2004 – 2005, Wimbledon
London, Great Britain
June 21-July 4, 2004; 128 Draw (32 seeded); Surface – Grass
Rainy Wimbledon witnessed a Goran Ivanisevic’s farewell – former champion had debuted at the All England Club in 1988, in the next decade he was the most successful player beside Pete Sampras out there, despite not being able to win the championships. He came back in 2004 after a two-year break followed by his sensational triumph in 2001. Ivanisevic’s compatriot, Ivo Karlovic won the longest back-to-back tie-breaks (16/14 & 14/12), doing it in two different matches though. Wayne Ferreira made a record for the most consecutive appearances at majors – 55. The biggest British hope, Tim Henman failed once again, and it was the last year of “Henmania”. In a shadow of those occurrences, Roger Federer was winning match after match in an express pace, and defended his title after a tricky four-setter in the final.
First round: AP
Goran Ivanisevic , a mere puppy at 32, won his first grass court match since he came out of nowhere, unseeded, to win the 2001 Wimbledon for his only Grand Slam title. They were packed into Centre Court for Ivanisevic’s 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-2 win over No. 31 seed Mikhail Youzhny and, though there were plenty of seats on Court 1 for Navratilova’s win, she was no less adored. Later, the antic and purely spontaneous Ivanisevic, who has expressed disdain for women’s tennis, called Navratilova “one of the few woman tennis players I respect. I cannot compare myself to her,” he said. “She is another level. She is from another planet. She’s 48, 50, I don’t know. How many Grand Slams? How many tournaments? More than a hundred.” The once anointed Croatian Sensation, only 2-9 for the season coming to Wimbledon, played surprisingly well against his Russian opponent, who has a good record on grass. Ivanisevic wasn’t broken in 15 service games, though he admitted that because of his chronically injured left shoulder, he isn’t able to plaster his first serve more than 130 mph. Ivanisevic’s compatriot Ivo Karlovic has done it again. Karlovic, the 6-10 Croatian whose first-round upset of then-defending champion Hewitt last year was one of the biggest in tennis history, knocked off 13th-seeded Paradorn Srichaphan, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, on Monday. Karlovic has a 6-13 singles record this season, including nine first-round losses. “It’s the biggest tournament,” he said. “If I don’t play well here, I ain’t going to play anywhere good.” Srichaphan, who upset Andre Agassi in the second round here two years ago, won the title at Nottingham on Saturday in a three-set victory over Thomas Johansson. He said he paid for that success Monday. “It’s difficult having only one day off,” Srichaphan said. A focused Roger Federer opened the defence of his Wimbledon crown in devastating style on Monday, thrashing Britain’s Alex Bogdanovic 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 in the first round. The Swiss top seed drew the sting out of all Bogdanovic’s shots on an overcast Centre Court, and pummelled countless winners of his own to hammer out his intentions in emphatic style. “It was important to get off to a good start, and I did that,” Federer said. “I soon saw there was not much he could do on my serve. I relaxed, played well and am really looking forward to the next one.” Australian Lleyton Hewitt suffered a first-round loss last year – the first men’s champion to lose so early since tennis turned professional in 1968 – but avoided a similar fate on court one with an assured 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 win over Austria’s Juergen Melzer. “I felt good out there,” the Australian said. “I felt like I played the first set pretty well, got out of the blocks well. I was happy with where my game was at today. So I can be confident going into the second round now.” Marat Safin never quite feels as frustrated at other majors, and that’s saying a lot when it comes to a player known for losing his cool. The 2000 U.S. Open champion, seeded 19th here, self-destructed as only he can in a 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 7-6(1) exit against fellow Russian Dmitry Tursunov, who moved to the United States when he was 12 and is applying for U.S. citizenship. Safin was two points from leading 2-0 in sets, but he fell apart with double-faults and halfhearted effort, watching shots fly past during the final points of his first opening-round defeat at a Slam since the 2000 Australian Open. With former Russian President Boris Yeltsin in the stands, No. 19 Safin’s displays of disgust included cursing at the chair umpire, muttering to himself, smashing rackets and spitting. “I don’t like to play on this surface. I cannot move there. Every time, I don’t know how it’s going to bounce. It’s really a nightmare for me,” Safin said. “After a while, I get bored. I lost completely motivation, and I give up.” All England Club brings out the best in players such as, No. 5 Tim Henman, a four-time semifinalist. He twice was a point from trailing by two sets before coming back to beat Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo of Spain 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-4, 6-2, or No. 11 Mark Philippoussis, an unseeded finalist last year. He pounded 22 aces to overcome 11 double-faults and eliminate Christophe Rochus of Belgium 6-3, 6-4, 6-2, his first victory in individual tournament play since January. Other seeded losers on the men’s side: No. 16 Jiri Novak, No. 23 Max Mirnyi and No. 28 Ivan Ljubicic, beaten 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-5, 6-2 by Wayne Ferreira, who’s playing in a record 55th straight major (surpassed Stefan Edberg‘s 54). “Players have been congratulating me and saying that they think it’s a great thing. A lot of them have thought about how long it would take them to get to this, and they laugh a lot,” said 32-year-old Ferreira . “They know how difficult it is to stay healthy for this amount of time.” The South African debuted in majors at Wimbledon ’90. It took four days, but Guillermo Coria finally won his first-round match today when rain held off long enough for play to get under way at Wimbledon. The third-seeded Coria, the French Open runner-up, needed just two points to finish off a 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-3 win over 106th-ranked Wesley Moodie of South Africa on Court 1. “It was strange,” Coria said. “I’ve never had to wait three days to finish a match, but it was worth the wait.” The match began Monday, but was halted by rain at two sets apiece. Play resumed Tuesday, but was suspended in late afternoon with Coria two points from victory at 5:3, 30-all in the deciding set. The two never got on court Wednesday as rain washed out the entire day of play. Today’s warm-up lasted longer than the completion of the match. With Moodie making forehand errors on both points, the Argentine needed two minutes to record his first ever win at the All England Club. Relieved to get the match over with at last, Coria beamed, pumped his fist and waved to the crowd. In total, the match took 3 hours, 5 minutes over the four days. “I would have liked this match to finish the day before yesterday,” Coria said. “I went in today seriously concentrating on those two points. I felt strong, I was confident. But it’s unusual to go into a match like this.” Moodie, who reached the third round here last year as a qualifier, said the delays helped take the strain off his injured left knee. “It was probably more frustrating for him than for me, but it was tiring waiting around all day yesterday for something to happen,” Moodie said. All 74 scheduled matches were postponed Wednesday, the first Wimbledon washout in five years. Of 160 scheduled first- and second-round matches in the first three days, the tournament completed just 83, the fewest since 1991. Play began an hour earlier today to help alleviate the backlog. Men’s doubles matches were reduced to best-of-three sets until the quarterfinals. The sun came out today, but conditions were cool and blustery. The forecast called for showers later in the day. The first match completed – about 42 hours since the last result – was Taylor Dent‘s victory over Ramon Delgado. The American needed two minutes and 40 seconds to close out a 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 win on Court 6. When the skies finally cleared at Wimbledon, Andy Roddick was raring to go. He whacked aces, hit forehand winners and even caught a ball in his cap. With his customary force and flair, Roddick earned a rain-delayed first-round victory Thursday, beating Wang Yeu-Tzuoo 6-3, 7-5, 6-4. Roddick’s niftiest maneuver came after he won the opening game of the final set. A frustrated Wang, 19, slammed the ball into the grass, and when it skipped over the net, Roddick took off his cap and snared it as he walked to the changeover chair. “I had a lot of built-up energy,” he said. That’s because the match was halted by rain Tuesday with Roddick leading 4:2 in the first set, and he waited in vain to play for 9 1/2 hours before Wednesday’s schedule was declared a washout. “I’m not good for sitting around with nothing to do. My boredom was killing me,” Roddick said. “But it’s Wimbledon. I think you kind of have to expect it sometimes, and just do your best to roll with the punches.” Todd Martin enhanced his reputation Thursday as a marathon man. Martin, 33, improved to 23-16 in Grand Slam five-set matches by beating Guillermo Canas 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(1), 4-6, 9-7. The match took 3 hours, 43 minutes. Also dramatic five-setter (actually amazing comeback) was won by Tommy Haas. The German saved a match point in a 3rd set tie-break to beat Anthony Dupuis 2-6, 2-6, 7-6(8), 6-4, 8-6. Their meeting was suspended for a day by rain when Haas led 3:2 on serve in the decider. Fellow German, Florian Mayer outsmarted Wayne Arthurs 7-6(4), 7-6(5), 7-6(4) in a match deprived of a break of serve (Arthurs was better in aces, 30-15).
