Sam Querrey

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Sam Querrey, top U.S. male tennis player in Olympic qualifying, to skip Tokyo Games

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Sam Querrey, the top American man in Olympic singles tennis qualifying, will skip the Olympics for a second straight time.

“Nope, I’m not going,” he said after upsetting No. 25 Borna Coric 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday. “In fact, I’m playing World Team Tennis the whole season. Even without that, I wasn’t planning on going to the Olympics. I went in 2008. I didn’t go in London and Rio. Felt like it was fun in 2008. I’m not saying it’s not that important. It’s just not a priority for me. In my opinion, I would be fine if tennis wasn’t even in the Olympics. A lot of my friends don’t even know that tennis is in the Olympics. It’s overshadowed by those other sports. I would rather win any Masters series [tournament] over an Olympic gold. So it’s just not on my radar.”

Querrey’s absence moves everybody up in U.S. Olympic singles qualifying. The new top four more than halfway through qualifying: Taylor Fritz and John Isner tied for first, followed by Reilly Opelka, then Steve Johnson and Tommy Paul tied for fourth.

Johnson is the only man in that group who played in Rio. Isner played in London and skipped Rio.

No more than four singles players per nation qualify for the Olympics via the ATP rankings after the French Open in June.

Querrey did not qualify for the 2012 London Games in singles, but he passed up an automatic spot on the Rio Olympic team (as did many tennis players from around the world, some citing the Zika virus or the lack of world-ranking points). He chose to play a lower-level ATP event in Mexico instead.

He joins other notable male players in passing on Tokyo. Austrian Dominic Thiem, a two-time French Open finalist, is prioritizing an ATP event in Kitzbühel that week. The U.S. doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan were not planning to play the Olympics in their final season before retirement, their manager said in November.

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Roger Federer makes Wimbledon final, dream year continues

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LONDON (AP) — Roger Federer is here once more, back in a Wimbledon final for the 11th time, back on the verge of an eighth championship at the All England Club, more than any man has collected in the storied, century-plus history of the place.

Nearly 36, and a father of four, Federer continued his resurgent season and unchallenged run through this fortnight by conjuring up just enough brilliance to beat 2010 Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-4 on Friday.

“Can’t almost believe it’s true again,” Federer said.

He has won every set he’s played in this year’s tournament and while he did not dominate the semifinal, he was never in much trouble. On Sunday, Federer will face 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic, who reached his first final at the All England Club by eliminating 24th-seeded Sam Querrey of the U.S. 6-7 (6), 6-4, 7-6 (3), 7-5 with the help of 25 aces and some terrific returning.

Since equaling Pete Sampras and William Renshaw (who played in the 1880s) with a seventh title at Wimbledon in 2012, Federer has come this close before to No. 8. But he lost to Novak Djokovic in the 2014 and 2015 finals.

Now comes gets another chance.

Federer would be the oldest man to win Wimbledon in the Open era, which dates to 1968; as it is, he’s the oldest finalist since Ken Rosewall was 39 in 1974.

“This guy doesn’t seem like he’s getting any older or slowing down,” said Berdych, who wore shoes with a silhouette of Djokovic’s face on the tongue. “He’s just proving his greatness in our sport.”

Also noteworthy: This is Federer’s second major final of 2017. After taking off the last half of last year while letting a surgically repaired left knee heal, he won the Australian Open in January for his record-extending 18th Grand Slam trophy.

“Giving your body rest from time to time is a good thing, as we see now,” Federer said. “And I’m happy it’s paying off because for a second, of course, there is doubts there that maybe one day you’ll never be able to come back and play a match on Centre Court at Wimbledon. But it happened, and it’s happened many, many times this week.”

Now only Cilic stands in Federer’s way at Wimbledon. They met in the quarterfinals a year ago, when Federer came all the way back after dropping the first two sets to win in five, before exiting in the semifinals.

They love their history around these parts and they love Federer and, above all, they love watching him make history. Spectators roared at many of his best offerings against Berdych, who was seeded 11th.

Trailing 3-2 in the third set, for example, Federer faced a couple of break points at 15-40 and extricated himself from that sticky situation this way: ace at 107 mph (173 kph), ace at 116 mph (187 kph), service winner at 120 mph (194 kph), ace at 119 mph (192 kph). And in the very next game, he surged to a 4-3 lead by breaking Berdych. That was pretty much that.

There were other moments of magic. The down-the-line forehand passing winner that landed right on the opposite baseline in the second set, leaving Berdych slumping his shoulders. Or the no-look, flicked backhand winner several games later that not many players would even try, let alone manage to do.

Still, this would not quite qualify as a vintage, Federer-at-his-wondrous-best performance. He was hardly perfect out there. He even double-faulted twice in one game to get broken in the opening set. He was pushed to a pair of tiebreakers, too. And yet there never was a sense Berdych could win.

Querrey, in contrast, took the first set against Cilic under odd circumstances. Things were close as can be between the pair of 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) big servers in the early going, right up to 6-all in games and 6-all in the tiebreaker. Cilic was playing so cleanly until that moment, delivering 12 winners before his initial unforced error; he would finish with a 70-21 margin.

But Cilic seemed distracted by a delay of a couple of minutes after his first-serve fault at 6-6, when a female spectator who appeared to feel ill was helped from her seat and out of the stands. Awarded another first serve, he managed only a 113 mph offering that Querrey handled easily, and the next stroke was a badly missed backhand by Cilic. Now down 7-6, Cilic flubbed another backhand, pushing it wide to cede the set.

The fourth turned with Querrey up 4-3 and serving at 30-love. Cilic seized the next four points to break, pounding a forehand return winner, a down-the-line backhand winner, another big return that startled Querrey and led to a drop shot winner, and a massive forehand return off a 79 mph (127 kph) second serve that drew a shanked backhand. His lead gone, Querrey yelled, “No!”

“I don’t think it was anything that didn’t work for Sam. It was more Marin locking in and getting a good read on Sam’s serve,” said Querrey’s coach, Craig Boynton. “I haven’t seen someone return Sam’s serve like that in a long time.”

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Sam Querrey: Maybe tennis shouldn’t be in Olympics

Sam Querrey
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U.S. tennis player Sam Querrey didn’t skip the Olympics because of a lack of prize money or rankings points, or even Zika virus concerns.

“I did the Olympics before. It was fun. I’m kind of over it now,” Querrey told media Monday.

Querrey stated the largely held belief that, for tennis and golf, the Olympics are not a top priority. Each sport has four majors that take higher precedent.

Many of the world’s top male golfers and some male tennis players are skipping the Rio Games, most citing health concerns including the Zika virus.

Querrey competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, losing his first-round singles and doubles matches.

“I don’t necessarily think [tennis] maybe should be an Olympic sport,” Querrey, who stunned world No. 1 Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon, said Monday. “Some sports in the Olympics, that [tennis], golf, I feel like maybe shouldn’t be in there.”

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