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Roger Federer dominant in Wimbledon opener

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LONDON — Roger Federer didn’t need his initials to sign off on another masterful display at Wimbledon.

He’s hoping to get them back soon, though.

Federer’s stylish “RF” logo was missing from his outfit as he stepped out on Centre Court on Monday to begin his title defense with a quick 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 win over Dusan Lajovic. So was the Nike swoosh that has been an ever-present adornment during his 15 years of tennis dominance.

The eyebrow-raising new look was a result of switching apparel sponsors to Japanese clothing company Uniqlo, despite the Swiss star’s name having been synonymous with Nike ever since winning his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2003. And while the swoosh may be gone for good, Federer wants to reclaim his initials.

“Yeah, so the RF logo is with Nike at the moment, but it will come to me at some point. I hope rather sooner than later, that Nike can be nice and helpful in the process to bring it over to me,” Federer said. “They are my initials. They are mine. The good thing is it’s not theirs forever. In a short period of time, it will come to me.”

One thing that clearly hasn’t left him – even at the age of 36 – is his mastery of grass courts.

Starting his quest for a record-extending ninth Wimbledon title, Federer looked as sharp as ever.

Lajovic held serve in the opening game but that was as good as it got for the 58th-ranked Serb. Federer reeled off the next nine games to take charge and was in cruise control for the rest of the match.

Federer didn’t face a break point and showed off the full repertoire of shots that has made him the most successful male player ever at Wimbledon. He set another record in the process, becoming the first man in the Open era to play in the grass-court Grand Slam for a 20th straight year.

The man he beat in last year’s final, Marin Cilic, also advanced easily. The third-seeded Croatian cruised past Japanese player Yoshihito Nishioka 6-1, 6-4, 6-4. He joined No. 8 Kevin Anderson and American duo John Isner and Sam Querrey to advance in straight sets.

No. 6 Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria was the highest-seeded man to bow out, losing to Stan Wawrinka 1-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5), 6-4.

Federer’s move to Uniqlo had been rumored ahead of the tournament, but wasn’t confirmed until he stepped onto the court. However, he hasn’t completely left Nike behind. He still wore the American company’s shoes on court, although he may have had to pay for these ones himself.

“I don’t have a shoe deal,” he said. “I’m looking forward to see what shoes I will be wearing in the near future. For now, I will be wearing Nike. They have shown interest to have a shoe deal with me, as well. Ties are not broken there. I have deep roots with Nike. I’ve had a great relationship over the last 20 years. But everything is open.”

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.