Second round: John Pye
Goran Ivanisevic flung his racket into the crowd, triumphantly raised his arms and then stripped off his shirt and launched it, too. In a scene reminiscent of his celebration as an improbable Wimbledon champion in 2001, Ivanisevic basked in his latest achievement at the All England Club – a second-round victory Thursday over Filippo Volandri, 4-6, 7-6(8), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4. “I wanted to throw the chair, the umpire, everybody,” Ivanisevic said. “But you don’t do that, you know.” The 32-year-old Croat is back at Wimbledon for the first time since he won the title as a wild-card entry three years ago. He’ll return to Centre Court for the first time since the 2001 final when he plays 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt on Friday. Ivanisevic missed the past two Wimbledons with injuries, mostly shoulder related, and plans to retire after the tournament. He has won nine consecutive matches at Wimbledon, equaling defending champion Roger Federer’s winning streak. Ivanisevic, who often talks of his multiple personalities, said he needed at least three of them to beat Volandri . “I was saying a lot of bad things to myself. How bad I am? How stupid I am?” Ivanisevic said. During a brief rain delay in the fourth set, 1991 Wimbledon champion Michael Stich – now working for the BBC – helped Ivanisevic refocus. “Stich came to me and said, ‘Listen, I’m commentating the match. C’mon man, do something!'” Ivanisevic said. “After I came back, that was a different me on the court. Sun was shining. I started to play better, and that’s why I won.” Lleyton Hewitt has moved into the third round at Wimbledon with a straight sets win over Georgia’s world No. 45 Irakli Labadze. Although Hewitt won 6-4, 6-4, 6-1, the match wasn’t as easy as the score suggested with Labadze’s power game troubling the seventh seed at times. But his power brought Labadze as many wild errors as winners and Hewitt capitalized on his erratic game to progress to the next round. Hewitt broke Labadze in the opening game of the match but that was the only one of eight break points he converted in the first set. He just couldn’t put Labadze away when he had him 15/40, 30/40 and 0/40 in successive games as the erratic Georgian pulled out the big serves and power strikes when it mattered to save himself time and again. A double fault when Labadze tried to throw down a booming second serve ace on his fourth break point down in the second set gave Hewitt the edge. Hewitt had no trouble on his serve and for the second match in a row did not look like dropping it. He broke early in the third set to go 2:1 up when a 25-minute rain break interrupted play and the Georgian didn’t win a game on their return. Roger Federer, the top-seeded defending champion, beat Colombian qualifier Alejandro Falla 6-1, 6-2, 6-0 in just 54 minutes (!!) – one of the fastest men’s matches in recent Grand Slam history – to sweep into the third round. Guillermo Coria, the men’s third seed, had his credentials as a grasscourt novice exposed by 20-year-old German Florian Mayer  who clinched a second round 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 win. Mayer, the Wimbledon debutant, showed the greater invention throughout with his persistent attempts to draw Coria to the net thanks to a number of clever drop shots. Tim Henman overcame his now familiar stuttering start to book his place in the third round at Wimbledon with a straight sets victory over Switzerland’s Ivo Heuberger. Heuberger served for the opening set at 5:4 before Henman hit back to take the next three games and claim the set. The British number one then gradually took control of the match and ran out a comfortable 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 winner in 2 hours and 6 minutes. Henman will be back on court today as officials try to make up for time lost to the bad weather. Amazing match survived Juan Carlos Ferrero. The Spaniard needed 3 hours 40 minutes to overcome Stefan Koubek 4-6, 7-5, 5-7, 7-6(6), 8-6, being in a position to lose each set he won: *1:4 in the 2nd, 3:5 in the tie-break (in that set he saved all nine break points) and 4:5 (15/40) in the 5th set on return! Ferrero’s compatriot, Feliciano Lopez also won a 14-game deciding set defeating Cyril Saulnier 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(3), 8-6. Longer 5th set than Spaniards won Dmitry Tursunov, who prevailed against Sargis Sargsian 6-3, 7-6(5), 3-6, 4-6, 15-13 in 4 hours 1 minute. Ivo Karlovic delivered the longest tie-break since 1992, as he managed to save a bunch of set points in a 4th set tie-break against Gilles Elseneer of Belgium, 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(14). The Croat fired 41 aces. Britain’s Greg Rusedski did not quite have enough to overcome eighth seed Rainer Schuettler in the second round. Rusedski won the first set on a tie-break before the German responded by taking the second-set tie-break. Rusedski surged ahead after a third tie-break but Schuettler leveled again as Rusedski suffered a shoulder injury which seemed to restrict his game. Rusedski was unable to maintain his form and Schuettler held his nerve to triumph 6-7(5), 7-6(10), 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-2 in 3.5 hours. “I definitely would like to give it at least another year,” said the former world number four, who missed three months earlier this year as he successfully fought a doping charge. “I would like to come to Wimbledon next year with a full schedule behind me and see how it goes. This year has been very difficult but considering what’s happened I think I have played reasonably well.” Rusedski started the match slowly and lost his serve in the sixth game and was struggling at 0/40 down in the next losing 2:5. However, he found an extra gear, reaching 141 mph on one serve, and managed to win the game saving a triple set point. Schuettler seemed shocked and Rusedski took advantage to break back before eventually going on to win the tie-break with a forehand volley. Rusedski led *4:2 in the 2nd set, 4:1* in the tie-break, had two set points (7:6, 9:8) but failed to take them and he paid the price when Schuettler, at the fourth time of asking, finally took his opportunity to win the tie-break 12/10. The third set followed the same pattern but this time Rusedski, despite double-faulting twice, took the tie-break after Schuettler blasted a forehand out. At 1:1 in the fourth set, Rusedski tumbled going for a volley and hurt his left shoulder which seemed to put him off and allowed Schuettler to break his serve to take a crucial lead. The Briton had extensive and painful treatment from the trainer before resuming, but Schuettler had the initiative and took the match into a fifth set. Rusedski then double-faulted three times in the fifth game as Schuettler’s superior fitness told and the 30-year-old’s defeat quickly followed. Second-seeded Andy Roddick advanced to the third round of Wimbledon with a 6-3, 7-6(2), 6-4 win Friday over Alexander Peya of Austria. Roddick fired 13 aces and conceded only one break of serve in the 1 hour, 48-minute match on Court 2. Peya lost in the final round of Wimbledon qualifying but advanced to the main draw as a “lucky loser” after Rafael Nadal withdrew due to an ankle.
Third round: Filip Bondy
Goran Ivanisevic has played his last match at Wimbledon after losing to Lleyton Hewitt in straight sets. The 32-year-old, who won here in 2001 but had to delay his return because of injury, was cheered on by the Centre Court crowd from the moment he walked out. But ultimately the Croat veteran just could not match the devastating returns of the 2002 winner. Ivanisevic said he had no regrets after playing his final match at Wimbledon. “I knew it was my last match and my last point but for me it was a victory to be here and to play two matches and to play against a Wimbledon champion is amazing.” Hewitt was unsentimental as he closed out a 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 victory but then spoke with the Croat over the net for some time before Ivanisevic walked off to a standing ovation, wearing his beloved Croatian football top. Hewitt admitted that he felt awkward at ending Ivanisevic’s roller-coaster career at Wimbledon. He said: “It was a weird feeling knowing that, if I won, one of the most likeable guys on the tour who is loved by all the crowd would be playing his last match. But I blocked it out the best I could knowing there was opportunity to get into the second week at Wimbledon.” Taylor Dent is still waiting to become the next Pete Sampras, his role model and one-time tutor. He has slowly climbed in the rankings to No. 31 in the world, riding his wicked serve and erratic volley. But he is not there yet, and Andy Roddick‘s passing shots can still leave Dent stranded at the net, and out of any Grand Slam tournament. “His game is so set and solid that he deserves all the results he gets,” Dent said after falling to Roddick in a third-round match on People’s Sunday at Wimbledon, 6-3, 7-6(6), 7-6(1), “His backhand is better, everything is better.” This was always going to be a battle of young Americans with radar-busting serves, but Roddick, 21, has developed his game faster than Dent, 23. This match was essentially over when Dent blew a 6:3* lead in the second-set tiebreaker, including a wide forehand volley on his own serve. “At 6:3, I was thinking, ‘If you win these two points, maybe he misses a first serve, you’re back in with a fighting chance,’ “ Roddick said. “I was lucky enough to get a little slimy return down a little bit, he didn’t really commit to his volley, and he just missed it.” Vince Spadea, having by far the best Wimbledon of his career, isn’t just relaxed. He seems to be floating up there in some orbit. Floating and rapping. Sitting in his post-match press conference Sunday, he suddenly broke into his special patois. “I’m Spadea. I’m not afraid-o-ya. I’m a man of the lady-uhs.” And on and on he went with a cheshire cat smile beaming under a baseball cap that was slightly askew, as if he just came out of the ‘hood in his native Boca Raton, if there is any such thing. If this sort of mirth is the key to making the second week at Wimbledon, then Spadea’s attitude is to let it continue. Sunday, he waxed No. 8 seed Rainer Schuettler 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 to make the round of 16 against Sjeng Schalken, who eliminated Thomas Enqvist 5-7, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(8), 6-2 saving two match points in the tie-break. On court, Spadea is gotten away for the counter-punching style that has been effective for him on hardcourts and is playing, finally, with the sort of aggressive he has to use on grass courts. “I’ve been more aggressive rather than the usual grinding. I’m taking the ball earlier, My hand-eye coordination has always been a strength and you’re not going to win over here as a counter-puncher – unless you’re Hewitt, and he’s a speed merchant, or Agassi. My best chance is to go for my shot. It’s not a running contest on grass,” said Spadea. Buoyed by the crowd, Tim Henman moved on in his career-long quest to give Britain its first male champion at Wimbledon since 1936, reaching the round of 16 by beating No. 32 Hicham Arazi on Sunday 7-6(6), 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. Chants of ”Hen-man! Hen-man!” and screams of ”Come on, Tim!” rang through Centre Court at the All England Club – two hours before he even set foot on the grass. ”When you walk out on the court, just the buzz and the excitement is incredible,” the fifth-seeded Henman said. ”I needed it at times.” Henman, involved in numerous dramatic 4- and 5-setters at Wimbledon throughout his career, this time saved a set point in the tie-break and a double break point at 0:2 in the 4th set when the deciding set seemed inevitable after Arazi easily took the previous set. Eager to play after Saturday’s all-day rainout, the second of the tournament, Roger Federer and Thomas Johansson stepped out for the Centre Court opener five minutes early. The stadium was two-thirds full at the beginning of Federer’s 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 win – and packed for Henman’s match – but it was desolate elsewhere. Other Johansson, “Pim-Pim” Joachim had a better days, especially as far as serve is concerned and defeated fellow Swede, Jonas Bjorkman 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 7-6(6), 6-3 out-acing him 39-20. The spectators witnessed just one break of serve. In other serve-battle, Ivo Karlovic out-aced Feliciano Lopez 40 to 14 to win 7-6(12), 7-6(3), 6-7(2), 7-5 (the only break came in the last game of the matc, and it was Karlovic’s only break point!).
