Unseeded former Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt, who nine weeks ago was in an ankle cast, provided the biggest near-upset on Day 4 at the All England Club, winning the first two sets off No. 5 seed Robin Soderling before the Swede staged a comeback for a 6-7(5), 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 win.
“I love competing,” said the 30-year-old oft-injured Hewitt, shrugging off questions about retirement. “You know, you’re retired for a long time once you’re retired. I hear that from a lot of great athletes. For me, as long as my body’s close to 100 percent, I want to go out there and compete. I still feel like I can obviously give these top guys as much trouble as anyone out there.”
A number of players gave the top seeds trouble on Thursday. Yen-Hsun Lu, who defeated Andy Roddick last year, on Thursday ousted No. 13 Viktor Troicki in straight sets. Former Wimbledon semifinalist Xavier “X-Man” Malisse dismissed No. 20 Florian Mayer in four, and Karol Beck beat No. 26 Guillermo “G-Lo” Garcia-Lopez in four.
No. 7 seed David Ferrer was in trouble when his match was postponed, trailing unseeded American Ryan Harrison two sets to one.
Tournament favorites No. 2 Novak Djokovic and No. 3 Roger Federer both advanced easily as the Serb topped big-serving South African Kevin Anderson and the Swiss defeated Adrian Mannarino, both in straight sets.
Federer, as he does so well, gave a backhanded compliment to the one-loss Serb in summing up the Big 4 at Wimbledon this year.
“I think all four guys at the top right now feel very comfortable on grass,” Federer said. “That’s maybe something that’s a bit different than maybe in the past, where maybe one of the top four guys wouldn’t feel so comfortable on grass. But this year it seems like all of us are, which is a good thing. [Andy] Murray’s game is very natural for this surface. I think Djokovic has always been great, but nothing extraordinary yet. But with the run he’s on, obviously there’s a lot of possibilities for him as well here.”
Both Murray and Djokovic have reached multiple semifinals at Wimbledon.
Other notable wins were No. 16 Nicolas Almagro ending John Isner’s event in four sets and three tiebreaks, and No. 28 David Nalbandian beating Andreas “Don’t Be a” Haider-Maurer to set up a meeting against Federer.
A blockbuster day on tap for Friday at Wimbledon includes (8) Andy Roddick vs. Feliciano “F-Lo” Lopez, (4) Andy Murray vs. Ivan Ljubicic, (1) Rafael Nadal vs. Gilles Muller, (7) David Ferrer vs. Ryan Harrison (to finish), (24) Juan Martin Del Potro vs. (15) Gilles Simon, and (6) Tomas Berdych vs. Alex Bogomolov Jr.
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