2006 – 2007, Wimbledon

Wimbledon, London
June 26-July 9, 2006; 128 Draw (32 seeded); Surface – Grass

Farewell Wimbledon for the 1992 champion Andre Agassi, Jonas Bjorkman becomes the oldest Wimbledon semifinalist since 1987, Roger Federer confirms that Centre Court is his home turf triumphing for the fourth time in a row, dropping just one set in the process, to first-time Wimbledon finalist Rafael Nadal in the last match of the tournament.
All scorelines
First round: (NDTV Sports)

Roger Federer won his record 42nd straight grass-court match on Tuesday, beating Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 to open his bid for a fourth consecutive Wimbledon championship. The top-ranked Federer broke the record he shared with Bjorn Borg, the five-time Wimbledon champion who won 41 straight matches on grass from 1976-1981 (the Swede won them all at Wimbledon). “It’s nice to get any streak,” Federer said. “I’m still going, so even better if I can maybe postpone it and make it even last longer. I’m surprised myself I’ve kept it that long. To come through today was my only wish, not to break the streak, but to have it come together is nice.” Federer led Gasquet 6-3, 1:2 on Monday when the match was suspended by rain. The pair agassi_wb06returned to Centre Court under cloudy skies, and Federer needed only 37 minutes to finish off the 20-year-old Frenchman. Also winning on Centre Court was Andre Agassi, the 1992 champion playing in his last Wimbledon. The 36-year-old American, the oldest player in the men’s draw, got off to a slow start before beating 71st-ranked Boris Pashanski of Serbia-Montenegro, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3. Agassi, who announced last weekend that the U.S. Open in September will be his final tournament, had 17 aces and capitalized on 11 double faults by Pashanski – two coming on the last two points of the match. “I was a bit lost out there in the first set, a bit too nervous, then I settled in and managed to find a little bit of rhythm,” Agassi said. In his customary fashion, Agassi bowed and blew kisses to all corners of the court as the fans gave him a rousing ovation. Among those in the crowd was his wife, former seven-time Wimbledon champion Steffi Graf. Agassi wore a necklace with letters spelling out “Daddy Rocks,” which he said was made by the couple’s 4-year-old son, Jaden Gil. Agassi said he was moved by the loud reception he received while walking out for the match. “You expect to be overwhelmed wth the whole situation anyhow,” he said. “To feel that sort of support meant the world to me. I just wanted to do ’em proud. I got a little bit nervous and was trying too hard early.” Federer closed out his match with an overhead smash, then smacked a ball into the stands and basked in a huge ovation. Hewill next face Tim Henman, a four-time Wimbledon semifinalist who overcame Sweden’s Robin Soderling, 6-7(8), 6-3, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3. The British player is unseeded for the first time in 10 years because of a drop in his ranking. Henman leads Federer 6-4 in career matches, including a four-set win in the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 2001. “It feels really good to be playing a match here at Wimbledon with really very limited, very little pressure and expectation,” Henman said with a smile. “I just want to go out there and let it happen.” Men’s fourth-seeded David Nalbandian, runner-up in 2002, crushed South Africa’s Wesley Moodie 6-3, 6-4, 6-1. Eighth-seeded James Blake was a 6-3, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 winner over Danish qualifier Kristian Pless. Thomas Johansson, seeded No. 12, was eliminated by fellow Swede Jonas Bjorkman, 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-1, 6-1; and No. 21 Gael Monfils of France lost in four sets to Igor Kunitsyn of Russia. Wild card Mark Philippoussis, runner-up in 2003, served 39 aces in a 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-3, 7-6(12) win over Paul-Henri Mathieu. In the second tie-break, Philippoussis led 5:2, then saved three set points to finish the contest on his fifth match point. The most dramatic match of the day belonged to Ivan Ljubicic. The Croatian, seeded fifth, needed seven match points before surviving the  challenge wawrinka_wb06from Feliciano Lopez of Spain and winning, 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 11-9. Less luck in a dramatic 5th set had Ljubicic’s compatriot Ivo Karlovic – he saved a match point in a 4th set tie-break, but squandered a double mini-match point leading 4:3 in a 5th set, and lost to Stanislas Wawrinka  6-7(5), 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(8), 9-11. A year before Karlovic lost 10-12 in the 5th set in the Wimbledon first round… In the longest first round match (4 hours 56 minutes), Italian qualifier Stefano Galvani defeated Alexander Waske 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4, 3-6, 16-14. Galvani – like Ljubicic – had to be patient because he wasted two match points leading 6:5, and three more at 10:9. Andy Roddick, seeded third and a finalist here the last two years, recovered from a 3:0 deficit in a 3rd set tie-break to win his first-round match over Janko Tipsarevic, 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-6(6), 6-2. It wasn’t beautiful. Roddick threw a racket and cursed at himself. Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko became, at No. 9, the highest-seeded men’s player to lose after being eliminated, 2-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(8), 6-3, by Colombia’s Alejandro Falla, who saved a set point in the 3rd set tie-break. Robby Ginepri, seeded 17th, was upset by fellow American Mardy Fish, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. On the evidence of his opening match against Britain’s Alex Bogdanovic it will not be a freewheeling blitz. Beforehand the talk was of Rafael Nadal‘s sore left shoulder that forced his withdrawal at Queen’s Club. Inconvenienced or not, he never threatened to wrap up victory in time to watch Spain kick-off against France in Hanover. Poor Bogdanovic, ranked 133 places lower, was not so much outplayed as worn down 6-4, 7-6(3), 6-4 in fading light. Marcos Baghdatis, who will make the semifinals in 2006, barely escaped from an embarrassing loss as he defeated Alan Mackin 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-2 in 4 hours 21 minutes. In the 4th set Baghdatis was trailing *0:3 and serving to stay in the match in the 10th game.

Second round: (AP)