Fourth round: Howard Fendrich
It had to happen sometime, at some tournament. Their lives intersected under dire circumstances off the court, and Andy Roddick and Sjeng Schalken were bound to face each other on one, sooner or later. Roddick helped about a dozen people, including fellow tennis players, escape a fatal hotel fire in May before the Italian Open. One, Schalken, will be his quarterfinal opponent at Wimbledon. The second-seeded Roddick reached the final eight at the All England Club by beating Alexander Popp 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 Monday. No. 12 Schalken made it that far for the third straight year, ending No. 30 Vince Spadea‘s surprising run 6-2, 7-5, 3-6, 6-2. “Any time you share a very traumatic situation, and kind of share that fear with someone, and get out of it – there’s always something there,” Roddick said. “I don’t know what that is, but there is kind of something between us now. By the same token, we’re both going to try to win a Wimbledon quarterfinal.” They and other pros were in Rome the weekend before the start of a clay-court tournament when their hotel caught fire, killing three guests. Schalken was on the seventh floor, Roddick on the sixth. So Roddick waited on his balcony, with outstretched arms, to catch Schalken when he jumped down. Both then were able to use fire truck ladders to reach the ground. Three days after the fire, Roddick lost at the Italian Open, his only first-round defeat in 2004. “Rome was probably the first time in my life I was out on the court and could care less if I won or lost,” Roddick said. “I wanted to go home, and I wanted to see my family.” He and Schalken knew each other before, of course, and now they’ve grown closer, practicing together the day before the start of Wimbledon. But they haven’t squared off in a match that counted since the fire; Roddick is 4-1 against Schalken, including three straight victories. “I hope he’s thinking about that a little bit, and taking it easy on me. He didn’t do that the last three times,” Schalken said. “Before and after, we’ll be good friends, and on the court, we’ll try to win.” Roger Federer stretched his winning streak on grass to 21 matches, and his successful holds of serve at the All England Club to 89 games with a 6-3, 7-6(3), 7-6(5) victory Monday over 6-foot-10 Ivo Karlovic. It’s tough to decide which is more impressive: the way Federer is serving, or the way he completely neutralized the wicked serve of the tour’s tallest player. Karlovic pounded 95 aces through his first three matches. He managed just 14 Monday. An explanation? “I was playing against Federer, who returns unbelievable,” said Karlovic, who stunned Hewitt in the first round last year. Repeatedly, the defending champion figured out a way to put his racket on serves that reached 140 mph, and he didn’t just tap them back over the net. At least five times, Federer swatted return winners. Then there’s Federer’s serve. He faced only two break points Monday, both while serving at 4:2 in the first set. Federer erased the first with a service winner, and the second with a forehand winner off a short return. Overall, he won an astounding 79 of 96 points he served against Karlovic. Through four matches, Federer has dealt with six break points, saving all. That’s a major reason for his streak on grass, which would reach 24 matches if he wins the tournament – one better than Pete Sampras‘ best run on the surface. “I have to say, every match on grass has been quite unbelievable. I’ve always played great tennis,” Federer said. “This is good, looking ahead, because from here on, only tough opponents will come my way.” Starting with Lleyton Hewitt, who got past No. 9 Carlos Moya 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(3). “I believe I can beat him,” Hewitt said. “It’s going to be an extremely tough match. He’s the best player out there at the moment. He’s not No. 1 for nothing.” The last player to break Federer’s serve at Wimbledon? Schalken, in last year’s quarterfinals, 89 games ago. Schalken also happens to be the only player who won a set against Hewitt during his 2002 title run. Tim Henman turned the weight of British hope and expectancy to his advantage as he outfought an angry Mark Philippoussis 6-2, 7-5, 6-7(3), 7-6(5) on Monday to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon. The British number one had entered the match with a question mark over his ability to overcome the big-serving Australian – a finalist here last year – especially as he had lost four of the pair’s previous six meetings. One of those defeats had come in the fourth round at Wimbledon four years ago but there was going to be no repeat performance on Monday and Henman safely reached the last eight for the eighth time. After 3 hours and 7 minutes of high drama, Henman eventually sealed victory on his fifth match point when Philippoussis sailed a backhand wide. “It’s tough to make sense of it right now because it was such an intense match as the quality was so high throughout,” Henman said after setting up a meeting with Croatia’s Mario Ancic, who took an advantage of Xavier Malisse‘s injury (the Belgian player retired at the beginning of the 2nd set). A huge roar greeted the fifth seed as he skipped to the baseline for the start of the clash. Within three minutes, Henman had blunted the power generated from the Philippoussis racket to break in the opening game with a sublime passing shot. Having chalked up three unconvincing victories to secure the date with last year’s runner-up, Henman produced exquisite winners to race away with the set in just 24 minutes. The 2nd set was a much closer affair but it controversially turned Henman’s way at 5:5. Facing break point, Philippoussis was left exasperated when the lines-person failed to call Henman’s lob wide. “That was on the baseline but wide,” Philippoussis screamed at umpire Enric Molina but an overrule was not forthcoming and Henman had broken. Ominously for Philippoussis, the 29-year-old Briton served out for the set without losing a point on serve in the entire set. The Australian lost his cool again at 6:5 (30-all) up in the 3rd set after Molina failed to declare a Henman serve long. “What are you looking at, open your eyes,” Philippoussis shouted at Molina. Awarded a code violation for the use of an expletive during the outburst, Philippoussis retorted: “I should give you a violation because you suck.” The exchange appeared to spur Philippoussis on and he charged through the tiebreak. Henman then responded to the crowd’s support by breaking in a 6th game in the 4th set with a scintillating volley winner. He then earned and lost two match points at 5:2 and tortured the crowd further by being broken for the first time as he tried to serve out the match. The players entered a second tie-break but this time Henman kept his nerve to edge it 7/5, after wasting another two match points, and keeps alive hopes of ending Britain’s 68-year wait for a men’s Wimbledon champion. An unheralded Florian Mayer advanced to quarterfinals in his Wimbeldon debut. The German stunned 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 6-4 Joachim Johansson. The Swede had been consistently serving a lot of aces in his four matches (34, 27, 39 & 23). Surprisingly he was out-aced by Mayer, who hit 24. Mayer said: “I’m surprised to be in the quarter-final because normally clay is my favourite surface.”
Like a couple of wisecracking comedians at a funeral there seemed an inappropriateness about the arrival of Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt on the post-Henman Centre Court that bordered on the distasteful. Empty seats gaped with grief and there was a wanness in the damp-cold wind that suggested an emotional need for healing time. But Federer then produced such tennis that within a couple of games the seats had filled once more with eager expectation. And by the time the champion had won, 6-1, 6-7(1), 6-0, 6-4 (2 hours 20 minutes), the crowd, as if restored by good wake whisky, had rich colour in their cheeks. During the rain breaks they embarked, cheerfully, on a variety of Mexican waves, some slo-mo, others speeded up and one with open umbrellas that resembled a black storm sea. Hewitt had a storm of his own to contend with. By the end of the first set he was a broken man. He was broken twice, in fact, in the fourth and sixth games. He played unusually well, the best for 18 months according to the watching Boris Becker. And he lost the set 6-1 in 22 minutes. Only the rain, it seemed, could interrupt the flow of Federer’s sublime game. And that is what happened. They broke off twice in the second set, at 1:1 and 5:5, for about an hour. The set went to a tie-break and Hewitt ran away with it 7/1 against the bewildered Federer, whose timing had deserted him. It was the first set he had lost in these championships. But an even greater shock awaited Hewitt. He had not dropped his serve in his first three matches. But now he was broken three times as he lost the third set in just 25 minutes. Federer, coming to the net less often than when he won the title last year, was dominating from the baseline. What do you give the man who has everything? Certainly not an easy third set. Hewitt, however, is renowned for his fighting qualities. While Goran Ivanisevic said Federer was a “magician” last week, because of his power as well as his subtle spins and slices, Hewitt had been described as “a mongrel” by his compatriot Todd Woodbridge. Hewitt, who had appeared tethered to the baseline in the opening sets, attacked the net more in the 4th and drove for the lines. Remarkably, he broke Federer’s serve to go 4:3 up – remarkably because Federer came into this match having held 89 straight service games (unbroken in eight consecutive matches, four in Halle). But the champion broke back immediately, held for 5:4 (saving a couple of mini-set points) and then broke the Australian once more to take the match. The only disappointment in this most memorable encounter, the best of the tournament, is that the final point was Hewitt’s double fault. Federer said afterwards: “Lleyton made life really tough for me. He played really good tennis and I had to fight hard. But I played some really good tennis in the third set.” In tomorrow’s semi-finals Federer will play Sébastien Grosjean, who beat Florian Mayer 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 on No 1 court. It is the second consecutive semi-final for Grosjean, who beat Henman last year. Grosjean continues his quest to be the first French winner in the men’s singles since Henri Cochet in 1929. The 26-year-old 10th seed came into the quarter-final a strong favourite against 20-year-old Mayer who had only played one match on grass prior to Wimbledon. But in a tie pushed back late into the evening by a succession of rain showers, it was the German who made the first break to lead 2:0. Grosjean levelled quickly and took the set in the 12th game when he broke the Mayer serve for a second time. The 2nd set followed a similar pattern with Mayer breaking to lead and Grosjean hitting back to equalise. The Frenchman, beaten finalist at Queens to Andy Roddick, crafted out three set points in the 10th game and made it count on the first one as Mayer hit a sliced reverse wide. Mayer looked resigned to his fate as the 3rd set opened and Grosjean duly did the damage in the fourth game breaking to love with a forehand drive that dug in at Mayer’s feet. Tim Henman‘s Wimbledon dream crumbled in the quarterfinals for the second successive year when he was thrashed 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-2 by unseeded Croatian Mario Ancic on Wednesday. Henman was a sorry shadow of his normal self on an overcast Centre Court and his defeat left Britain still searching for its first men’s singles champion since 1936. Ancic, 20, made a name for himself in 2002 when he knocked out Federer in the first round and his huge serve and occasional baseline brilliance was too much for the British fifth seed who subsided totally in the third set. Despite all the talk of Ancic’s big serve, a tight 1st set was decided by two fine service returns from the Croatian, who is ranked 63 and yet to win a tour title. Henman could not get his first serve in and, to gasps of horror on Centre Court, netted careless forehand to give Ancic the decisive break for 4:3 in the 2nd set. The 3rd set was total disaster for the Briton, who has lost four times in the semifinals and whose chances of emulating the last British men’s winner, Fred Perry, are diminishing every year. Henman’s serve went to pieces and he quickly found himself 4:1 down. In contrast Ancic held his nerve admirably, clinching victory on his first match point with another heavy delivery that Henman tamely backhanded long. “I played a really good match,” said Ancic, who was appearing in his first grand slam quarter-final. “The first set was really tough, but from the second set I began to return better. That gave me a bit more confidence on my serve. From then on I was playing really good tennis and kept everything under control. I tried just to be as calm as I can be and I made it.” Ancic will now play Andy Roddick, who reached the Wimbledon semifinals for a second straight year with a no-nonsense win over Dutchman Sjeng Schalken. After two tight tie-break sets, the second seed and U.S. Open champion ran away with the third for a 7-6(4), 7-6(9), 6-3 victory on court one, showboating on match point with a spectacular leaping smash. “Hey, it was a dog-fight,” Roddick said. “I had to work for it out there. That second set tiebreak was huge, coming out straight off a rain break.” The American saved two set points in that tie-break (5:6, 8:9). Speaking of Ancic, Roddick added: “He is serving great. I don’t know what’s in the water in Croatia, but it seems like every player is over seven feet tall. It takes more than one tournament to become a consistent contender, you know. But he has the tools to develop into one, that’s for sure. He’s got weapons, and he’s a competitor. He fights every match.”
