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Ernests Gulbis tops No. 4 Alexander Zverev at Wimbledon

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LONDON — Ernests Gulbis is a former top-10 player and Grand Slam semifinalist. A series of injuries pushed him down the rankings and kept him off the ATP Tour for long stretches, instead relegated to lower-tier Challenger tournaments.

Look at him now. Healthy and playing well, he’s made it all the way to Wimbledon’s fourth round for the first time in 11 appearances at the All England Club after upsetting No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev 7-6 (2), 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-0 on Saturday.

The 29-year-old Gulbis is ranked only 138th and had to go through qualifying rounds to make it into Wimbledon’s main draw. He’d never attempted that before and is now the first male qualifier to get to the fourth round in six years.

“I’m glad that I went through it,” Gulbis said. “It makes me stronger mentally.”

The victory over Zverev was his sixth in a row over the past two weeks.

It also allowed Gulbis to join 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, who reached the women’s fourth round with a victory earlier Saturday, to give Latvia two players in the round of 16 at a major tournament for the first time.

“It’s great to see him doing this well, because I think he is such a talented player and he can play on a very high level,” Ostapenko said about Gulbis. “I hope he’s going to go even further in the tournament.”

On Monday, Gulbis will face No. 24 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan, who was the runner-up at the 2014 U.S. Open.

The best Grand Slam showing for Gulbis was a run to the semifinals at the 2014 French Open, which included a win against Roger Federer. That was the year he reached his career-best ranking of No. 10.

But then came one injury after another and a slide to 589th a year ago because of a lack of matches.

He had won only one tour-level match this season before Wimbledon. Now he has his first three-match winning streak on tour since 2016.

And still, he can boast of a better Grand Slam performance on his resume than the 21-year-old Zverev, whose only major quarterfinal was last month at Roland Garros.

More than any edge in age or experience, though, what both men figured determined the outcome of this match was that Zverev ran out of energy. He came down with a stomach bug that affected him during his two-day, five-set victory over Taylor Fritz of the U.S. in the second round and felt tired down the stretch against Gulbis.

“It felt like somebody just unplugged me in the middle of the fourth set,” Zverev said. “There was no going back.”

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.