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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Murray marathon ends historic day

Photo Titled Roof closing in
Centre Court roof closing in.

t was the most anticipated first sight of a ceiling since Michelangelo pulled back the covers on the Sistine Chapel. And as far as roofs go, the one over Centre Court that was used for the first time on Wimbledon Day 7 worked very well thank you. It kept the rain out.

It was not a torrential downpour that caused the roof to be closed, in fact by the time play had recommenced on Centre Court they were also playing on all the other, roofless, courts. But that’s beside the point.

The point is that at 5.19pm on Monday 29 June 2009, the roof over Centre Court was used for the first time at Wimbledon. Dinara Safina and Amelie Mauresmo had the honour of playing the first match under it and Safina the honour of recording the first victory.

The roof proved its value for the final match of the day, as British No.1 Andy Murray and Stanislas Wawrinka battled each other to a standstill over five sets. They were going till 10.38pm – the latest finish in Wimbledon history – with the fans watching on the largescreen TV on 'Henman Hill' in total darkness when Murray fell to his knees after winning 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.

By that stage Roger Federer should have been tucked up in bed. He repeated his French Open final victory over Robin Soderling in straight sets, however, a bigger banana skin looms in the quarter-finals. In fact, at 6’10”, Ivo Karlovic is the biggest banana skin in professional tennis. The Croat beat Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (7-4), 6-3, 7-6 (11-9) thanks largely to his serve; the only player to construct a break point opportunity against him this tournament was his first round opponent Lukas Lacko.

Joining them in the last eight are three players with nearly 2,000 professional tennis matches between them: Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt and Juan Carlos Ferrero. Hewitt, who has fallen to No.56 in the world, came from two sets down to beat Radek Stepanek, while Ferrero beat eighth seed Gilles Simon to become the first wild card in the quarter-finals since Goran Ivanisevic in 2001. Tommy Haas and Novak Djokovic round out the last eight.

In the ladies’ draw Ana Ivanovic was left in tears after a thigh injury forced her to withdraw from her match against defending champion Venus Williams. Ivanovic had already lost the first set 6-1 when she retired after one game in the second set.

The second and third seeds, Serena Williams and Elena Dementieva, caused the minimum of fuss with convincing wins. At the other end of the spectrum, Francesca Schiavone and Sabine Lisicki, ranked 43 and 41 in the world respectively, were also victorious. American teen Melanie Oudin said she was proud as her Wimbledon challenge was ended by 11th seed Agnieszka Radwanska, while Victoria Azarenka beat Nadia Petrova in the remaining fourth round match.

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