Semifinals: David Miller
Defending champion Roger Federer won a third-set tiebreaker Saturday to complete a straight-set victory over Sebastien Grosjean and reach the Wimbledon final against Andy Roddick, who beat 20-year-old Mario Ancic of Croatia 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, 7-5. The top-seeded Swiss star needed 29 minutes and four match points to complete a 6-2, 6-3, 7-6(6) win over the 10th-seeded Frenchman, extending his grass-court winning streak to 23 matches. The semifinal had been suspended with Federer two games from victory at 4:3 in the 3rd set – when play was suspended late Friday after a day of rain delays. “I’m very pleased,” Federer said. “It’s very difficult to stop at such a moment of the match. I’m very relieved. You never know what happens if he can turn it around.” Federer will be playing in his third Grand Slam final. After winning Wimbledon last summer, he won the Australian Open in February and took over the No. 1 ranking. “This year has been fantastic for me” Federer said. “It’s still very difficult for me to understand why and how come that I’m so dominant this year. But every match I go with the same attitude out on the court. I’m a more complete player, more secure.” Federer has dropped only one set this tournament, against Hewitt in the semifinals, and lost serve just twice. “My matches have been rather easy, so I couldn’t make somersaults,” he said. “But I’m very happy to be again in the finals and to have the chance now, finally, to defend my title.” Federer looked as if he might close the match quickly Saturday, but he wound up fighting from behind – including 4:0 in the tiebreaker – in blustery conditions. Federer had two match points on Grosjean’s serve at 5:4, but the Frenchman saved both with service winners. Then Federer played a loose game and Grosjean broke for the first time to go up 6:5. But with Grosjean serving for the set, Federer settled down and broke back, shouting “Come on!” after smacking a forehand crosscourt pass for 6:6. The momentum swung back and forth in the tiebreaker, with Grosjean winning the first four points and Federer the next four. Federer earned his third match point at 6:5, but hit a backhand wide. He set up the fourth with a forehand volley, then converted with an inside-out forehand approach followed by an overhead. “I had to really fight hard to actually get to the tiebreaker,” Federer said. “I had two match points before the tiebreak and didn’t make them and suddenly he was serving for the set in the third. I had to come back in a tiebreaker. Luckily for me, I could turn it around.” Both players had 25 unforced errors, but Federer – the best all-around shotmaker in the game – finished with 49 winners, compared with 23 for Grosjean. The Frenchman lost his fourth major semifinal. On rain-interrupted Friday, Roddick had appeared comfortably in command when leading by a set at the watery conclusion but Ancic, with his appealing schoolboy demeanour, had other ideas. On the restart yesterday, he proceeded to take 16 of the first 19 points and surged to level at one set all. Would Roddick’s nerve hold in the face of an opponent who could give the ball as much punch as he could? While Ancic had taken 10 of his last 12 matches on grass this year, Roddick could point to a grass sequence of 20 victories in 21: the sixth longest in the Open era behind Bjorn Borg (41), John McEnroe and Pete Sampras (twice), Federer on 23 and Jimmy Connors on 21. The match, which was suspended Friday evening with Roddick leading 6-4, *4:3, 30/40, resumed on Court 1. After the resumption Ancic won three straight games breaking Roddick twice. Ace by ace, forehand by forehand, the pair edged to 4:4 in the third set. The only break point came at 1:1 with Ancic at 30/40 after a net rally and then advantage Roddick when hitting a net volley long: an irritated Roddick slammed his racket to the ground on losing another advantage point but Ancic rescued the game with a second service ace. At 4:4, Ancic served a love-game and then came a half-hour rain interruption. Whether the key to a win was detected by Roddick himself or his coach Brad Gilbert, the key to the result had become evident – Ancic was in trouble when ambitiously advancing to the net. On the second resumption, Roddick proceeded slightly to drop pace and lure Ancic forward, testing him with dipping drives that obliged him to play low volleys. In the first three games, he made five crucial errors, lost them all and with it the set, Roddick clinching it with three huge first serves, including two aces. Now the pressure was on the younger man. He proved game for the fight. Leading 4:3 in the fourth set, he had a break point when Roddick double-faulted but an ace snuffed the moment. Serving at 5:5, Ancic lost the grip on his racket, lost the point, twice double-faulted and was on the brink. Nonetheless, Roddick was not allowed victory at the first grasp. Twice Ancic saved match point and even had a point to break back for 6:6, but missed it with another loose volley. Ancic, however, had no sense of anticlimax. “I was enjoying playing in this kind of match,” he said, “and I have to admit he was a little bit better. I was fighting good with my volleys, I had a couple of break points I didn’t use, some unforced errors but I think I’ve already improved from when I played him at Queen’s because I was rallying much better from the back and also returning better.” Ancic referred to their match two weeks before which Roddick won 7-6, 4-6, 6-4.
Barely in command of a tight Wimbledon final against Andy Roddick, Roger Federer hit a shot that clipped the net and popped over, helping set up a backhand winner. Federer cemented his status as the game’s No. 1 player with his victory Sunday. Roddick put his palms up and looked at the crowd. The consummate showman walked to the net, grabbed it with both hands and shook it wildly, as if cleaning a throw rug. Spectators chuckled. “If you were helping him get points,” Roddick said later, “I’d shake you, too.” Federer needs little assistance out on the court these days, particularly when it comes to tennis’ biggest stages. He’s won two straight Wimbledon titles and three of the past five majors after absorbing Roddick’s best and beating him 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(3), 6-4 Sunday in 2 hours 31 minutes. It was the first final at the All England Club since 1982 featuring men seeded Nos. 1 and 2, and Federer showed Roddick he still has work to do to regain the top spot. “I just knew that my only chance actually to win today is if I stay very calm, and if I get a little luck, I could turn it around,” Federer said. “I knew I wasn’t far away from winning.” He did it with a key change in strategy during a 40-minute rain delay, which came with Roddick up 4:2 in the third set. Until then, Roddick was doing just about everything right, taking charge of points, going to the net with success, and breaking serve four times – twice as many as Federer’s previous six opponents combined. In the 2nd set Federer had a game point to lead 5:0, but Roddick broke twice to level at 4-all! “He was putting me under pressure,” Federer said. “I couldn’t really play the way I wanted to.” So the defending champion opted to charge the net more, sort of like a football coach going from a running game to a no-huddle offense. Except Federer doesn’t have a coach: he’s gone it alone since firing Peter Lundgren in December. “This is a very important phase in his career as well, that he could step back, not rely on somebody, get to know himself, get to know his own tennis and technique,” said Federer’s mother, Lynette. “And I’ve got a feeling that a period without a coach – I don’t say it’s ideal – but he has also taken a lot of initiative.” He sure did Sunday, and the switch worked: Federer won 24 of the next 28 points on his serve. There were other keys to the shift in the match. Federer began gauging Roddick’s intimidating serve, getting his racket on offerings that topped 140 mph. And Roddick was less and less successful at the net himself. Volleying never has been his strength, and after going a surprising 6-of-9 on net points in the first set, he was 15-of-35 in the last three. To Roddick’s credit, he had Federer on his heels early, whipping his fearsome forehand to the corners and even coming up some sizzling backhand passing shots. “I wasn’t wanting to get in rallies where he could kind of do his thing, come up with spectacular stuff,” Roddick said. “I went out and I tried to take it to him. I was successful most of the time. And then on a couple of key points, I wasn’t.” In particular, there were six break points he failed to convert in the fourth set. Two came while up 3:2. On the first, Roddick smacked a forehand, seemingly a point-ender. Somehow, scrambling along the worn, muddy baseline, Federer got to the ball, whipped it back, and Roddick sailed a forehand wide. “Not only is he fast, but when he gets to the ball, he can have no play on it and make something out of it,” Roddick said. “He’s unparalleled as far as that skill goes.” Roddick wasted his final break point with an errant forehand. The next point ended with Roddick’s net-shaking routine. If he wanted to break the tension, he appeared to break his concentration. Roddick lost that game on the next point, then made three unforced errors to get broken at love. “He always shows a lot of emotions, if it’s positive or negative,” Federer said. “I just knew that my only chance actually to win today is if I stay very calm.” He took a 4:3 edge there, then held serve twice to win the title. He ended the match with a 124 mph ace, giving him a 12-11 edge in that stat, then sank to his knees at the baseline, the way Bjorn Borg used to when he was winning five straight Wimbledon titles from 1976-80. Only Borg won more consecutive matches on grass (41) than Federer’s current streak of 24. Afterward, the players took the traditional walks around Center Court with their trophies, waving at fans and posing for photographers. Their paths crossed, and Roddick took a playful swipe at Federer’s Challenge Cup. It was a tiny snapshot of the type of entertainment Roddick can provide. During the match, he clasped his hands and looked at the sky to give thanks after a net cord went his way. He barked at himself or clenched a fist or screamed, “Come on!” If Roddick played for laughs on occasion, Federer played only for keeps. He punctuated points with yells, too – in three languages: “Yeah!” or “Allez!” or “Nein!” – but it was always quick, as if he were embarrassed to be making a display. Federer is downright serious, all right. “For me, winners stay, and losers go,” he said. “I don’t want to be one of them who goes.” After being labeled early on as someone unable to win the big ones, Federer is 3-0 in championship matches at majors. He’s also won his last eight finals overall. “I kind of like it – the 100 percent record in the finals of Grand Slams. These are the ones that really, really count,” Federer said. “Grand Slam titles put you just a step higher.” He’s 46-4 with a tour-leading six titles in 2004, including the Australian Open. Federer is the first man since Andre Agassi in 1999 to win two majors in a year. If Federer, 22, and Roddick, 21, are a cut above the rest, it’s clear who has the upper hand between the top duo: The Swiss star is 6-1 against the American. “Roger just played too good today. I threw the kitchen sink at him, but he went to the bathroom and got a tub,” Roddick said. “I’m going to have to start winning some of them to call it a rivalry.“ It was Federer’s 17th title. Stats of the final
London, Great Britain
June 20-July 3, 2005; 128 Draw (32 seeded); Surface – Grass
Changing the guard in the British tennis: Tim Henman for the first time in nine years wasn’t able to get the second week of the tournament, Greg Rusedski also lost early, and surprisingly 18-year-old Andy Murray became the last British player participating in the tournament. Murray was close in advancing to the fourth round, but collapsed due to the lack of a proper physical fitness. Roger Federer second year running outplayed Andy Roddick in the final, beating him at Wimbledon for the third time in total (in the semifinals 2003). Federer’s fifth major title, the first one without a pony-tail.
