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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.

Pittsburgh at Wake Forest How to Watch: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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Pittsburgh at Wake Forest How to Watch: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Pittsburgh Panthers are gelling as a football team, winning three straight games heading into this weekend. Pitt is now 5-1 in the ACC this season, and they currently sit atop the standings in the Coastal Division.

They'll be looking to make it four in a row by beating the Demon Deacons, who are 2-4 in  conference play and 5-5 overall. Wake Forest won their first two games of the year, and have gone 3-5 since, though they are coming off a strong 27-23 victory at 14th-ranked NC State last week.

Still, Pitt is favored by 6.5 points. A win today would help the Panthers maintain control of their own destiny within the ACC Coastal.

Here's how to watch.

PITT PANTHERS vs. WAKE FOREST DEMON DEACONS: HOW TO WATCH

What: Unviersity of Pittsburgh Cavaliers at Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Where: BB&T Field, located in Winston Salem, NC.

When: Saturday, November 17 at 12 p.m. EST

TV Channel: The Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

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Tom Wilson does the little things in Capitals’ 3-2 overtime win at Colorado

Tom Wilson does the little things in Capitals’ 3-2 overtime win at Colorado

To call it a hit is generous. To call it a huge play is accurate. 

Capitals forward Tom Wilson backed into a loose puck along the boards in the defensive zone of Friday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche. He waited for a hit sure to come from behind. 

Colin Wilson, the Avalanche center, moved in to dislodge the puck. Instead he got dislodged from gravity. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Tom Wilson, barely moving and braced for contact, used his own leverage to launch Colin Wilson into the air, arms and legs akimbo. 

By the time Colin Wilson crashed to the ice, Tom Wilson had chipped a blind backhand pass to center ice, where Alex Ovechkin stopped it with his skate, dropped it to teammate Nicklas Backstrom, who gave it back as they entered the offensive zone. Ovechkin crossed from left to right and ripped a shot past former teammate Philipp Grubauer in goal for Colorado. 

It was a wonderful pass from Backstrom, who put the Avalanche on their heels. Ovechkin’s shot was a bullet that left little chance for Grubauer. But make no mistake – it all started with Wilson, who was prepared to take a hit to make a play. It is those little things that the Capitals missed during Wilson’s 16-game suspension by the NHL. It was the little things that helped them to a 3-2 overtime victory.  

“[Wilson] brings so much energy to this group,” Backstrom said. “He’s everywhere out there. That’s what we need. He’s playing PK, he’s playing power plays, he’s doing everything. He’s a valuable guy in this group so we’re happy to have him back.”

The game-winning goal in overtime by Backstrom was a perfect example. Wilson took a drop pass from defenseman John Carlson 12 seconds into overtime with Washington on a 4-on-3 power play. That’s when he went to work. 

For six seconds Wilson and Avalanche center Carl Soderberg did battle along the right boards high in the offensive zone. Just as Wilson was knocked to the ice, he slipped a pass back to Backstrom alone at the point. 

With Soderberg on top of him and both out of the play, Wilson watched Backstrom take advantage of the extra space in what effectively became a 3-on-2. He passed to Carlson in the right faceoff circle and then got the puck back in the high slot and beat Grubauer blocker side for the win. That doesn’t happen without Wilson. 

“When you’re playing with good players, you just try and keep it simple, win your battles and they’ll do the rest,” Wilson said. “And that’s exactly what happened on both those plays. At the end there, I thought about throwing it across the ice a couple times, but I’m not that comfortable out there yet so just kind of ragged on the wall and waited. Nicky got open for me and made it easy, I just threw it over to him and it was in the back of the net.”  

The Ovechkin goal put Washington ahead 2-1 at 18:29 of the second period. The Backstrom winner came 22 seconds into overtime. Wilson, in his third game back after his original 20-game suspension was reduced by a neutral arbitrator, played a career-high 24 minutes, 24 seconds. He moved to the power play for 4:19 with T.J. Oshie out with an upper-body injury and contributed 1:35 on the penalty kill – a little less than usual. 

Wilson played on the PK for 5:23 in his first game back Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild. He scored a goal in that game, too, by driving the net hard and has been a jolt of energy for a team that was scuffling coming into a difficult four-game road trip. The Capitals are 2-1-0 with one game left Monday at the Montreal Canadiens. 
 
“Tom is one of those guys that was vocal in our room, vocal on the bench that we’re fully in control of that game still even though we gave up the late goal,” Washington coach Todd Reirden said. “But that’s a tough start [after the suspension], three in four, and then add in the altitude and the minutes that we’re counting on him playing because they aren’t easy minutes. And then obviously having to chase around that top line tonight from Colorado is no easy task. Just really happy with the fact that we got him back a little earlier than was originally set up for us. It’s been a good bounce for our team.” 

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