LONDON: Eight-time champion Roger Federer was sensationally knocked out of Wimbledon on Wednesday, surrendering a two-sets lead and a match point at the hands of South African giant Kevin Anderson.
Defending champion Federer, chasing a 21st Grand Slam title, lost a Court One epic, 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 semi-finals 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 think it went in spells a bit also, how I was able to return his serve. “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 2016 runner-up Milos Raonic or American ninth seed John Isner on Friday for a place in Sunday’s final.
Three-time champion Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, reached his first semi-final 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 either world number one Rafael Nadal or Juan Martin del Potro for a place in the final.
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 quarter-finals.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion appeared to be moving towards his fifth successive Wimbledon semi-final 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 semi-final — 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.
Djokovic reached his eighth Wimbledon semi-final and 32nd at the majors after a stormy Centre Court clash against Nishikori.
It will be the 31-year-old Serb’s first semi-final 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.
Nishikori was bidding to become the first Japanese man to make the semi-finals in 85 years.
“Well, maybe wasn’t my best, but I thought I was playing good enough,” said Nishikori.
“But he was making me run all the time. Especially with his backhand, he can go both ways. That gave me real trouble.”
Nadal, who has made the quarter-finals without dropping a set, takes a 10-5 winning record over Del Potro into his quarter-final.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Nadal, who is chasing an 18th Grand Slam title, won the pair’s most recent clash in the semi-finals of the French Open last month.
He allowed the giant Argentine just seven games in Paris.
The 32-year-old is playing in the last eight at the All England Club for the first time since finishing runner-up to Djokovic in 2011.
Nadal is bidding to reach a sixth Wimbledon semi-final and 28th at the majors.
Del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion, is trying to reach the semi-finals for the second time, five years after losing to Djokovic in the longest last-four match ever played at the tournament.
Cricket chiefs vigiliant over Twenty20 corruption risks
DUBAI: Cricket’s governing body admitted the popularity of Twenty20 cricket has increased the risks of corruption in the game but insisted extra vigilance was in place to monitor them.
Ever since the Twenty20 was introduced in February 2005 the shortest version of the game has overtaken traditional five-day Tests and limited overs one-day internationals in popularity. Besides the six editions of the World Twenty20, most of the member countries have their own Twenty20 leagues with the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL), which began in 2008, the most high-profile version.
But most of the leagues have also had problems with fixing scandals. The IPL was hit by a spot-fixing scandal in 2013 which resulted in two-year bans on two of its franchise teams. The International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive David Richardson said his body was ready to do extra work. “I am sure that a lot of bookmakers like Twenty20 cricket but I don’t think it’s correct to say that increasing the number of Twenty20 matches will increase the risk,” said Richardson at a media briefing.
“The bottom line is that the Twenty20 matches have increased the number of fans, has attracted new fans and with more people following the game, there is a bigger risk that there could be efforts to corrupt those matches.
“So there is an indirect relationship between the Twenty20 matches and the increased risk. Our priority is to increase the fans so if we have to work harder then we are ready for that.”
Alex Marshall, the general manager of ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), admitted bookmakers target the Twenty20 and other leagues like the T10, a league with ten-over-a-side matches started last year. “My point was not that the Tweny20 attracts corrupters but the explosion of the Twenty20 events, including some private events and some are designed for the whole purpose of corruption, has presented a new opportunity to the corrupts,” said Marshall, a former London police officer.
“They (bookmakers) do think it’s a new format and they might be able to affect a small part of it for a yield from corrupt illegal bookmaking,” Marshall said the ACU’s objective is to make Twenty20 leagues transparent. “The expansion is bringing more countries, more players, more fans and it’s a brilliant development so we have to make them resistant to corrupt people and that responsibility also sits with the people who organize such events to make sure that all the right anti-corruption measures are in place.”
Croatia’s Luka Modric wins FIFA best player of the year award
LONDON: Luka Modric ended Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s decade-long domination of football’s individual awards by being crowned FIFA’s best player of the year on Monday.
The Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder starred for both club and country as Madrid won a third straight Champions League, and he inspired Croatia to reach the World Cup final for the first time. He beat Ronaldo and Liverpool’s Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah to the prize.
Hence, Luka Modric ended Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s decade-long domination of football’s individual awards. The Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder starred for both club and country as Madrid won a third straight Champions League, and he inspired Croatia to reach the World Cup final for the first time. He beat Ronaldo and Liverpool’s Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah to the prize. Modric’s success means Ronaldo remains tied with Messi having won FIFA’s award in different guises five times each.
At 33, Croatia’s run to the final was the culmination of a brilliant career for Modric that had often been overshadowed by Ronaldo’s goalscoring in their time together in the Spanish capital, before the Portuguese left for Juventus in July. Modric scored twice and also netted in penalty shootout wins over Denmark and Russia, but it was his playmaking ability that caught the eye in winning the Golden Ball for the best player at the World Cup. “It was an unbelievable season, the best season in my life,” said Modric. “I’m still not realizing how good a year I had collectively, individually, and I’m very proud for everything I achieved this year and it will be remembered forever.”
For a sixth straight season, Ronaldo was the Champions League’s top scorer with 15 goals and also scored four times at the World Cup, including a hat-trick against Spain in a thrilling 3-3 draw to open Portugal’s campaign.
However, Portugal’s last 16 exits to Uruguay in Russia and Ronaldo’s failure to score in the semi-finals or final of the Champions League opened the door for Modric. Neither Ronaldo or Messi attended the glitzy ceremony in London with both in action for Juventus and Barcelona respectively on Wednesday. For the first time in 12 years, Messi was not among the finalists with third place going to Salah for his incredible 44-goal debut season with Liverpool that carried the Reds to the Champions League final.
However, a shoulder injury suffered early on in the final robbed Salah of the chance to help Liverpool lift the trophy and also meant he was far from peak condition as he led Egypt’s World Cup bid. Despite scoring in each of his two appearances in Russia, he bowed out with the Pharaohs bowed at the group stage with three defeats. Salah did not go away empty-handed, however, as he picked up the Puskas award for the best goal for his strike against Everton in the Merseyside derby last December.
Modric was joined by Real team-mates Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Marcelo in the FIFPro team of the year, also featuring David De Gea, Dani Alves, N’Golo Kante, Eden Hazard, Kylian Mbappe, Messi and Ronaldo. France’s World Cup-winning coach Didier Deschamps won the best coach of the year prize in recognition for his work in leading Les Bleus to success in Russia. Deschamps, who became just the third man to win the World Cup as a player and coach, beat off competition from Dalic and his former France team-mate Zinedine Zidane, who won a third consecutive Champions League title with Real Madrid before resigning in June.
Thibaut Courtois won the best goalkeeper award for helping Belgium reach the World Cup semi-finals as well as the FA Cup with Chelsea before a summer move to Madrid. Brazil’s Marta was crowned best women’s player for a record sixth time for her role in winning the Copa America to beat out Lyon duo Ada Hegerberg and Dzsenifer Marozsan. Lyon boss Reynald Pedros did win the award for best women’s coach, though, after winning the Champions League with the French giants.
Didier Deschamps wins FIFA best coach of the year
LONDON: France’s World Cup-winning coach Didier Deschamps won FIFA’s best coach of the year prize on Monday in recognition for his work in leading Les Bleus to success in Russia.
Deschamps beat off competition from Zlatko Dalic, who led Croatia to the World Cup final before losing 4-2 to France, and his former French team-mate Zinedine Zidane, who won a third consecutive Champions League title with Real Madrid before resigning in June.