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Federer upset by qualifier Donskoy in Dubai, Murray wins

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Roger Federer squandered three match points in a shock 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (5) second round loss to Russian qualifier Evgeny Donskoy at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Wednesday.

Federer, who has just won his 18th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, failed to take advantage of three match points in the second set tiebreaker, losing two of the three opportunities on unforced errors.

“(I) surprised everyone I think today,” the 116th-ranked Donskoy said. “Whoever win against Roger surprises himself, I think.”

Adding to the challenge for the Russian was playing against Federer for the first time.

“It was really tough in the beginning, because it was too much pressure,” Donskoy said. “Because it’s Roger, and I never even practice with him.”

Federer netted a forehand on Donskoy’s one set point in the second set tiebreaker to extend the match to a third set.

Donskoy’s dream of a quarterfinal berth seemed over when he forfeited his serve in the sixth game of the third set. But Federer wasn’t able to close out the match when serving for it at 5-3 in the third, and then watched the Russian work his way to victory.

Federer led 5-1 in the third set tiebreaker, but Donskoy refused to fold.

“I had my chances,” Federer said. “I should somehow close it out. Don’t know how it got away, but he did very well, and yeah, it’s a rough one, for sure.”

Federer, who skipped last year’s tournament because of arthroscopic knee surgery, was in the hunt for an eighth Dubai title.

The initial excitement in the match occurred with Federer leading 6-3, 3-4 – when one set of the court floodlights went dark. Fans in the crowd turned on their cellphone flashlights and start waving them in the air as if they were at a rock concert.

Both players then agreed to play on despite the problem and by two games later full lighting was restored.

“I felt, if he wants to keep playing, I’m happy to keep playing,” Federer said. “I didn’t want to wait. It wasn’t just, like, dark. It was just darker.”

Donskoy will play seventh-seeded Lucas Pouille in the quarterfinals. Pouille defeated qualifier Marius Copil 6-1, 6-4.

“It’s tough to judge this one, because I could have won in two and I’d be already almost hitting the pillow now thinking about Pouille,” Federer said. “But now here I’m explaining what didn’t go well.”

The day went a lot better for top-seeded Andy Murray, who earned a place in the last eight with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

Murray, playing in his first tournament since a fourth round defeat at the Australian Open last month, is showing no signs of being match rusty despite having to deal with a case of shingles.

The top-ranked Briton needed only 72-minutes to bypass the 97th-ranked Garcia-Lopez, saving the one break point he faced on serve at 30-40 in the first game of the match.

He broke Garcia-Lopez’s serve for the first of five times in the fourth game of the first set.

“When I got the early break, pretty much was almost 30 minutes in and we’d only played four games,” Murray said. “Mentally, that was important for me, you know, to be up at that stage.

“I loosened up a bit after that and played really well.”

Murray, who only dropped one point on serve in the second set, will play Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarterfinals. Kohlschreiber posted a 6-4, 6-4 second round win over Daniil Medvedev.

“Every time we have played, we have had a lot of close matches,” Murray said of Kohlschreiber. “He’s a talented guy. He uses the angles of the court well. He plays with a lot of spin.”

Fourth-seeded Gael Monfils struggled with Dan Evans before securing a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win to reach the quarterfinals, where he faces left-hander Fernando Verdasco.

In an all-Spanish second-round outing, Verdasco upset sixth-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

Robin Haase upset fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal meeting against Damir Dzhumur, who defeated Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-4.

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.