Federer, Djokovic set to meet in a star-studded semi

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Federer, Djokovic set to meet in a star-studded semi

From Comcast SportsNet
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) -- With "Murray Mania" gripping Britain, it's the other men's semifinal at Wimbledon that has many tennis fans anticipating a griping matchup on Friday afternoon. Six-time champion Roger Federer and last year's winner Novak Djokovic will face each other on the grass of Wimbledon for the first time -- in their 27th head-to-head meeting. "It is interesting that this is our first grass-court match. I'm looking forward to it," said Federer, who can win a record-equaling seventh Wimbledon title after losing in the quarterfinals the past two years. "I haven't put too much thought into it, to be quite honest, yet. I'm just happy that I'm around further than I've been the last couple years." The 30-year-old Federer already owns the most major tennis titles with 16. He completed a career Grand Slam in 2009 by winning the French Open. But his last major came more than two years ago, at the 2010 Australian Open. A win over Djokovic on Friday, and another in Sunday's final, would put Federer back at the top of the game as the No. 1-ranked player. Two more wins at the All England Club also would equal Pete Sampras' seven Wimbledon titles and tie the American's record for weeks spent at No. 1 with 286. "I know it's possible. I know I'm playing really well," said Federer, who is 14-12 against Djokovic overall but 1-6 since the start of 2011. "I am aware things are going to get complicated in the next match. I better prepare well, because it's going to be a tough match." Tough may be putting it mildly. The top-ranked Djokovic has won four of the last six major titles, and lost to Rafael Nadal in the French Open final last month. Those kinds of statistics sound a lot like what Federer did year after year not so ago. "I'm not trying to defend my title here. I'm trying to fight for it as every other player who is in last four of the men's side," said Djokovic, who beat Federer in the French Open semifinals last month. "So my mindset is very positive." After years of playing in the shadows of Federer and Nadal, it's Djokovic that is now the man to beat. The 25-year-old Serb is 43-2 at Grand Slam matches in the past two years. Very Federer-like numbers. "He has a lot of respect from me, from all the players. There is no question about it," Djokovic said of Federer. "But we are all rivals, we are all opponents. I don't think about his history or his success or whatever too much when I'm on the court. I just want to win that match." The other semifinal certainly has Britain all agog. Andy Murray reached the semifinals for the fourth straight year, and with Nadal already out of the tournament, the public is expecting more from him than ever before. "Subconsciously, I'm probably extremely stressed out right now, but I try not to feel it," said Murray, who's from Scotland. "Then, yeah, when the tournament's done there's normally a pretty big release of that. I just don't want to be on the court for a few weeks." Instead of another semifinal match against Nadal, the man he lost to in 2010 and 2011, Murray will face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France -- who rallied from a two-set deficit to eliminate Federer in the quarterfinals last year. Tsonga will have a second chance to reach the Wimbledon final, but without the pressure that is regularly heaped on Murray at Wimbledon. That kind of local fervor is saved for him when he plays at the French Open -- along with every other French player. "Here for Andy is difficult because he's alone," Tsonga said. "I mean, in France it's OK. We have many players and that's fine, but here for him it's really difficult because every eyes are on him and it's tough for him." Still, "Murray Mania" won't be slowed by Tsonga's words or his chances to win. The fans in Britain have been waiting since 1936 -- when Fred Perry won his last singles title at Wimbledon -- for a homegrown male champion. There hasn't even been a British men's finalist since Bunny Austin in 1938. "Tennis in the U.K. is not really a sport that necessarily gets followed loads for the rest of the year, but everyone gets into it when Wimbledon comes round because they understand how big a competition it is," Murray said. "The support that I've had over the last sort of five, six years here has been great. "I'm trying my best to win the tournament for myself, obviously, but also for everybody else."

Instant Replay: Manaea hurt in A's 8-5 loss to Angels

Instant Replay: Manaea hurt in A's 8-5 loss to Angels

BOX SCORE

ANAHEIM – The A’s endured one of those nights Wednesday when the scoreboard couldn’t convey the extent of their blues.

The tone of an 8-5 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels was set early, when starting pitcher Sean Manaea left after two innings with what was announced as tightness in his throwing shoulder.

From there, things gradually unraveled as the A’s lost their third in a row and took on what looks to be another injury to a key player. The seriousness of Manaea’s injury wasn’t immediately known, but his early exit added to the recent run of medical misfortune, as center fielder Rajai Davis, shortstop Marcus Semien and starter Kendall Graveman have all hit the disabled list over the past 12 days.

Graveman will be activated Thursday and start against the Angels, but Manaea’s condition will loom large as the 25-year-old lefty is considered a foundation piece for the A’s, now and for the future.

The A’s trailed 4-3 in the seventh when the Angels pulled away with four runs off Ryan Dull. Matt Joyce’s two-run homer in the eighth pulled them closer but they lost for the second night in a row at Angel Stadium and will have to win Thursday night to avoid a sweep. Wednesday’s loss dropped them back below .500 at 10-11.