In only 1 hour, 25 minutes, Roger Federer clobbered 31-year-old Tim Henman, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2. Despite the fans doing the wave and stomping their feet to urge on Henman, the four-time Wimbledon semifinalist couldn’t muster up even a little challenge to Federer, who has now won 43 straight grass court matches. So dominating was Federer that the second question asked of Henman after the loss was whether he would ever return to Wimbledon. “I don’t know,” Henman said. “Definitely a few more years.” Sixth seed Lleyton Hewitt broke Hyung-Taik Lee‘s serve in the 10th game of the 5th set to clinch a 6-7(4), 6-2, 7-6(6), 6-7(5), 6-4 victory in a match that had been interrupted on Thursday night at the end of the fourth set. The Australian was on court 4 berdych_wb06hours and 6 minutes – far from ideal preparation for Saturday’s third round meeting with Belgian Olivier Rochus. Hewitt, the 2002 champion, could have wrapped things up quicker if he had capitalized on the three break points he had on Lee’s serve in the 2nd game of the 5th set. The Korean saved all of those but his nerve failed him when he had to serve to stay in the match at 4:5, handing Hewitt victory with a lame forehand into the bottom half of the net. In other dramatic five-setter, Tomas Berdych struggled past Fabrice Santoro 6-4, 6-7(6), 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4. The atmosphere was tense because Berdych was mocking Santoro and took (according to Santoro) a toilet break in an inappropriate moment. Anyway, the Frenchman led 5:3 in the 4th set and had a match point on serve in the 10th game of that set. World number two Rafael Nadal fought back from two sets down to beat Robert Kendrick. Nadal narrowly avoided falling victim to the first major shock of the fortnight, edging past the qualifier 6-7(4), 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-5, 6-4. Kendrick dominated early on with a superb attacking game-plan and was at one stage two points from victory (leading 5:4*, 30-all in the 4th set). “I was worried,” admitted the second seed. “It was very tough. He played a very good match. I had chances to break but he came up with a good serve every time. He served unbelievable. It made me think that I couldn’t afford any mistakes. It was important to come through. I think I played a good match overall.” The Spaniard sunk to his knees on converting his third match point as though he had won the title, and with good reason. The early drama came when a line judge fainted with Nadal serving at 1:2, and a five-minute delay followed before the unfortunate official was taken away in a wheelchair. When play resumed, Kendrick took a tight 1st set with five straight points in the tie-break and got the only break of the second in game two. Nadal was starved of chances but showed his fighting spirit in the third-set tie-break, moving 5:1 clear with a desperate cross-court forehand winner. A titanic 4th set saw Kendrick get to 5:4 up and 30/30 but Nadal did not falter, and in the following game Kendrick double-faulted facing a third break point. There was not much doubt who held the initiative going into the 5th and Nadal took advantage, breaking in game five and serving out for the win. Hey, give an old guy a break, would ya? Facing another backward-cap-wearing, twenty something opponent on the hottest day of the tournament, the 36-year-old Andre Agassi gonzalez_wb06eliminated Andreas Seppi of Italy 6-4, 7-6(2), 6-4 to reach the third round. “It’s been too long, as far as I’m concerned, since I’ve felt good and was in a place where I could at least enjoy what’s going on out there,” said Agassi, the oldest man to reach Wimbledon’s third round since Jimmy Connors was 38 in 1991. Twice the winner of Grand Slam titles but having fallen to the depths of 87 in the world rankings, Marat Safin suffered a strangely disastrous second-round defeat to Fernando González, 4-6, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Strange, because Safin sometimes played well enough to beat the 10th seeded Chilean. Disastrous, because to see potentially his best victory of the year appear and then vanish before his eyes will have made even harder the climb he must make to gain direct entry into the late summer Masters Series. It was second time that Gonzalez came back from two sets down against Safin, but a year before lost 5th set to the Russian in the Davis Cup first round. Irakli Labadze hit Gaston Gaudio, the 16th-seeded former French Open champion, off the court in straight sets. Novak Djokovic upset the 11th seeded Spaniard Tommy Robredo 7-6(5), 6-2, 6-4. Djokovic came back from a 0:4 deficit in the tie-break.

Third round: (BBC)

verdasco_wb06David Nalbandian didn’t fare any better at Wimbledon than his soccer team did in Germany. Nalbandian asked to play Friday’s third-round match early so he could watch Argentina take on Germany in the World Cup. Officials complied, and his match against Fernando Verdasco of Spain began at midday on Court 13, a remote location considering Nalbandian was a 2002 finalist and was seeded No. 4. Verdasco won 7-6(9), 7-6(9), 6-2, and Nalbandian had plenty of time to catch the start of the soccer match, which Germany won in a penalty shootout. “David made it known that he would like to watch the football,” said tournament referee Andrew Jarrett. “It’s not always possible to work around requests, but in this instance we were able to accommodate it.” When asked if the early start had hampered his preparations, Nalbandian replied: “Oh no. I didn’t play good,” he said. “I couldn’t return any serve. I missed a lot of chances. That’s part of the game.” Verdasco saved two and three set points respectively in both tie-breaks. Defending champion Roger Federer came through his most difficult test so far at this year’s Wimbledon to earn a 6-3, 7-6(2), 6-4 win over Nicolas Mahut. After two relatively straightforward victories, Federer found life more difficult against the serve-and-volley tactics of the world number 77 Mahut. “This was a tricky match, very difficult,” said Federer. “I expected a big serve but I didn’t expect such a big second serve. I enjoyed the challenge. I realized early on that I wanted to be the dominant player from the baseline. He had to take all the chances at the net.” Federer now plays 13th seed Tomas Berdych, who beat him at the 2004 Olympics, after the Czech player’s marathon win over 19th seed Tommy Haas. Berdych finally came through after 3 hours, 35 minutes to win 2-6, 7-5, 7-6(7), 4-6, 8-6 – his second consecutive five-set match. It is the second year in a row he has reached this stage at Wimbledon and he made round four at this year’s French Open. Haas after winning 1st set easily, led 5:4* in the 2nd. In the tie-break he led 6:3* & 7:6. Radek Stepanek staged a remarkable comeback to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time on Friday, beating former world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero 5-7, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2, 11-9 in just over 4 hours. The Monte Carlo-based Czech, seeded 14, looked down and out after losing a 2nd set tie-break, but he hit back to level the match before edging an 84-minute decider. But Stepanek retaliated in the third and fourth sets by firing down aces and lifting his overall game to push the duel to five sets. Luck appeared to be against the Spaniard in the final set when several net-cords fell in Stepaneks favour. One of them came when Ferrero was serving at 10:9 down, and equalled the game to 30/30. To Ferrero’s dismay Stepanek then produced a breathtaking winner one of 92 he hit during the match to earn match point. Stepanek had fallen at mirnyi_wb06the third round stage at seven previous Grand Slams. James Blake‘s mind was as blank as his win column as he groped to explain why he is 0-9 in five-set matches. “I lose them. That’s the problem. I don’t know what it is,” he said finally – he had at the time equalled the worst 5-set record belonging to Markus Hipfl. He won’t use the word “curse” and he doesn’t think this succession of late-match flops has anything to do with fitness. But from the beginning of the final set Friday, in which he won only nine points, he looked like a man with an empty chamber and it took Max Mirnyi only 25 minutes more to dispatch him 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 and move into the fourth round at Wimbledon. It was Blake’s third five-set loss this season and second in a month after Gael Monfils took him out at the French Open. He says he doesn’t lose sleep over his five-set failures, but the more he talks about it, the more it seems to prey on him. He recalled his five-set loss to Fernando Gonzalez in Davis Cup. “He played great.” And Lleyton Hewitt. “I was cramping.” And Stanislas Wawrinka. “I was cramping a little bit as well.” “Nowadays, I feel I’m in great shape. I’m not worried about cramping. I just didn’t win today,” he said. “I don’t know what my problem is.”And then he added, almost a plea: “If anyone can figure out one thing, I’d love to hear it.” Rafael Nadal brought Andre Agassi‘s Wimbledon career to an end with a hugely impressive third-round win in blazing sunshine on Centre Court. The 20-year-old Spaniard found the kind of form that has won him two French Opens as he came through 7-6(5), 6-2, 6-4 in 2 hours 14 minutes serving 18 aces! As the match ended the Centre Court crowd stood to acclaim Agassi. He said: “I’ll never roddick_murray_wb06be able to repay you for the way you’ve embraced me over the years, so I thank you for that.” Andy Murray thrilled the Centre Court crowd as he dismantled third seed Andy Roddick‘s game on his way to a straight-sets win at Wimbledon. The 19-year-old Briton won 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-4 to surpass his debut effort last year and reach the fourth round. Murray edged the first set and then took control, breaking in game 10 of the second and twice more on his way to sealing victory in the third. By game 10 of the 2nd set, the pressure became too much. Murray missed two makeable backhands on set points but finally hit one down the line on the third opportunity. Roddick looked set to launch a comeback when he finally converted his first break point in 12 attempts in game five of the 3rd set trailing 1:3, but Murray stunned him again in the 10th game. “I think that’s got to be my best win,” Murray told BBC Sport afterwards, “beating a two-time Wimbledon finalist, former world number one and Grand Slam champion on Centre Court in three sets.” Fernando Gonzalez after beating Safin from a two-sets-to-love deficit, unexpectedly lost to David Ferrer wasting a double-set cushion, 6-4, 6-2, 2-6, 3-6, 4-6. Also Dmitry Tursunov made a stunning comeback upsetting Ivan Ljubicic 5-7, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(6), 6-2 after saving a match point in the 4th set.

