Monday , December 18 2017

Federer, Murray return to Wimbledon quarters – Williams sisters through; Nishikori bows out

Switzerland’s Roger Federer returns to US’ Steve Johnson during their men’s singles fourth round match on the eighth day of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London on July 4. (AFP)
Switzerland’s Roger Federer returns to US’ Steve Johnson during their men’s singles fourth round match on the eighth day of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London on July 4. (AFP)

LONDON, July 4, (Agencies): World number two Andy Murray withstood the challenge of Nick Kyrgios on Monday, sweeping aside the mercurial Australian 7-5, 6-1, 6-4 on Centre Court to reach his ninth straight Wimbledon quarter-final.

For much of a pulsating first set 15th seed Kyrgios had the edge, however, thudding down serves at close to 140 mph that the second-seeded Scot struggled to reach let alone control.

Murray’s serve, meanwhile, was misfiring and, under darkening skies and roared on by a partisan crowd, he had to dig deep to stay on terms with the Australian.

The set and the match turned in the 12th game, when a combination of Kyrgios errors and two inspired Murray backhands presented the Scot with three break points. Kyrgios saved the first two with booming serves but Murray converted the third when the Australian netted a forehand volley.

Thereafter Kyrgios’s focus and intensity wavered, the Briton breaking him twice in a second set that flew by in 26 minutes. He broke once more in the third, closing out the contest with an ace on his third match point.

Murray will face swashbuckling Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 12th seed, in the quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, cruising into the quarter-finals without the loss of a set, Roger Federer is making it look easy as he chases a record eighth Wimbledon title. Serena Williams, meanwhile, is picking up momentum as she goes for a seventh championship at the All England Club.

Federer swept to a 6-2, 6-3, 7-5 win over 29th-ranked American Steve Johnson on Centre Court on Monday, equaling Jimmy Connors’ Open-era record by reaching his 14th quarter-final at the All England Club.

Looking fresh and sharp after two days off, Federer broke Johnson five times and was in control throughout a match that lasted just over 90 minutes — one of 16 men’s and women’s fourth-round matches on the schedule.

Federer hadn’t played since Friday and was able to rest over the weekend while the tournament cleared up a backlog of matches caused by a rainy first week.

For Williams, the match swung in her favor once the roof was shut over Centre Court, as she reeled off the last nine games to beat No. 13 Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 6-0 and reach the quarterfinals for the 12th time.

The No. 1-seeded American slipped during a point while she was getting broken to fall behind 5-4 in the opening set. Both players complained that the grass was slippery, but play continued.

With Kuznetsova serving for the set, Williams broke back to make it 5-all. Play was then delayed for nearly 30 minutes while the retractable roof was closed.

After the match resumed, Kuznetsova did not take a game. Williams won 24 of 29 points in the second set, and finished with a 43-8 advantage in winners.

Williams’ next opponent will be No. 21 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, who reached her first quarter-final at Wimbledon by beating 27th-seeded CoCo Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-3.

Serena’s sister, five-time champion Venus, moved into the quarter-finals here for the first time since 2010, beating No. 12 Carla Suarez Navarro 7-6 (3), 6-4. Playing in her 19th Wimbledon and the oldest women’s player in the draw, the 34-year-old Venus last won the title in 2008. She’ll next face Yaroslava Shvedova.

Federer’s victory was his 306th match win in a Grand Slam and put him into his 48th quarter-final at a major, three wins away from becoming the first man to win eight Wimbledon titles. He’s tied with Pete Sampras and William Renshaw with seven.

“You can always, always lose the tournament in the first week, but never win it,” Federer said.

Next up for Federer will be No. 9 Marin Cilic, who advanced when No. 5 Kei Nishikori retired with a rib injury while trailing 6-1, 5-1. The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Croat beat Federer in the semifinals of the 2009 US Open, which he won for his only Grand Slam title.

“He brushed me off the court like I was nothing at the US Open in the semis a few years back,” Federer said, “so I hope to get him back this time.”

Advancing to a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the first time was Sam Querrey, the man who stopped No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the third round on Saturday. The 28th-seeded American served 23 aces and beat Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-4.

Querrey is the first American man to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals since Mary Fish in 2011 — and the first to make it that far at any Grand Slam since John Isner and Andy Roddick at the 2011 US Open.

In women’s play, No. 3-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska was eliminated by No. 18 Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-3, 5-7, 9-7 in a back-and-forth baseline battle that lasted three hours.

Radwanska, a finalist in 2012, saved a match point at 6-5 in the second set, then squandered a match point of her own at 6-5 in the third.

Cibolkova served out the match on her third attempt, even though she was warned for time delay after catching one of her ball tosses. On her third match point, Cibolkova hit an inside-out forehand winner, then dropped face first onto the grass, her chest heaving.

Australian Open champion and No. 4-seeded Angelique Kerber beat Misaki Doi 6-3, 6-1. She will next face No. 5 Simona Halep, who came from behind to beat No. 9 Madison Keys 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-3.

 

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