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Del Potro beats Federer to reach semis in London

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Del Potro beats Federer to reach semis in London

LONDON (AP) Juan Martin del Potro is getting the better of Roger Federer in a way no player has managed in a decade.

To end the season with an ATP finals title, he may have to get past the Swiss great again on Monday.

Using his hard serve and booming forehand, Del Potro clinched the last spot in the semifinals on Saturday by overcoming the already qualified Federer 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-3 in their final round-robin match.

Federer endured his second straight loss to Del Potro, who beat him in the final in the Swiss star's hometown tournament in Basel last month. It's the first time a player has beaten Federer in two straight indoor tournaments since Lleyton Hewitt in 2002.

``It's a little record, but really tough to do it,'' Del Potro said. ``To beat Federer is not easy, for sure. But I didn't think about the semis or trying to qualify for the next round. Just was thinking about my match, doing the same things like in Basel.''

Del Potro beat Federer in the 2009 U.S. Open final for his only Grand Slam title, leading many to predict that the tall Argentine would challenge for many more major titles. But much of the next season was lost because of a serious wrist injury, and he struggled to re-establish himself at the top.

This year, he wasted a two-set lead against Federer in the French Open quarterfinals and lost to him in the longest Olympic match ever, an epic semifinal that ended 19-17 in the third set.

``Good effort (from) his side to get me twice in a row now,'' Federer said. ``I hoped I didn't have to lose against him again today.''

It was Federer's first loss in the indoor tournament since 2009, ending a 12-match winning streak. He went undefeated in winning the last two titles and had won his first two group-stage matches this year.

Del Potro's win leaves David Ferrer and Janko Tipsarevic with nothing but prize money to play for in their final group-stage match, with both players already eliminated. However, that result will decide whether Federer or Del Potro finishes top of Group B and impact the semifinal matchups at the season-ending event.

The winner of the group will face Andy Murray on Sunday, while the second-place finisher has to take on top-ranked Novak Djokovic. The final is Monday.

``Now you have three big names in the semifinals, and one big guy,'' the 6-foot-6 Del Potro said.

Del Potro converted his only break point of the match in the opening game of the deciding set and then held his own serve comfortably to wrap up the win at London's O2 Arena.

He converted his first match point with a forehand passing shot that Federer could only return into the net with a lunging backhand volley.

Federer failed to convert three break points when leading 4-3 in the first set, and Del Potro held serve after a call on the same shot was overturned twice.

A backhand from Federer was called just wide by the line judge, only for chair umpire Lars Graff to declare that the ball was in. Del Potro then challenged Graff's correction, and a Hawk-Eye replay showed that the ball just missed the line.

Federer, who had never looked threatened on his serve, then committed a series of uncharacteristic mistakes in the tiebreaker as Del Potro won six straight points to take a 6-1 lead. He converted his third break point when Federer's backhand return sailed wide.

Federer broke the Argentine in the next game and lost just five points on his serve the rest of the way to tie the match.

But in the third set, it was Del Potro's turn to break in Federer's first service game, and the Swiss star couldn't muster another comeback.

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Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

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Associated Press

Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Bradley Beal may have had a slow start in the three-point contest on Saturday night, but in Sunday's All-Star Game he worked quickly to make the most of his relatively small window of playing time.

Beal checked in for the first time with 5:45 left in the first quarter and less than 25 seconds later had his first points on a two-handed dunk assisted by LeBron James.

In his All-Star debut, Beal helped lead Team LeBron to a 148-145 victory over Team Stephen as the league utilizied a new format for the annual showcase.

RELATED: BEAL BOUNCED EARLY IN THREE-POINT CONTEST

Beal finished with 14 points and a steal in a productive night. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and an impressive 4-for-8 from long range. 

Beal also tried to get a travelling call from the refs on Karl-Anthony Towns. Yeah, that's not likely to happen in an All-Star Game:

Beal more than held his own and only played 16 minutes, which was good considering he has logged the fifth-most minutes of any player so far this season. A realistic best-case scenario was a strong showing and a short night and that's exactly what he got.

Not only does Beal play a lot of minutes, the Wizards need him now more than ever with John Wall's injury. He needs whatever rest he can get during this All-Star break.

Speaking of Wall, he was in the house despite being in the middle of his rehab from left knee surgery. Per usual, Wall was shining bright:

RELATED: BEST WIZARDS/BULLETS MOMENTS ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

The All-Star Game wasn't all about Beal, of course. Here are some other things that stood out...

*The new format and increased financial incentive were intended to make the game more competitive and that's what happened late in the fourth quarter. Usually, that's how these things go where the players will start trying at the end. But this time it seemed to be up a few levels and it was fun to watch. 

Both teams scored in the 140s, so it wasn't exactly a defensive battle. No matter what the league does, the players will only try so hard for so long. The main goal of everyone's is to not get injured in a game that ultimately doesn't count for anything. Still, this was different and appears to have been a success.

*While everyone was focusing on the reunion of LeBron and Kyrie Irving the best beef was Joel Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook. Those two have traded waves to taunt each other at the end of wins in head-to-head matchups and it was clear on Sunday they still don't like each other. Westbrook tried to dunk all over Embiid in the first half, only to get blocked at the rim.

Westbrook's determination to dunk on Embiid was out of the ordinary for an All-Star Game. It was obvious what was on his mind:

*Irving's handles are simply ridiculous. Check out this fake behind-the-back move he pulled with Giannis Antetkounmpo guarding him. Yes, it didn't fool the defender but it was impressive nonetheless:

*LeBron is 33 years old, yet he was still running up and down the court faster than anyone and leaping above the rim to thrown down alley-oop after alley-oop. It is truly amazing and everyone should enjoy watching him while they can, regardless of whether they like the guy or not.

This was one of his dunks:

LeBron took home MVP with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal.

*The pregame show was quite bad. It was anchored by comedians Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle and, though they had some funny jokes, it lasted nearly 30 minutes. The whole thing was pretty much universally panned on social media. Fergie's national anthem was also roasted by the masses.

*The halftime show was much better. It began with N.E.R.D taking it back to their older days with 'Lapdance,' went to Migos performing 'Stir Fry' and swung back to N.E.R.D. who did their latest hit 'Lemon.' 

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT

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The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

Whoever put together the NBA All-Star Game player introductions has some 'splainin to do. 

The NBA introduced a kinda-full Staples Center to their 2018 All-Stars about an hour ago, and boy was it weird. There were a lot of dancers in different themed costumes. Kevin Hart was screaming. Rob Riggle was screaming. Ludacris showed up? Hey! Did you know that the Barenaked Ladies are still a band? The NBA would like you to know they're still around.  The whole thing was like when you're at an art museum and you're told that abstract piece in the corner is actually really meaningful but you gotta be honest, you don't get it. 

Anyways, the internet hated it. Here are some highlights from the internet hating it:

The lesson here is that you never need Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle. One will do.