First round: Eeanor Preston
Tim Henman brought Wimbledon to life with a typically dramatic start to his 2005 campaign as he beat Jarkko Nieminen in five sets. The British number one was on course to lose his opening match at SW19 for the first time since his debut in 1995, but fought back from two sets down. Nieminen silenced the crowd in the early stages before Henman rediscovered his game in the third and fourth sets. An immediate break in the fifth gave Henman a 3-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 win. “It was touch and go for a long time,” Henman told BBC Sport afterwards. “I was struggling with my form the whole match. I got flat physically and I was struggling to get any energy into the match. I think the crowd were the same. You’ve got to play with what you’ve got on the day and I’m proud of the way I came back.” From the moment he slipped 15/30 down in the opening game, a nervous Henman looked to be in danger. Nieminen passed at will in the opening stages, putting huge pressure on the Henman serve-volley game and forcing numerous errors. There were brief moments of hope for the home crowd, notably when Henman broke at the start of the second and had two more break points in game 11. He finally gave them something to cheer by grabbing the third set, but even then he needed three chances to convert at 5:4. In a similarly tight fourth set, Henman upped the pressure in game 12 to level the score and he took that momentum into the decider with an immediate break. At 5:2 up on Nieminen’s serve, a diving volley took Henman to his first match point, but it took an error from the Finn on his third chance for the Briton to seal victory. “My form was ordinary at best,” admitted Henman. “I struggle in those conditions – the courts have changed so much over the years – it was heavy, slow and the balls weren’t coming through. But it’s the same for everyone and I’ve got to find a way to perform better.” Back on his favorite stage, the top-ranked Roger Federer hit four aces in his first service game and successfully began his bid for a third consecutive Wimbledon title by beating Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4, 6-2, 6-4. Federer walked on the hallowed court to a warm ovation, hit 18 aces and extended his grass-court winning streak to 30 matches, including 15 at the All England Club. ”A good start,” Federer said. ‘‘I definitely feel sort of relieved after this start and look forward to the rest. You’re into the tournament, you’ve seen the fans and you don’t have to leave right away. So that’s nice.” No. 5 Marat Safin, twice a first-round loser at Wimbledon, overcame his aversion to grass and beat Paradorn Srichaphan 6-2, 6-4, 6-4. ”I felt really comfortable, actually, and really confident,” Safin said. ”I wish I could play this level of tennis every day. I’m trying.” Safin will next play 2003 runner-up Mark Philippoussis, who received a wild card into the draw and beat Karol Beck 7-5, 6-4, 6-2. American Taylor Dent, seeded 24th, lost serve just once and beat qualifier Dick Norman 7-6(4), 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-7(7), 6-1. Dent hit 23 aces, Norman 25. The Belgian saved three match points in the 4th set tie-break. Wild card David Sherwood, an Englishman ranked 261st, delighted the home crowd by winning his Wimbledon debut against Ricardo Mello, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. “I started off serving well, although I had a bit of nerves towards the end,” Sherwood said. No. 10 Mario Ancic, a semifinalist last year, beat qualifier Tobias Summerer 6-3, 7-5, 6-1. No. 13 Tommy Robredo lost to fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-1, 6-2, 7-5. Following morning thunderstorms, the tournament began in sunshine with temperatures heading into the low 80s. No. 3-seeded Lleyton Hewitt, the 2002 champion, hit 19 aces and beat Christophe Rochus 6-3, 6-3, 6-1. Hewitt is playing in just his second tournament after being sidelined for 11 weeks by foot and rib injuries. Hewitt said he’s still rounding into form after slipping down stairs at home in Sydney and cracking two ribs. He returned to the tour two weeks ago at Queen’s, where he reached the quarterfinals. ”The first round of any Grand Slam is tough,” Hewitt said. ”It’s a match you just really want to get under your belt and get through as quickly as possible. It was a good hit without wasting a lot of energy.” Hewitt will next play Jan Hernych, who rallied past American James Blake 1-6, 6-4, 7-6(6), 7-6(4). Mariano Puerta discovered Wimbledon is a long way from Paris. Puerta, the French Open runner-up, failed to survive the first round of Wimbledon. The Argentine lost to Germany’s Lars Burgsmuller 6-1, 6-1, 6-4 Monday in his first match since falling to Rafael Nadal in the Roland Garros final June 5. Puerta pulled out of the Queen’s Club and Nottingham grass-court tournaments with a groin strain but was seeded 16th at Wimbledon. “It was difficult to play a good match, especially in the first and second sets, he didn’t make a mistake,” Puerta said. “Grass is very different, it’s faster. I only practiced for four days. But I’m happy because I’m No. 11 in the world and 10 months ago, nobody knew me.” Puerta returned to Argentina after the French Open and came to England last Wednesday. “It was crazy, unbelievable, I couldn’t go outside my house,” he said, referring to his reception at home. Puerta was ranked 440th in August ’04. The French Open was his first major event since serving a nine-month doping suspension. “Wild Card” Andy Murray  enjoyed a dream senior Wimbledon debut as he secured a routine 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win over George Bastl. The 18-year-old Scot played with strapping on the ankle he injured at Queen’s a fortnight ago, but it did not appear to hinder him. The variety in his ground-strokes consistently outwitted Bastl, conqueror of Pete Sampras at Wimbledon in 2002. Murray triumphed in under two hours to book a meeting with 14th seed Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic. The Briton admitted he was surprised by the ease of his victory. “I wasn’t really expecting to win – obviously he’s much better than me,” said the 18-year-old, ranked 166 places below Bastl. “But once I got the break in the first set, I thought I played really well.” Rafael Nadal and his trademark three-quarter-length pantalones made their mark at Wimbledon, beating Vince Spadea 6-4, 6-3, 6-0 yesterday evening and treating Centre Court to the exuberant tennis which won him the French Open 17 days ago. The 19-year-old Spaniard showed due reverence to Wimbledon’s infamous dress code by ensuring that the cut-off trousers – known variously as Capri pants, clam diggers or long shorts depending on which fashion guru you consult – were in the purest white. In a further nod to the conformity demanded by his surroundings, the sleeveless shirt which completed the ensemble had collars and the pirate’s headband had only the most discreet of sponsor’s marks. Andy Roddick moved well enough yesterday in ripping past Jiri Vanek 6-1, 7-6(4), 6-2 to earn a place in the second round but he admitted afterwards that his career has stalled somewhat. Roddick’s sole Grand Slam win came in the 2003 US Open and though he was runner-up to Federer at Wimbledon a year ago and has won seven lesser titles since his victory in New York – including Queen’s 10 days ago – none have been the major trophies demanded of him by an expectant American public. “This year I haven’t stepped up in the bigger matches. I think that’s a big thing” said Roddick. “It’s a tough to finish No. 2 in the world and have people speculating what’s wrong. If you guys were the second best journalists in the world I bet you’d be pretty happy. I’m not going to sit here and cry about anything in my life. All I can do is to try my best.” He hardly needed to do that against Vanek, who has lost in the first round of the last 10 Grand Slams in which he has played and has never won a main draw grass court match. Roddick knows, though, that only by passing the stiffer tests ahead of him can he really begin to move forward again. His second-round opponent will be Daniele Bracciali  who survived a world-record equalling barrage of 51 aces to defeat Ivo Karlovic 6-7(4), 7-6(8), 3-6, 7-6(5), 12-10 in 4 hours 17 minutes. In losing, the 6’10 Croatian still matched the mark set by Sweden’s Joachim Johansson at this year’s Australian Open. His tally was also a Wimbledon record, beating that jointly held by his compatriot Goran Ivanisevic and the Australian Philippoussis, who hit 46 in 1997 and 2003 respectively. With the Italian Bracciali smashing 31 aces of his own in the match the pair also set a new record for the highest number of aces served in a match since the ATP started keeping statistics in 1991. Bracciali retired in a 5th set of his qualifying round (holding a match point in a previous set), but got a chance to play as a third lucky loser and recovered in two days. Against Karlovic, he was close to lose each set he won: in the 2nd set he saved a set point (at *7:8) having squandered a 6:3 & 7:6 lead. In the 4th set tie-break was two points away from defeat (at 5-all), in the 5th set served six times to stay in the match, every time won his service games comfortably, but faced a double break point in the 2nd game of that set, which against Karlovic was actually a double virtual MP – Bracciali survived with an ace and a service winner.