Fourth round: (AP)

Roger Federer played three sets, barely needed a towel and departed wearing the stylish blazer he first unveiled last week. Looking cool despite a temperature in the upper 80s, Federer breezed past Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. It was the 45th consecutive grass-court victory for Federer, federer_wb06extending his Open era record, and he needs three more for his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title. Federer has reached the quarterfinals without losing a set, and he has been broken only once despite a draw that other players would find daunting. “Going into the match, you know, you always feel like, ‘This is going to be a test,'” he said. “After one set and a half, you start to feel like you’re in control. So I have been tested, absolutely.” The last time Federer met on grass agianst his next opponent, it was in the first round in 2002, and Ancic won in straight sets. Federer hasn’t lost at Wimbledon since then. And he beat the big-serving Croat as recently as June in the French Open quarterfinals. Also on the horizon for Federer is a potential Sunday showdown against nemesis Rafael Nadal, of Spain, who beat Irakli Labadze 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-3. Nadal earned his first quarterfinal berth at a Grand Slam event other than the French Open, where he has won the title the past two years and beat Federer in the final three weeks ago. “If he made the final, that would be quite a surprise, I think, to many,” Federer said. It has been 40 years since a Spaniard won the Wimbledon men’s title, and 26 years since a man won the French Open and Wimbledon back to back. The No. 2-seeded Nadal has become a force on grass faster than even he expected, beating his past two opponents, including Andre Agassi on Saturday, without facing a break point. “It’s very important for me to be in the quarterfinals,” Nadal said. “I wasn’t thinking that before the tournament. I am playing a very, very good tournament.” Sprinting across the grass to extend the rallies the same way he does on clay, Nadal came up with perhaps the shot of the day against Labadze. With his back to the net near the sideline during a frantic exchange, Nadal hit a half-volley backhand crosscourt for a winner. “The guy’s a class player,” said 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt, who could meet Nadal in the semifinals. “He’s a great player on any surface. It was never going to take him long before he won some matches on grass and then started beating good players like Agassi and these kind of guys on the surface. So it doesn’t surprise me that he’s still in the tournament.” The No. 6-seeded Hewitt advanced by beating another Spaniard, No. 23 David Ferrer, 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5. Hewitt’s opponent in the quarterfinals will be Australian Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis, who beat Andy Murray 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(2). Murray led 4:1* in the 2nd set and was two points away from 4th set as he led 6:5 (30-all). Mario Ancic came through a five-set marathon with Novak Djokovic to set up a quarter-final with Federer. The eighth seed ancic_djokovic_wb06used his punishing serves to take the opener but Djokovic answered by winning the next two sets with some brilliant ground-strokes. Ancic relied on his serve again to edge the 4th set and force the decider. Djokovic immediately called for the trainer and Ancic was never in danger as he broke to win the match 6-4, 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in 3 hours, 24 minutes. In the 3rd game of the final set, Djokovic got something in his right eye and received medical attention. Afterward, he seemed distracted. Ancic broke him in the 4th game with a crazy running cross-court forehand, then disappeared in a blur. Ancic said his 31 aces were the major factor in the match and added: “I think I served really well today and had many aces. I was struggling with my returns but he served a big percentage.” Jarkko Nieminen became the first Finnish man to reach the quarter-finals after a stormy 7-5, 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-7(6), 9-7 win over Dmitry Tursunov in 4 hours 1 minute. Nieminen lost two match points in the fourth set tie-break – the second after a 42-stroke rally! And he won after a tense final set in which he was two points away from defeat serving at 6:7 (30-all) – if Tursunov had won the next two points, it would have been his second straight win erasing a match point in the 4th set.  Both men were penalized by umpire Fergus Murphy. Tursunov was given a code violation while Nieminen lost a penalty point when his racket bounced out of court after he smashed it into the turf. Nieminen had to climb over the backwall to collect tursunov_nieminen_wb06the racket and had to apologise to the fans behind the court. Tursunov was then involved in a finger-pointing exchange with the umpire as the players came off at the end of the match. Tursunov was fined £4,000 ($7,500) for calling Murphy “idiot” after the match… Jonas Bjorkman defeated doubles partner Max Mirnyi 6-3, 7-6(6), 4-6, 2-6, 6-3 to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the second time in his career. The 34-year-old Swede took the opener with some impressive play at the net and then came through a tense tie-breaker for a 2-0 lead. Radek Stepanek won a marathon match against Fernando Verdasco 6-7(4), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 to reach the first Grand Slam quarter-final of his career. Stepanek, the 14th seed, was edged out in the first set tie-break but took the second set after winning the only break point. Verdasco, fresh from his win over fourth seed David Nalbandian in round three, regained his advantage by winning the third set. But Stepanek moved up a gear to win his second successive five-set match against a Spaniard.

Quarterfinals: (LA Times)

For a moment, just one, after Mario Ancic had played a heated point of harder and harder-hit forehands, he hit one too well. It flew past Roger Federer, who barely dents the grass on Wimbledon’s Centre Court as he runs on his toes. Ancic had broken Federer’s serve. And then held his own at love, four straight points that caused Ancic to pump his fist and shout. Hah, Federer thought to himself. Does this young man from Croatia think he can beat me? So here’s what Federer did. He held his own serve at love. By placing balls in the deepest corners of the service box, where Ancic needed a magnifying glass to see the spot. By drawing Ancic to the net, then zinging a backhand past his head. By hitting shots others can’t dream about and making them seem bjorkman_wb06simple as 1 plus 1 plus 1. The result Wednesday was three – another three-set, straight-set quarterfinal win for Federer, the top-seeded and the best player in the world. In a match interrupted twice by rain, Federer first befuddled then depressed Ancic, who is seeded seventh, with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win.  “I did exactly what I have to,” Ancic said, “then I was getting passed or I was getting some winners from him from nowhere.” So thoroughly elegant and engaging was Federer’s tennis that it was hard to go watch the more mundane matches. Luckily for Jonas Bjorkman he was playing while Federer was so thoroughly producing awe in fans and Ancic. Bjorkman, who beat Martina Hingis’ new boyfriend Radek Stepanek, earned a semifinal meeting with Federer with his 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-7(5), 7-6(7), 6-4 win in 4 hours 3 minutes. And, at 34, Bjorkman became the oldest Wimbledon semifinalist since Jimmy Connors (also 34) in 1987. Bjorkman responded to the enthusiastic Court One crowd by hugging himself hard four times, imitating how he felt the fans had embraced him. As soon as Bjorkman left, those cheers turned quickly to boos. Bjorkman saved a match point when Stepanek served at 7:6 in the tie-break. Federer was so efficient, winning over Ancic in 1 hour, 47 minutes, that there was plenty of time for sixth-seeded Lleyton Hewitt and Australian Open finalist and baghdatis_wb06No. 18-seeded Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus to play. And it was Baghdatis winning with style 6-1, 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-2. His flashy forehands and pumping fists brought the crowd to its feet as well. The start of the match was astonishing  – Baghdatis playing an inspired tennis won 9 out of the first 10 games! Thanks to that win he became third man to advance to the Top 10 not having won an ATP tournament. Second seed Rafael Nadal ground down Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the Wimbledon semifinals where he will meet  Baghdatis. The match was held over from Wednesday because of rain. Double French Open champion Nadal, looking more and more comfortable on unfamiliar grass courts, wore down Nieminen’s resistance in long baseline rallies, breaking his serve in each set. The Finn, seeded 22, tried to mix up his shots and volleyed successfully when he could get to the net. He saved a match point with a forehand down the line. But Nadal’s movement and retrieval skills were too much and the Mallorcan reached his first Wimbledon semifinal after 2 hours 15 minutes, with an uncharacteristic volley on his second match point. Nadal said every part of his grass game had improved since he arrived last week. “I am playing with more confidence, especially with my serve,” he said. “With my forehand I am especially improving. I am coming in a bit more. That’s very important on this surface… It’s very important to play aggressive,” he added. “I am still learning for sure. I am 20 years old and I need to improve and improve always.” Nadal is the first Spanish man to reach a semifinal at Wimbledon since Manuel Orantes in 1972. The only Spanish man to win the singles title was Manuel Santana in 1966.

