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

Nadal-Djokovic semifinal suspended after 3rd set

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LONDON (AP) It was the kind of tennis that Wimbledon’s Centre Court crowd would gladly have watched all night long.

The show being put on by Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal was so good it could have been an instant classic had they been able to finish their semifinal before the tournament’s 11 p.m. curfew.

Instead, the two players – and a disappointed audience – were sent home after the third set on Friday with Djokovic leading 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9) following a tense tiebreaker that had more entertaining rallies than some entire matches.

The two players didn’t even get onto the court until after 8 p.m. because of an earlier marathon semifinal won by Kevin Anderson and when Djokovic converted his second set point in the tiebreaker – having saved three of Nadal’s – the clock had ticked a couple of minutes past 11. That left organizers no choice but to call it a night, although the announcement from the chair umpire led to a scattering of boos from some fans who clearly wanted more.

Most of them will have to watch the rest on TV.

The match will resume at 1 p.m. local time on Saturday, before the women’s final between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber. At stake is a place in Sunday’s men’s final against the man who was partly at fault for keeping Nadal and Djokovic out there so late. Anderson’s win over John Isner lasted 6 + hours and went to 26-24 in the fifth set.

Djokovic-Nadal had clearly been the headline act of the day – they have five Wimbledon titles between them and met in the 2011 final while Anderson and Isner had never made the semifinals before – and their tennis was at another level from the earlier match. Even Anderson said he could feel during his match that the crowd would rather be watching the next one.

“They’ve paid to see two matches, and they came pretty close to only seeing one match,” Anderson said. “I can feel the crowd (get) pretty antsy for us to get off the court. They’ve been watching us for over six hours.”

While Anderson-Isner was mostly a serving duel with a few longer rallies thrown in, Djokovic and Nadal repeatedly slugged it out from the baseline, chasing each other around the court and coming up with spectacular winners from every corner.

Many of the best points came in the tiebreaker, including a 23-shot rally that Nadal finished off with a forehand half-volley drop shot to set up his first set point.

It was one of three successful drop shots from the Spaniard in the tiebreaker alone, but Djokovic answered with one of his own to save the second set point at 7-6.

He eventually went up 10-9 with the help of a backhand passing shot and an errant shot into the net by Nadal brought the entertainment to an end – for now.

It led to the unusual situation of both players leaving the court to a huge ovation – and applauding the fans in return – but without there being a clear winner or loser.

To be continued.

Former No. 1 Kerber tops Ostapenko; into second Wimbledon final

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LONDON – It was clear right from the opening game of Angelique Kerber’s Wimbledon semifinal how things were going to go. She was not going to dictate or control much.

She was, instead, going to employ spectacular defense and solid, steady play, while letting her opponent, Jelena Ostapenko, be the one to determine the outcomes of nearly every point.

It worked. The 11th-seeded Kerber reached her second final at the All England Club by avoiding too many mistakes and using a seven-game run to seize control for a 6-3, 6-3 victory over the 12th-seeded Ostapenko on Thursday.

“These are the matches I was working for as a young kid,” Kerber said, “and to stand here again in the final at Wimbledon is great.”

Kerber is a former No. 1 and a two-time major champion, both coming in 2016 at the Australian Open and U.S. Open. That was also the year the German was the runner-up at Wimbledon, losing to Serena Williams in the title match.

She could find herself up against Williams yet again: The 36-year-old American was scheduled to face No. 13 Julia Goerges of Germany in Thursday’s second semifinal on Centre Court.

Williams took a 19-match Wimbledon winning streak into the day. She won the grass-court tournament the last two times she played it, in 2015 and 2016, before missing it last year while pregnant. Williams gave birth to a daughter in September.

The left-handed Kerber was mainly a passive participant in the early going against Ostapenko. That first game consisted of eight points: Three were unforced errors by Ostapenko, including a double-fault to begin the proceedings; the other five were winners by her, including a 100 mph ace to close the hold.

Five games in, Ostapenko led 3-2, and the numbers were still tilted toward her. She had 14 winners and 10 unforced errors, while Kerber had three winners and – this was key – zero unforced errors.

There were no drawn-out points in the early going, no lengthy baseline exchanges, essentially because Ostapenko wouldn’t allow it. The Latvian plays an aggressive brand of first-strike tennis that carried her to the 2017 French Open title as an unseeded 20-year-old.

Kerber, in contrast, bides her time, working the back of the court to get everything back over the net, often kneeling to get low enough to reach shots.

Eventually, Kerber’s style ruled the day. She went on a half-hour run in which she took the last four games of the first set and took a 3-0 lead in the second. Ostapenko’s strokes were missing and she grew increasingly frustrated, slapping a thigh after a miss or leaning forward and putting her hands on her knees after others. By the time she flubbed a backhand while falling behind 5-1 in the second, she dropped her racket and screamed.

It took Kerber two tries to serve out the victory, getting broken to 5-2. But unlike in the quarterfinals, when she needed seven match points to win, this time it required only two, with the match ending – fittingly enough – on a forehand by Ostapenko that sailed wide.

The final tally told the story: Ostapenko had far more winners, 30-10, but also far more unforced errors, 36-7.