Djokovic, Nadal advance to Open finals

SUNDAY, SEPT. 11, 2011

Tennis: Facing two match points against a beloved player whose name is already in the history books, Novak Djokovic clenched his jaw, nodded his head and flashed an ever-so-slight glimpse of a smile.

“I would lie if I say I didn’t think I’m going to lose,” Djokovic said.

Might as well go down swinging then, right?

He turned violently on a wide, 108 mph serve from Roger Federer for a cross-court forehand winner that barely nicked the line. The fans in Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York, ready to explode for a Federer victory, instead found themselves taking a cue from Djokovic – who raised his hands, asking them to pump up the volume, and give him a little more love.

About 10 minutes later, those fans were dancing with Djokovic as he boogied at center court to celebrate an epic U.S. Open semifinal win – one in which he dug out of a two-set hole, then saved two match points to beat Federer.

Top-seeded Djokovic won 6-7 (7), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 Saturday to improve to 63-2 on the year and set up a rematch in the final against No. 2 Rafael Nadal, who beat No. 4 Andy Murray 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 in the second semifinal.

Thanks to the rain that scrubbed two days of play from this tournament and reshuffled the schedule, Djokovic and Nadal will get a day’s rest between the semifinal and the Monday final. It’s a break from the long U.S. Open tradition of closing things out on back-to-back days on the weekend.

In what was supposed to be her toughest test yet at the U.S. Open, Serena Williams dominated top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals to move a win away from her 14th Grand Slam title.

Williams finished with 34 winners, compared to five for Wozniacki.

No. 9 Sam Stosur beat Angelique Kerber 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 to reach her second Grand Slam final. Today she will play Williams, who is going for her fourth U.S. Open championship on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Dix, Gatlin finish on podium in 100 meters

Track and Field: Walter Dix won the 100-meter race at the Rieti (Italy) Grand Prix, and fellow American Justin Gatlin finished third.

Dix, the silver medalist at worlds, clocked 10.02 seconds. Lerone Clarke of Jamaica was second in 10.06 and Gatlin’s time was 10.08.

There also was an American winner in the 200, with LaShawn Merritt clocking 20.13.

Also, world record holder David Rudisha ran the fastest 800 meters of the year, finishing the two-lap race in 1 minute, 41.33 seconds.

Tseng, Yang share LPGA Tour lead

Golf: Defending champion Yani Tseng shot a 4-under 67 and Amy Yang had a 64 to share the second-round lead in the LPGA Tour’s NW Arkansas Championship in Rogers, Ark., at 9 under.

The top-ranked Tseng, the LPGA Championship and Women’s British Open winner, leads the tour with four victories this season and has seven wins this year.

Taylor Leon (67) was a stroke back, and former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis (69) was 7 under along with U.S. Solheim Cup teammate Cristie Kerr (66), Inbee Park (65) and Jin Young Pak (68).

Wendy Ward, of Edwall, Wash., shot a second-round 3-under 68 and sits 11 shots behind the leaders.

Michelle Wie missed the cut with rounds of 78 and 72.

Cobo closes in on Spanish Vuelta win

Cycling: Juan Jose Cobo closed in on the Spanish Vuelta title after holding on to a 13-second overall lead in the 20th stage won by Daniele Bennati of Italy.

Bennati sprinted in front of the pack in the final yards to win the 115-mile course from Bilbao to Vitoria in 4 hours, 39 minutes, 20 seconds.

The event closes today with the traditional finish in Madrid.

Vettel wins pole for Italian Grand Prix

Auto racing: Racing on a track that has been a challenge for Red Bull in the past, Sebastian Vettel earned the pole position for the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, Italy.

Extending Red Bull’s perfect streak of poles in all 13 races this season, Vettel was timed in 1 minute, 22.275 seconds around the Monza circuit.

Lewis Hamilton qualified second in 1:22.725 and his McLaren teammate Jenson Button will start third in today’s race after timing 1:22.777.

Vettel has won seven of the 12 races this season and holds a commanding 92-point lead over second-place Mark Webber in the drivers’ standings.

Brazil, Argentina grab Olympic berths

Basketball: Brazil and Argentina picked up victories in Mar Del Plata, Argentina, to claim berths in next year’s London Olympics.

Brazil beat the Dominican Republic 83-76, and Argentina edged Puerto Rico 81-79 in the semifinals of the Olympic men’s basketball qualifying for the Americas.

The two finalists meet today and qualify automatically for London. The third through fifth-place teams earn spots in a qualifying tournament just before the games, which will award several more berths for London. Venezuela claimed the fifth-place spot.

The United States won the world championship last year and has already qualified for London.


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