Semifinals: Howard Fendrich

Now Roger Federer gets Rafael Nadal on his turf. With a performance he deemed flawless, three-time Wimbledon champion Federer won the most lopsided men’s semifinal in tournament history, beating Jonas Bjorkman 6-2, 6-0, 6-2 on Friday. Top-ranked Federer’s reward? A championship match Sunday against No. 2 Nadal, who got past No. 18 Marcos Baghdatis 6-1, 7-5, 6-3 to extend his surprising run at the All England Club. Federer is 0-4 against Nadal in 2006, 55-0 against everyone else. But three of the losses came on clay, including in last month’s French Open final, and they’ve never met on grass – where Federer has won a record 47 consecutive matches, including 27 at Wimbledon. “He is the best on all surfaces,” Nadal said, “but here more.” That’s for sure. Federer will try to join Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras as the only men since World War I to win four straight Wimbledon titles. Nadal stands in the way. “I know I can beat him,” said Federer, who’s won seven major titles. “I don’t need to think of playing against him. I need to focus on me playing on grass, my style, playing aggressive. It’s going to be easier on grass to do that than on clay.” Clay is slower, grass is slicker, and each make different demands on footwork and shotmaking. That’s why it’s so rare for players to succeed on both: no man has won the French Open and Wimbledon back-to-back since Borg did it in 1978-80. And it’s been 54 years since the same two men met in the finals of these two Grand Slam tournaments (in 1952, Jaroslav Drobny beat Frank Sedgman in Paris, Sedgman took a revenge at Wimbledon – both matches concluded in four-setters). This is how big-time rivalries are born. “They’re very close. They’re the two best players in the world at the moment,” said Baghdatis, who lost to Federer in the Australian Open final. “You cannot say one is the best – you have to take both of them.” Federer’s bid to won four consecutive majors fell short at Roland Garros, when Nadal beat him for a second French Open title. Federer wanted another crack at his nadal_wb06nemesis, saying before Nadal-Baghdatis was finished: “Obviously, I would like to play Rafael, because of the matches we’ve had in the last couple of months.” Both men were brilliant Friday. Nadal saved all nine break points he faced against Baghdatis and compiled a 43-16 ratio of winners to unforced errors. Federer, meanwhile, was simply sublime against the 34-year-old Bjorkman, the oldest Wimbledon semifinalist since 1987 and a player who’s greatest success has come in doubles, with eight major championships. The way Federer played, one wondered whether Bjorkman would have had a chance even if there’d been another player at his side. “I felt like I played a guy who was as near to perfection as you can play the game,” the 59th-ranked Bjorkman said. “I had the best seat in the house.” He did, indeed, as Federer mixed speeds, volleyed with precision, and alternated serves like a pitcher going from fastball to changeup and back again. One of Federer’s shots was so hard, it nearly knocked the racket out of Bjorkman’s hand. Federer never faced a break point, went 7-for-9 on his break chances, conjured up 30 winners to only 13 unforced errors, and won 11 games in a row. He’s closing in on being the first man to win Wimbledon without dropping a set since Borg in 1976. “I can’t rely on a performance every time (that’s) flawless, straight sets, no worries, no break points, all this stuff,” Federer said. “A final is always very different because the pressure is much higher.” He should know, having reached the finals of his past 16 tournaments, including five Grand Slams. If a spot in the Wimbledon final almost feels like a birthright for Federer at this point, no one expected the 20-year-old Nadal to get there this quickly. Not Federer. Not Nadal. No one. “Two weeks ago, I didn’t even think about this,” said Nadal’s uncle and coach, Toni. “I am surprised.” Nadal, close to tears after beating Baghdatis, said: “I’m very emotional. It’s amazing to be in the finals.” His record 60-match winning streak on clay was built with punishing strokes and unbridled tenacity. But grass doesn’t afford him the same amount of time to track down opponents’ shots, nor does it allow him to slide into position.

Final: (AP)

Nobody can stop Roger Federer on grass. No. 1 got even against No. 2 as Federer ended a five-match losing streak to Rafael Nadal on Sunday, winning 6-0, 7-6(5), 6-7(2), 6-3 to earn his fourth straight Wimbledon title and eighth Grand Slam championship (39 titles altogether at the time). Nadal had beaten Federer in four federer_wb06_finals this year, including at the French Open last month, but couldn’t match him on the Swiss star’s favorite surface. Not here, not in my house, not on Centre Court, not on the biggest stage in tennis. That was Federer’s response to the 20-year-old Spaniard’s challenge. After dropping the third set, the only set he lost all tournament, Federer lifted his game in the fourth to show who’s boss. “I’m very well aware how important this match was for me,” he said. “If I lose, it’s a hard blow for me. It’s important for me to win a final against him for a change, and beat him for a change. Wimbledon I knew was going to be the place for me to do it the easiest way, and it turned out to be tough.” The milestones keep piling up for the 24-year-old Federer, who strengthens the case for consideration as being among the greatest players of all time. In winning his 48th consecutive match on grass, he became the third player in the Open era to capture four successive Wimbledon championships, joining Bjorn Borg (five straight from 1976-80) and Pete Sampras (1997-00). “They’re heroes of the game,” Federer said. “This is the most important tournament, and to win four is out of this world. I’ll come back and try for a fifth.” When Nadal sliced a backhand wide on match point, Federer raised his arms in the air, threw back his head and closed his eyes. After the two players embraced at the net, Federer slipped into his customized cream-colored blazer to receive the winner’s trophy from the Duke of Kent. Asked about his rivalry with Nadal, he said, “Now I like it again.” Federer is the eighth man in history to win four or more Wimbledon titles. William Renshaw and Sampras lead the list with seven championships, but Federer is on course to break the mark. “It’s fantastic,” he said. “I never thought it possible, but I made it. It’s really an incredible feeling. I was doubting myself early on in the tournament, with the draw and the expectations. So to be through all over again and to play against Rafael in the finals is obviously fantastic.” Nadal came into Sunday’s match with a 6-1 record against Federer. Federer’s only losses this year have been to Nadal – he is 55-0 against everyone else. “I’m relieved now that I finally beat him, especially in a final,” Federer said. “He’s No. 2 and I’m trying to stay at No. 1. I’m back on the right path.” But anyone who thought Nadal had gotten into Federer’s mind was wrong on this day. Federer proved he’s on another level on grass with his big serves, smooth strokes and quick hands. While Nadal – winner of a record 60 straight clay-court matches – surprised everybody by getting this far, his brutal, relentless game wasn’t enough to take Federer out of his comfort zone. “It’s important for me to play good in this final,” Nadal said. “It’s important for me for the future belief that I can win here. It is important for me to believe I can win against Roger here on this surface. It was an unbelievable tournament nadal_federer_wb06for me. But this year I played my best tournament here. It’s unbelievable. I hope next year I don’t play against one guy who plays like Roger. He played unbelievable on this surface.” The defeat ended Nadal’s streak of victories in 14 consecutive finals. It wasn’t quite up to the standard of Federer’s near flawless performance in the semifinals against Jonas Bjorkman. Both players were almost even on winners – 43-42 for Federer – and the Swiss had more unforced errors than Nadal – 32 to 26. But Federer could always count on his serve: he won 77 percent of points on first serve, compared to 68 percent for Nadal. Federer broke Nadal six times and lost serve three times. Nadal was seeking to become only the second Spaniard to win the title. The only one to do it, 1966 champion Manolo Santana, was in the Royal Box for the occasion. There was a real buzz in the stadium when the players arrived on court – Federer in his blazer and Nadal in his biceps-baring sleeveless white shirt. Nadal sprinted to the baseline and hopped up and down like a boxer before a title fight. But Nadal looked lost in the first set, as Federer reeled off six straight games in 25 minutes. He broke Nadal three times and finished the set with two clean forehand winners. It was the first time Nadal had lost serve since the second round, and the first time he’s dropped a set at federer_wb06championlove in 131 matches – since a defeat to Gaston Gaudio in Buenos Aires in February 2005. Nadal bounced back quickly, breaking Federer in the opening game of the 2nd set. He served for the set at 5:4, but was broken as Federer won 12 of 13 points at one stretch to force a tiebreaker. Nadal had his chances again, going up 3:1 in the tiebreaker, but handed back the advantage with two errors. Federer went up 6:3, and, after missing two set-point chances, converted on the third. There were no breaks in the 3rd set. Federer played some loose points in the tiebreaker and, from 2:2, Nadal won five straight to win the set. He backpedaled and pumped his arms three times, then thumped his chest as he sat in his chair. Federer, meanwhile, went to the locker room for a break. Federer came back out and dominated most of the 4th set, going up two breaks at 5:1. Uncharacteristically, he was broken serving for the match. But Federer got another chance two games later, and served out the match at love. Federer won $1.2 million, while Nadal got $600,000. Stats of the final

