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LONDON, July 16, 2018 (News Wires) - Novak Djokovic proved conclusively he remains one of the biggest beasts in men's tennis by outplaying South African giant Kevin Anderson to claim a fourth Wimbledon title.

The 31-year-old put two years of turmoil behind him to beat a battle-weary Anderson 6-2 6-2 7-6(3) on a sweltering Centre Court and add a 13th Grand Slam trophy to his bulging cabinet.

It was clear what it meant to the Serb as he ended a two-year Grand Slam title drought by getting his hands back on the trophy he also raised in 2011, 2014 and 2015.

"I had any moments of doubt and didn't know if I could compete," Djokovic said on court late Sunday. "It's my first Grand Slam final in a couple of years and this is the best place to come back. It's very, very special."

A first Wimbledon men's final in the professional era featuring to players aged 30 or over was no classic.

The last drops of Wimbledon drama had been used up in the two longest men's semi-finals ever played at the All England Club. But Djokovic did not care about that.
Having dropped to his lowest ranking since 2006 and without a title of any description this year -- the world number 21 entered Wimbledon in the unusual position of being an outsider.

But his game caught fire throughout a sun-drenched fortnight and against Rafael Nadal in an epic semi-final completed on Saturday he looked like the player who has spent 223 weeks of his brilliant career as world number one.

In truth he never had to scale those height against the 32-year-old Anderson who for two sets was clearly suffering the effects of having spent 21 hours on court just to reach his first Wimbledon final.

Anderson stunned Roger Federer in the quarter-finals, saving a match point to win in five sets, then beat John Isner 26-24 in the fifth set in a semi-final serve-a-thon which, at six hours 36 minutes, was the second longest tennis match of all time.

His elbow was hurting, his legs, which he described as like jelly after the Isner epic, would not move properly and his thinking was fuzzy as the errors flowed. Djokovic, who made only one unforced error in the first set, picked over the carcass with relish.

The ruthless Serb broke in the first game and twice more in a 29-minute first set and although Anderson offered more resistance in the second set the outcome was the same as Djokovic pulled the 6ft 8ins eighth seed from corner to corner.

The faint-hearted probably wanted Anderson to be put out of his misery. But he is made of sterner stuff.

Firing himself up after virtually every point he began to threaten an unlikely comeback in the third -- having two set points when Djokovic served at 4-5 and three at 5-6.

LONDON, July 14, 2018 (News Wires) - Novak Djokovic sent the strongest signal yet that he is back at full strength by reaching his fifth Wimbledon final with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9), 3-6, 10-8 victory over rival Rafael Nadal on Saturday in a match suspended overnight.

Djokovic is bidding for a fourth championship at the All England Club and 13th Grand Slam title overall.

He'll face Kevin Anderson in Sunday's final. Anderson beat John Isner in a 6½-hour semifinal that ended at 26-24 fifth set Friday night, pushing back the start of Djokovic vs. Nadal.

The second semifinal then was halted when the third set ended just past 11 p.m., because of a neighborhood curfew. It had started with Centre Court's retractable roof closed and so concluded that way, too, even though there was no hint of rain.

Djokovic hasn't won a major in more than two years, dealing with an injured right elbow that was so painful in 2017 he quit his quarterfinal at Wimbledon and sat out the rest of the season.

He had surgery in February, but his results were still shaky. Until now, that is.

Undaunted by losing his lead and being forced to an extra set, Djokovic saved break points at 4-all and 7-all in the fifth, before breaking Nadal at love to end things.

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LONDON, July 12, 2018 (News Wires) - Eight-time champion Roger Federer was sensationally knocked out of Wimbledon by South African giant Kevin Anderson while Rafael Nadal edged Juan Martin del Potro in a Centre Court epic and will meet Novak Djokovic in the semifinals.

Defending champion Federer lost a Court One thriller, 2-6, 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 as 32-year-old Anderson became the first South African in the Wimbledon semifinals since Kevin Curren in 1983.

"Down two sets to love I tried my best to keep fighting. Beating Roger Federer here at Wimbledon will be one I remember, especially in such a close match," Anderson said.

"I kept telling myself to keep believing. I said today is going to be my day."

In a nail-biting four hour and 13 minute classic, it was 36-year-old Federer's earliest exit at the All England Club since his shock second round defeat against Sergiy Stakhovsky in 2013.

"Sometimes you don't feel good, and you try your best. Today was one of those days. I didn't see it coming," said Federer.

"I had moments where I was great, I felt like I was reading his serve, other moments where I don't know where the hell I was moving to."

Eighth seed Anderson will play American ninth seed John Isner on Friday for a place in Sunday's final.

Three-time champion Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, reached his first semifinal at the majors in more than two years by seeing off Japan's Kei Nishikori 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

The 12-time Slam champion will face old rival and world No 1 Nadal who saw off Del Potro 7-5, 6-7 (7/9), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 after four hours and 48 minutes on Centre Court to reach his sixth Wimbledon semifinal and 28th at the majors.

