After a pretty crazy first week at Wimbledon, the start of week two today had all the ingredients for further chaos, but it wasn’t meant to be. In fact, it was a fairly boring day of tennis up until the final few swings.
The day began with Roger Federer pummeling Jurgen Melzer. I thought Federer would have a much tougher go of it but credit to the Swiss for elevating his game to collect consecutive straight set match wins after a very dodgy start to the fortnight.
Federer was never troubled by the lefty Melzer at all during a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 trashing of the Austrian.
“I thought I played great,” the six-time Wimbledon champ said. “Aggressive right from the start, which I think was key today because I knew Melzer was going to try ‑‑ every chance he was going to get, he was going to hit the ball and come forward as well. You want to counter that and play aggressive yourself. I was able to do that very well today.”
Federer now has a date on Wednesday with the dangerous big man Tomas Berdych who knocked out lightly-regarded Daniel Brands of Germany 4-6, 7-6(1), 7-5, 6-3.
Berdych beat Federer in their last meeting at Miami and remember Tomas had Federer DOA a few years ago at the Australian. Fed does lead the series 8-2 against the Czech but there’s no doubt Berdych is a better, more confident player these days.
No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal won his 11th straight Wimbledon match after a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 dusting of Paul-Henri Mathieu. I’ve always thought that Mathieu has the game to trouble Nadal, but the numbers suggest otherwise. Nadal has now won 10 straight matches over the Frenchman and the victory sets up a massive clash against Robin Soderling in the last eight.
“No, sure, gonna be a really tough match,” said Nadal of Soderling. “I think probably is one of the more difficult opponents that you can play on all surfaces today, but especially here. I think he’s playing with big confidence, big serve, perfect flat shots and long from the baseline. So he’s playing great. Gonna be very difficult match for me I think. Hopefully for him, too.”
Soderling was playing great up I thought until he ran into David Ferrer today. Robin won but needed five sets to do it, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, and for me that’s a little troubling. Soderling should win that in a breeze. Regardless, given Nadal’s knee issues (“Today it was better. I didn’t feel pain today, but, you know, you never know. It’s there, but wasn’t the problem today. Hopefully gonna be fine for the next day, too.”) I still like Soderling come Wednesday to pull the upset.
Of all the top players perhaps no one is playing better tennis and with more confidence than Andy Murray after the Scot crushed American Sam Querrey 7-5, 6-3, 6-4. And among the remaining eight, Murray is the only player who hasn’t dropped a set.
“I’m playing really well,” Murray said after reached his third straight Wimbledon quarterfinal. “You know, but you got to wait until the end of the tournament really to see how well you’ve been playing. You know, I need to make sure that I up my game, you know, when the matches get tougher, you know, in the tight situations. It’s important that I continue to play well and not slip up.”
Murray now meets JW Tsonga who won in four sets over his countryman Julien Benneteau.
And now to the match of the day for the men, Andy Roddick and Yen-Hsun Lu. A match that most people, myself included, thought of as a throwaway. Roddick had won all three meetings, and won them easily. And now they were playing on Roddick’s favorite grass surface. But drama here we go as Lu pulled the shock of the day upsetting Roddick 4-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 9-7.
Roddick won the first set and was in control. But a rare double fault crept into the second set tiebreak to help Lu level the match.
The third set again seemed trouble free for Roddick who was holding serve without much pressure. Surely Lu would crumble at some point point under the weight of Roddick’s return game. But the Taiwanese never did and Roddick stayed in a defensive posture. Lu forced another tiebreak and again Roddick donated an ill-timed double fault. Lu was now in command up two sets to one.
But Lu still could not make any impression on any Roddick service games. Luckily for the underdog Roddick had little to offer on Lu’s serve, so a third tiebreak was called for. This time it was Lu who blinked. After what looked to be an easy put away that would have put Lu up 4-1 but went Roddick’s way, things began to unravel for Lu. Roddick secured the breaker and appeared to be on his way to a five set win.
Roddick enjoyed early break chances in the fifth, but Lu to his credit kept fighting and kept the pressure on. And in the end it paid off. In the 16th game on match point a poor Roddick volley set up a clear backhand pass for Lu and 26-year-old nailed it down the line for the win.
And after nearly four and-a-half-hours Roddick, a three-time Wimbledon finalist, was out. Lu played great, but that’s a match Roddick has to win, and he knows it. Unfortunately Andy played far to passively and didn’t return well enough to get the job done on this day.
“Through three sets I was playing horrendously, I mean really, really badly,” said Roddick. “I mean, to the point where I was trying to think of how to put balls in the court. Actually, I mean, I think the fifth set was probably the best set that I played as far as hitting the ball, you know, making him struggle to actually get through service games sometimes. But when you dig yourself a hole, it’s tough to get out, when you’ve given someone confidence, when they have their feet under them a little bit more.”
Roddick has improved his consistency from the ground but as we saw again today when an aggressive player is on and hitting his mark Roddick can be beaten. Especially when the American plays so defensively.
Said Lu of his biggest career win, “Today I just take a time, serve regular, and stay with him, try to find a chance and to win the set, set by set, set by set, until end, I shaking hand and I win. Yeah, I just don’t think.”
Well, think again Yen Hsun, you are now in the quarterfinals to play Novak Djokovic. The Serb took out my pick Lleyton Hewitt 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.
Djokovic got off to a strong start, but in the third set began having stomach issues – the doctor came out to treat Novak. Hewitt dug in and scraped out the third yet just when momentum began to turn against the ailing Djokovic, Novak grabbed an early break in the fourth and that was it.
Hewitt fought back again but it was too deep a hole to dig out of. Djokovic raised his game and took out the 2002 Wimbledon champ rather impressively. Credit to Novak. I didn’t think he had a win like that in him (or that he could rip his shirt like that). Not right now after the year he has had.
As for the women, the Williams sisters continued to dominate. Serena ousted Maria Sharapova in straight sets while Venus won in two over Jarmilla Groth. Neither match was easy – they each played the same number of games – but the sisters do something better than just about anyone else does at Wimbledon and that is win.
In the other showcase match, Justine Henin was up a set before a bad elbow dampened (or at least she says it did) her bid to beat countrywoman Kim Clijsters. In the end it was Clijsters scoring her third straight win this year over Henin (all in three sets) 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.
So tomorrow in the quarterfinals, Serena meets Li Na, Kaia Kanepi plays Petra Kvitova, Venus gets Tsvetana Pironkova and Clijsters test Vera Zvonareva.
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Roddick in Rare Form Saturday in Miami vs. Chair Umpire