************************

Wimbledon, London
June 25-July 8, 2007; 128 Draw (32 seeded); Surface – Grass

Centre_CourtIt’s an edition without a semi-roof on Centre Court that covered partially upper seats (the court underwent modernization in years 2007-08, and a retractable roof was built). Centre Court and Court 1 for the first time with the Hawk-Eye system… Roger Federer takes his fifth Wimbledon title in a row; after winning two consecutive finals over Andy Roddick (during Wimbledon ’07 A-Rod established a record for the most tie-breaks won in a row – 18), for the second straight year he beats Rafael Nadal in the final, but it’s the toughest victory during the five-year reign and a warning for Federer that conditions slowed down over the years and Nadal was able to deliver almost the same type of tennis which had already given him three Roland Garros crowns… Tim Henman plays his farewell Wimbledon after 14 appearances in succession at the All England Club. Henman’s successor, Andy Murray pulls out due to right wrist injury (this injury eliminated him from the competition for 10 weeks).
All scorelines
First round: (AP)

Roger Federer came onto Centre Court at Wimbledon dressed like a player from a bygone era. He then played like his usual modern-day great self. The world’s top-ranked player began his bid for a record-tying fifth consecutive Wimbledon title by beating Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 on a cool and wet opening day at the All England Club. It was Federer’s 49th consecutive grass-court victory and 29th straight at Wimbledon, a streak that began in 2003. With six more victories over the next two weeks, he would become the first player to win five straight championships since Bjorn Bjorg in 1976-80. “It was OK,” Federer said. “I was pretty pleased with my performance. It was pretty solid. He played a decent match, so I had to come up with some decent shots once in a while.” The man Federer has beaten in two finals, third-seeded Andy Roddick, also got off to a strong start, beating fellow American Justin Gimelstob 6-1, 7-5, 7-6(3) on Court 1. Roddick served 16 aces, broke three times and never lost serve. Gimelstob is 0-6 this year henman_wb07since returning from back surgery. Tim Henman‘s Wimbledon dream lives on after he finally overcame Carlos Moya in their delayed first-round match at Wimbledon on Tuesday. The players resumed at 5:5 in the final set after bad light had halted their match late on Monday evening. It was another nail-biting affair as the first 13 games went with serve. But Moya eventually double-faulted on Henman’s seventh match point to allow the 32-year-old Briton a famous 6-3, 1-6, 5-7, 6-2, 13-11 victory. After the drama that had taken place on Monday evening, there was further tension for Henman’s fans in a packed Centre Court on Tuesday. Both players looked solid on serve until 30-year-old Moya earned two break points at 11:11. British number two Henman saved both with terrific serves, including a second-serve ace on the latter. In the following game, it was Moya’s turn to struggle as he went 15/40 down after a clever lob from the Briton, who had failed to convert four match points on Monday evening. He saved both but finally cracked on the seventh, tamely handing victory to Henman, who had fought back from a break down earlier in the final set. It also ensured the Briton avoided his first first-round defeat since his Wimbledon debut 13 years ago. Afterwards, Henman said his twilight heroics on Monday evening had been the turning point. “The key was coming back from 2:4 and 15/40 down in the fifth set. I stuck to my guns to hold serve then broke back to get back on level terms. I have to give Carlos credit for coming out and serving and volleying like he did. If I’d lost, on reflection I could have accepted it because he played so well.” At 36, Wayne Arthurs may be the oldest player at Wimbledon, but the grizzled Australian veteran can still teach the sport’s young guns a thing or two. Just ask Thiemo de Bakker, the 18-year-old Dutch teenager who was just one when the Australian began his professional career in 1990, was two sets and a break ahead in their first round clash on Tuesday. But Arthurs, having battled through qualifying, was not ready to see his time as a professional player come to such a disappointing end and he rallied to a grueling 6-7(7), arthurs_wb076-7(7), 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-4 win. “It wasn’t pretty but it wasn’t the way I wanted to finish,” said Arthurs who was looking down the barrel when he trailed 4:2 in the 3rd set. But a gaze to the side of Court Six where his 15-month-old daughter Amber was happily ignoring her father’s troubles helped him recover. “A lot of emotion kicked in at that stage,” he said. “I saw my daughter there and she would probably be the only one happy if I lost. So I just kept fighting and his inexperience showed through and that helped me.”  Arthurs improved his five-set record to 10-3, in turn other player depending entirely on serve, Ivo Karlovic slipped to 0-7 in five-setters losing to Fabrice Santoro  6-4, 6-7(4), 6-7(3), 6-3, 4-6. For Karlovic it was third year in succession he was ousted in the Wimbledon first round after a dramatic five-setter. This time he fired 31 aces and held 26 consecutive service games until the last game of the match – before he hadn’t even faced a break point! Juan Ignacio Chela escaped from a 5-set misery (0-8 prior to Wimbledon ’07) notching a 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 10-8 win – his opponent Benjamin Becker led *3:1 in the 4th set and was serving at 6:5 in the 5th after saving a match point in the 9th game on return! Triple French Open champion Rafael Nadal began his bid to conquer Wimbledon with a 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-3 victory over American Mardy Fish on Tuesday. Fish, who has now failed to beat the powerful Spaniard in all four of their meetings, ultimately had no answer to Nadal’s brutal groundstrokes, relying on his serve to get points on the board, with 17 aces in the match. “I had my usual doubts because I hardly had any matches to practice (on grass),” second seed Nadal told reporters. “I think I feel very comfortable on court, so I’m very happy about my game today. But it’s just the first round,” said the 21-year-old who spent a few days off at home in Majorca after losing in the quarter-finals of Queen’s earlier this month. Nadal’s compatriot, Juan Carlso Ferrero trailed 1:3* in a 5th set before eliminated Jan Hajek 6-7(5), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5.

