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National briefs: Djokovic to meet Murray in finals Sunday

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press

Wimbledon men set semifinal record Friday

Friday, July 5, 2013 - 6:56 pm

LONDON — Novak Djokovic might win Wimbledon this year. Juan Martin del Potro will not.

No matter how it ends, both men will always have their spot in one of the most memorable matches in the storied history of the All England Club.

Slugging back and forth over a semifinal-record 4 hours, 43 minutes of backbreaking tennis Friday, top-seeded Djokovic emerged with a 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (6), 6-3 victory to move one win away from his seventh major title.

“One of the most epic matches I've played in my life,” Djokovic said.

On Sunday, Djokovic will play second-seeded Andy Murray, who defeated No. 24 Jerzy Janowicz 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 to make his second straight Wimbledon final and move one win away from becoming the first British man in 77 years to capture his country's home tournament.

This will be their third meeting in the last four Grand Slam finals. Murray won at the U.S. Open last year and Djokovic won in Australia this year. On Murray's mind every bit as much, however, will be his 7-5, 7-5 win on Centre Court last year in the Olympic semifinals.

Injured Rays pitcher back to throwing

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Alex Cobb has thrown off a mound for the first time since being hit in the head by a line drive last month.

Cobb had the bullpen session before Friday night's game against the Chicago White Sox. There is no timetable for when Cobb will pitch in a game.

“The bullpen went great,” Cobb said. “It felt like I had before I got injured. Surprising because it usually feels a little awkward out there when you haven't been on the mound for a while. Getting on the mound is, obviously, a step in the right direction. I don't think we're extremely close, but we're a lot faster along than we expected.”

Cobb said his vertigo symptoms have improved over the past week.

“It's a little bit better, but it should within the next couple weeks, listening to what the doctors say, a drastic improvement in where we are right now,” Cobb said.

Cobb was struck in the right ear by a ball hit by Kansas City's Eric Hosmer on June 15 and was hospitalized overnight after being carted off the field.

Burnett to face Cubs on Sunday

CHICAGO — A.J. Burnett is set to return to the Pittsburgh Pirates' rotation.

Manager Clint Hurdle says the veteran right-hander will start Sunday against the Chicago Cubs after being sidelined the past month because of a strained right calf.

Burnett apparently looked good enough in his bullpen sessions and simulated game that the Pirates decided a minor-league rehab start was not necessary.

Hurdle said Friday he didn't think his pitcher would be “as stimulated” as he would pitching at Wrigley Field.

“He was able to stay involved in games, throwing throughout this process with the exception of the first couple of days,” Hurdle said. “First bullpen was what we expected. Simulated game, I thought we saw some good stuff. Next bullpen the timing and rhythm were really pretty sharp.”

Burnett is 4-6 with a 3.12 ERA in 14 starts, but even without him, the Pirates continue to roll along.

They entered Friday's game against the Cubs with a major league-leading 52-32 record and a two-game lead over St. Louis in the NL Central.

Busch, Kenseth takes top 2 stops in Daytona qualifying

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth swept the front row for Saturday night's race at Daytona International Speedway.

Busch turned a lap at 193.723 mph in Friday qualifying to win the pole. Kenseth was second at 193.299.

Clint Bowyer qualified second and Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. was fifth as Toyota drivers took four of the first five spots. Kasey Kahne wedged his Chevrolet in at fourth.

Paul Menard was sixth in a Chevrolet, and MWR co-owner Michael Waltrip was seventh in another Toyota.

Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson was eighth, followed by rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and his Roush-Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle as the highest-qualifying Fords.

Danica Patrick wound up 11th in in her return to Daytona, where she became the first woman to start from the pole in the season-opening Daytona 500.