Sports shorts: Federer storms into final, Venus upsets Serena
Roger Federer eased into the final of the Rogers Cup with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Spain's Feliciano Lopez on Saturday, putting the Swiss maestro on the brink of a landmark 80th career title.
Standing between Federer and another trophy is Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who claimed his third straight upset by dispatching seventh-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-3.
After knocking off world number one Novak Djokovic in the third round, twice champion Andy Murray in the quarters and Dimitrov in the semi-finals, the powerful Frenchman will need to produce one more upset to deny Federer a third Canadian title.
It will be Federer's 120th career final while Tsonga will be playing for a title for the 20th time.
Federer said Tsonga would be on a high after his series of upsets in Toronto.
"I think it was a matter of time that he got it all together again, especially in terms of confidence," said the second seeded Swiss, who is looking for his third title of the season.
"So for him to beat Murray and Djokovic... it's a really good effort for him and it's going to give him loads of confidence going into the finals.
"He just can overpower guys, serve up a storm and then play really aggressive with his forehand and also be solid in his backhand.
"You think you're in a safe place sometimes in the rally, and he takes one step and, you know, just hits it and the point is over."
Federer, who celebrated his 33rd birthday on Friday, was in imperious form, dropping just four points on his serve in taking the opening set.
The 17-time Grand Slam winner kept up the pressure in the second with a break to open the set and was never seriously challenged, running his record against Lopez to 11-0.
"I think I played extremely well in the first set and was able to make Feliciano probably over-serve and over-hit a little bit and make him feel the pressure from the baseline," said Federer.
"Second set probably wasn't as good in quality but I got the break early."
- NEXT: Venus upsets Serena to reach Rogers Cup final
Image: Roger Federer
Photographs: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Venus upsets Serena to reach Rogers Cup final
Venus Williams upset little sister Serena 6-7(2), 6-2, 6-3 on Saturday to register the first win over her top ranked sibling in five years and move into the Rogers Cup final in Montreal.
The meeting marked the 25th time the sisters had squared off but the first time Venus had come out on top since a 2009 semi-finals encounter in Dubai.
World number one Serena holds a 14-11 lead in their head-to-heads after coming out on top in their previous five encounters, including the 2009 Wimbledon final.
Clashes between the pair, which at one time were an almost regular and welcome occurrence on tennis courts around the world, have become rare and their meeting in Montreal was just the second since the 2009 Tour championships.
The siblings have won 106 WTA Tour singles titles, including 24 Grand Slams, between them.
"It was a tough match out there," said Venus, who will meet Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska in Sunday's final. Third seed Radwanska beat Ekaterina Makarova of Russia 7-6(1), 7-6(3) to advance to her second final of the year.
"I don't think we played for a number of years, as well. It's not like we've been playing year in and year out," added Venus.
"I definitely expected a tough match. She played well. She hit so many aces.
"What's so unique about the situation is that we're both very good players.
"I think typically you may have some siblings, one is quite good, one is not as good, so you kind of know what the result is, or the one that's better knows they're going to win.
"I think we both know when we walk out there, it's not like you're guaranteed a win. I think that's what makes it challenging for both of us."
While a Williams-Williams matchup is one tennis fans have always looked forward to, for the sisters it is something they could live without.
There was little excitement when the match was over, the two players walking slowly to the net and hugging briefly.
Venus's reaction at ending her sister's Rogers Cup title defense was muted as she turned and offered a small wave to the crowd before slumping into her courtside chair and staring blankly across the court.
If losing to her sister stung Serena, she hid it well.
"For me it was just a regular match," she shrugged. "Obviously she's my sister but I still want to go out there and try to play well and try to win.
"I think Venus played a great match. It was what it was.
"Obviously I always want her to do the best that she can. I want to do the best that I can, too.
"I just got to do better, that's all."
NEXT: Barcelona agree to sign Vermaelen from Arsenal
Image: Serena Williams (left) hugs her sister Venus after the match
Photographs: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Barcelona agree to sign Vermaelen from Arsenal
Barcelona have moved to further strengthen their defence by agreeing to sign versatile but injury-prone Belgium centre back Thomas Vermaelen from Arsenal on a five-year deal, the La Liga club said on Saturday.
Barca did not publish any financial details but Spanish media said they had agreed to pay about 19 million euros ($25.5 million) to secure his services.
The 28-year-old defender is the second Belgian player to play for the Catalan club after Fernand Goyvaerts (1961-1965) and his purchase follows the acquisition of another centre back, Frenchman Jeremy Mathieu, who joined last month from Valencia.
Barca's defence was a weak point last season, when they failed to win major silverware for the first time in six years, and coach Gerardo Martino was replaced by former Barcelona and Spain midfielder Luis Enrique.
Vermaelen, who has passed a medical and will be presented at the Nou Camp stadium and sign his contract on Sunday, moved to Arsenal in 2009 after a nine-year stint at Ajax Amsterdam who he joined from Belgian side Germinal Beerschot.
He quickly became a favourite in the dressing room and amongst the fans while also being promoted to club captain.
Vermaelen's career has been hampered by injury, however, and he featured only 21 times in the 2013-14 season after falling behind Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker in the pecking order.
He played a total of 150 games for Arsenal in all competitions, scoring 15 goals, and will compete for a place in the Barca back line with Spain international Gerard Pique, Mathieu and the club's academy graduate Marc Bartra. Javier Mascherano has mostly played in central defence since joining Barcelona from Liverpool in 2010 but after his excellent performances in midfield for Argentina at the World Cup he is widely expected to feature there for the club next term.
On their website (www.fcbarcelona.es) Barca described Vermaelen, who has captained Belgium and has 47 caps, as "a central defender who can take the ball out of defence, is tactically very good, and is a strong tackler.
"As well as his defensive presence, he is also known for possessing great vision," they added.
"This is why the Belgian international can not only play at the centre of the defence but also has the natural ability to play at left back." Barca start their La Liga campaign, when they will chase a fifth title in seven years, at home to Elche on August 24.
Image: Thomas Vermaelen
Photographs: Clive Rose/Getty Images
Sania-Cara sets up title clash with Errani and Vinci
Sania Mirza and Cara Black survived a thriller in the semi-finals as they carved out a hard-earned 7-6(3), 3-6, 13-11 victory to set up a Rogers Cup doubles final against top-seeded Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci.
The fourth seeded Indo-Zimbabwean pair knocked out the second seeded Hsieh Su-wei of Chinese Taipei and China's Peng Shuai in a contest that lasted an hour and 50 minutes.
Having saved a set point in the opening set, Sania and Cara prevailed over their higher ranked opponents in a tie-break.
However, Hsieh and Peng fought their way back in the second set and comfortably wrapped it up 6-3, taking it to the deciding set.
In the third set, Sania and Cara opened up a 9-6 lead, before Hsieh and Peng rallied and held a match point at 11-10. But from there Sania and Cara won three straight points, to run away with the match on their fifth match point.
With this victory, Sania and Cara ended a three-match losing streak in their head-to-head with Hsieh and Peng.
Image: Sania Mirza and Cara Black
Photographs: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images