Getty Images

Federer, Murray both play for spot in Wimbledon semifinals

Leave a comment

LONDON — Roger Federer and Andy Murray are closing in on another Wimbledon final.

Federer, a seven-time champion from Switzerland, is 34 and still looking to make history at the All England Club by winning a record eighth title.

The 29-year-old Murray already made his mark in 2013, becoming the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.

The pair are on opposite sides of the draw, so if they win quarterfinals Wednesday, and then semifinals Friday, they would meet each other for the title Sunday.

“I hope I can win Wimbledon one more time,” said Federer, who beat Murray in the 2012 final. “That would be nice.”

That would also be an understatement.

Both Pete Sampras and 1880s player William Renshaw have won seven Wimbledon titles, but no one has eight. The only male player at any Grand Slam tournament with that many is Rafael Nadal, who has won the French Open nine times.

Federer will face ninth-seeded Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals, while Murray will take on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. If Federer advances, he will equal Jimmy Connors’ record of 11 Wimbledon semifinal appearances.

In the other men’s quarterfinal matches, sixth-seeded Milos Raonic will face 28th-seeded Sam Querrey, and 2010 finalist Tomas Berdych will play Lucas Pouille.

Querrey knocked defending champion Novak Djokovic out of the tournament in the third round.

Here’s a look at the four men’s quarterfinal matches:

FEDERER VS. CILIC: Federer is 5-1 against Cilic, but it’s the one loss that still hurts.

Cilic routed Federer in straight sets in the U.S. Open semifinals in 2014, the last time the two players met on court.

“These things happen. It’s OK to get blown off the court,” Federer said. “I never fully played freely in the match. But that was to his credit for just keeping cranking out serves and big returns.”

Cilic ended up winning his first major title at that tournament in New York. He’s hoping to reach the Wimbledon semifinals for the first time.

MURRAY VS. TSONGA: Tsonga has twice reached the Wimbledon semifinals, including beating Federer in the 2011 quarterfinals.

Murray, however, has beaten Tsonga in 11 of their last 12 matches, including four times on grass.

“I know Tsonga is one of the best grass court players in the world,” said Murray, who is 6-2 in Wimbledon quarterfinals. “If he plays well (and) I’m not on my game, I can lose that match for sure.”

RAONIC VS. QUERREY: Querrey is playing the tournament of his life, reaching the quarterfinals of a major for the first time while beating top-ranked Djokovic along the way.

“I think he (Querrey) must be doing great things,” said Raonic, who recovered from two sets down to reach the quarterfinals. “I’m sure he sent a message to other players, as well, that he’s ready to play.”

Querrey beat Raonic at Wimbledon in 2012, when the Canadian was just 21. In 2014, Raonic advanced to the semifinals, where he lost to Federer.

BERDYCH VS. POUILLE: Berdych is the only player left in the men’s draw that won’t have a rest day before the quarterfinals.

The 10th-seeded Czech was forced to finish his fourth-round match against Jiri Vesely on Tuesday because play was suspended by darkness the night before.

“With the recovery, I think it was actually a good day to play a set. It’s like a day of practice,” Berdych said. “I’m quite used to it actually. I’m doing it day by day, so that’s fine.”

Pouille, a 22-year-old Frenchman, is playing in the second week of a major tournament for the first time. He had been 0-4 on grass heading into Wimbledon, but he’s now 4-4.

“Before the tournament,” Pouille said, “(my goal) was to win one match on grass.”

Del Potro beats Dimitrov to win Stockholm Open

AP Images
Leave a comment

STOCKHOLM (AP) Juan Martin del Potro won his 20th career title Sunday, beating Grigor Dimitrov in a successful title defense at the Stockholm Open.

Del Potro held serve throughout as he won 6-4, 6-2 against Dimitrov while also landing 70 percent of first serves and firing in nine aces.

It was the Argentine’s first title since he beat Jack Sock in last year’s Stockholm final. The two Stockholm wins are del Potro’s only tour titles since he returned in 2016 following chronic wrist problems.

For Dimitrov, it was his fourth final of the year and first defeat. The Bulgarian is now 7-6 in career finals,

Venus ready for return WTA Finals

Getty Images
Leave a comment

SINGAPORE (AP) Venus Williams returns to the year-end WTA Finals for the first time since reaching the 2009 final, and the fifth time overall, starting on Sunday in Singapore.

Williams joins top-ranked Simona Halep of Romania, second-ranked Garbine Muguruza of Spain, third-ranked Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic, fourth-ranked Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, sixth-ranked Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, seventh-ranked Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia and ninth-ranked Caroline Garcia of France.

They’re all pretty special,” said Williams, of her career appearances in the year-end competition. “It’s the end of the year. Only Top 8 get here. It’s definitely something well earned.”

At 37-years-old, Williams is the third oldest player to qualify for the year-end championships behind a 39-year-old Billie Jean King in 1983, and a 38-year-old Martina Navratilova in 1994.

Williams is the oldest player in this draw with 27-year-old Wozniacki the next oldest.

Having played since 1995, Williams has seen the women’s game advance, saying: “The competition is so much greater. It’s a beautiful change, in fact.”

In 2008, Williams won the WTA Finals title, going 3-0 in the round-robin, and defeating Vera Zvonareva of Russia in the final.

She was also was a semifinalist in her first two appearances in the finals, in 1999 and 2000.

Williams reached two Grand Slam finals this season at the Australian Open, where she lost to what turned out to be an already pregnant younger sister, Serena, and at Wimbledon, where she fell to Muguruza.

Every player but Garcia has a possibility of playing themselves into the year-end No. 1 ranking depending on their result this week. Williams has ranked No. 1 for 11 weeks of her career.

In the round-robin, Williams is situated in the White Group with fellow big-hitters Muguruza and Pliskova, who both ranked No. 1 at some time during this season, and French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Williams opens the competition against Pliskova on Sunday. The two are tied at one match apiece in their head-to-head.

She holds a 3-2 winning record over Muguruza and is 1-0 over Ostapenko.

“I think my group is more aggressive style players in the group and the other one is more defending,” Pliskova said. “I just like to play better these players.

“I start with Venus tomorrow, so I beat her once from match point and once I lost very close match. This one is open.”