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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.”

Opelka edges top-seeded Isner to reach New York Open final

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UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) Reilly Opelka edged top-seeded John Isner the same way he knocked his fellow American out of the Australian Open, winning a match full of tiebreakers Saturday night in a New York Open semifinal that set a record for combined aces in a three-set match.

Opelka fought off six match points in a marathon second set and went on to win 6-7 (8), 7-6 (14), 7-6 (4) to move within a victory of his first ATP title.

The 6-foot-11 Opelka and 6-10 Isner combined for 81 aces and there were no breaks of serve. Opelka hit 43 aces, Isner had 38, and each had only one double fault.

It was similar to their meeting in Melbourne, when Opelka beat the ninth-ranked Isner in a first-round match that went four tiebreakers.

Opelka will play Canadian Brayden Schnur, a qualifier who had never won a tour-level match before this week.

Schnur recovered after blowing a 3-0 lead and eventually the second set to beat American Sam Querrey 7-6 (7), 4-6, 6-3.

Schnur was the final alternate accepted into the tournament’s qualifying draw and was nearly gone from Long Island quickly, eventually overcoming two match points to beat No. 3 seed Steve Johnson in the second round.

There was nothing quick about the second semifinal, which lasted 2 hours, 31 minutes and went well past the previous record of 71 aces, set earlier this year in a match between Nick Kyrgios and Ryan Harrison.

Isner was in good position to win in straight sets, taking a 3-1 lead in the tiebreaker when Opelka pushed a forehand long. But he wasted a chance to win the match on his serve, and Opelka then kept erasing the rest of the match points when he served.

Isner had dropped both matches this season, part of a six-match skid dating to the end of last year, before winning his first two matches here in straight sets.

But he was stopped again by Opelka, who fell two aces shy of Ivo Karlovic’s record for most aces in a three-set match.

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Mertens upsets Halep in Qatar Open final

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DOHA, Qatar – Unseeded Elise Mertens came from a set and a break down to beat recent No. 1 Simona Halep 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the Qatar Open final and capture the biggest title of her career on Saturday.

Halep led 6-3, 2-0, then lost a service game for a third time to see the second set back on serve. Mertens continued to pressure, missing two more break chances in the seventh game but finally breaking – to love – in the ninth. The set was the first Mertens took from Halep in three matchups.

Mertens broke again to start the third set, Halep leveled at 2-2, but Mertens finished stronger and won her fifth career title.

The Belgian beat two other top-10 players this week, Kiki Bertens and Angelique Kerber.

Halep’s first final appearance since August guaranteed she will rise one spot to No. 2 in the rankings on Monday.