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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Rebecca Bryan

New York (AFP) — Former champions Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray booked a tantalizing U.S. Open quarter-final duel with straight-sets fourth-round victories.

World number one and top seed Djokovic didn’t let Philipp Kohlschreiber stand in the way of another Grand Slam last-eight appearance on Monday, defeating the 22nd seed from Germany 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 on another oppressively muggy New York day.

Eighth-seeded Scot Murray advanced with a hard-fought 7-5, 7-5, 6-4 victory over ninth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, avenging a loss to the Frenchman in the Toronto Masters last month.

Djokovic and Murray boast a long rivalry in which the Serbian owns a 12-8 record.

They are 2-2 in Grand Slam finals, including Murray’s triumph over Djokovic in the 2012 final at Flushing Meadows for his first major crown.

“Tough match,” Murray said of the looming contest. “We’ve had a lot of long ones. We played a long one here a few years ago — I have great memories from that match.”

Djokovic reached his 22nd straight Grand Slam quarter-final, a run that stretches back to Kohlschreiber’s victory over him in the third round of the 2009 French Open.

“I’m very glad obviously that I had so many consecutive quarter-finals of Grand Slams. It says that I do value these tournaments the most and try to always perform my best tennis in them,” Djokovic said.

The Wimbledon champion looked headed for a short day’s work when he raced through the first set in 25 minutes.

But Kohlschreiber dug in, keeping his nose in front on serve and forcing Djokovic to fend off a set point in the 10th game of the second.

Djokovic did so with a stinging forehand passing shot to end a rally that sent the Louis Armstrong Stadium crowd wild, then broke Kohlschreiber for a 6-5 lead.

Serving for the set Djokovic saved another break point with an off-speed service winner and having wrapped up the second set he broke Kohlschreiber to open the third and marched home from there.

“It doesn’t feel that it went very easily,” Djokovic said. “Philipp is a tough player.”

– Tough conditions –

Murray broke Tsonga in the final game of each set en route to his victory, first recovering an early break in both the second and third.

“It was extremely tough conditions, very humid and obviously windy,” Murray said. “It started to cool down at the end, but the first two sets were very long tough sets.”

Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka, the third seed, powered past 16th-seeded Spaniard Tommy Robredo 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (9/7), 6-2.

Wawrinka fired 18 aces and 75 winners — to Robredo’s 19 — saving two set points in the third-set tiebreaker and dominating the fourth set.

“It was a really tough battle today,” said Wawrinka, who also survived a tumble into the courtside seats in Armstrong Stadium when he hit the board surrounding the court at full stretch for a shot.

“From that I’m OK, I’m more tired from the running, from the match,” he said. “When you win, it’s always more easy to feel good after.”

Two of the ATP’s rising stars will duel under the floodlights as 23-year-old Canadian Milos Raonic and 24-year-old Kei Nishikori of Japan reprise their fourth-round clash at Wimbledon — won by Raonic on his way to a first Grand Slam semi-final.

The fifth-seeded Raonic is enjoying a career-best season, and at a career-best number six in the world is the second-youngest player, behind 23-year-old Grigor Dimitrov, in the top 10.

Nishikori, the 10th seed, became the first Japanese man to break into the top 10 this season with two titles.

While Raonic has the reputation of a big-server — with the second-most aces this year on the ATP tour, Nishikori has been impressive on his serve in reaching the last 16. He’s been broken only twice, saving 17 of 19 break points he faced in his first three matches.

The winner will face Wawrinka for a semi-final place.

AFP Photo/Stan Honda

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  • 2. Mar-a-Lago has an infamous reputation for being open to penetration even by foreign spies. In 2019, the FBI arrested a Chinese woman who had entered the property with electronic devices. She was convicted of trespassing, lying to the Secret Service, and sentenced and served eight-months in a federal prison, before being deported to China. Have other individuals with possible links to foreign intelligence operations been present at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 3. Did members of Trump's Secret Service detail have knowledge of his secret storage of the files at Mar-a-Lago? What was the relationship of the Secret Service detail to the FBI? Did the Secret Service, or any agent, disclose information about the files to the FBI?
  • 4. Trump's designated representatives to the National Archives are Kash Patel and John Solomon, co-conspirators in the investigations into Russian interference in the presidential election of 2016, the Ukraine missiles-for-political dirt scandal that led to the first impeachment in 2019, and the coup of 2020. Neither has any professional background in handling archival materials. Patel, a die-hard Trump loyalist whose last job in the administration was as chief of staff to the Acting Secretary of Defense, was supposedly involved in Trump’s “declassification” of some files. Patel has stated, “Trump declassified whole sets of materials in anticipation of leaving government that he thought the American public should have the right to read themselves."
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  • 5. Why did Trump keep his pardon of Roger Stone among his secret files? Was it somehow to maintain leverage over Stone? What would that leverage be? Would it involve Stone's role as a conduit with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers during the coup? Or is there another pardon in Trump’s files for Stone, a secret pardon for his activities in the January 6th insurrection? Because of the sweeping nature of the pardon clause, pardons can remain undisclosed (until needed). Pardons are self-executing, require no justification and are not subject to court review beyond the fact of their timely execution. In other words, a court may verify the pardon was valid in time but has no power to review appropriateness. A pardon could even be oral but would need to be verifiable by a witness. Do the files contain secret pardons for Trump himself, members of his family, members of the Congress, and other co-conspirators?
  • 6.Was the FBI warrant obtained to block the imminent circulation or sale of information in the files to foreign powers? Does the affidavit of the informant at Mar-a-Lago, which has not been released, provide information about Trump’s monetization that required urgency in executing the warrant? Did Trump monetize information in any of the files? How? With whom? Any foreign power or entity? Was the Saudi payment from its sovereign wealth fund for the LIV Golf Tournament at Trump’s Bedminster Golf Club for a service that Trump rendered, an exchange of anything of value or information that was in the files? If it involved information in the files was it about nuclear programs? Was it about the nuclear program of Israel? How much exactly was the Saudi payment for the golf tournament? The Saudi sovereign wealth fund gave Jared Kushner and former Trump Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin $2 billion for their startup hedge fund, Affinity Partners. Do the Saudis regard that investment as partial payment for Trump’s transfer of nuclear information? Were Kushner or Mnuchin aware of the secret files at Mar-a-Lago?
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