For the only the second time at Wimbledon, Federer was beaten after holding a two-set lead, with his previous loss from that position coming against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the 2011 quarterfinals.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion appeared to be moving towards his fifth successive Wimbledon semifinal after taking the opening two sets.

That initial burst gave Federer 34 successive sets won at Wimbledon, equalling his own record set between 2005 and 2006.

But, playing on Court One for the first time in three years, Federer was unusually error-prone.

Anderson had failed to take a single set off Federer in their previous four meetings.

Yet once he had ended Federer's run of holding serve for 85 consecutive games – a streak dating back to last year's semifinal – Anderson's confidence soared.

Only once before had Federer played more games at a Grand Slam and on that occasion, he prevailed 16-14 in the 2009 Wimbledon final against Andy Roddick.

But this time Federer cracked, serving his first double fault at 11-11 in the decider to give Anderson the crucial break that ushered the Swiss to the exit door.

Victory on Wednesday gave Nadal his 11th win in 16 meetings against the fifth seed Del Potro as the Spaniard stayed on course for an 18th Grand Slam title.

"I think it was great quality tennis and in the final set there were some amazing points," said 2008 and 2010 champion Nadal.

"Sorry to Juan Martin, he's an amazing opponent and player. In some ways he deserves to win as well.

"Anything could have happened, so this is a big achievement for me to get to the semifinals at Wimbledon.

"In the last set there was a little of everything, great points, great rallies, he was hitting crazy with his forehands."

Djokovic, who leads his epic head-to-head rivalry with Nadal 26-25, reached his eighth Wimbledon semifinal and 32nd at the majors after a stormy Centre Court clash against Nishikori.

It will be the 31-year-old Serb's first semifinal at a Slam since the 2016 French Open when he completed the career Grand Slam.

The 12-time major winner prevailed despite picking up two code violations and accusing umpire Carlos Ramos of "double standards".

"I think the first warning was unnecessary," said Djokovic, who was sanctioned in the second set for spearing his racquet into the court.

"It didn't harm the grass. Kei did the same in the fourth set but wasn't warned.

"The umpire said he didn't see it. I don't think it's fair but it is what it is."

Despite his anger – and picking up a time violation in the fourth set – 12th seed Djokovic still reeled off 10 of the last 12 games.

US ninth seed Isner made the semifinals of a major for the first time with a 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (9/7), 6-4, 6-3 win over 2016 runner-up Raonic.

LONDON, July 11, 2018 (News Wires) - Three-time champion Novak Djokovic reached his eighth Wimbledon semifinal on Wednesday with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 win over Japan's Kei Nishikori in a stormy Centre Court clash.

Djokovic, 31, will be playing in his 32nd Slam semifinal where he will face either world No 1 Rafael Nadal or fifth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro.

It will be Djokovic's first semifinal at a major since the 2016 French Open when he completed the career Grand Slam.

The 12-time major winner prevailed despite picking up two code violations and accusing umpire Carlos Ramos of "double standards".

"I think the first warning was unneccessary," said Djokovic, who was sanctioned in the second set for spearing his racquet into the court.

"It didn't harm the grass. Kei did the same in the fourth set but wasn't warned.

"The umpire said he didn't see. I don't think it's fair but it is what it is."

Despite his anger, Djokovic still reeled off 10 of the last 12 games of the quarterfinal.

"It feels great to be back in the last four of a Slam. I've been building in the last couple of weeks and my level of tennis is going up," he said.

"I am peaking at the right moment."

After racing through the first set, Djokovic was handed his first code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct after bouncing his racquet into the grass in frustration at squandering three break points in the third game of the second set.

"Do you think I ruined the court?" he bellowed at Ramos.

The 2011, 2014 and 2015 champion was clearly unsettled by the dispute, quickly surrendering the set.

Djokovic saved three break points in the fifth game of the third and made the Japanese star pay by breaking for 4-2 and an eventual two sets to one lead.

Nishikori, who had won only two matches in 15 meetings with the 12-time major winner, broke for 1-0 in the fourth but was broken straight back.

Djokovic's mood was not improved by Ramos choosing not to punish Nishikori for imitating his earlier offence of bashing a racquet into the ground.

"Double standards, my friend," screamed the former world No 1.

Ramos then hit Djokovic with a time violation warning for taking too long to serve in the seventh game of the fourth set.

But the 12th seed was not to be denied as he raced into the last four, hitting an impressive 40 winners on the way.

Nishikori, playing in his first quarterfinal at the All England Club, was bidding to become the first Japanese man to make the Wimbledon semifinals in 85 years.

LONDON, June 12, 2018 (News Wires) - Novak Djokovic boosted his chances of playing at Wimbledon after he accepted a wildcard to compete at next week's Fever-Tree Championships at Queen's Club, tournament organisers said.

