Roddick, Federer on course for Wimbledon semifinal
June 26, 2010
WIMBLEDON, England – There were moments during Andy Roddick’s third-round match at Wimbledon when he could have allowed himself to get distracted by frustration.
Indeed, there was a time, not all that long ago, when he probably would have.
“You used to see,” said Roddick’s coach, Larry Stefanki, “negativity carry over and linger for a few games.”
Not anymore. The No. 5-seeded American let the second set slip away against No. 29 Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, then quickly regrouped Friday, finishing with 28 aces in a 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-3 victory to reach the second week at the All England Club.
“I’ve done a good job of not saying a word out there this whole tournament, just going about my business the right way,” Roddick said, “so I just tried to play the next point.”
Leading 5-4 in the second set, Roddick got to love-40 on Kohlschreiber’s serve. But Roddick frittered away all three of those set points, then lost the last three points of the tiebreaker, too. Did he let that bother him? No, he went out and broke to open the third set.
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Then, still nursing that lead late in the third, Roddick badly missed a forehand wide, an unforced error he greeted with a growl. But that was it. Instead of losing his focus, he tightened it, winning 15 of the next 16 points. Later, on his first match point, Roddick sprinted forward and dived to try to reach a volley, but netted the shot. Five minutes later, he blew a second match point by missing a backhand. He didn’t flinch, though, and eventually ended things on match point No. 3 with an ace at 137 mph.
“He’s done such a better job over the last year of letting things go, and that’s what great players learn to do: They don’t let it bother them to the point of where it carries over. It’s a clean slate. It’s over. Nothing you can do about it,” Stefanki said. “Easier said than done.”
Stefanki believes that get-over-it-and-move-on attitude stems, at least in part, from the way Roddick handled his emotions during the 2009 Wimbledon final against Roger Federer. Roddick nearly took a 2-0 lead in sets, wound up trailing 2-1 instead, then forced a fifth set before losing it 16-14.
“He made a huge step last year against Federer, and now, I think, he’s learned that he’s never out of it,” Stefanki said. “Against the best player, maybe, of all time, to be able to … come back and say, ‘No, no, no, it’s not bothering me; I’m back to square one and playing every point as hard as I can’ – that match for him, mentally, is helping now, a year later.”
Seeking his first Wimbledon title at age 27, Roddick has lost three finals at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament to Federer, and they are on track for a semifinal meeting next week.
After being taken to five sets in the first round, then four in the second, Federer was back to his best Friday, beating 2001 Australian Open runner-up Arnaud Clement 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.
“Obviously,” Federer said, “this felt much better.”
Federer saved the only break point he faced, hit 29 winners and only 12 unforced errors, and was ushered off Centre Court by a roar of approval from the crowd.
“I get standing ovations 99 percent of the time – doesn’t matter if the performance was great or not-so great,” Federer said. “I think they’re happy to see me, and they love tennis. … But of course, when I end up winning, and they give me a reception like this, it feels good at the heart.”
John Isner, meanwhile, was feeling anything but good Friday, when he trudged on court at noon to play in the second round a day after finishing the longest match in tennis history. Understandably wiped out after his victory over Nicolas Mahut went to 70-68 in the fifth set and included 11 hours, 5 minutes of action spread over three days, the 23-seeded Isner, of Tampa, Fla., bowed out 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 to Thiemo de Bakker in 74 minutes – the shortest men’s match at Wimbledon so far this year.
“This is one type of loss that I can’t be too disappointed about, because I didn’t have a good chance to begin with,” said Isner, who was dealing with a “dead” right shoulder, a stiff neck and a painful blister on the little toe on his left foot.
“It was brutal,” said Isner, who hit a record 112 aces against Mahut, and zero against de Bakker. “I mean, things were looking pretty bleak right from the get-go.”
Friday’s winners included No. 3 Novak Djokovic, the 2008 Australian Open champion; No. 12 Tomas Berdych, a French Open semifinalist; and No. 15 Lleyton Hewitt, the 2002 Wimbledon champion, who eliminated No. 21 Gael Monfils. Daniel Brands, a German ranked 98th, moved on when No. 31 Victor Hanescu of Romania stopped playing in the fifth set because of what was officially listed as a leg injury. Hanescu was cited by the chair umpire in that set for swearing and spitting toward the crowd; police arrested four people at that court, but the tournament could not verify if the episodes were related.
Djokovic faces Hewitt next, while six-time Wimbledon champion Federer plays French Open semifinalist and 16th-seeded Jurgen Melzer, who eliminated No. 22 Feliciano Lopez 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. Roddick will take on 82nd-ranked Yen-hsun Lu, the first man from Taiwan reach the fourth round at a Grand Slam tournament.
The most intriguing matchup already set for Monday is in the women’s draw, where two Belgians who have been ranked No. 1, won major singles titles and recently took sabbaticals from the tour – Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters – will play each other for the 25th time. The series stands at 12-all.
“I hope it’s going to be another good one,” Henin said.
No. 8 Clijsters defeated No. 27 Maria Kirilenko 6-3, 6-3, and No. 17 Henin eliminated No. 12 Nadia Petrova 6-1, 6-4.
Henin owns seven Grand Slam titles, and Clijsters two, but neither has won Wimbledon.
Venus Williams, a five-time champion at the All England Club, got off to a slow start Friday, trailing 3-1, before overpowering No. 26 Alisa Kleybanova of Russia 6-4, 6-2.
“These players I’m playing against, I definitely feel I’m holding them at bay,” Williams said. “They come out and play well, play with really nothing to lose. These days, in men’s or women’s, you can’t take anything for granted.”