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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Llodra taken to five sets by Goodall

Photo Titled Michael Llodra
Michael Llodra
France's Michael Llodra emerged triumphant in a thrilling five-set battle with British wildcard entrant Joshua Goodall in a match that began the previous day.

The stakes were high for both players. The 23-year-old Goodall, for whom this is his third wildcard entry to the tournament, has not won a single match at a Grand Slam event. Llodra, 29, has lost in the first round on five of his nine appearances at Wimbledon, and has never gone beyond the second round.

On paper, he should have won with some ease – at 137, he is ranked 51 places above Goodall. But he had to battle all the way for his 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 victory.

Come the fourth set, the Briton showed steely fighting form, which enthralled the crowd. A beautiful lob from the baseline let Goodall forge his way to a break of the Llodra serve, which left himself to serve for the set. In one of the longest games of the match, the Briton made a brilliantly deep serve to save break-back point. He repeated that on the next break-back point. It was the same again for a third time. As Llodra began to get frustrated, Goodall had his moment, finally making one point count to force the game to a fifth set.

The stats were reasonably similar, except in one detail, which augured well for Goodall. He was converting a third of his break point opportunities, but Llodra could not make his break points count, achieving just two out of 17.

Everything went smoothly with serve in the fifth. But it all fell apart for Goodall as he served at 4-5. He salvaged a 0-30 situation with an ace. But a sloppy net approach gave the French man two match points. This time Llodra had no problem converting the first of these, to take this gritty match in three hours and 14 minutes.

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