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TENNIS

Björkman through to Wimbledon semis

Jonas Björkman became the oldest Wimbledon semi-finalist since Jimmy Connors in 1987 when he overcame Czech 14th seed Radek Stepanek in five gruelling sets on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old Swede saved a match point in a fourth set tiebreak before finally claiming a 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (9/7), 6-4 victory after four hours and three minutes of play that was spread over nearly seven hours because of two rain interruptions.

Björkman’s reward for his Herculean efforts was a last four meeting with defending champion Roger Federer, who was looking unstoppable as he swept Mario Ancic off court earlier in the day.

It was a case of missed opportunities for Stepanek, who was cheered on by his girlfriend Martina Hingis, but a typically gritty display from Björkman, albeit not one which suggested he will trouble Fedrer on Friday.

Björkman had taken the first set in a tiebreak after the second rain break, having failed to serve it out when he was leading 5-3.

But Stepanek began to get on top in the second, which he claimed 6-4 with a tenth game break.

After getting in front by winning the third set tie-break, the Czech broke his 34-year-old opponent in the third game of the fourth and hammered home the advantage with a service game to love to lead 3-1.

But a heavy fall as he served for the match at 5-4 appeared to disrupt his concentration and handed Björkman a lifeline.

The Swede grabbed it, saving a match point before winning an extremely edgy tie-break 9/7 to send the match into a fifth set.

Björkman claimed a break in the first game of the final set. Stepanek cancelled that one out to make it 3-3 but was unable to hold serve in the ninth game of the set and the Swede held his nerve to close out the match.

It will be Björkman’s second Grand Slam semi-final appearance following his run to the last four of the 1997 US Open, where he lost to Greg Rusedski.

SPORT

Björn Borg’s son Leo set to make his Wimbledon debut

Four decades after Swedish tennis legend Björn Borg won a fifth consecutive Wimbledon title, his 16-year-old son Leo Borg is reportedly set to make his debut at the tournament.

Björn Borg's son Leo set to make his Wimbledon debut
Leo Borg's Wimbledon debut is yet to be officially confirmed. Photo: Hanna Franzén/TT

According to reports in British tabloid The Sun and Swedish tabloid Expressen, Borg will be awarded a wildcard to play in the Wimbledon junior event.

“Leo is very grateful about getting a wildcard for the qualifiers to junior Wimbledon,” Björn Borg told Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet.

“It will be an incredible experience and useful practice for the future,” he added.

A spokeswoman for the Wimbledon tournament did not want to confirm the decision, only saying that wildcard announcements and the main draw for the Juniors tournament would be made next week.

If confirmed, Leo Borg’s Wimbledon debut comes 39 years after Björn Borg defeated American rival John McEnroe, winning him his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title.

The iconic match has been called one of the greatest matches of all time and the story was adapted for the screen in the 2017 feature film Borg vs McEnroe, where Leo, bearing a striking resemblance to his fatther, played a younger version of Björn Borg.

During the 1970s and early 1980s Björn Borg won a total of 11 Grand Slam titles, five Wimbledons and six French Opens.


Björn Borg after winning his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title in 1980. Photo: Scanpix/TT

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