Second round: (AP)

Roger Federer won his 50th straight match on grass Thursday, beating 18-year-old Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina 6-2, 7-5, 6-1 to reach the third round at Wimbledon. When they resumed after rain delay, the top-ranked Swiss needed only 11 minutes to complete the match, winning three straight games before Del Potro held serve in the sixth game. “It was done quickly like I was hoping, but I was ready to go five sets in case,” said Federer, who broke the Argentine five times and saved the only break point he faced. The No. 1-seeded Federer, trying to become only the second man in the Open era to win five straight titles at the All England Club, finished with 33 winners and made only 23 errors – one less than Del Potro. “Fifty is a great number to achieve,” said Federer, who is trying to match Borg’s streak of Wimbledon titles. Two-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin beat Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (4) to set up a meeting with Federer. “He’s always a player who can upset anybody on any day. I hope he’s not going to have one of those crazy good days against me,” said Federer, who edged Safin 6-4 in the third set at least year’s grass-court warmup at Halle, Germany. “I feel like I will have to step it up if I want to beat him.” Wayne Arthurs, playing in the final tournament of his 17-year career and at 36 the oldest man in the starting draw, upset No. 11 Tommy Robredo of Spain 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3. No. 9 James Blake advanced by beating Andrei Pavel of Romania 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, and former top-ranked player Juan Carlos Ferrero defeated Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-6(8) saving a set point in the 4th set tie-break. Second seed Rafael Nadal made predictably swift progress at Wimbledon on Thursday by sweeping aside the challenge of Austrian veteran Werner Eschauer. Three-time French Open champion Nadal was not expected to be threatened by lopez_wb07the 33-year-old, who recently rose to a career-high ranking of 72. And so it proved as Nadal wrapped up a 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 victory in 1 hour and 36 minutes on Centre Court to move into the third round. Tim Henman suffered another desperate Wimbledon disappointment as he came back from two sets down only to lose in the fifth to Spain’s Feliciano Lopez. The Briton, playing his 14th Wimbledon, looked doomed at two sets and a break down but found his best form to level. However, it was Lopez who grabbed the key break at the start of the decider and went on to win 7-6(3), 7-6(5), 3-6, 2-6, 6-1. The first tie-break was decided when Henman double-faulted to fall 6:3 behind. Lopez missed five break points in set two before racing 5:0 clear in the tie-break and holding off a mini fightback to take it. “Down two sets to love I’m not in a great position but I really felt like my game was there,” said Henman. “I really did believe he wouldn’t keep playing like that. In that respect I was right.” And asked if he would be back next year, Henman replied: “Absolutely.” Lopez said: “I feel sorry for the fans because they love him and support him but when you go out there you want to win.” Unseeded Australian Chris Guccione squandered a two-set lead against world No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko to bow out of Wimbledon in the second round today. The sixth-seeded Russian prevailed 3-6, 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-2 in 2 hours and 48 minutes. Guccione admitted the loss was hard to take, given his davydenko_wb07position early in the match. “To be two sets to love up and have a couple of break points early on, it’s tough,” Guccione said. “I guess the more you see someone’s serve, the better you’re going to get at it, you can see little things here and there. I’m guessing that’s what he did – he started to guess a little bit and sometimes guessed the right way and it’s always tough if he guesses the right way because he’s got such good returns.” Having cruised to a one-set lead on the back of some excellent tennis, world No.96 Guccione missed two break points with wayward returns in the 3rd game of the 2nd set. Davydenko broke the Australian in the following game, but Guccione broke back and went on to claim the set. After Guccione blew two break points at the start of the 3rd set, games went on serve to force the tiebreaker. Guccione fought back from 3:1 down to move to 4:3*, but the Russian took the upper hand when he hit a return onto his opponent’s toes for a 6:4 advantage and the Australian hit an ace before Davydenko won the following point which was decisive for the rest of the match.

Third round: (BBC)

Defending champion Roger Federer was in immaculate form as he powered past Marat Safin 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(4). Federer said he felt his gameplan had worked to perfection against the big-hitting but unpredictable Safin. “I knew the danger against Marat,” said Federer, who has twice lost to the tipsarevic_wb07Russian in the past. “I expected him to serve well in one of the three sets and he did in the third but by then it was too late and obviously I played a great tie-break.” Safin said he could not see Federer being beaten at this year’s Wimbledon. Unseeded Serbian Janko Tipsarevic dumped fifth seed Fernando Gonzalez out of Wimbledon after claiming a thrilling see-saw battle 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 8-6. Tipsarevic was two sets to one up before a rain delay in the 4th came to Gonzalez’s rescue – and when play resumed the Chilean levelled the match. But Tipsarevic, 23, hit back from 5:2 *(30/0) down in the decider and saved a match point at 5:6 before prevailing. When they met two weeks before at Queens Club, Gonzalez won saving a match point. The Serb was given a standing ovation by the Centre Court crowd after posting his first win over a top 10 player. “Ever since I was a kid, my dream was to win matches on Centre Court at Wimbledon because for me this is the most special tournament in the world,” he said. “I think the crowd loves a fight. The crowd loves to see someone competing with the number five in the world.” Tipsarevic’s compatriot, Novak Djokovic began his extraordinary three-match streak composed of three tie-breaks in each of those matches, defeating Nicolas Kiefer 7-6(4), 6-7(6), 6-2, 7-6(5) – the German  was 3:6 in the 2nd tie-break. Juan Carlos Ferrero triumphed 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6(4) over James Blake to reach the fourth round for the third time in his career. It means Blake has failed to progress beyond the third round in his five visits to the Championships. “Obviously right now I’m disappointed and I think about the things I could have done,” he said. “But he played exceptional tennis. He raised his game unbelievably in the second and third sets. He was confident. He was playing like when he was number one in the world.” Blake’s defeat left Andy Roddick as the only surviving American in the men’s singles, after the third seed’s 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(2) win over Fernando Verdasco. The third seed broke once in each of the first two sets, in which he was comfortably the better player. Verdasco, who reached the fourth round last year, woke up and broke to lead 2:0 in the 3rd and quickly opened up a 5:2 (deuce) lead to boost hopes of a revival. Roddick saved a set point serving at 5:6. Rafael Nadal and Robin Soderling took the court eight times. The first was on Saturday. The last was today. Their five-day, five-set passion play at Wimbledon finally ended after more than 4 hours of tennis on the court and 92 hours of waiting off of it. Nadal beat Soderling and the rain, ending a tedious and testy match, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(7), 4-6, 7-5. Nadal dropped to his knees in joy, as if he had won something far more meaningful than a third-round match over a 28th-ranked player. Soderling, a Swede, challenged the last point before offering a tepid congratulatory handshake. “Very happy,” said Nadal, who called it the toughest match of his career. “Very happy with the victory. Very happy about finishing the match.” The two players arrived today with their match tied 4-all in the 5th set. Each held serve through the first three games, with Nadal taking a 6:5 lead after fending off a break point. Rain, which has seemed to torment Nadal most of all, began to fall, threatening to stop the match for a ninth time. Nadal was taking the court for the fourth day in the last five, and may not get another day off in the tournament. By comparison, his chief rival, top-seeded nadal_wb07Federer, has not played since Friday and is already in the quarterfinals (due to Tommy Haas‘ withdrawal, who said he expects to be sidelined for up to a month with the lower abdominal injury, which flared up during his 1-6, 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-4 victory over No. 21 Dmitry Tursunov in the third round Friday). This time, though, the dark clouds following Nadal were just a tease, as if the weather gods were giving him a playful wink. Soderling fought off four match points in the game, but not the fifth, knocking a backhand out. “It was special with all the delays, all the rain,” Soderling said. “It was sure different.” Nadal bore some responsibility for extending the contest. He had match point in the tiebreaker of the 3rd set on Monday, only to knock a forehand volley long. He challenged the call and lost, and as if to antagonize him further, at that moment rain began to fall and forced the suspension of the match, with the third set tiebreaker tied 7:7. When the match resumed, Soderling won two quick points to snare the set. He continued his momentum through the 4th set, winning 6-4. Nadal took a 2:0 lead in the fifth set, and led 30-all in the 3rd game when rain once again put an end to play on Monday. When the match resumed on Tuesday, Soderling won the first two games and Nadal won the next, before lightning chased players from the courts. Rain interrupted the next attempt, delaying the match until today with the score tied 4-all.

