Olympic Notebook: Federer, Williams advance to semifinals

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Roger Federer's final shot of the day clipped the let cord, dribbled over the net and settled softly in the grass, beyond even 6-foot-9 John Isner's reach.

The crowd responded with a collective "aww," Isner grimaced and Federer offered a sheepish wave of apology. But after all these years, he's probably overdue for a little luck in the Olympics.

Federer advanced Thursday to the semifinals by beating Isner 6-4, 7-6 (5). Four-time Olympian Federer needs one more win to clinch the first singles medal of his career.

Federer faces No. 8-seeded Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina today.

Serena Williams, another reigning Wimbledon champion who seeks her first Olympic singles medal, advanced by beating former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, 6-0, 6-3. Williams' opponent in the semifinals today will be top-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.

Serena and her sister Venus, seeking their third gold medal in doubles, reached the semifinals by beating No. 2-seeded Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci of Italy, 6-1, 6-1. No. 3 Maria Sharapova beat Kim Clijsters, 6-2, 7-5. Sharapova's opponent today is fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko.

Azarenka beat No. 7 Angelique Kerber of Germany, 6-4, 7-5.

The other men's semifinal will match No. 2-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia against No. 3 Andy Murray of Britain..

Americans Bob and Mike Bryan advanced to doubles semifinals by edging Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram of Israel, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (10).

Badminton player retires

The fallout from the badminton controversy continues. After eight players were disqualified for deliberately trying to lose their preliminary-round matches, one of them said she planned to retire.

Yu Yang, one of the two Chinese athletes penalized, said on her blog that she was done competing in the sport.

French runner loses bid

Suspended French runner Nordine Gezzar has lost his late legal bid to run today.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport says its special Olympic court rejected his urgent appeal against exclusion by the French team for doping.

Gezzar had been entered in the 3,000-meter steeplechase heats, which starts today.

Archery is a hit

NBC said that during the first few days of its Olympics coverage, archery was the most popular sport of any that it aired on its cable networks -- bigger even than basketball.

Archery averaged 1.5 million viewers when it came on TV.

China rules table tennis

Guess which nation won table tennis gold. China, of course.

The victory was guaranteed in a second all-China final in two days, this time with Zhang Jike defeating Wang Hao, 4-1.

China has claimed 22 of 26 gold medals since pingpong was introduced at the Olympics in 1988.

U.S. men beat Brazil

Captain Clay Stanley scored 19 points and the U.S. men's volleyball team defeated Brazil, 3-1, in a preliminary-round rematch of the Beijing final. The 23-25, 27-25, 25-19, 25-17 victory extends the U.S. team's Olympic winning streak to 11 matches, dating to Beijing.

The Americans went undefeated in Beijing and beat Brazil for the gold. The march came after coach Hugh McCutcheon's father-in-law was stabbed to death at a Beijing tourist site the day before the opening ceremony.

The U.S. men weren't considered among the favorites to medal in London.

The team is now led by coach Alan Knipe.

Water polo undefeated

Captain Tony Azevedo scored four goals -- three in the opening quarter -- and the U.S. men's water polo team beat Britain 13-7 to remain undefeated at the London Olympics.

The win puts the U.S., runners-up in Beijing, on top of Group B with six points, one ahead of gold medal-favorite Serbia with two preliminary-stage matches to go.

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