Juan Martin Del Potro stuns Roger Federer to set up US Open semi-final clash with Rafa Nadal

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Juan Martin del Potro sensationally gatecrashed the US Open again, stunning five-champion Roger Federer and shattering hopes of a first New York showdown between the Swiss legend and Rafael Nadal.

The Argentine giant, who won his only Grand Slam title in the city in 2009 by beating Federer in the final after seeing off Nadal in the semis, triumphed 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (10/8), 6-4 in front of a spellbound Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd.

The 28-year-old will once again face world number one Nadal in the semi-finals on Friday, a stunning achievement for a man who had saved two match points to beat sixth seed Dominic Thiem in the last 16.

Nadal, who will keep his world number one status following third seed Federer’s exit, had earlier defeated Russian teenager Andrey Rublev 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in just 97 minutes.

It will be a sixth US Open semi-final for Nadal and 26th at the majors while Del Potro, the 24th seed, will be playing in just his fourth last-four match at the Slams.

For 36-year-old Federer, it was a first Slam loss of 2017 after he had captured the Australian Open and Wimbledon titles to take his career tally to 19.

Juan Martin del Potro (R) after beating Roger Federer

Juan Martin del Potro (R) after beating Roger Federer

“I served really good. I hit my forehand as hard as I could and I played a great match. I deserved to win,” said Del Potro who will be in his first Slam semi-final since Wimbledon in 2013.

“This feels like my home court. I played Rafa here in 2009 too. Hopefully I can get the same result on Friday.”

Del Potro, whose career was almost ended last year after undergoing four wrist surgeries, wrapped up the first set thanks to a break in the 11th game secured with a blistering crosscourt pass.

Federer, who had a 16-5 winning record over Del Potro ahead of the quarter-final, levelled the tie after breaking for a 3-1 lead in the second.

However, the match turned in the third set tiebreak when Del Potro saved four set points before a weary and error-riddled Federer dropped serve again to trail 3-2 in the fourth.

Victory was Del Potro’s eight minutes short of three hours with a deep forehand as Federer was left to survey the wreckage of 41 unforced errors.

“It’s hard to explain, I didn’t play that badly,” said Federer.

“I just ran into a guy who was better on the bigger points. I don’t deserve to still be in the tournament.”

Nadal will take an 8-5 record over Del Potro into the semi-final where the winner will face either Kevin Anderson or Pablo Carreno Busta for the title.

“Juan Martin is a top player. When he’s playing well, it’s difficult to stop him. Probably the forehand is maybe the fastest on the tour,” said Nadal, who is chasing his second major of the year to add to his French Open.

Rublev, bidding to be the youngest man in 17 years to reach the semi-finals, had no complaints over his loss to Nadal.

“He gave me a lesson: 1, 2, and 2,” said the Russian, who lost 16 of the last 19 points of the opening set and finished with 43 unforced errors.

– All American –

The women’s semi-finals will be an all-American affair after CoCo Vandeweghe and Madison Keys set-up a last-four duel.

Thursday’s other tie will see seven-time major champion Venus Williams face Sloane Stephens.

American 20th seed Vandeweghe claimed a 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 win over the Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova, whose brief eight-week stay as world number one ended with Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza taking over.

CoCo Vandeweghe

CoCo Vandeweghe

Vandeweghe’s victory means that the US Open will have an all-American semi-final line-up for the first time since 1981 after Keys defeated Estonian qualifier Kaia Kanepi 6-3, 6-3.

“I won the juniors here when I was 16 and dreamed of playing on the real stage,” said 25-year-old Vandeweghe, who also made the semi-finals at the Australian Open, beating then-world number one Angelique Kerber in the process.

The last time four US women were in the semis was 36 years ago when eventual champion Tracy Austin, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Barbara Potter all made it.

Keys, the 15th seed, will be playing in her second Slam semi-final after the 2015 Australian Open.

“It means the world to me,” said Keys, who underwent wrist surgery earlier this season.

Provided by AFP Sport

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Novak Djokovic becomes father of baby girl

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Twelve-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic and his wife Jelena have become parents of a baby girl, local media reported on Sunday.

Jelena gave birth on Saturday evening and their second child will be named Tara, Blic newspaper reported on its online edition.

The couple have a two-year-old son Stefan.

The 30-year-old Djokovic announced in July he would miss the rest of the season with an elbow injury.

The Serb retired from his Wimbledon quarter-final against Tomas Berdych in July because of the problem, from which is suffering for a year-and-a-half.

Between mid-January 2015 and June 2016, Djokovic won 17 of his 22 finals played in 24 tournaments. It seemed nothing could interrupt his dominance of world tennis.

But for months the Serbian national hero – now fourth in the world rankings – has been a shadow of his former self.

Since winning the French Open last year to complete the career Grand Slam, he has failed to claim another major title.

He crashed out of the Australian Open in the second round and the French Open in the last eight.

Djokovic said in July he would need a couple of months without the racket but that surgery was “not an option”.

With Andre Agassi continuing as his coach while he recovers, Djokovic now intends to be ready to start the new season at the beginning of 2018.

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Tennis ace Serena Williams goes into labour with first child

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Serena Williams (L)

Pregnant tennis superstar Serena Williams was in labour at a Florida clinic on Friday, US media reported, prompting an outpouring of goodwill messages for the charismatic former world number one.

Williams, who will turn 36 later this month, was admitted Wednesday to St Mary’s Medical Center, which shut down an entire floor to provide security for the megastar, the local CBS affiliate said.

The network also said the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion – who revealed she was pregnant in April – was induced overnight.

“We’re sending all our love and best wishes to @serenawilliams, who has reportedly gone into labor,” the US Tennis Association wrote on Twitter.

The US Open – where Serena’s elder sister Venus is due to play Friday – also sent words of support.

“#HelloSeptember and soon to be hello to a new baby! Sending our best wishes to @serenawilliams who is reportedly in labor!,” the tournament wrote.

Williams and her fiance, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, have said they plan to keep the sex of the baby a surprise until birth.

Williams has vowed to return to competitive tennis in January, to defend her Australian Open title, which she won while newly pregnant.

Her spokespeople were not immediately available for comment on the reports.

PRETTY INTENSE

Williams last month told Vogue in a wide-ranging interview that she had set herself a goal of returning to play in Melbourne at next year’s Open.

“It’s the most outrageous plan,” she said. “I just want to put that out there. That’s, like, three months after I give birth. I’m not walking anything back, but I’m just saying it’s pretty intense.”

Williams is one Grand Slam title short of matching Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slams and admits that she still dreamed of joining the Australian legend.

“Obviously, if I have a chance to go out there and catch up with Margaret, I am not going to pass that up,” Williams said. “If anything, this pregnancy has given me a new power.”

A separate article in Vanity Fair in June said Williams, who unveiled her pregnant body in a nude cover photo for the magazine, planned to tie the knot with Ohanian later this year after the birth of their child. The couple announced their engagement in December after meeting in 2015 in Rome.

In the same interview, Williams also admitted she was unprepared for the arrival of her child.

“I don’t know what to do with a baby,” she said. “I have nothing…. I’ve done absolutely nothing for the baby room,” she added.

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