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Federer, Del Potro to meet in Swiss Indoors final

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Federer, Del Potro to meet in Swiss Indoors final

BASEL, Switzerland (AP) Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro advanced to the Swiss Indoors final on Saturday, setting up a rematch of their epic semifinal at the London Olympics.

Top-ranked Federer brushed aside Paul-Henri Mathieu of France 7-5, 6-4 in the semifinals after Del Potro eased to a 6-2, 6-2 win over third-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

Federer has beaten Del Potro all six times they have met this season, though he was pushed to his limits on Centre Court at Wimbledon in August. Federer won 19-17 in the decisive third set.

``I'm excited to see how he is going to come out and play,'' Federer said of Sunday's final. ``We have had a couple of tough ones, at the French Open and particularly at the Olympics. I had a really hard time breaking his serve. The margins are extremely small.''

Del Potro let a two-set lead slip in their quarterfinal at Roland Garros, and took the first set at the Olympics before losing the second on a tiebreaker.

``I was close in the Olympics and French Open but I never beat him this year,'' said the eight-ranked Del Potro, who rebounded from the tough Olympics loss to win his bronze-medal match. ``He has all the shots. He's a very, very complete player.''

Federer, chasing his sixth title in seven years at his hometown event, fired 10 aces and never allowed 101st-ranked Mathieu a break-point chance.

Excellent anticipation at the net put Federer into position to hit a volleyed winner to create two set points in the first. He clinched with a forehand winner.

Federer moved his opponent around the court in the final game before putting away an overhead to earn match point, and sealed victory when Mathieu netted a two-handed backhand.

Federer has a 13-2 career record against Del Potro, though one of the Argentinian's victories came in the 2009 U.S Open final. A wrist injury then wrecked his 2010 season.

``Now he is finally back to his real self again,'' Federer said. ``He looked really impressive today.''

Del Potro, who won the Vienna title last week, said his play against Gasquet was ``almost perfection. Now I have to play better tomorrow if I want to win this tournament.''

His eighth ace sealed his 61st victory of the season, a career best. Del Potro improved to 16-1 on indoor hard courts in 2012, with his only loss coming against Federer in the Rotterdam final in February.

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Somehow, the Redskins still have a fairly straightforward playoff path. Somehow

Somehow, the Redskins still have a fairly straightforward playoff path. Somehow

You're going to feel absurd for reading the following sentence, but probably not as absurd as it felt to type the following sentence.

The Redskins, who are on their fourth option at QB, who made the '18 Giants look like the '72 Dolphins and who are large underdogs this weekend to the 4-9 Jaguars, actually still have a straightforward path to the playoffs.

Now, the word "straightforward" only applies to the path on paper, because realistically, there's nothing straightforward about fixing the litany of issues that are plaguing Washington at the moment.

Regardless, by losing on Monday night to the Seahawks, the Vikings blew a chance to separate themselves from a pack of NFC teams chasing(?) them and their final wild card spot. The Redskins are one of those teams, and here's how they could pass Minnesota to qualify for the postseason:

With the way the season is unfolding, you'd expect the Burgundy and Gold's playoff scenario to involve a bunch of teams losing a bunch of times in these final three weeks. The tweet above illustrates that's clearly not the case. They only need Minnesota to drop one more to go along with the Redskins winning out.

Of course, the Redskins stringing three straight plays together without committing a holding penalty feels like too much to ask for, so anyone expecting a three-game winning streak is either a bit crazy or a relative of Josh Johnson. But still, they're not out of the hunt quite yet. Somehow.

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Ravens have formula for both playoff and quarterback success down final stretch

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Ravens have formula for both playoff and quarterback success down final stretch

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- After experiencing misery in each of the past two Decembers, the Baltimore Ravens are looking to rewrite the script in their quest to end a three-year playoff drought.

In 2016, a loss to Pittsburgh on Christmas night ended Baltimore's bid to reach the postseason. Last year, a defeat at home against Cincinnati on New Year's Eve sent the Ravens home.

Now, with three games left, the Ravens find themselves in a familiar position. Baltimore (7-6) has a shot to reach the playoffs as either AFC North champions or as a wild-card team, and there's really only one can't-miss way to make it happen.

"The way we look at it, we need to win three games in a row," coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "We've been here before. Let's do it. But all we need to think about right now is Tampa Bay, our upcoming opponent."

There's a good chance the Ravens will have quarterback Joe Flacco available for the first time since Nov. 4 when they face the fading Buccaneers (5-8) at home on Sunday. Flacco, a former Super Bowl MVP and veteran of 15 playoff games, appears ready to return from a right hip injury that sidelined him for four straight games.

Fortunately for the Ravens, rookie Lamar Jackson has done a credible job in his first stint as a starter. Subbing for the injured Flacco, the former Louisville star and first-round draft pick guided Baltimore through three straight wins before Sunday's 27-24 loss in Kansas City on Sunday.

Jackson hurt his ankle in overtime against the Chiefs, but the injury evidently was not serious.

"Should be fine. Looks like it's OK," Harbaugh said.

If both quarterbacks are ready to go, Harbaugh must decide who to start and how to play them. Perhaps he already has.

"I'll just have to let you know -- if we want. It could entail anything right now," the coach said. "I know what we want to do. I have a plan. We have a plan. We talked about it. We have to talk to the guys about it, and whether we share that publicly, we'll decide as the week goes on."

The plan likely involves using both quarterbacks, just as the Ravens did before Flacco's injury. The difference now is that Jackson has more experience, and the Ravens have played exceptionally well with him at the helm.

"I haven't had a chance to sit down and talk with all the parties involved, but I think it stands to reason that if Joe's ready to go, he'll be part of the game plan," Harbaugh said. "He's too good a player not to be. We'll just figure that out as we go this week, to what degree and how it works. Everybody will know going in, except perhaps everybody outside."

Baltimore currently sits a half-game behind Pittsburgh within the division, thanks to the Steelers' surprising loss in Oakland on Sunday. Harbaugh learned of the defeat shortly before the team charter touched down on its trip from Kansas City.

"I was happy. Very happy," he said.

The Ravens have Tampa Bay, the Los Angeles Chargers (10-3) and Cleveland (5-7-1) left on the schedule. Pittsburgh (7-5-1) has New England (9-4), New Orleans (11-2) and Cincinnati (5-8).

Baltimore is also the sixth and final wild-card team in the AFC, so if the Steelers don't falter, the Ravens can still reach the postseason for the first time since 2014.

"It helps, sure," Harbaugh said of having multiple routes to the playoffs. "We just need to win games and let all that take care of itself."

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