Second round: Alistair Watkins, Howard Feindrich
Spanish star Rafael Nadal slipped to a disappointing 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 second-round defeat to Gilles Muller. The French Open champion has taken the game by storm this season, but his unfamiliarity with grass showed up as Muller claimed a notable victory. The Luxembourg player, ranked 69 in the world, tore into the fourth seed from the start to take the opening set. Nadal took the second to level but Muller raised his game and his assured display gave Nadal no way back. The 19-year-old Nadal said he would go away and work on his grass-court game. “I need to improve my serve and my volley and also my confidence on grass,” he said. “Sometimes I am a bit nervous when I serve because I know if I don’t win the game then I could lose the set. I have to face up to this and must play more and train more on grass.” Muller admitted he was relieved his third meeting with his fellow left-hander was on grass. The 22-year-old, who had lost their previous encounters on clay and hardcourt, said: “It is easier to play him on grass than on clay, that’s for sure. He’s the man on clay this season. But on grass it is different. I can use my serve and volley and that will always be tough for clay-court players. Maybe Nadal will never win Wimbledon.” Roger Federer has extended his winning streak on grass to 31 matches with victory over Ivo Minar. The defending champion struggled to find his rhythm in the first two sets but eventually eased to a 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 victory in 1 hour and 22 minutes on Court One. It took a moment of madness from his young Czech opponent to help Federer take the first set, Minar more than holding his own from the back of the court until bizarrely attempting two consecutive drop shots. Greg Rusedski‘s Wimbledon campaign ended in disappointment in near-darkness on Centre Court against Joachim Johansson. The Swedish 11th seed beat the British number two 7-6(10), 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(5) in an enthralling encounter. Rusedski battled hard, with the crowd urging him on in the gathering gloom. But Johansson’s serve allied with the greater variety of strokes in his all-round game were too much for his unseeded opponent. He rallied back after being edged in the first set tie-break, but Johansson took control as darkness fell to seal his third-round berth. Rusedski matched the Swede in the early stages, but a crucial passing shot on the Briton’s serve for 11:10 in the breaker was followed by an ace. The Swede converted his fifth set point, having saved two. But the British number two staged a fierce fightback, sealing the first break of the match in game seven of the second set and going on to close it out. Rusedski had a break point in the 4th game of the next set but failed to convert it, and paid the price when he double-faulted three games later to gift Johansson the break. The Briton dug deep to save another break point at 3:3 in the fourth and fired down two straight aces to make it 5:4 but made little impression on the Swede’s serve when it mattered. As day gave way to night, Johansson twice approached the umpire about the poor light, and tournament referee Alan Mills consulted both players. But it was Rusedski who was left to rue the decision to play on. At 5:5 in the final tie-break, Johansson conjured up a 133 mph ace, then he broke Rusedski to end his Wimbledon hopes for another year. The battle of big-servers lasted 2 hours 52 minutes, Johansson out-aced his opponent 23-20. The 22-year-old ‘Pim-Pim’, never won a Grand Slam match again… Tim Henman‘s Wimbledon dream ended for another year with a five-set defeat to unseeded Russian Dmitry Tursunov. The British number one, who needed five sets to beat Nieminen in round one, lost 3-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 8-6. After twice letting a lead slip amid a rash of break points, Henman looked doomed at *5:4, 40/15 down in the fifth. Tursunov failed to close out, to the delight of the partisan crowd, but broke again in game 13 and did not waste his second opportunity. Henman seemed determined to start on a positive note. He walked on to Centre Court smiling broadly at the usual warm reception and quickly set about the Tursunov serve. The Russian was the more nervous of the two and did well to drop just two service games in the opening set, saving numerous break points. Tursunov served big at the crucial moments against Henman. And, as if responding to criticism of his lethargic start against Nieminen, Henman did his best to rouse the crowd with some trademark fist pumping. But the danger signs from the Nieminen match remained, with Henman winning just 25% of points on his second serve. Tursunov took full advantage in the second set, breaking twice against an increasingly irritated Henman. It was the Russian who looked the stronger as the third set started but Henman edged it, although typically it was not straightforward as he broke, dropped serve and broke again. In a repeat of the second set, Tursunov raced through the fourth and grabbed what seemed to be the decisive break in game nine of the fifth. A combination of his nerves and some good Henman returns saw the Russian slip up from 40/15, sending the crowd wild. “I feel genuinely sorry for Tim, that was his last chance and he blew it.,” said Tursunov. “It took me a while – I had two match points and it was tough to let them go. I was lucky to get through. I think I reacted pretty well (to losing match points) – I didn’t let it get in my head.” Teenager Andy Murray gave British spirits a huge boost by destroying 14th seed Radek Stepanek 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in front of a stunned crowd on Court One. The 18-year-old took to the court as the only surviving Briton, following Henman’s earlier shock defeat. But he responded to the pressure in superb style and once he broke serve after an epic rally at 4:4 in the first set, the result was rarely in doubt. The Scot needed less than 2 hours to seal the biggest win of his career. He later admitted Henman’s five-set defeat to Tursunov had motivated him. “I knew Tim had just lost before I went on and I really wanted to keep the Brits going.” he told BBC Sport. Also other 18-year-old player, named Novak Djokovic , advanced to the third round. The Serb came back from a two-sets-to-love deficit and a break down to defeat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 3-6, 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(3), 6-4 in 4 hours 8 minutes. Djokovic saved three match points in the process, he withstood also two matches points in his last qualifying match as he beat Wesley Moodie 4-6, 6-0, 6-7(2), 7-6(4), 6-3! The light was fading, the wind was swirling, and Andy Roddick was pacing behind the Centre Court baseline before the start of the fifth set, all too aware he had lost his past five matches of that length. Determined to end that drought, he decided a change in tactics was in order. He began charging to the net more, and thanks in part to one picture-perfect diving volley, the second-seeded Roddick pulled out a 7-5, 6-3, 6-7(3), 4-6, 6-3 victory over Daniele Bracciali on Friday to reach the third round at Wimbledon. “I wanted to prove something out there today, for sure. There was definitely a chip on my shoulder,” Roddick said. “It was big to get through. It would have been a devastating loss.” Roddick’s match was suspended by darkness Thursday night, right after the third set, which angered Bracciali. And it was halted for 33 minutes Friday by rain, right after the 120th-ranked Italian conjured up four brilliant returns on serves up to 135 mph to break at love for a 4:3 edge in the fourth set. It was about then that Roddick began having flashbacks to the French Open. There, too, he won the first two sets against a low-ranked opponent in the second round before letting the lead vanish. Roddick wound up losing to Jose Acasuso in five sets in Paris. “I thought about it,” the American said. “I thought about how to avoid it.” So he opted to attack more. Roddick won 13 of 15 serve-and-volley points and 28 points at the net overall. “I wasn’t surprised,” Bracciali said, “because I knew he had to change something.” The match turned in Roddick’s favor in the sixth game of the final set, when he smacked a forehand he thought was a clean winner. It was called out. Roddick hopped in place and appeared ready to launch into a tirade but instead put his arm in his mouth and bit down, holding it all in. Good decision. A moment later, Roddick hit a backhand passing shot down the line – the sort of addition to his repertoire he’s developed over the past two years – to earn two break points, then converted the second to lead 4:2. In the next game, Roddick double-faulted to fall behind 15/30, and then came the shot of the match. Bracciali hit what looked to be a just-right passing shot, one seemingly destined to set up a chance to break right back. But Roddick changed directions, left his feet, stretched out to his right and, parallel to the ground, extended for a volley to end the point. “That dive,” Bracciali said admiringly, pausing. “Incredible.” It was Roddick’s first victory in a five-setter since the 2003 U.S. Open semifinals, when he overcame a match point against David Nalbandian en route to his first Grand Slam title. “I get up there sometimes, but most of the time it’s to shake hands,” he said with a smile. “I was able to make myself do it. It’s important to at least have that option.” Then again, the choice of tactics wouldn’t have been an issue if Roddick had closed out the match in three sets a day earlier. Bracciali thought there was enough light to continue Thursday, perhaps for another 30 or 40 minutes, and didn’t like it that Roddick quickly went over to gather his things after the tiebreaker. There was some discussion with the chair umpire, and Bracciali said Roddick cursed. “I said a bad word. I don’t know if it was to Bracciali. I was walking off, and he was throwing a fit,” Roddick said, adding that the chair umpire announced play was suspended. “Try returning a 135 mph serve when you can kind of see the ball. It’s not the easiest thing. I don’t think there’s anything bad about walking off a dark tennis court because you can’t see and you can’t play.” If Wimbledon paid its players by the hour it would have been a fabulous day for Wayne Arthurs and Alexander Popp, who battled for 4 hours 9 minutes before Popp won 6-3, 6-7(4), 3-6, 7-6(4), 14-12 saving two match points in the 5th set. The pair managed to belt down 62 aces between them – Arthurs accounted for 38 of those – and it made for an absorbing contest even if the rallies were few and far between.
Third round: (Reuters)
Andy Murray‘s stirring Wimbledon run ended in heartbreak with a 6-7(4), 1-6, 6-0, 6-4, 6-1 loss to David Nalbandian on his Centre Court debut. The 18-year-old wildcard looked set to cause another huge upset when he took a two-set lead but cramp and fatigue set in and Nalbandian pounced. And had he taken one of three break-point opportunities at 4:4 in the fourth set, the Scot might be celebrating reaching the fourth round on his Wimbledon debut (earlier he led 4:2 in that set). Murray’s hopes diminished after he lost the 4th set. The Briton showed flashes of life in the final set, but Nalbandian’s consistency and superior conditioning saw him through. Nalbandian admitted he had been surprised by the quality of Murray’s performance. “You always think it will be tough but he played very well,” he said. “He surprised me a bit in the beginning but set by set I started to see his game a little better. He lost because of physical problems but he has plenty of time to work on his fitness.” Roger Federer almost failed to have it taped as the defending champion endured his toughest test so far. The No. 1 seed, who tapes up his ankles much as a boxer tapes his fists before going on court, was left dazed at times as he slugged it out in a four-set examination against Germany’s Nicolas Kiefer. Having breezed through his opening two encounters almost without breaking sweat, the Swiss needed to dig deeper to see off the No. 25 seed 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-1, 7-5. “This was definitely a test, absolutely,” said Federer, after chalking up an amazing 32nd consecutive win on grass. “I think I had to survive some tough moments. I have the feeling I should have won in three, but in the end I am happy to have won in four really.” Federer could easily have been facing a five-set marathon as Kiefer definitely had the measure of his rival. But Federer, who was twice broken during the fourth set, showed his championship quality by instantly breaking back on both occasions. He made his killer moves at 5:4, when he served to level the match before