Fourth round: (Reuters)

When Andy Roddick turned pro at 17 he scribbled down four aspirations: win the U.S. Open, Wimbledon and Davis Cup, and become No. 1. Two are accomplished, and the 2003 U.S. Open champ and former No. 1 is in the hunt again to bag a third after wrapping up his rain-delayed roddick_wb07fourth-round contest against France’s Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 7-5, 7-6(6) on Wednesday. “I had four goals when I started that were kind of my best-case scenario for my career, ever, beyond my wildest dreams,” said third-ranked Roddick, who turns 25 in August and is approaching what many consider the halfway point in a player’s career. “At the midpoint, I’m about 2-for-4, so if I can keep on that pace, I’m doing OK.” Wednesday’s victory kept Roddick on track for an expected semifinal clash with four-time defending champ Roger Federer. First, Roddick must first get by Thursday’s dangerous quarterfinal opponent Richard Gasquet, who advanced vs. fellow Frenchman Jo-Wilifried Tsonga 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 (Tsonga’s Wimbledon debut, advanced to the fourth round not dropping a set). Against No. 39 Mathieu, Roddick came up with clutch shots in key moments. Starting the match at 6:5 in the 2nd set, Roddick blasted three consecutive aces, one at 140 mph, to close out the set. He then pulled back from 4:1 and 5:2 deficits to force a tiebreaker in the 3rd set, in which he also trailed 5:0! “I never felt like I was completely out of it,” said Roddick, who leads the ATP Tour with a 24-3 record in tie-breaks, including 18 consecutively since February (it’s been a record since then). Tomas Berdych wasted a match point against Jonas Bjorkman which snapped his 10-tie-break winning streak, but prevailed a bizarre four-setter 6-4, 6-0, 6-7(6), 6-0 advancing to his first Grand Slam quarterfinal. Rafael Nadal for the second time ousted Mikhail Youzhny in five sets, 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2. The Spaniard had previously beaten the Russian in five sets in Melbourne 2005 – then came back from a two-sets-to-one deficit.  Marcos Baghdatis reached the quarter-finals of Wimbledon for the second year running today, beating Russian grinder Nikolay Davydenko 7-6(5), 7-6(5), 6-3. The Cypriot was roared on by a noisy bunch of fans out on Court 13 and the 10th seed obliged with some swashbuckling tennis when it mattered in the delayed fourth-round clash. Baghdatis came from 5:3 down in the first set tie-break baghdatis_wb07to get on top and he again showed the greater adventure to get through the 2nd set tie-break. Sixth seed Davydenko, one of the most durable players on the circuit, has enjoyed his best run at Wimbledon after reaching the semis at the French but, try as he might, he could find no way back after dropping his serve early in the 3rd. Baghdatis set up a match point at 5:3 when he won a rally despite slipping over during the point. Davydenko saved that with a volley but Baghdatis made no mistake on his second opportunity, belting away a backhand winner. ”It was tough out there,” Baghdatis told reporters, ”He gets all the balls back but I just tried to put it in the court more than him, that’s why I won.” Novak Djokovic squeezed past former champion Lleyton Hewitt 7-6(8), 7-6(2), 4-6, 7-6(5) to reach the quarter-finals of Wimbledon for the first time on Thursday. A month after reaching the French Open semis, fourth seed Djokovic proved his grasscourt credentials in a match lasting more than four hours and full of long rallies, lunging shots and rackets flung down in frustration. With break points in short supply in a tight 1st set, the pair headed into a tie-break. Trading thundering strokes from the baseline, Hewitt sneaked ahead 5:4 with a mini break after punching away a crosscourt winner to end a 40-stroke rally. But the Australian 16th seed went on to squander three set points and lost the tie-break 10/8 when he overshot a forehand. Following a quick exchange of breaks in the 2nd set, Hewitt again stretched the Serbian fourth seed into a shootout. This time, the man tipped to break the Federer-Nadal stranglehold barely put a foot wrong and ran away with it 7/2. A 10-minute shower at the start of the 3rd set allowed Hewitt to rethink his strategy and he took the upper hand, breaking for a 4:3 lead which he held on to. Fearing that the momentum could be swinging away from him, Djokovic called for an injury time out at the end of the set and had his back massaged to relieve some tension. “I felt a tightness in my lower back,” said the 20-year-old. “I lost three tiebreaks, won more games out there, broke serve more times. I just didn’t have a lot of luck out there today. That happens,” said the 26-year-old. For Djokovic it was third match won in a row thanks to a 4th set tie-break, in the second round he had beaten Amer Delic 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4).

Quarterfinals: (BBC)

Richard Gasquet fought back from two sets down to stun Andy Roddick and reach the Wimbledon semi-finals. The French 12th seed looked to be out of it against the American two-time finalist before winning two tie-breaks. The decider went with serve until game 14 when a Roddick double fault set up the break to seal an inspired comeback 4-6, 4-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(3), 8-6. Gasquet will now face reigning champion Roger Federer, who saw off Spain’s Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-1, 6-3. Former junior world number one Gasquet, 21, came of aggasquet_wb07e against Roddick after the American failed to serve out when leading by two sets and a break (4:2*). Some breathtaking shot-making in the tie-breaks particularly left even Roddick shaking his head in disbelief. By the end of the match Gasquet had racked up a phenomenal 93 winners, primarily off his backhand. “After losing two sets I decided to play more aggressive, to play with my backhand, to go to the net and serve better,” said Gasquet. “I had nothing to lose. I played with no pressure and it was incredible for me to play like that.” A disappointed Roddick admitted it was as hard a defeat to take as any he had experienced and said: “I thought I played pretty well, I thought he played very well. Credit to him, he had 90-something winners.” It was truly amazing victory, Roddick was on a record 18-tie-break winning streak approaching the 3rd set tie-break, and had won previous four matches according to the same pattern – all matches in straight sets, every time needed a tie-break in the 3rd sets! The American was two points away from winning the match in four sets as he led 6:5 (30-all) on Gasquet’s serve. After a rain-delay Federer resumed serving at a tricky 5:5, 40/40 and raced through the first set tie-break. But Ferrero broke in game seven as he took the 2nd set. Thoughts of an upset did not last long, though, as Federer stepped it up and lost just four more games as the windy but dry conditions did little to hamper his progress. Any thoughts that he might be a little rusty, having had an enforced five-day break until Thursday because of the weather, were dispelled with his opening serve of the day – an ace. Federer told BBC Sport: “It’s an advantage but also a disadvantage. I’m really happy I came through, it means I’m back in the rhythm. It was really, really tough conditions, very gusty wind, so I’m happy to come through it. OK, a set is lost but the match isn’t lost.” Novak Djokovic took everything Marcos Baghdatis threw at him on Friday and still came back for more to reach his first Wimbledon semi-final. The 20-year-old Serb delved deep into his reserves of willpower after the spirited Baghdatis had clawed his way back from two sets down, winning 7-6(4), 7-6(9), 6-7(3), 4-6, 7-5 after five hours of absorbing Court One combat. After a quick and easy 7-6(1), 6-4, 6-2 victory over Tomas Berdych, relentless Spaniard Rafael Nadal (started each set against Berdych leading 2:0) awaits in Saturday’s semi-final where Djokovic, who has already spent nearly 17 hours on court, will again need his incredible powers of recovery… Time and again the two players stretched out their rackets to retrieve lost causes as they pummeled each other to a virtual standstill in the deciding set. In the end it was the 22-year-old Baghdatis, a hero in Cyprus after reaching the semis here last year and the 2006 Australian Open final, who cracked at 5:5 in the 5th. A weary Baghdatis forehand into the net with the court gaping gave Djokovic the opening he needed and he duly broke before sealing victory in a match that will go down as djokovic_wb07probably the best in the tournament. Baghdatis paid Djokovic the biggest compliment by comparing him afterwards to one of the sport’s all-time greats. “It’s a bit like Andre Agassi,” the Cypriot told reporters. “He’s just making you move from one place to another. He’s not hitting the ball very hard, but on the ball the whole time. This guy has a lot of energy… he’s just jumping, playing all the time like a small kid.” Djokovic, the world number five but seeded fourth here, is fast gaining a reputation as one of the toughest guys on the tour. His tie-break record in these championships, won eight lost two (winning 8th, he equaled record of Goran Ivanisevic and Wayne Arthurs, who won 8 at Wimbledons in years 1998 & 1999 respectively), illustrates how he revels in the heat of battle. Baghdatis looked demoralized after his forehand deserted him at crucial moments in the second set tie-break. He wasted six set points (6:3, 7:6, 8:7, 9:8) before Djokovic pounced on his one opportunity at 10:9 to take a two-set lead. Djokovic then went 3:0* up in the 3rd, only for Baghdatis to come flying back at him to win five games in a row. Baghdatis missed a set point at 5:3 and another at 5:4 but made no mistake to win the third tie-break of the match. With both players showing signs of wear, Baghdatis flexing his shoulder and Djokovic needing a back rub, the match seemed to have swung to the Cypriot when he snatched the fourth. Djokovic was not to be denied though and sank to his knees after sealing victory.