The former world number one has been trying to recapture his top form after undergoing elbow surgery earlier this year and reached the quarter-finals of the French Open, where he was knocked out by Italian journeyman Marco Cecchinato.

After being treated for neck pain during that match, the 12-times Grand Slam winner cast doubts on his Wimbledon participation following his Roland Garros exit.

"After the exciting events in Rome and Paris, I'm ready for new challenges," Djokovic, a runner-up at Queen's Club in 2008, said on the tournament's website https://www.lta.org.uk.

"Grass is very special, it is the rarest of surfaces so I'm happy I'll have the opportunity to compete at this strong tournament, which will also be a great preparation for Wimbledon.

"I have happy memories of reaching the final at The Queen's Club 10 years ago and also winning the doubles title."

World number one Rafael Nadal and Britain's Andy Murray are also due to play at Queen's Club, although question marks remain about the participation of both.

Following his triumph at Roland Garros on Sunday, Nadal said he was unsure about his grasscourt plans as he needs to see how his body will recover following a long claycourt campaign which culminated with him winning the French Open title for the 11th time on Sunday.

Murray, a five-times winner at Queen's, has been out of action since last July with a hip problem and is expected to make his comeback at the London tournament next week, although he has already delayed his return by pulling out of a grasscourt event in the Netherlands this week.

Marin Cilic and Stan Wawrinka, whose ranking plummeted to 263 in the world this week after he too endured injury problems over the past year, are also in the draw.

 

PARIS, June 5, 2018 (News Wires) - Novak Djokovic can reach a 32nd Grand Slam semi-final on Tuesday when the 12-time major winner faces unseeded Italian Marco Cecchinato in the last-eight of the French Open.

Alexander Zverev, the second seeded German, is in his first quarter-final at the majors where he faces Dominic Thiem who has made the semi-finals in Paris in the last two years.

With world number two Caroline Wozniacki and defending champion Jelena Ostapenko already eliminated, the bottom half of the women's draw has been throw wide open.

World number 98 Yulia Putintseva, a quarter-finalist two years ago, tackles Madison Keys of the United States.

Keys's close friend Sloane Stephens, the US Open champion, takes on Russia's Daria Kasatkina who put out Wozniacki.

AFP Sport looks at Tuesday's four quarter-finals:

Novak Djokovic (SRB) v Marco Cecchinato (ITA)

Head-to-head: First meeting

― 2016 champion Djokovic, in a 12th Roland Garros quarter-final and 40th at the majors, is bidding to reach his 32nd Grand Slam semi-final when he faces world number 72 Cecchinato.

Playing at his lowest ranking for almost 12 years after months of struggling with an elbow injury and indifferent form, Djokovic has made the last eight by dropping just one set.

Cecchinato is bidding to become the first Italian man to reach the semi-finals at a Grand Slam since Corrado Barazzutti in Paris in 1978.

The Italian, who has one career title to Djokovic's 68, had never won a match at the majors before this year's French Open.

Two years ago, his career was almost derailed when he became embroiled in match fixing allegations.

He was suspended for 18 months by the Italian tennis federation in July 2016 before later being cleared of any wrongdoing.

Alexander Zverev (GER) v Dominic Thiem (AUT)

Head-to-head: Thiem leads 4-2

― Zverev is playing in a quarter-final at the Slams for the first time while Thiem has made the semi-finals in Paris for the last two years.

After fighting through three consecutive five-set match-wins, Zverev is still on track to be the first German men's champion at Roland Garros since 1937.

Even though he trails Thiem in their head-to-head, he won their most recent meeting on clay in the Madrid final this year.

Thiem boasts being the only player to have defeated Rafael Nadal on clay prior to Roland Garros this year in the Madrid quarter-finals, ending the 10-time French Open champion's 21-match winning streak on clay. It was the first time Nadal had dropped a set on clay since Thiem's victory against him in Rome in 2017.

Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) v Madison Keys (USA)

Head-to-head: First meeting

― Kazakhstan's Putintseva will be playing her second quarter-final at Roland Garros, but this time it has been more of a surprise after slipping to 98th in the world rankings.

Keys had always struggled on clay before this year, but has now reached the last eight at all four Grand Slams after impressively cruising through the draw without dropping a set.

“Once you get to the second week, every match obviously has more nerves, and there's more on the line and all of that,” said last year's US Open runner-up. “So now it's really just managing your expectations and your nerves and the moment.”

Sloane Stephens (USA) v Daria Kasatkina (RUS)

Head-to-head: First meeting

― Like her compatriot and good friend Keys, US Open champion Stephens is in the quarter-finals for the first time and hoping to set up a repeat of last year's final in New York.

But the 10th seed will have to be wary of the dangerous Kasatkina, who saw off Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets to notch her third consecutive win over the Australian Open winner.

The Russian also reached the Indian Wells final earlier this year, and has now won six times against players ranked in the world's top two.

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