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Goerges, Kerber aim for all-German Wimbledon final

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LONDON — It’s been 87 years since two German women played in a Wimbledon final. Julia Goerges likes the sound of a repeat, though.

“It sounds crazy to maybe have the chance to share a German final in Wimbledon,” Goerges said after she and Angelique Kerber advanced to separate semifinals at the All England Club. “Well, it’s still one more match to go for both of us. It will be both very tough matches. But it’s great to see there is a chance.”

For Goerges, it couldn’t get much tougher. She’ll be facing Serena Williams, the seven-time champion who hasn’t lost a match at the All England Club since 2014 — though she missed last year’s tournament while pregnant. Kerber, a two-time Grand Slam champion who was runner-up at Wimbledon in 2016, will be playing former French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko on Thursday.

Goerges and Kerber have already accomplished something not seen at Wimbledon since 1931 by putting two Germans in the women’s semifinals. That year, Cilly Aussem and Hilde Krahwinkel went on to set up the only all-German women’s final in Grand Slam history. Just having two in the last four again is a boost to the country’s tennis, Goerges said.

“To really share this feeling with her (Kerber), with a nation, I think that’s something which is pretty special,” she said.

Of the last four women remaining, the 29-year-old Goerges is the only one who hasn’t won a major yet. In fact, this is her first career Grand Slam semifinal — even though many expected her to reach this stage much sooner. She won her first WTA title in 2010 and followed that up by winning the prestigious Stuttgart tournament the next year. But instead of establishing herself as a regular contender, her form and ranking plummeted over the next few years. That led to a radical overhaul of her coaching team and even a re-location from north to south Germany in an attempt to get back to her best.

It seems to have worked.

“I took the risk of changing everything,” she said. “But, yeah, it’s worth it. … I think now, the moment I’m living, it just shows me that I was right, I actually took a good decision.”

Goerges will be facing Williams in a Grand Slam for the second time in little over five weeks, having lost to the American in the third round of the French Open. Williams, though, insists that result isn’t an indicator of what will happen on Thursday.

“That was four or five weeks ago. That doesn’t matter,” Williams said. “This is a whole new match, it’s a new surface, it’s everything. We’re starting from zero.”

Williams, for one, isn’t surprised to see the German players doing well. And she wouldn’t mind renewing her rivalry with Kerber, whom she faced in two Grand Slam finals in 2016 — losing at the Australian Open before avenging that result at Wimbledon.

“We’ve had a lot of tough matches together,” Williams said. “Yeah, I have missed (our rivalry).”

Nadal gets his revenge over Tsitsipas to reach Rome final

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ROME (AP) After losing in the semifinals of three straight clay-court tournaments, Rafael Nadal looked more like his old, dominant self when he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 Saturday to reach the Italian Open final.

It was a measure of revenge for Nadal after losing to Tsitsipas in three sets at this stage in Madrid last week. The victory should also restore Nadal’s confidence as he seeks a record-extending 12th title at the French Open starting next weekend.

“I’m playing better every match, every weekend,” Nadal said.

Aiming for a ninth trophy in Rome, Nadal’s opponent in Sunday’s final will be either Novak Djokovic or Diego Schwartzman, who were playing later.

Nadal is in the middle of his longest title drought to begin a season since he came onto the scene in 2004. His last trophy came in Toronto last August.

The crowd attempted to encourage Tsitsipas with chants of “Tsi-Tsi-Tsi; Pas-Pas-Pas” but the 20-year-old Greek player couldn’t keep up with Nadal on the long rallies – even though he didn’t play a day earlier after Roger Federer withdrew from the quarterfinals.

Conditions were much slower than on the high-altitude court in Madrid, which favored Nadal and made it tougher for Tsitsipas to execute his attacking game.

Midway through the first set, Nadal produced an awesome forehand winner up the line on the run, drawing a loud roar from the packed Campo Centrale crowd.

Nadal broke Tsitsipas’ serve early in both sets.

In the women’s tournament, Johanna Konta rallied past sixth-seeded Kiki Bertens 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 in nearly three hours to reach the biggest clay-court final of her career.

Konta’s only previous final on clay came recently in Rabat, Morocco, where she lost the title match to Maria Sakkari.

Konta could get a rematch with Sakkari if the Greek qualifier beats fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova in the other semifinal.

Midway through the first set, Konta surprised Bertens with a drop shot winner during a baseline rally, causing Bertens to fall on her stomach to the clay as she rapidly changed directions. Then in the next game, Konta ran down a drop shot and produced an angled winner.

Bertens was coming off the Madrid Open title.

“She played really smart with the drop shots,” Bertens said. “I was all the time getting myself together and trying to push for more energy. But it was not there.”

The 42nd-ranked Konta served for the first set at 5-4 but was broken at love. But Bertens double faulted to let Konta serve for the second set and Konta got an early break in the third.

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John Isner out of French Open with injury

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PARIS — John Isner has pulled out of the French Open because of an injured left foot, ending his streak of 24 consecutive appearances at Grand Slam tournaments.

The 34-year-old Isner announced his withdrawal Friday on Twitter.

He is ranked No. 11, the top American man, but has not competed since hurting his foot during the Miami Open final March 31.

Isner was a Wimbledon semifinalist last year, his best Grand Slam performance. He hasn’t missed a major since the 2013 Australian Open.

He’s reached the fourth round at Roland Garros three times, including in 2018, and is one of only two men to push 11-time champion Rafael Nadal to a fifth set there.

Isner is best known for winning the longest match in tennis history, 70-68 in the fifth set against Nicolas Mahut in Wimbledon’s first round in 2010. The match lasted more than 11 hours over three days.