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Juan Martin del Potro advances to Wimbledon quarters for first time since 2013

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LONDON — Juan Martin del Potro faces some major challenges if he’s going to go any further at Wimbledon after reaching consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinals for the first time since 2012.

First, on Wednesday he’ll take to the court for a third consecutive day amid concerns over his fitness. Second, his opponent will be two-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal.

2009 U.S. Open champion Del Potro defeated Gilles Simon 7-6 (1), 7-6 (5), 5-7, 7-6 (5) in a match that was carried over to Tuesday to complete the men’s quarterfinal lineup at the All England Club.

The other matchups see defending champion Roger Federer against Kevin Anderson; Novak Djokovic takes on Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic meets John Isner in a matchup of big servers.

After reaching the French Open semifinals last month, Del Potro — who has missed long periods with a career-threatening left wrist injury — returned to his career-high ranking of No. 4 for the first time since February 2014, which he acknowledges is a “good signal”.

“I don’t know if I’m better or not, a better player than few years ago,” said Del Potro, after returning to the last eight at Wimbledon for the first time since 2013. “I’m doing a good season already. I’m very proud to be in the last eight players of this tournament”

Del Potro’s Roland Garros run was ended by eventual champion Nadal. If the Argentine is to make it back-to-back last four appearances, he will need to reverse that result on Wednesday.

“If I want to beat him (Nadal),” Del Potro said. “I have to come to the net very often and play hard with my forehands, with my backhands, and try to take all the chances.”

With the fifth-seeded Del Potro’s fourth-round match — the longest men’s singles contest of the tournament so far — having required to be finished Tuesday, he will be taking to the court for a third consecutive day.

Given the fact he withdrew from a pre-Wimbledon event with a groin concern and called the trainer during his match with Simon, Del Potro’s fitness could be a factor.

“I think I will be in good condition.” Del Potro said. “My body feels OK.”

There is little doubt that Nadal — who is playing in the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time since 2011 — will provide a big test.

Before Del Potro and Nadal arrive on Centre Court, three-time champion Novak Djokovic, will get the chance he’s been waiting for.

Having played three of his matches away from Centre Court, Djokovic asked after his fourth-round win over Karen Khachanov that his meeting with 24th-seeded Nishikori be played in the main stadium.

His wish was granted, meaning that top-seeded Federer will play away from Centre Court for the first time in three years.

The more gusty conditions on No. 1 Court could make Federer’s challenge against eighth-seeded Kevin Anderson more complicated.

Stretching back to last year, Federer has won 32 consecutive sets at Wimbledon and will break his previous longest streak of 34 if he wins in straight sets.

Following Federer on No. 1 Court will be the two biggest servers remaining in the tournament.

Ninth-seeded Isner has hit a tournament-high 135 aces on his way to reaching his first Wimbledon quarterfinal. Next in the aces column is his opponent, 2016 runner-up Raonic.

The 13th-seeded Raonic has hit 117 aces en route to his fourth last-eight showing at the All England Club.

Both players said the match is likely to come down to a few crucial points, but took different tones when asked to suggest where they might have an advantage.

“I think I can move a little bit better than he can,” Raonic said.

Isner’s retort: “I’m taller than him. That’s all I got for you right now.”

Bryan, Sock win ATP Finals doubles title

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LONDON — American pair Mike Bryan and Jack Sock saved a match point in the deciding tiebreaker to beat Pierre-Hughes Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 5-7, 6-1, 13-11 for their first ATP Finals doubles title together on Sunday.

Having failed to take advantage of five championship points during the first-to-10 match tiebreaker, Bryan and Sock then had to save one against their French opponents before finally closing out victory at the O2 Arena.

“It was a hell of a match,” Bryan said.

The 40-year-old Bryan has now won the season-ending tournament five times. He won four times with his usual partner – and brother – Bob, who has been out with an injured hip since May.

Sock and Bryan have dominated since teaming up, winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open before finishing their season in style in London.

“It’s been a hell of a ride,” Bryan said. “This could be our last hoorah because Bob’s training back in Florida.”

After reaching the singles semifinals last year, Sock has endured a torrid season in that format, falling outside the top-100 ranked players. However, he became the first American since John McEnroe to add a doubles final appearance at the tournament to his last-four singles showing.

“This is special because it was a pretty bad year in singles,” Sock said. “This makes up for some of the low moments I’ve had.”

The French duo’s season is not over yet. Herbert and Mahut are part of their nation’s squad for the Davis Cup final against Croatia, which starts in Lille on Friday.

Ball boy flub taints Zverev’s ATP Finals win vs. Federer

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LONDON — After pulling off one of the biggest wins of his career, Alexander Zverev was left apologizing for an unforced error he didn’t make.

Zverev denied Roger Federer a shot at a 100th career title by beating the Swiss great 7-5, 7-6 (5) on Saturday to advance to the championship match at the ATP Finals.

Federer was leading the second-set tiebreaker 4-3 and in the ascendancy of a rally on a Zverev service point when a ball boy at the back of the court dropped a ball. Zverev immediately signaled for the point to be stopped and the umpire ordered the point to be replayed.

Zverev served an ace before going on to close out the match moments later.

“I want to apologize for the situation in the tiebreak,” said Zverev, who was booed by some members of the crowd during his on-court interview. “The ball boy dropped the ball so it’s in the rules that we have to replay the point.

“I’m a little bit upset about the whole situation because this is not how I wanted it to end.”

Zverev is the youngest player at 21 to reach the final since 2009 and the first from Germany since 1996. He will next face Novak Djokovic or Kevin Anderson, who are in the other semifinal later Saturday.

Federer, 37, was seeking a record-extending seventh title, but was unable to cope with the pressure created by Zverev’s power and precision at the O2 Arena.

“He (Zverev) apologized to me at the net,” Federer said. “I was like, `Buddy, shut up. You don’t need to apologize to me here. Congratulations on a great match and a great tournament so far. All the best for the finals.’ And you move on.”

An inspired series of shots earned Zverev the first break points of the match in the 12th game and Federer sent a forehand wide to fall behind.

Federer willed himself to a break for 2-1 in the second set, but Zverev quickly composed himself to hit straight back in the following game.

Zverev overcame the freak interruption to establish a 5-4 lead in the tiebreaker, and Federer netted the simplest of forehand volleys to bring up match point.

He saved the first, but Zverev confidently put away a backhand drive volley to set up a shot at the biggest title of his career and leave Federer waiting until next season for his 100th title.

“Overall, I’m happy how the season went,” said Federer, who picked up his 20th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. “There’s many positives. So I’m excited for next season.”

Despite having reached only one Grand Slam quarterfinal, Zverev is the only active player outside the Big Four of Djokovic, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to have won three Masters titles. But victory at the tour’s flagship event would exceed those achievements.

“Novak right now is the best player in the world,” said Zverev, who lost to Djokovic in the round robin. “No matter who it’s going to be, I’ll be ready.”