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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 again, in a way that no player had managed in a decade.

To end the season with a title, though, he might have to get past the Swiss great again in just two days.

Using his hard serve and booming forehand, Del Potro earned the last spot in the semifinals of the ATP finals Saturday by overcoming the already-qualified Federer 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-3 in their last round-robin match. Del Potro will face Novak Djokovic in the semifinals Sunday, before Federer takes on Andy Murray.

It was Federer's second straight loss to Del Potro, who also 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 he then had much of the next season ruined by a serious wrist injury and has 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 left David Ferrer and Janko Tipsarevic with only prize money and pride to play for in their group finale as both players had been eliminated. Ferrer seemed the most sluggish at the start and lost the first four games, but the Spaniard recovered to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, leaving Tipsarevic without a victory in the tournament.

That match still had an impact on the tournament, as it meant Federer won the group ahead of Del Potro and was matched with Murray in the semifinals. Had Tipsarevic won, the order would have been reversed.

Del Potro said he still considers himself the underdog in the tournament.

``Now you have three big names in the semifinals, and one big guy,'' the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Del Potro said.

Del Potro converted his only break point of the match in the opening game of the deciding set and 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 netted off a lunging backhand volley.

Both players finished the group stage with 2-1 records. Ferrer was also 2-1, but won fewer sets than Federer and Del Potro. If Federer had won against Del Potro, Ferrer would have advanced with a victory against Tipsarevic.

``I really wanted to give (Ferrer) a chance and give myself the best possible preparation for the semis, really hoped I could win,'' Federer said. ``But more disappointed for (Ferrer) than I am about losing today, to be quite honest.''

Ferrer won a tour-best seven tournaments this year, including his first Masters title in Paris last week. He still has a chance for another major victory, as Spain will take on the Czech Republic in the Davis Cup final next weekend.

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If Lauvao is out against the Packers, Redskins will shuffle their offensive line

If Lauvao is out against the Packers, Redskins will shuffle their offensive line

It appears that the Redskins’ streak of starting the same combination of players on the offensive line this season will end at two. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao did not participate in practice on Wednesday due to a calf injury. Jay Gruden didn’t sound optimistic about Lauvao’s chances of playing when the Redskins take on the Packers on Sunday

“He could, yeah, he could,” he said when asked if Lauvao will miss the game. Gruden did say that he thinks that the injury is “short-term” and not an injury that will require Lauvao to go to injured reserve for the third time in the last four years. 

If Lauvao does have to miss Sunday’s game, they will do some shuffling along the line. Starting center Chase Roullier will move over to left guard and Tony Bergstrom will move in at center. 

"We feel like Bergstrom is a better center and we don’t lose anything with Chase at guard,” said Gruden. “So, we feel like the center position we are about the same and little bit of a drop-off losing Brandon Scherff which is considerable, you put Chase in there and he’s a pretty good guard."

The reference to losing Scherff is to last Sunday when the right guard missed four snaps after injuring his knee. Roullier moved over one slot to the right and Bergstrom played center then. 

Bergstrom started three games at center last year when Roullier was out with a broken hand. He played OK considering that he had just joined the team a few weeks earlier after spending the early part of the season with the Ravens. The Redskins hope that Bergstrom will be better after having spent the entire year in Washington. 

Lauvao isn’t the only injury concern on the offensive line. Scherff and left tackle Trent Williams both were limited in practice on Wednesday. It would be surprising if either missed Sunday’s game but the situations bear watching. 

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Need to Know: Five Redskins under pressure vs. Packers

Need to Know: Five Redskins under pressure vs. Packers

Here is what you need to know on Thursday, September 20, three days before the Washington Redskins host the Green Bay Packers.

Talking points

At 1-1 with Aaron Rodgers coming to town, the Redskins are under pressure to win. The spotlight will shine brighter on these players on Sunday afternoon. 

—Against the Colts, QB Alex Smith didn’t lose the game but he didn’t do much to lift the team, either. In particular, the 0-2 in the red zone was damaging with both failures coming at key points in the game. That’s not all on Smith, but when the running game is struggling like it was on Sunday he has to elevate the team. He didn’t. He will have to play better—much better—if the Redskins are going to outscore the Packers. 

—The talk of Hogs 2.0 has just got to stop until the Redskins’ offensive line strings together a bunch of good games in a row. They were both beaten physically and out schemed against the Colts. That’s why the running backs had two rushing yards at halftime and only 22 for the game. All this took place while the Colts sat back in a soft Cover 2 zone, a defense that you should be able to run against.

—While many fans are complaining about the output of Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder, who is usually the volume receiver in the offense, has the same number of catches as Doctson (5) for fewer yards (48-40). Crowder didn’t play at all in the preseason and missed considerable camp practice time with an undisclosed injury. Perhaps he just needs some time to get going. With the Packers coming to town, the Redskins will have to put up a lot of points to win and now would be a great time for Crowder to have a big game. 

—It’s hard to rattle Aaron Rodgers but like any quarterback, he doesn’t like immediate pressure in his face. It’s time for first-round picks Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne to step up. Or, rather, they need to step forward and disrupt Rodgers if he tries to get rid of the ball quickly. We need to see either Payne registering his first career sack or Allen get his the second of his career and his first in a year (first was Week 3). Or, preferably, both. 

—The entire defensive backfield will be under pressure against Rodgers, tight end Jimmy Graham and receivers Randall Cobb and Davante Adams. To pick one, I’ll go with Montae Nicholson. He hasn’t played poorly in the first two games. Some have blamed him for Andrew Luck’s two TD passes, but one was just a perfect throw and one was a pick that worked to perfection. Regardless, he is supposed to be an impact play guy and he doesn’t have any big hits or takeaways through two games and a game-changing play from him would help. 

Injuries of note

Did not practice: S Troy Apke (hamstring), LB Zach Brown (oblique), G Shawn Lauvao (calf), WR Paul Richardson (shoulder)
Limited: Brandon Scherff (knee), Trent Williams (knee)

The agenda

Today: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Greg Manusky news conferences and open locker room after practice approx. 3 p.m.

Upcoming: Packers @ Redskins (Sept. 23) 3; Redskins @ Saints (October 8) 18; Cowboys @ Redskins 31

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