Reigning champ Garin beats Fritz in Houston

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HOUSTON — Reigning champion Cristian Garin beat No. 2 seed Taylor Fritz 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3 on Friday to reach the semifinals at the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship and improve his career record at the tournament to 8-0.

Fritz is the highest-ranked American man at No. 13 and had won nine of his past 10 matches, including a title at Indian Wells, California, last month.

Garin claimed the Houston title in 2019, and the event wasn’t held either of the next two years because of the pandemic.

The fifth-seeded Garin, who is ranked 29th, will face No. 4 seed John Isner on Saturday for a berth in the final. Isner got past Frances Tiafoe 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 in Friday’s last singles match with the help of 16 aces, 22 fewer than the Houston-record 38 he hit in his previous victory.

The other semifinal will be No. 3 seed Reilly Opelka against Nick Kyrgios.

Opelka reached his second career tour-level semifinal on clay – he made it that far in Rome last year, too – by defeating 361st-ranked qualifier Gijs Brouwer.

The big-serving Opelka has been bothered by his right shoulder since last month and hit a low-for-him total of four aces against Brouwer.

Kyrgios advanced when lucky loser Michael Mmoh withdrew before their quarterfinal because of a strained right groin muscle.

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