Semifinals: (AP)

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will meet in another Grand Slam final. Four-time defending champion Federer reached his ninth consecutive major final Saturday, beating Richard Gasquet 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 on the grass courts of the All England Club. “It has become sort of a routine, but I’m still so excited to be back in the final,” said Federer, who beat Nadal to win last year’s title but lost to the Spaniard in the last two French Open finals. Nadal set up a rematch at Wimbledon when No. 4 Novak Djokovic withdrew while trailing 3-6, 6-1, 4-1. “I’m going to have a very difficult match tomorrow, but I’m going to try my best,” said Nadal, a three-time champion at Roland Garros. The win was Federer’s 53rd straight on grass. He finished with 20 aces, including one on a second serve in the final game of the match. Gasquet matched Federer for most of the 1st set, but the top-ranked Swiss player saved all three break points he faced, including two at 5:5. Federer saved the federer_gasquet_wb07first with adjokovic_nadal_wb07n ace and the next with a forehand winner before winning the next two points. Including those four points, Federer won 44 of the final 54 points on his serve. “If I did this break point, everything can happen if I win the first set,’‘ Gasquet said. With Gasquet serving at 5:6, the Frenchman was only two points away from forcing a first-set tiebreaker, but Federer won four straight points to take the set. “The first set was crucial,” Federer said. “He should have at least got to the tiebreaker. I came out somehow and played really well for 10 minutes and was up a set and a break, and that was pretty much it after that.” In the 2nd set, Federer held in the 1st game and then broke again, eventually taking a 3:0 lead. After the set ended, the 12th-seeded Gasquet called for a trainer to look at his left ankle. His ferocious backhands and whipping cross-court forehands again won him points, but Federer was too good, breaking Gasquet to lead 4:3 in the final set. The 25-year-old Federer, who is the oldest of the four men’s semifinalists, is trying to win a fifth consecutive Wimbledon title, something only Bjorn Borg has done in the past 100 years. Borg, who won his titles from 1976-80, watched the match from the stands, wearing a purple-and-green tie – the colors of the All England Club. “It is tricky when you see him sitting there because he is a living legend,” Federer said. “I have so much respect for him that it is great that he’s here. I hope I can do the job tomorrow.” Djokovic broke Nadal in the 2nd game of the second semifinal, and only conceded three more points on his serve for the rest of the set. “I start the match playing bad,” Nadal said. “But I was practicing before the warm-up bad, too.” The 2nd set started with Nadal holding and then breaking Djokovic’s serve. After Nadal evened the match at one set apiece, Djokovic called for a trainer. He got the little toe on his left foot bandaged. “In the first game of second set, second game, I have the break,” Nadal said. “That’s decisive in the match… because I get confidence there.” In the 3rd set, Djokovic continued to hobble but saved two break points in the opening game. Then, serving at 1:1, 30/30, he put a forehand wide and dropped to the grass, rocking on the balls of his feet. His next shot was a forehand into the net. Nadal held easily to lead 3:1 and forced another two break points in the 5th game. Djokovic saved one but hit a forehand into the net on the second. The trainer immediately returned and Djokovic soon decided to retire. “I got to look on a positive side,” said Djokovic, who also lost to Nadal in the French Open semifinals. “I showed here that I really deserve being in [the] last four in Wimbledon, and I think all the major tournaments.” It was sixth match in an extraordinary rivalry between Djokovic and Nadal, and the Serbian player retired for the second time – ha had also retired when they met for the first time a year before in the French Open quarterfinals.

Final: (BBC)

federer_wb07Roger Federer emulated Bjorn Borg by winning five straight Wimbledon titles but he was given a huge scare by Rafael Nadal in a classic final. The world number one prevailed 7-6(7), 4-6, 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-2 after 3 hours and 45 minutes of breathtaking tennis. Federer looked to be in control with a two sets to one lead, but the tireless Nadal broke twice to force a decider. After saving four break points, Federer powered a superb forehand down the line to lead 4:2 before sealing an epic win. After taking victory, Federer collapsed to his knees as Borg, watching from the Royal Box, joined the rest of an enraptured Centre Court crowd in giving the champion and his beaten opponent a standing ovation. It was no more than they deserved, Federer winning by far the toughest match of his five-year reign. “Each one is special but to play a champion like Rafa, it means a lot and equaling Bjorn’s record as well…” a tearful Federer told BBC Sport. “He’s a fantastic player and he’s going to be around so much longer so I’m happy with every one I get before he takes them all! It was such a close match. I told him at the net that he deserved it as well. I’m the lucky one today.” A superb final – one of the best in history – ensured a tournament which was marred by appalling weather and the subsequent scheduling nightmares ended on a dizzying high. Federer, in his ninth Grand Slam final in a row and 13th overall, made a superb start, hitting seven winners before Nadal had managed one as he surged into a 3:0 lead. The Spaniard settled, though, and at 1:3 unleashed two magnificent passing shots from well behind the baseline to rock Federer and broke back. But a first set of dazzling quality was decided by the scrappiest of tie-breaks, Federer winning it 9/7. The 2nd set looked to be heading for another tie-break until it turned dramatically in game 10. Federer hit a first serve which both players appeared to think was wide. Nadal scrambled back the return but an off-balance Federer made a mess of his reply. That gifted Nadal two set points and federer_nadal_wb07the Spaniard whipped a backhand down the line to level the match, punching the air in celebration. The quality somehow hit a new peak in the 3rd set, scintillating rallies and dazzling winners becoming the norm. At 5:4 down, Federer faced deuce but produced two spectacular winners, an angled backhand smash and a jaw-dropping volley off a dipping Nadal forehand, to come through before stepping on the power to take the tie-break 7/3. With a two sets to one lead, Federer took a toilet break and when he returned, Nadal was ready for an ambush, earning his first break point since the second set and taking it with a magnificent forehand cross-court return which left a net-bound Federer floundering. More drama followed when at 2:0 and 30/30 on Federer’s serve, Nadal challenged a baseline call, with Hawkeye deciding his backhand had clipped the back of the line. A clearly rattled Federer, an outspoken critic of federer_wb07championHawkeye, dumped a routine forehand into the net to go a double-break down and let rip at the umpire during the changeover, blaming the electronic system for “killing” him. Nadal, despite having treatment on a knee injury at 4:1, took the set comfortably to force Federer into his first five-set match at Wimbledon since he beat Pete Sampras in 2001. And the Spaniard may look back with regret at the chances he had in the decider. At 1:1 and 2:2, he engineered a 15/40 lead but Federer’s serve proved impregnable and it was no surprise when Nadal himself succumbed to the pressure. Federer delivered a rare show of emotion when his forehand landed on the line, looking up to his support camp and roaring with delight. Nadal fought valiantly to the end but Federer had hit supreme form, swatting away a volley on his second match point to take his place in Wimbledon’s history books. Federer’s 49th title, including 11 majors. Stats of the final

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