Paris Paris — Dusk was descending, wind was swirling and full-throated chants of “Ro-ger! Ro-ger!” from 15,000 or so fans finally were hushing as Roger Federer stepped to the baseline to serve — one point from returning to the French Open final and one point from ending Novak Djokovic’s 43-match winning streak.
Federer rocked back, unfurled his body and whipped an ace, his 18th Friday, to seal a 7-6 (5), 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5) victory over Djokovic, then roared and wagged his right index finger, as if telling the world, “I’m still No. 1!”
So what if the official ranking says otherwise? This was Federer showing he’s still got what it takes.
He’ll go for a 17th Grand Slam title, and second at Roland Garros, in Sunday’s final against longtime nemesis and five-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal, who eliminated Andy Murray 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 to improve to 44-1 at the clay-court major tournament.
By summoning all of the strokes and resolve required to win a taut, tense contest with a lot on the line, Federer also managed to do what no one else had in quite some time: defeat Djokovic, who entered the day 41-0 in 2011 and unbeaten since losing to — guess who? — Federer in late November.
Penn St. taps Boston’s Chambers
State College, Pa. — Penn State chose Boston University’s Patrick Chambers to take over its men’s basketball program, capping a whirlwind coaching search following the surprise departure of Ed DeChellis.
A posting on the website for Boston University announced the move late Friday afternoon. It was soon confirmed by Penn State.
Boston lost to Kansas University, 72-53, on March 18 in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
Walsh out as Knicks president
Donnie Walsh will not return as president of the New York Knicks. The team announced in a statement Friday that Walsh and Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan mutually agreed that Walsh will not return when his contract expires at the end of June.
13-year-old killed in freak accident
Phoenix — A 13-year-old Arizona boy was killed in a freak accident after a baseball hit him over the heart as he tried to bunt, officials in his Little League said Friday.
Hayden Walton went for the bunt during a game Tuesday night in the close-knit northern Arizona city of Winslow, said Jamey Jones, a Winslow Little League official.
He died the next morning at a local hospital.
SEC caps football signings to 25
Destin, Fla. — There will be one basketball division in the Southeastern Conference along with some unhappy football coaches.
School presidents and chancellors voted Friday to eliminate divisions in men’s basketball and to reduce the annual signing classes in football to 25 players. SEC football coaches voted unanimously to keep the number at 28.
Players urge court to lift lockout
St. Louis — NFL players urged a federal appeals court Friday to declare the lockout illegal, saying the league had no right to impose a work stoppage that is now approaching three months with no sign of a deal that will save the 2011 season.
In a courtroom packed with some 200 people, including out-of-work players and retirees on folding chairs brought in to handle the crowd, attorneys on both sides of the bitter labor fight got roughly 30 minutes each to make their cases.
Rookie receiving death threats
Miami — Florida Marlins rookie Scott Cousins has been receiving death threats despite repeatedly apologizing for a collision with San Francisco Giants star Buster Posey.
The collision at home plate on May 25 left Posey with a broken bone in his lower left leg and three torn ligaments in his ankle. He’s had surgery and is done for the season.
Giants general manager Brian Sabean criticized Cousins on his weekly radio show on KNBR this week, calling the play malicious and unnecessary. Sabean said “if I never hear from Cousins again, or he doesn’t play another day in the big leagues, I think we’ll all be happy.”
Stricker’s ace propels him to lead
Dublin, Ohio — Steve Stricker had a hole-in-one on his 17th hole Friday in the Memorial to break out of a big pack and build a three-shot lead going into the weekend. Stricker hit a 6-iron from 188 yards on the eighth hole for the second ace of his career.
Stricker finished with a birdie for a 5-under 67 and was at 9-under 135.
He was three shots clear of Rory McIlroy, Rod Pampling, Ricky Barnes and Jonathan Byrd.
Former Kansas University golfer Gary Woodland shot a 69 on Friday and is tied for 14th after Day 2.
Luke Donald, the No. 1 player in the world, birdied his last two holes for a 69 and was four shots out of the lead.