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Wimbledon: Roger Federer stumbles in semis, Andy Murray advances to final

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Wimbledon: Roger Federer stumbles in semis, Andy Murray advances to final

LONDON -- There was Roger Federer, so famous for his flawless footwork, flat on his stomach, face down and motionless on the Centre Court grass after jamming the toe of his left shoe and stumbling during what turned out to be the fifth set's pivotal game in his Wimbledon semifinal.

And, a little earlier Friday, there was Federer, so successful through the years thanks in part to such a pinpoint serve, double-faulting two times in a row -- What?! Really?! -- while getting broken to drop the fourth set.

Two miscues of the sort you're just not used to seeing from him all that often.

Two moments that even Federer found hard to fathom.

Once seemingly on the verge of a victory that would have given him a record 11th berth in the Wimbledon final, and a shot at an unprecedented eighth men's championship at the All England Club, Federer lost his way and the match, beaten 6-3, 6-7 (3), 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 by sixth-seeded Milos Raonic.

"This one clearly hurts, because I felt I could have had it. So close," said Federer, who had his surgically repaired left knee checked by a trainer after the uncharacteristic fall and wasn't sure whether he was seriously injured. "It was really so, so close."

Quite true.

Federer, owner of 17 major trophies in all, was merely one point from serving for the match when, ahead two sets to one, he got to 30-40 on Raonic's serve at 4-all in the fourth. But the 25-year-old Raonic, the first man from Canada to reach a Grand Slam final, cast aside that break point with a 139 mph service winner. Soon, he was in charge.

"I sort of persevered. I was sort of plugging away," said Raonic, whose serve reached 144 mph, produced 23 aces and saved eight of nine break points. "I was struggling through many parts of the match. He gave me a little opening towards the end of the fourth. I made the most of it."

Carlos Moya -- one of Raonic's trio of coaches, including three-time Wimbledon champion John McEnroe -- said Federer "kind of opened the door for Milos to have a chance to come back. At this stage of the tournament, you pay for that."

On Sunday, Raonic will face No. 2 Andy Murray, who easily eliminated No. 10 Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 in the second semifinal. Murray beat Raonic on grass in the Queen's Club final three weeks ago.

It will be Murray's 11th major final; he's won only two so far, including at Wimbledon in 2013, when he gave Britain its first men's champion at the tournament in 77 years. But this is Murray's first Grand Slam title match against someone other than Federer or Novak Djokovic.

"You learn from those matches, for sure," said Murray, who's 29. "The older you get, you never know how many chances you're going to have."

Federer, who turns 35 on Aug. 8, would have been the oldest finalist at the All England Club since 1974. He remains tied with Pete Sampras and William Renshaw (who played in the 1800s) with seven titles at Wimbledon, most recently in 2012, and was the runner-up to Djokovic the past two years.

Maybe this time Federer ran out of steam, forced to play 10 sets in his last two matches, including a quarterfinal comeback from two sets down against Marin Cilic on Wednesday.

Two years ago, Federer got past Raonic in straight sets in the Wimbledon semifinals. This time, Federer flinched the way he seemingly never used to.

Serving to get to a tiebreaker at 6-5 in the fourth set, Federer went up 40-love. After a forehand winner by Raonic, the unthinkable: Those back-to-back double-faults to let Raonic back into the game. Eventually, Raonic took advantage of a soft volley to deliver a down-the-line backhand passing winner, breaking for the first time since the match's fourth game -- which ended with a double-fault by Federer -- and sending the semifinal to a fifth set.

"I can't believe I served a double-fault twice. Unexplainable for me, really," Federer said. "Very sad about that and angry at myself because never should I allow him to get out of that set that easily."

He went up a break at 3-1 in the fifth by winning the game in which Federer tripped -- and contributed yet another double-fault.

"I hope it's not so bad. I walked it off. I was able to finish," Federer said. "But I don't slip a lot. I don't ever fall down. It was a different fall for me than I've ever had."

