Sports At Phila. Front Page News; Federer reaches quarterfinals at Wimbledon
|The roof on centre court closes during a break in play between Dinara Safina of Russia and Amelie Mauresmo of France in their fourth round singles match on centre court at Wimbledon, Monday, June 29, 2009.|
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) -- Centre Court fans applauded Roger Federer's latest win at Wimbledon. And they really roared for the roof.
Five-time champion Federer advanced to the quarterfinals on a day Wimbledon went indoors. Some 90 minutes after Federer was done Monday, rain halted play with Amelie Mauresmo leading top-ranked Dinara Safina, 6-4, 1-4, and officials ordered the new retractable roof closed for the remainder of the match. Safina rallied to win, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Federer hit 23 aces, never lost serve and beat familiar foil Robin Soderling 6-4, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5). Federer improved to 11-0 against Soderling, including a victory in the French Open final three weeks ago to complete a career Grand Slam.
This time the No. 2-seeded Federer came through on a handful of key points. He earned the only service break of the match in the ninth game of the opening set, when Soderling committed five unforced errors to fall behind for good, 5-4.
Soderling led in the final tiebreaker but double-faulted on the next-to-last point, then hit an errant return.
"Today was hard to get through a really dangerous match," Federer said. "Not many rallies, so maybe not as much fun for the people. But I stayed calm, waited for my chance."
With all 16 fourth-round matches scheduled, the Williams sisters remained on course to play an all-family final for the second year in a row.
Five-time champion Venus led 6-1, love-1 when Ana Ivanovic retired with a left thigh injury. Two-time champion Serena beat Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 6-1. Venus beat Serena in last year's final.
American 17-year-old Melanie Oudin's surprising run ended when she lost to No. 11-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-4, 7-5.
In men's play, No. 22 Ivo Karlovic hit 35 aces and beat No. 7 Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-3, 7-6 (9). The 6-foot-10 Karlovic, who has yet to lose his serve in four matches, will face Federer on Wednesday.
Unseeded Lleyton Hewitt, the 2002 champion, rallied from a two-set deficit for the sixth time in his career to beat No. 23 Radek Stepanek 4-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2. No. 4 Novak Djokovic broke seven times and beat Dudi Sela 6-2, 6-4, 6-1.
On the hottest day of the tournament, the temperature reached 87 degrees on Centre Court before the rain arrived. The roof, built to ensure continuous play on the most famous court in tennis, wasn't needed during the first week of the tournament.
When the roof closed, many spectators responded with a standing ovation. Safina liked the new environment, too.
"It was great," she said. "Very nice. You can't compare it with anything. It's a really nice atmosphere, especially with the crowd, because it's getting like louder so it's even nicer to play. I mean, I won, so everything was perfect."
Coincidentally, play resumed on the outer courts at about the same time.
Soderling had only two break-point chances against Federer - both at 4-all in the third set - and failed to put either return in play. Federer lost just eight points on his first serve and committed only eight unforced errors in the match.
Federer said he has regained the confidence he lacked early this year.
"No signs of panics, what I maybe had, you know, six months ago when I played. I would just feel uneasy. I wouldn't be exactly sure what the right plays were. Now I feel perfect."
He needs three more victories this week for his 15th major title, which would break the record he shares with Pete Sampras. Federer doesn't have to worry about defending champion Rafael Nadal, who missed the tournament with bad knees.
An injury ended Ivanovic's Wimbledon, too. She said she hurt her thigh hitting an ace to erase a break point in the opening game of the second set.
"I didn't feel anything up until that point," she said. "When I landed, I just felt a sharp pain on my inner thigh, and I couldn't step on my leg ever since."
Ivanovic took a 10-minute break to have her thigh taped by a trainer. She returned for two more points, but after hitting a service winner to take the game, she began crying as she walked to her chair and told the umpire she was retiring.
Then she hugged a sympathetic Williams.
"I don't even know the last time that I had these circumstances," Williams said. "I don't think ever in a Slam. I think she was in a lot of pain. You know me - I'm one of those players, I just only pay attention to what's going on my side of the net. But today I felt really sad for her actually. She was really upset.
"This is Wimbledon. It's the last place you want to have an injury that you can't overcome. So I'm wishing her a lot of luck in her recovery."
Williams next plays Radwanska, who took advantage of some shaky moments by Oudin, a qualifier from Marietta, Ga. ranked 124th.
"I'm very proud of myself how I did here," said Oudin, who made her Wimbledon debut this year and pulled the biggest upset in the first week by beating former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic.
No. 8-ranked Victoria Azarenka beat No. 10 Nadia Petrova 7-6 (5), 2-6, 6-3, and she'll face Serena Williams on Tuesday.