Starting pitching report:
It was obvious early that something was bothering Manaea. His fastball, which usually sits in the low 90’s and gets into the mid-90’s, was hovering in the 88-89 range. The A’s led 2-0 before the Angels struck for three runs in the second. Danny Espinosa and Martin Maldonado each delivered RBI doubles that landed just past the diving reach of right fielder Matt Joyce and center fielder Jaff Decker, respectively. Another run scored on Cameron Maybin’s single.

Bullpen report:
Frankie Montas gave up a run over 2 1/3 innings after being called into early duty when Manaea got hurt. Dull, trying to keep it a 4-3 game, did not have his command in the seventh. He threw a wild pitch, hit Danny Espinosa with a 1-2 pitch and then allowed Maybin’s two-run single that keyed Los Angeles’ four-run seventh.

At the plate:
It was a big night for Yonder Alonso, who had a two-run single in the first and then homered in the sixth to pull Oakland within 4-3. Alonso already has four homers, putting more than halfway to his 2016 total of seven in the season’s first month. The A’s struck out 13 times, giving them 24 strikeouts over the first two games of this series.

In the field:
It took until the seventh inning for the A’s to be charged with an error that snapped their streak of six consecutive errorless games. Stephen Vogt couldn’t hold on to Dull’s glove flip on Martin Maldonado’s squeeze bunt. But even before then, this wasn’t a sharp defensive effort. Joyce got caught off guard in the fourth when Maybin tagged up and made it to second on a fly to right. Joyce’s gesturing afterward seemed to suggest nobody was letting him now the runner was tagging. An inning later, Decker seemed stunned as the lumbering Albert Pujols went first to third on Andrelton Simmons’ single.

Attendance:
The announced crowd was 30,248.

Up next:
Kendall Graveman (2-0, 2.00) is set to come off the D.L. on Thursday and make his first start since April 14, when he was lost to a strained right shoulder. He’ll be opposed by Ricky Nolasco (1-2, 4.76), who took the Opening Night loss against the A’s at the Coliseum when he allowed three runs over 5 2/3 innings. First pitch is 7:05 p.m.

 

Instant Replay: Arroyo, Morse go deep, Giants walk off on Dodgers

Instant Replay: Arroyo, Morse go deep, Giants walk off on Dodgers

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — Michael Morse hoped to bring a little levity to a battered clubhouse Wednesday. On his first day as a Giant since the 2014 World Series, he ended up bringing the most thrilling win of the season. 

Morse’s pinch-hit homer in the eighth shook AT&T Park and tied the game. His good friend Hunter Pence won it with a sacrifice fly in the 10th, giving the Giants a 4-3 win over the Dodgers. 

The 10th-inning rally started with Gorkys Hernandez’s single off Ross Stripling. Hernandez stole second and Conor Gillaspie drew a walk, and both runners were safe when Adrian Gonzalez went to third on Nick Hundley’s bunt. Pence flied out to deep left on the 10th pitch of his at-bat. The Giants had been 0-13 when trailing after seven. Morse  helped change all that.

Morse’s homer came an inning after Christian Arroyo’s first career homer. The newcomers saved a night that started with nothing but failure. 

The Giants entered with four games this month where they failed to put a runner on the first time through the order. Lefty Alex Wood stayed with the theme. Brandon Belt finally touched first with a one-out walk in the fourth but it wasn’t until the sixth that a Giant — Drew Stubbs — picked up a hit.

By that time, the Dodgers led 3-0. Johnny Cueto worked around some early trouble but Corey Seager got to him in the sixth. The young shortstop led off with a mammoth blast on a 3-2 pitch that landed a couple dozen rows up in left-center. The homer was tracked at 462 feet per Statcast, tied for the longest in the Majors this season.

The Dodgers went up 2-0 when Chase Utley blooped a single to left with the bases loaded. Utley was 1-for-31 at the time. Andrew Toles beat out a grounder to bring home a third run. 

The Giants looked dead in the water, but Wood — the Dodgers’ swingman — was pulled after 77 pitches and old friend Sergio Romo immediately opened the door. Buster Posey hit a one-out single and Arroyo lined a slider just over the fence in left-center.

Morse’s first at-bat as a Giant in three years sent an even bigger charge through the park. He got a 97 mph fastball from Pedro Baez with two strikes and blasted it to left. Morse held his arm up right away and screamed as he rounded first.

Starting pitching report: Cueto was charged with three runs on seven hits and two walks. He’ll finish April with a 5.10 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. After holding opposing hitters to a .238 average last year, he’s getting hit at a .271 clip this season. 

Bullpen report: Steven Okert did a great job of settling the place down, throwing a scoreless inning before Arroyo’s homer and retiring two more immediately after. 

At the plate: The 21-year-old Arroyo calmly clapped his hands once as he rounded first. He was pushed out of the dugout for a curtain call as the park roared. Most impressive of all, his mom, Kimberly, didn’t drop a single nacho as she celebrated in the stands.

In the field: Stubbs made a diving catch to open the seventh and Gorkys Hernandez followed with a nifty sliding catch at the wall.

Attendance: The Giants announced a crowd of 41,572 human beings. Thursday will be the 500th consecutive (announced) sellout.

Up next: Matt Moore (1-3, 5.87 ERA) will try to turn his month around. The Dodgers will trot out young lefty Julio Urias, who spent three weeks in the minors to control his innings count.