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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Flawless Federer tames Karlovic serve

Photo Titled Roger Federer
Roger Federer is through to the semi-finals with a straight sets victory over Ivo Karlovic.

Roger Federer is in such confident form at the 2009 Championships that even staring down the barrel of a gun does not faze him. Required to reduce Ivo Karlovic, the game's most potent hitter, to firing blanks was a task taken in his stride as Wimbledon's five-time champion cruised into the semi-finals with a 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (7-3) victory in an hour and 43 minutes.

Karlovic, the 6ft 10in Croatian, came into this quarter-final contest having served 137 aces in his first four matches. He had also won all of his 79 service games and faced only four break points. Federer made nonsense of these statistics in only the fourth game of the opening set, breaking the unbreakable serve by tackling the Karlovic power head on.

The Swiss reached break point with a service return winner struck on the backhand and then walloped a forehand return pass off a Karlovic first serve.

It was a shattering blow from which Karlovic's confidence never recovered. The Croatian had marched on to a sun-drenched Centre Court with the hangdog look of a man on his way to the gallows, and what followed was not guaranteed to put a smile on his face.

It was Federer who proved supreme when it came to serving. He conceded a mere 11 points in the whole match, never faced a break point and was only once threatened by having his delivery taken to deuce. By then it was midway through the third set and the outcome was long beyond conjecture.

This was proof beyond doubt that Federer has the dangerous Karlovic's number. He had won eight of their previous nine matches and though those nine occasions contained 12 tiebreaks, Federer had won 11 of them. By increasing that number to 12 today, Federer set the seal on a satisfying afternoon.

As the first set went steadily against him after that early Federer break, Karlovic donned sunglasses but he proceeded to go a set behind after 23 minutes.

Though Karlovic thundered down 21 aces, a low total by his standards, Federer's speed and skill on the return frequently spiked the howitzer, and at times the Swiss handled the biggest serve in tennis with a confidence bordering on contempt.

Even so, Karlovic managed to keep the second set wide open until the 11th game, when another supreme backhand service return winner took Federer to break point, at which Karlovic obliged with a low forehand volley into the net.

The Croatian removed his shades for the third set, but the act did nothing to boost his prospects. He did, though, extend the set into one of his customary tiebreaks, but proved vulnerable once more when an erratic backhand installed Federer in the driving seat, from which there was no likelihood of him being dislodged.

Centre Court - Gentlemen's Singles - Quarterfinals
Ivo Karlovic CRO (22)3563
Roger Federer SUI (2)Winner6777

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