Associated Press

Nadal, Federer cruise into Shanghai Masters quarterfinals

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SHANGHAI (AP) Rafael Nadal won his 14th consecutive match to reach the Shanghai Masters quarterfinals, beating Fabio Fognini of Italy 6-3, 6-1 on Thursday.

Fognini occupied Nadal for 63 minutes, nine minutes longer Nadal’s second-round match.

Roger Federer, seeded second to Nadal, also was not detained for long as he defeated Ukrainian qualifier Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4, 6-2.

“Of course it’s good news, and especially in this part of the season,” Nadal said. “Its better like this than having long matches. You save a little bit more the body.

“It doesn’t matter how long you are on court, (the) most important thing is be enough competitive to (handle) all the situations.”

Nadal hadn’t won an ATP hard-court title in more than three years until the U.S. Open last month, and now he’s gunning for his third in five weeks.

Nadal saved both break points he faced in the round-of-16 match, in the fourth game of the second set.

In the quarterfinals, Nadal will play sixth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, who got past Sam Querrey of the U.S. 6-3, 7-6 (3).

Federer will play Richard Gasquet in the quarterfinals.

Juan Martin del Potro advanced by overcoming third-seeded Alexander Zverev 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4.

Del Potro required four match points – two on Zverev’s serve in the ninth game, two on his own serve in the 10th game – to win this first encounter against the German.

Del Potro, who lost his serve for the only time in the match in the second game, won nine of his 15 service games at love.

Zverev, in the hunt for a sixth ATP title of the season, lost his composure after netting a backhand to surrender his serve in the fifth game of the third set to the Argentine. He repeatedly smashed his racket until it was a mangled mess.

“For me, it’s impossible to lose a match when I’ve only been broken one time,” Zverev said. “The game where he broke me I was up 40-15 and I was just unfocused there.”

Del Potro knew Zverev’s reaction to losing serve was likely a good omen.

“I saw his frustration, for sure,” del Potro said. “He’s still very young and has to keep learning. He has everything to be in the top of the game.”

Del Potro will John Isner of the U.S. or Viktor Troicki of Serbia in the last eight on Friday.

Fourth-seeded Marin Cilic will face Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain.

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.