breaking Kiefer for a third time and serving for the match. Kiefer was two points away from taking the match into the decider as he led *5:3 (30/15), but he was quite lucky to level at one set apiece, because in the tie-break Federer blew a 4:1 advantage with two mini-breaks. Federer said: “For me only the win would be satisfying this year given the way I’ve been playing and the misses I’ve had at the French and Australian Opens. Of course I could walk away more easily if I played all right or my opponent played out of his head but I’d still be disappointed.” Third seed Lleyton Hewitt has scurried through to the fourth round of Wimbledon with a polished 7-6(5), 6-4, 7-5 victory over “lucky loser” Justin Gimelstob. The crowd, though, loved it even if it did him little good. Hewitt set up victory in the first set tie-break with an arching lob before nailing his first serve to win it 7/5. Gimelstob was, not surprisingly, feeling his right shoulder by this stage and the American called a medical timeout in the change-over. With Hewitt pacing impatiently around the backcourt like a dog waiting for its food, Gimelstob yelped in agony as the trainer manipulated him. The pain, however, did not stop him again taking to the skies at 4:5 in the second set, although this time the American slapped his forehead repeatedly as he lay in heap by the net in apparent recognition that it probably was not the wisest of tactics. Gimelstob, who has never been beyond round three at a Grand Slam, held serve admirably in the third set despite his obvious discomfort, until the 11th game. In it Hewitt set up break point with a wonderful backhand pass that once again brought a dive followed by the inevitable scream of pain from his opponent. Gimelstob then double-faulted lamely to lose the match. Marat Safin‘s latest attempt to conquer Wimbledon ended in bitter disappointment and frustration in a 4-6, 6-7(4), 3-6 loss to Feliciano Lopez. Safin, 25, came into the tournament claiming to have discovered a liking for grass after finishing runner-up to Roger Federer in Halle two weeks ago. But after convincing displays in the first two rounds, where he saw off Srichaphan and 2003 finalist Philippoussis, Safin looked a forlorn soul as he joined fellow draw cards Henman and Nadal on the sidelines here. “I didn’t take my opportunities and I couldn’t adapt my game to him. I just didn’t play well enough to win,” he said. “I have played well over the last few weeks. It was not my day today but I am satisfied that I have found my game on grass at last. I think I was a little unlucky with the draw but I have nothing to complain about. It’s impossible to play my best tennis every day.” Lopez, watched by doubles partner Nadal, will be playing in the round of 16 for the third time. He was broken in the third game of the opening set and then collected a warning for ball abuse in the eighth for launching the ball out of the stadium. Lopez fought off two break points in the ninth game before taking the first set 6-4 after 32 minutes. Safin, carrying a serious knee injury, was showing off some smooth volleying at the net but not often enough as Lopez played a steady, solid game. The 23-year-old Spaniard then clinched the second set tie-break with a sweet drop volley and was in charge of the third set racing into a 4:2 lead. A disconsolate Safin gave up the chase. Lopez set up three match points in the ninth game and clinched the tie with his 14th ace after just 1 hour and 49 minutes on court. Juan Carlos Ferrero, the former world No 1, and Guillermo Coria, who a year ago had climbed to third on the ATP ladder, rarely get a mention when lists of contenders are drawn up for Wimbledon, but these clay-court specialists are determined to establish themselves on the faster surface. Both of them have battled their way through the first week to come on collision course this afternoon with the tournament’s top two seeds, Federer and Roddick. Their interest is likely to end on Centre and Court No. 1 respectively but not, if the evidence presented on Saturday is any guide, without one heck of fight. Ferrero’s third-round opponent was Florian Mayer, the German who reached the quarter-finals here a year ago. Mayer dominated the early exchanges but the Spaniard recovered in impressive fashion to win 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-1. Coria’s resilience was even more striking. The Argentine surrendered the opening two sets to Austria’s Jurgen Melzer but came successfully through his second successive five-set (previously ousted Xavier Malisse 6-4 in the 5th) decider 3-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 deep into a gloomy evening on Court 18. Coria beat Melzer in the third round also a month before at Roland Garros, but much more easier, in three sets. The victories have boosted the confidence of both players for the demanding task ahead, particularly Ferrero, the French Open champion of two years ago and a man yearning to re-establish himself. “I did it one time – I can do it again,” was Ferrero’s positive response to whether he can climb back up the rankings. Chickenpox and a serious wrist injury last year contributed to his slump and he arrived here with a seeding of only 23 but a pedigree to go much further. Andy Roddick showed no signs of tiredness in the wake of his five-set struggle against Bracciali as he eased his way into the last 16 at Wimbledon with a straight-sets win over Igor Andreev, recording a 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(4) win. The going was much tougher in the third for Roddick, who survived a number of break points as the set went into a tie-break. Andreev continued to battle in the hopes of clawing his way back into the match, but Roddick’s powerful serving eventually proved too much. “That’s as well as I’ve hit a ball this tournament,” he said. There are few laughs on court yesterday from the man who lost to the man who beat the man, following Alexander Popp‘s 7-5, 6-7(5), 2-6, 2-6 defeat to Dmitry Tursunov in 2 hours and 33 minutes. Tursunov broke in the fourth game of the first set but allowed Popp back in to sneak it 7-5 after 43 minutes of average baseline play. Popp went close to putting the match away when he had Tursunov at love-40, 5-all in the second set only to collapse and allow the Russian eventually to force a tie-break. Popp saved one set point there, but still ran out a 7/5 loser after a long 58-minute set. Tursunov carried the momentum into the third set, which he won in 27 minutes with two breaks. The fourth set went with serve until Tursunov’s forehand out-gunned Popp in the fifth game and he took a decisive 3:2 lead and served out to love without looking like losing another game.
Fourth round: George Vecsey
Roger Federer notched up his 33rd consecutive win on grass yesterday evening, sealing his place in the quarter-finals with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(6) win over the former French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero. Federer will not match Bjorn Borg‘s record of 41 grass-court victories even if he captures the title on Sunday, but the joy of winning what would be his third consecutive Wimbledon title would surely provide ample compensation. “My goal for this year is to be No. 1 in the world and to win Wimbledon,” said the Swiss. “I’m right in it now but I have to prove it – to myself especially.” Ferrero never came close to snapping Federer’s grass-court winning streak, though there were plenty of moments when, in the rapidly fading light on Centre Court, he threatened to extend the contest beyond three sets. Ferrero, a former world No. 1, refused to capitulate against the current rankings leader and even staged something of a fightback late in the 3rd set when Federer served for the match at 6:5. “I think once you’ve been No. 1 in the world you always believe you’ve got a chance,” said Federer. “Grass isn’t his favourite surface but he showed on occasions that he can play really well. He played tough off the baseline.” Federer lifted himself for a final push in the third-set tie-break and his eagerness to get off court with a victory and secure himself a full day of rest before the quarter-finals was clear in the venom with which he took his second match point after he had fashioned what turned out to be a crucial mini-break in the tie-break. In an uncharacteristic flash of aggression he fired an unreturnable serve straight into Ferrero’s midriff. Federer meets Fernando Gonzalez in the last eight after the 24-year-old Chilean beat Mikhail Youzhny 7-6(3), 7-6(5), 6-3. Lleyton Hewitt stepped out of line in more ways than one yesterday on his way to beating American Taylor Dent 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-3 squandering two match points in the 3rd set tie-break (Hewitt beat Dent also losing a match point-up set at Wimbledon four years before). His seven foot-faults were a technical problem. His berating of two baseline judges was a case of indiscipline, and he was fortunate to escape with one warning, for verbal abuse. Otherwise he successfully controlled his emotions during a three-hour workout during another sweltering day on Centre Court, making some breathtaking recoveries from the baseline, including three exquisite lobs over the advancing Dent. Dent was convinced that Hewitt’s complaining persuaded the umpire, Enric Molina, to change a baseline call in his favour at 2:2, 30/30 in the 4th set. “I thought the umpire handled the situation poorly,” Dent said. “There’s no question the ball was out of my reach. But the umpire didn’t change his call until after Hewitt started complaining about it. That’s not the right sign to send to all the other linesmen around.” Asked if he intimidated umpires, Hewitt said: “I don’t think so, no. I only questioned a couple of line calls today. Taylor questioned calls as well out there. It’s the same for both ends.” He’s not a tourist anymore. Andy Roddick has Wimbledon in his blood. He walks around the village in quiet moments thinking he belongs in Wimbledon. Now it’s time to win Wimbledon. Second-seeded Roddick continued his relatively smooth run with a 6-3, 7-6(1), 6-4 victory over Guillermo Coria. Those high standards account for the tension in Roddick, the clash between purpose and playfulness. He then allowed himself to admit in public just how much he loves this place. “You know, there’s no event like it,” said Roddick, who often employs Jon Stewart, American-style irony, just perfect for somebody who won’t turn 23 until late August. But when speaking of Wimbledon, Roddick is dead serious. “I have friends that have come over, they’ve been here for the first time, they walk through, and they’re just like, ‘This is an event,'” Roddick said. Dmitry Tursunov won’t have to stare at that No. 152 ranking any longer. It will improve noticeably after his fourth-round appearance at Wimbledon, as will his bank account. It was tough for the Northern Californian to leave the All England Club, though, after a grueling 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 loss to Sebastien Grosjean on Monday. While Grosjean moved onto the quarterfinals against Roddick, Tursunov was left to ponder a couple of crucial fifth-set calls that went against him. Tursunov was not available for comment after the match, which was probably just as well, for he was seething over calls he thought cost him two service games, each on Grosjean shots around the baseline. Once Tursunov gets back to his home in Roseville (PlacerCounty), he can reflect on the best tournament of his career, one in which he had just two match-worthy rackets and a borrowed Wimbledon-logo shirt, the result of his own being stolen. Asked earlier in the tournament how the financial boost would impact his life, Tursunov answered: “Maybe I can get a new stereo for my car.” Feliciano Lopez can be as dangerous as hell, as he showed yesterday when beating Mario Ancic 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. Lopez is a leftie. His serving was superb, as was his volleying. He can play anywhere on the court, and, most significant of all against Ancic, he kept his cool. Ancic didn’t, and that was part of the story of his defeat. His serve, one of his big weapons, wasn’t working. He couldn’t return the ball consistently. And when, after he was broken in the first game of the second set, he tried to smash up his racket in frustration. He got himself a code violation. He might as well have hung up the white flag. Losing it like that is not Ancic’s style, and he sent a powerful message to Lopez that he was seriously flustered. Bad move. That boosted his opponent, allowing Lopez to feel even better than he already was. Lopez ended a Spanish drought at Wimbledon becoming the first Spaniard since 1972 to advance to the quarterfinals (Manuel Orantes finished his run losing in the last 4).
