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6-time champ Federer reaches semis at ATP finals

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6-time champ Federer reaches semis at ATP finals

LONDON (AP) On an indoor court, Roger Federer can win even when he's not playing his best.

He proved that again Thursday at the ATP finals, beating David Ferrer 6-4, 7-6 (5) and advancing to the semifinals with a group match to spare despite struggling to land his serve and scrambling to stay in the long rallies.

``I've been very successful over the years. Probably won most titles indoors, maybe more than all the other guys combined,'' said Federer, who called it a natural surface for him. ``But that doesn't make me the best this week.''

He is, however, the big favorite.

The two-time defending champion is looking for his seventh title at the season-ending event for the top eight players in the world. He is 2-0 at the O2 Arena, with his last group match against Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro on Saturday.

Del Potro beat Janko Tipsarevic 6-0, 6-4 in the other Group B match, improving his record to 1-1 and eliminating the Serb with two losses. But Del Potro still needs to beat Federer to advance.

``Win in two sets gives me a chance to go to the next round,'' said Del Potro, who traded shots with Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero after the match. ``But before I need to beat Roger once again.''

Federer made only 53 percent of his first serves against Ferrer. And in his first two service games alone, he was forced to save six break points.

But he did save them, and three others, while getting broken only once.

``I definitely needed a good second serve, especially in the first set,'' Federer said. ``I didn't have that many serves in play the way I wanted to. Either the rhythm was off a bit or I wasn't pushing enough with the legs or whatever it might have been.''

With the victory, Federer improved to 14-0 in his career against Ferrer. In 10 years of facing each other, Ferrer has won only three sets against the 17-time Grand Slam champion.

That looked like it was going to change Thursday.

Ferrer was on the run for the entire match, getting to ball after ball to extend rallies and keep Federer on the move. In the opening game, the Spaniard quickly took a 0-40 lead but failed to convert any of his three break chances.

He had three more chances in the third game - minutes after the Swiss had broken Ferrer's serve - but again Federer was able to pull through and hold.

``I had a lot of chances ... I can't do it,'' said Ferrer, who won the Paris Masters last week for his tour-leading seventh title of the season. ``Sometimes with these players, if I don't take my chance, I don't win the important points; it's very difficult to win these matches.''

Ferrer did finally manage a break to get back on serve at 3-2, but Federer didn't allow another. Both were forced to save break points in the second set, however. Federer saved two, and Ferrer one.

``Ferrer showed why he's so tough to beat. He makes you hit the extra shot. He makes it physical,'' Federer said. ``You know that mentally he's not going to go anywhere.''

Ferrer has a chance to overtake Rafael Nadal as the fourth-ranked player in the world, but he may need to win the title to achieve it.

``I don't think about that because Rafa is injured. For me, I don't care if I finish 4 or 5,'' Ferrer said. ``I am trying to do my best to have a great tournament here. And after here, then next week I will have a very important Davis Cup final.''

Tipsarevic was the first to be eliminated from the tournament. The Serb entered the ATP finals after retiring from his quarterfinal match at the Paris Masters because of illness.

``I wouldn't really blame my loss on the sickness. I am generally feeling fine,'' said Tipsarevic, adding that his lack of playing time was hurting his game. ``I'm playing horrible. I'm playing worse than horrible. I'm playing the worst tennis that I played in a long time.''

UVA vs. Georgia Tech How to Watch: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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UVA vs. Georgia Tech How to Watch: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Virginia Cavaliers football team is coming off a 21-pt victory last week and has won four of their last five games, yet is an underdog on the road against Georgia Tech.

UVA, at 4-2 (7-3 overall), is trying to stay alive in the ACC Coastal, led by the Pitt Panthers entering Saturday's action. Georgia Tech is also coming into the game on a hot streak, having won five of its last six matchups.

The Yellow Jackets are two games behind Pitt in the loss column, sitting at 4-3 in ACC play, and will finish up their regular season next week at 5th-ranked Georgia. UVA will wrap up on the road as well, facing in-state rival Virginia Tech.

Georgia Tech is favored over UVA by 4.5 points. Here's how to watch.

UVA CAVALIERS vs. GEORGIA TECH YELLOW JACKETS: HOW TO WATCH

What: University of Virginia Cavaliers vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Where: Bobby Dodd Stadium at Grant Field, located in Atlanta, GA.

When: Saturday, November 17 at 3:30 p.m. EST

TV Channel: The Virginia Cavaliers vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

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Former Wizard Jared Dudley: Time for a Wizards shake-up

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Former Wizard Jared Dudley: Time for a Wizards shake-up

Jared Dudley spent one season with the Washington Wizards. The core pieces on the current roster were there during that 2015-16 campaign. Based on that prior experience and a first-hand look Friday night, the Brooklyn Nets forward offered a candid assessment of the 5-10 squad. 

"I’m seeing a team that has been together too long,” Dudley told NBC Sports Washington following the Wizards’ 115-104 home loss. “They haven’t made progress, so it’s time to change things over there.”

John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter were teammates of Dudley for a full season. Markieff Morris joined the roster at the 2016 trade deadline. Washington failed to make the playoffs that season, but qualified in each of the next two and has reached the postseason in four of the five last years. 

The Wizards did not advance beyond the second round during any of those postseason appearances and lost in the first round last season after a 43-39 regular season. Following a 2-9 start, Washington won three in a row before falling to a scrappy Nets team that lost leading scorer Caris Levert earlier in the week to a gruesome ankle injury.

Dudley started and played 22 minutes in Brooklyn's win. The 12-year veteran's opinion on Washington included suggestions like extended use of a small-ball lineup. 

“I think (they have) good players, but sometimes, good players need different situations. For them, I think that it’s tough the way the league is changing. They play two bigs,” Dudley said about the combination of power forward Markieff Morris and center Dwight Howard. “In this day in age, Otto needs to play more four because he’s tall enough, more spacing.”

Facing a Brooklyn defense that leads the league in opponent mid-range shots, Washington often settled for such looks. The Wizards attempted a season-low 18 three-point attempts. 

The NBA rumor mill continually attempts to plot a new course for the Wizards. New York Times NBA insider Marc Stein reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves tried to “engage” Washington in trade talks for Jimmy Butler before shipping the All-Star guard to Philadelphia. “But the Wizards have kept Beal off limits amid their 4-9 start,” Stein reported earlier this week. “They would naturally prefer to trade the struggling Otto Porter, or perhaps even John Wall, but both possess hard-to-move contracts.”

Dudley sees the logic of moving at least one of those three players.

“I think they’ve had enough time, but they really haven’t (broken) through,” Dudley said. “I can see by the All-Star break or summer time one of these pieces moving. It’s going to be good for them. If it’s John, or Otto or Brad, one of them three, I think their next move is going to be good for both teams."