the hamstring area at the back of his left leg, then had both legs massaged. His movement was restricted in the ensuing game, and Tsitsipas clinched victory on his first match point when Sinner's backhand from the back of the court went long as he struggled for balance.

American actress Zendaya, British actor Josh O'Connor and other cast members from the tennis movie “Challengers” were among the crowd enjoying the sunshine at the Monte Carlo Country Club. Italian fans crossing the nearby border made Sinner feel at home, but Tsitsipas enjoys strong support here after winning in 2021 and 2022.

Tsitsipas broke Sinner's serve and held for 3-1 in a commanding first set where he used angles well to disrupt Sinner's more rhythmical play.

The level of intensity from both players increased in the second set.

A long ninth game lasting 13 minutes saw the second-seeded Sinner save five break points before holding to level the match. He broke Tsitsipas in the first game of the deciding set and held easily.

At this point, another final looked increasingly certain. The 22-year-old Italian was enjoying himself and smiled at his coaching team after winning one point with an audacious sliced drop-shot in the fifth game.

But Tsitsipas, who took Djokovic to five sets in the French Open final in 2021, showed trademark endurance and clawed his way back as Sinner started fading. (AP)

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