Quarterfinals: Lisa Dillman
“I feel like now more than ever,” said Andy Roddick, “I really needed a result like this, for myself, and I’d love to go farther. It feels good to be able to battle through the last 10 days.” To battle through another five-setter, Roddick defeating pal Sebastian Grosjean 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in 2 hours 45 minutes, in their quarters match, Andy’s second straight win over that distance after losing the previous five in succession. Roddick earned one point with a hard volley to a corner that Grosjean could only chop at, sending the ball flying into the stands. Another came courtesy of a backhand passing shot that Grosjean got his racket to but couldn’t control. And the last came when Grosjean – a Wimbledon semifinalist the past two years – hit a crafty slice serve, and Roddick delivered a sharp return that the Frenchman meekly slapped into the net. The latest, most vital, addition for Roddick is the volley, and he won the point on 47 of 59 trips to the net Wednesday. “It feels good to win a couple in a row,” mused Roddick, the mobile kid from Nebraska. To battle to his third straight Wimbledon semi is satisfying, particularly after getting eliminated in the second round of the French Open last month. “There was a lot of heat on me coming into this tournament,” Roddick conceded. “As you know. I wanted to prove that I’m still a pretty good tennis player. I’m not gone. I’m 22 years old, I’m still up in the world competing for Slams, basically three out of four of them. I felt like I still deserved a little bit of respect.”… “All in all, I’m really pleased – it was like the match I wanted to play against him and I targeted his backhand quite well,” said Roger Federer after defeating Fernando Gonzalez 7-5, 6-2, 7-6(2). The Swiss now with 34 consecutive victories on grass, now with the very good chance of becoming the third man since 1936 to win three Wimbledons in a row. Lleyton Hewitt, 2002 champion, who plays Federer, and who has lost seven straight to Federer, beat – after almost identical scoreline – Feliciano Lopez 7-5, 6-4, 7-6(2) in their quarterfinal. Thomas Johansson, 2002 Australian Open winner, got past David Nalbandian 7-6(5), 6-2, 6-2. The 12th-seeded Swede, contesting his first quarter-final in SW19, always had the upper hand against the Argentine 18th seed, the losing finalist in 2002. Nalbandian found himself battling to hold serve from the start against a determined opponent. Johansson’s serve, apart from a single first-set break, was rarely threatened. Nalbandian was broken in the third game of the opening set but broke back five games later for 4:4. A see-saw tie-break saw no less than seven mini-breaks, with Johansson holding his nerve to finally come out on top after a set lasting 1 hour and 13 minutes. The Swede stepped up a gear in the second, making light of Nalbandian’s better record on grass, with breaks in the second and eighth games. The Argentine briefly raised hopes of another comeback from two sets down, as he did against Murray, with a break at the start of the third. But Johansson broke back immediately, and Nalbandian then surrendered a 40/0 lead in his next service game to go 3:1 down. The Swede then broke his disconsolate opponent yet again to clinch what turned out to be a comfortable victory and now faces Roddick. Johansson, 30, the oldest man to make it through to the last eight this year, is the first Swedish semi-finalist since Stefan Edberg in 1993. The 2002 Australian Open champion, now back to something like his best after a serious knee injury, said: “This has been one of the best weeks of my life. A lot of people didn’t think I was going to be able to come back after my injury, but I worked really hard and I feel a lot stronger than I was before. It will be very tough against Andy in the semi-finals, but I think I have a chance. I know when I play my best tennis I can compete with the big boys – I know what it takes to win a Grand Slam.”
Semifinals: Stephen Birley
Lleyton Hewitt had fondly supposed that Roger Federer might be suffering from a terminal case of Grand Slam semi-final block, he was rapidly disabused of that notion on Centre Court yesterday afternoon. The Swiss world No. 1 had lost to Marat Safin at this stage in the Australian Open in January, and then against Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros. But that was on hardcourt and clay. Grass to Federer is what water is to ducks. Once through the All England wrought-iron gates he is in seventh heaven. It was not, on this occasion, an immaculate performance and Hewitt, currently the world No. 2, must have chastised himself for losing an opening set when the great man managed to get only 10 of his 27 first serves within the appropriate lines. However, if you cannot beat Federer when he is serving poorly, what earthly chance do you have when the flow is with him? Hewitt discovered the answer in the second and third sets: precisely none. The Australian hustled and bustled, and did all that was within his power to make possible the impossible, but it was all to no avail and he was cursorily dispatched 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4) in little more than 2 hours. “I always have the feeling that I can hang with him. With the variations in my game I get the errors, and I’ve got the power when I need it,” said Federer. “I think I’ve improved so much physically and mentally over the last three years, and that’s changed it around for me. Quite simple.” Federer has won his last 20 finals, and there seemed no obvious reason to suppose he will not extend that tomorrow. “He’s the best player in the world,” said Hewitt. The Australian changed his tactics after two losing sets, and was running to the net in the 3rd set much more often than in the two previous sets, which almost paid off because he was two points away leading 6:5* (30/0). Andy Roddick saw off the stubborn challenge of Thomas Johansson 6-7(6), 6-2, 7-6(10), 7-6(5) to set up a repeat of last year’s final against world Federer. “I was lucky to get through,” said Roddick about a high-quality encounter in which both players produced some of their very best tennis. “I felt like I played great stuff. The level of tennis was very, very high.” Johansson resumed the rain-delayed match at 5:6 and immediately held to take the opening set into a tie-break. Roddick appeared in control of it and he hit a rare backhand service return winner to cultivate two set points. Johansson saved the first with a heavy first serve then Roddick netted a simple forehand. A superb forehand pass, whipped cross-court, won the 12th seed a set point of his own and he seized the opener when Roddick hit a forehand long. “It’s tough coming out of a locker room and all of a sudden getting thrown into the boiler of a tie-breaker in the semi-final of Wimbledon when you’ve been on the court for about three and a half minutes,” Roddick said. The tide turned at the beginning of the second set. Having not serve-volleyed once in his opening six service games Roddick thrice attacked the net with confidence – and success. He also began to overwhelm his opponent from the baseline. Johansson’s game went badly off the boil and two breaks enabled the 22-year-old to level the match. In the third set Johnasson’s form returned to what it had been in the tie-break. He adeptly manoeuvred his man around the court and coaxed backhand errors out of the American but was unable to gain a break, such was the power of the Roddick delivery. Serve dominated and both players spurned break point opportunities. With the score locked at 5:5 in the third set here there was a real chance that the gloomy air at the All England Club would also be turned blue by the American as Johansson, despite trailing his opponent in almost every statistical category, stood toe to toe with the 22-year-old. Roddick, the world No. 4, stepped up his game and began hitting more aggressive returns, particularly off his opponent’s second serve. Aided by a desperate miss when Johansson had the court at his mercy, Roddick broke and served for the set. However, two unforced errors allowed the Swede back in it and Johansson forced a tie-break. Just as he had in the first set, Roddick had the early initiative but Johansson produced two superb returns and suddenly he had a set point to lead 2-1. Perhaps sensing the enormity of the occasion he held back during a tentative 14-stroke rally and Roddick’s aggression kept the set alive. The American eventually won it 12/10 (saving three set points at 6:7, 7:8* & 8:9), and was finally in control of the match. “It was pretty intense,” said Roddick. “You don’t start a tiebreaker thinking it’s going to go 12-10, backwards and forwards. I was so keyed in on the match I wasn’t focusing too much on what was going on around me for a change.” The fourth set was bereft of rallies lasting more than half a dozen strokes and another tie-break was inevitable. The first 10 points went with serve until Johansson befell a most cruel fate when a chipped Roddick return hit the tape and dribbled over the net to give him a match point. “It was lucky,” said Roddick. “The timing of it could not have been any better for me.” He sealed victory in 2 hours and 59 minutes with a trademark service winner before sinking to his knees while wearing a look of utter relief.
Final: Steve Wine
Roger Federer strengthened his claim to greatness Sunday, winning his third consecutive Wimbledon title by beating Andy Roddick 6-2, 7-6(2), 6-4. With an impeccable performance, even by his high standards, the top-ranked Federer became the third man since 1936 to win three straight Wimbledon crowns, joining seven-time champion Pete Sampras and five-time winner Bjorn Borg. “Nice group,” Federer said during the trophy ceremony. “Sampras was one of my favorite players of all time. Borg, what you can you say about him, he’s just fantastic. I hope it’s not going to stop with three. Maybe one day I’ll win a fourth one, but this one is already very, very great.” Federer defeated the second-seeded Roddick at Wimbledon for the third year in a row, including the past two finals, and leads the rivalry 9-1. Roddick is 32-0 against everyone else on grass since 2003. “Pity for him,” Federer said, “but I really did play my best.” Federer won his 21st consecutive final and improved to 5-0 in Grand Slam finals. The 23-year-old Swiss became the first man since Tony Trabert in 1953-55 to win his first five major finals. On championship point Federer hit a 129 mph service winner, his fastest of the match. He screamed with joy, fell to his knees, rolled onto his back and covered his face with his hands. He rose and met Roddick with a hug, then raised his arms to the cheering crowd, tears in his eyes. Federer finished with 49 winners and just 12 unforced errors, an astounding ratio. During the trophy ceremony, Roddick wryly acknowledged he wasn’t in the mood to talk about being over-matched. “I’m more in the mood for a beer right now,” he said, prompting cheers from the Centre Court crowd. “I couldn’t have asked more of myself. I put in all the work, and I wanted to win this so badly. This guy is the best for a reason and he really deserves a lot of credit… Maybe I’ll just punch him or something.” It’s not just the rivalry with Roddick that underscores Federer’s superiority. In the semifinals, he easily beat No. 2-ranked Hewitt for the eighth time in a row. A rain delay after the 2nd set slowed Federer for only 25 minutes in his pursuit of the title. He has won 36 consecutive matches on grass, including 21 at Wimbledon, since losing to Mario Ancic in the first round here in 2002. Federer’s victory ended a brief Grand Slam slump. He won three major titles last year, then lost this year in the semifinals of the Australian Open and French Open. As usual, Federer won with a mixture of precision and power. On one point he placed his serve on a line, hit his second shot on another line, then slammed an overhead winner. He hit 11 aces, including a sly one on a 108 mph change-up. At the net, he made even difficult volleys look easy. During one exchange from close range, Roddick rifled three consecutive shots at Federer, who casually responded with graceful volleys, the third a winner. Only Roddick’s big serve kept things close. He had little chance in baseline rallies and tried coming forward, but Federer happily accepted the invitation to tee off on passing shots, hitting 16 for winners. As Federer pulled away, there were shouts of “Come on, Andy!” from fans eager for a more competitive match. Federer refused to cooperate, saving several of his most spectacular shots for the seventh game of the final set, when he broke for a 4:3 lead. Three passing shots won points, and he smacked one return so hard it sailed between the legs of an onrushing Roddick. Reaching behind him, Roddick somehow managed to block the ball back, but Federer put away his next shot. Roddick stayed even only until the match’s sixth game, when he made the mistake of hitting an overhead back to Federer, who yanked it cross-court for a winner. That gave the Swiss a break point, which he converted. Federer broke again to take the first set. After winning 20 of his first 21 service points, he was broken for the only time and fell behind 3:1 in the second set. Federer broke back for 3-all. Roddick overcame two set points serving at 4:5, but in the tiebreaker he quickly fell behind, and when the deficit reached 5:2, he slammed his racket to the grass. He shouldn’t have been so hard on himself: in the first two sets, Federer hit 33 winners with just three unforced errors. Federer improved to 7-1 in tiebreakers against Roddick, who has won one of 10 sets in their three Wimbledon showdowns. For his 30th career title, Federer won $1.1 million and Roddick earned $557,550. Stats of the final