Asked how badly he might have been injured, Federer replied: "I don't know yet. I don't even want to know. I just felt not the same afterwards."

This has been a difficult season for Federer, who never needed an operation until having his knee's torn cartilage repaired in February.

He's also had back issues, missed the French Open to end a 65-appearance streak at majors, and came to Wimbledon without a title in 2016.

"You're playing who Roger is today," Raonic said, "not who he's been the past few years."

Supreme Court gives go-ahead on sports betting in New Jersey

Supreme Court gives go-ahead on sports betting in New Jersey

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Monday struck down a federal law that bars gambling on football, basketball, baseball and other sports in most states, giving states the go-ahead to legalize betting on sports.

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. The 1992 law barred state-authorized sports gambling with some exceptions. It made Nevada the only state where a person could wager on the results of a single game.

One research firm estimated before the ruling that if the Supreme Court were to strike down the law, 32 states would likely offer sports betting within five years.

"The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not," Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court.

The court's decision came in a case from New Jersey, which has fought for years to legalize gambling on sports at casinos and racetracks in the state. Then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said after arguments in the case in December that if justices sided with the state, bets could be taken "within two weeks" of a decision. On Monday, after the ruling was announced, Christie tweeted that it was a "great day for the rights of states and their people to make their own decisions."

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy shared Christie's excitement in a press release Monday.

"I am thrilled to see the Supreme Court finally side with New Jersey and strike down the arbitrary ban on sports betting imposed by Congress decades ago," he said.

“New Jersey has long been the lead advocate in fighting this inherently unequal law, and today’s ruling will finally allow for authorized facilities in New Jersey to take the same bets that are legal in other states in our country.

"Today’s victory would not have been possible without the incredible bipartisan effort from so many in our state, particularly former Governor Christie and former State Senator Lesniak. I look forward to working with the Legislature to enact a law authorizing and regulating sports betting in the very near future.”

It's possible that the first to market with sports betting in New Jersey will be a racetrack at the Jersey shore. Monmouth Park has already set up a sports book operation and has previously estimated it could take bets within two weeks of a favorable Supreme Court ruling.

Tony Rodio, president of Tropicana Entertainment, said his Atlantic City casino will "absolutely" offer sports betting once it can get it up and running. "It's been a long time coming," he said.

More than a dozen states had supported New Jersey, which argued that Congress exceeded its authority when it passed the law barring states from authorizing sports betting. New Jersey said the Constitution allows Congress to pass laws barring wagering on sports, but Congress can't require states to keep sports gambling prohibitions in place.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling is a win for New Jersey and the rest of the country," New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. said in a statement. "PASPA was clearly unconstitutional, and the ban on sports betting has now rightfully been rejected by the Court. I have long believed that New Jersey should have the opportunity to proceed with sports betting. Now that the Supreme Court has struck down this unlawful and confusing law, it is time for Congress to move the GAME Act forward to ensure that consumer protections are in place in any state that decides to implement sports betting.”

Last year, Pallone introduced the GAME Act, allowing states to legalize sports betting and online gambling if protections are also in place. The GAME Act could now act as the legal blueprint for states to adopt sports betting.

All four major U.S. professional sports leagues, the NCAA and the federal government had urged the court to uphold the federal law. In court, the NBA, NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball had argued that New Jersey's gambling expansion would hurt the integrity of their games. Outside court, however, leaders of all but the NFL have shown varying degrees of openness to legalized sports gambling.

The American Gaming Association estimates that Americans illegally wager about $150 billion on sports each year.

New Jersey has spent years and millions of dollars in legal fees trying to legalize sports betting at its casinos, racetracks and former racetracks. In 2012, with voters' support, New Jersey lawmakers passed a law allowing sports betting, directly challenging the 1992 federal law which says states can't "authorize by law" sports gambling. The four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA sued, and the state lost in court.

In 2014, New Jersey tried a different tactic by repealing laws prohibiting sports gambling at casinos and racetracks. It argued taking its laws off the books was different from authorizing sports gambling. The state lost again and then took the case to the Supreme Court.