Federer, Wawrinka set up all-Swiss semifinal at US Open

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NEW YORK (AP) Roger Federer is back in the semifinals of the U.S. Open for the 10th time. To get back to his first final at Flushing Meadows in six years, he’ll have to beat someone he knows quite well: Swiss Olympic and Davis Cup teammate Stan Wawrinka.

The No. 2-seeded Federer and No. 5 Wawrinka both won quarterfinals about as handily as can be Wednesday night.

Federer never faced a break point, compiled a remarkable 50-8 advantage in winners, and needed less than 1 1/2 hours to dismiss 12th-seeded Richard Gasquet of France 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“No doubt about it: I think I played a very good match,” Federer said. “I felt the ball great.”

He won five consecutive titles at the U.S. Open from 2004-08, then lost in the 2009 final – and hasn’t been that far again since.

Forced to play in Louis Armstrong Stadium because of two lengthy women’s quarterfinals plus a 1 1/2-hour rain delay earlier, Wawrinka eliminated 15th-seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-4, 6-4, 6-0. The match took 1 hour, 47 minutes in all, but the third set, in particular, was about as lopsided as possible: Wawrinka won 24 of the 29 points.

Wawrinka solved the 6-foot-8 Anderson’s serve, converting 5 of 8 break points. Anderson had been broken a total of four times through his first four matches combined.

“For sure,” Wawrinka said, “the best match of the tournament for me.”

Most of his career, Wawrinka has lived in the shadow of his older – and far more successful – countryman, Federer. While Federer owns a record 17 Grand Slam singles titles, Wawrinka didn’t break through with his first until the 2014 Australian Open. But Wawrinka added No. 2 this year at the French Open, beating Federer in the quarterfinals along the way.

Still, that was only Wawrinka’s third victory in 19 career matches against Federer.

“Stan played a wonderful match against me in Paris, and I was very happy for him that he went on to win the tournament. He deserved it. He’s been such a great player throughout his career. He always improved a lot, kept on working really hard,” Federer said.

“Couldn’t be happier to play him here, to be quite honest,” Federer added. “Two Swiss in the semis of the U.S. Open – it’s very cool for both of us.”

Asked whether he expects a vast majority of spectators to be pulling for Federer on Friday, Wawrinka replied: “Everybody loves Roger. He’s the best player ever.”

In Friday’s other men’s semifinal, No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia will play defending champion Marin Cilic of Croatia. Djokovic has won all 13 of their previous meetings.

The women’s semifinals are Thursday night: No. 1 Serena Williams of the United States vs. unseeded Roberta Vinci of Italy, and No. 2 Simona Halep of Romania vs. No. 26 Flavia Pennetta of Italy.

It’s the first time two Italians reached the semifinals at the same major tournament.

Halep and Pennetta advanced Wednesday by beating two-time major champions. Halep rested up and composed herself after the third-set rain break and defeated Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, while Pennetta edged Kvitova 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

Tennis star Bouchard testifies about slip, fall at US Open

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NEW YORK (AP) Tennis star Eugenie Bouchard has taken the witness stand at a New York City trial to accuse the United States Tennis Association of negligence that led to her slipping on a locker room floor and hurting her head.

Bouchard testified Wednesday a wet floor caused her to slip and fall inside a locker room at the 2015 U.S. Open.

Her lawsuit contends the USTA should have done more to warn her the area had just been cleaned. The defense says she shouldn’t have entered without being accompanied by tournament personnel.

The lawsuit says the fall left Bouchard with a concussion and “serious head injury.”

Bouchard says she was forced to withdraw from the U.S. Open and tournaments in China and Japan. She’s seeking unspecified damages.

The 23-year-old Canadian player is ranked 116th in the world.

Serena Williams champions issues on, off court

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Moments after Serena Williams won her seventh Wimbledon title, she proudly raised her fist in a black power salute.

It caused a bit of frenzy at the All-England Club in 2016, but Williams’ action shouldn’t have surprised anyone: She’d already been one of the most vocal supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. She was one of the first major athletes to decry the failure to indict a white officer in the death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri – while also condemning violence against police.

“What caused me to speak out? Just life,” Williams said. “That’s just who I am. I always believe in the greater good and doing what’s right.”

Williams isn’t alone in her activism. Female athletes – especially black women – have long been out there pushing for social change. Wilma Rudolph’s victory parade celebrating her three gold medals from the 1960 Olympics in Rome was the first integrated event in Clarksville, Tennessee.

But despite their efforts on the field and off, women athletes have to struggle to get the same attention as men despite having as much to say, said Harry Edwards, a scholar of race and sports who has worked as a consultant for several U.S. pro teams.

“We have this twisted, almost-demented obsession with women’s second-class status with their physical inferiority,” he said. “It prevents us from appreciating the great athletes that they are … but it also means that it shuts down a potential forum that these great athletes would have where they’re valued for their athletic prowess in the same way that Muhammad Ali was, that Bill Russell was, that Tommy Smith and John Carlos were, that Arthur Ashe was, that Curt Flood was, so that when they speak, people listen.”

While Williams has long been an advocate of Black Lives Matter, it was only after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the 2016 season that the country really began to pay attention to black athlete activism. Kaepernick added his voice to a growing national movement, enveloping the entire league and starting an ongoing conversation that ventured outside football arenas.

Similarly, few people acknowledge that after the 2016 deaths of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and the killing of Dallas police officers, dozens of WNBA players wore shirts with the men’s names and kneeled for the national anthem.

It was a black woman, Knox College basketball player Ariyana Smith, who started the wave of athletic protest about the deaths of black men at the hands of police.

On Nov. 29, 2014, Smith made the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture during the national anthem before a game at Fontbonne University in Clayton, Missouri, before walking toward the American flag and laying prone on the floor for 4 1/2 minutes to symbolize the 4 + hours Brown lay in the streets of nearby Ferguson.

“We as black women are often invisible, so we don’t get that credit,” said Akilah Francique, a former athlete who cofounded the Sista to Sista program to foster a sense of connectedness among black female collegiate athletes.

Williams has been a presence on and off the tennis court, not shying away from opponents en route to winning 23 Grand Slam titles or social and political issues.

She spoke up in 2015, encouraging Black Lives Matter activists not to get discouraged: “To those of you involved in equality movements like Black Lives Matter, I say this: Keep it up. Don’t let those trolls stop you. We’ve been through so much for so many centuries, and we shall overcome this too,” she wrote in Wired magazine.

Since then, Williams has become the symbol for other causes affecting people of color, including medical issues. In February, she told Vogue that she dealt with a medical scare after the birth of her daughter. She had to insist on getting extra medical tests, overruling her nurse, before her doctors discovered several small blood clots in her lungs.

Women around the country related to her story, talking about similar difficulties in getting proper medical attention.

Female-led activism can also look different than men’s, Francique said, because of the unique positions and pressures women face in sports and in life. She pointed to the criticism black women athletes have to overcome about their body shapes, training regimens, skin color, clothing and even hair when they compete in sports – criticism that Williams has endured.

“For many of them just by merely being there and having a presence is activism,” Francique said.

Williams’ older sister, Venus, who has advocated for equal pay for professional tennis while winning seven Grand Slam titles, believes it is important to have a voice on these issues.

“I think more than anything, we see ourselves as Americans, and that’s what we want to be able to see ourselves as, regardless of color,” said Venus Williams. “I think that’s what everyone is fighting for, that one day we don’t have to see that anymore.”