Federer eyes 100th Wimbledon win and Nadal showdown

Switzerland's Roger Federer attends a training session on day eight of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, London, on July 9, 2019. (AFP / Ben Stansall)
Updated 10 July 2019

Federer eyes 100th Wimbledon win and Nadal showdown

  • At 37, Federer is the oldest quarter-finalist since Jimmy Connors in 1991
  • Federer will take a 7-3 record over seventh-seeded Nishikori into his quarter-final

LONDON: Roger Federer can rack up his 100th win at Wimbledon on Wednesday and set-up a blockbuster semifinal against Rafael Nadal.
In a quarter-final line-up which features five players over 30, there is a growing anticipation of a potential 40th career match-up between the sport’s two most successful players.
If it does happen, it will be their first at the All England Club since 2008 when Nadal triumphed in what is widely regarded as the greatest final ever played at the tournament.
However, before they reach that stage, eight-time champion Federer has to get past Kei Nishikori while Nadal, a two-time winner, tackles big-hitting Sam Querrey.
Whoever battles through that side of the draw is likely to find defending champion and four-time winner Novak Djokovic waiting in the final.
At 37, Federer is the oldest quarter-finalist since Jimmy Connors in 1991.
He reached his 17th quarter-final at the All England Club — and 55th at the majors — with a 74-minute demolition of Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, dropping just five games.
Between them, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic lost only 19 games in their fourth-round ties and faced just one break point.
“I think the best guys now are fully engaged, they know exactly what to expect from the court and the conditions,” said second seed Federer.
“That helps us to play better. I think with experience, that’s good. We haven’t dropped much energy in any way.”
Federer will take a 7-3 record over seventh-seeded Nishikori into his quarter-final.
Nishikori defeated the great Swiss in the ATP Finals last year, ending a drought which had stretched to almost five years.
“I’m a big fan of his game,” said Federer of the Japanese star, who is into his second successive quarter-final at Wimbledon.
“I think he’s got one of the best backhands in the game. He’s a great return player. Solid mentally. I always thought he was a great talent.”
Nishikori is bidding to become the first Japanese man since Jiro Satoh in 1933 to make the semifinals at Wimbledon.
Nadal, playing in his seventh Wimbledon quarter-final, faces Querrey backed up by a 4-1 record over the 65th-ranked American.
Querrey made the semifinals in 2017, beating then world number one Andy Murray in the last-eight before falling to Marin Cilic.
The American has pounded down 100 aces so far at the tournament, dropped serve just once and accounted for fifth seed Dominic Thiem in the first round.
“When he plays well, he can be very, very dangerous on all surfaces,” said Nadal, whose recent 12th French Open title took him to 18 majors, just two back from Federer’s record.
Querrey hopes to be the first unseeded player in the semifinals since Marat Safin and Rainer Schuettler both made it in 2008.
Top seed Djokovic has a 5-1 record over his quarter-final opponent David Goffin who, at 28, is the youngest man left.
Belgian 21st seed Goffin beat Djokovic the last time they met in 2017 but that was on the clay of Monte Carlo.
Goffin is playing in his first All England Club quarter-final but was runner-up to Federer on the grass of Halle on the eve of Wimbledon.
“He’s one of the quickest players on the tour. I think his footwork is probably his biggest asset,” said Djokovic ahead of his 11th Wimbledon quarter-final and 45th at the Slams.
Wednesday’s other quarter-final pits Argentine 26th seed Guido Pella, who had never previously got into the second week of a Slam, against Spanish 23rd seed Roberto Bautista Agut.
Whereas 29-year-old Pella is in unchartered territory, Bautista Agut is in his second Slam quarter-final of the season having also gone to the last eight at the Australian Open.
Pella has spent six more hours on court than Bautista Agut in getting to his first quarter-finals at the majors.
dj/pi


Europe mulls finishing football season at end of year

Updated 28 March 2020

Europe mulls finishing football season at end of year

  • The novel coronavirus has created an existential challenge to the world’s most widely played and watched sport
  • Most European leagues are supposed to start their 2019-20 seasons at the end of August

ROME: Europe’s football bosses have not given up hope of finishing this pandemic-hit season — even if it might have to be done at the start of the next one.
The novel coronavirus has created an existential challenge to the world’s most widely played and watched sport.
Europe’s football leagues are the planet’s richest and can afford to pay the most money to the biggest stars.
But that system could come crumbling down quickly if there is nothing to show on TV.
Cristian Ronaldo has not had a chance to celebrate goals for Juventus for nearly three weeks because Italy’s Serie A had to shut down.
He and other Italian league stars are thinking of giving up millions of euros in salary to help their teams stay solvent.
UEFA boss Aleksander Ceferin told Italy’s La Repubblica daily that he was holding urgent talks with the continent’s biggest leagues to figure out what can be done.
The Slovenian said all options were under consideration in an effort to salvage the season and preserve the sanctity of the beautiful game.
“We could start again in mid-May, in June or even late June,” Ceferin said.
Any time after that and “the season will probably be lost.”
The idea of the entire season simply being canceled stirs panic in fans of clubs such as Liverpool — on the cusp of lifting their first title in 30 years.
Ronaldo’s Juventus would probably not be terribly happy either. The men in the famous black-and-white stripes are edging Lazio by a point in their race for a ninth successive title and are still in the Champions League, which they have not won since 1996.
Ceferin said he opposed the idea of playing games in empty stadiums and would prefer to wait out the pandemic.
He also hinted that some big teams appeared ready to delay the start of next season in ordered to finish out this one.
“There is also a proposal to end this season at the beginning of the next one and then start the next one a little later,” Ceferin said.
Serie A and most other European leagues were originally supposed to have finished in May.
Belarus remain the only European nation still playing football in the face of a pandemic that by Saturday had officially claimed nearly 30,000 lives.
Italy’s world-leading death toll from Friday was 9,134.
But the scheduling is growing tricky and time appears to be running out.
Most European leagues are supposed to start their 2019-20 seasons at the end of August.
Italy still has more than two regular months of matches of the 2018-19 season to play out.
A resumption of the current season at the end of June would probably require a delay to the start of the next one until at least September or October.
It would also mean that players get very little rest and would also create problems for those whose contracts are expiring in June.
Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina sounded fine with that.
“We would all be happy to finish the season on the pitch,” said Gravina told Sky television.
“We are in contact with FIFA for contract extensions if we need to go beyond June 30.”
Gravina did not explain why he was talking to the world football governing body and not the European one headed by Ceferin.
But he did conceded that his earlier hope of restarting Italian matches in early May was now almost certainly dashed.
“I am aware that it is still too early,” said Gravina. “But we must think positively.”