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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Safina first winner under new roof

Photo Titled Centre Court roof
Centre Court roof
Top seed Dinara Safina made Wimbledon history by winning the first match to be played under the new Centre Court roof, overcoming former champion Amelie Mauresmo in a three set battle.

In time, it is inevitable that this match will be best remembered for the rain break halfway through the second set, which prompted the decision to call the roof into action for the first time. But even without that, it was an absorbing contest that swung one way then another.

Safina had the best of it early on, racing into a 3-0 lead thanks to a couple of off-target forehands from the 2006 champion. But the French player settled herself, claiming the next service game on four second serves, and then breaking the Russian.

When Safina threw in two double faults with the score at 3-3, Mauresmo pounced to take another break and soon enough the set was hers.

The 17th seed maintained her momentum with another break at the start of the second before being pegged back from a 40-15 lead on her own serve in the next game. Safina broke back and quickly broke again as she moved 4-1 ahead before rain started to disrupt proceedings.

The rain was only light at that point but the decision to cover the court was made quickly and then the crowd waited to see if the roof would be employed. Sure enough, within a few minutes it was cranked into action and Wimbledon was set for its first "indoor" match.

For the record, 45 minutes later, it was Mauresmo who hit the first ball but Safina who claimed the first point under the roof. The Frenchwoman then quickly hit three aces - it was clear that the change in conditions seemed to suit her. But Safina remained solid in her resolve and only dropped one more point on serve as she sealed the second set.

By now the Centre Court crowd were making a fair old noise under the roof and it was exacerbated in a marathon second game. After four deuces, Mauresmo seized a break.

As Safina slipped 3-0 behind, she became more visibly and noisily frustrated with herself but, despite that, she managed to show why she is ranked in the world's top women with some strong backhands that helped her serve to love and then break back.

Mauresmo pulled off a delicate drop shot to go 4-3 ahead and Safina fought hard to save two break points in the next game.

Those efforts really paid off when she was handed a break point in the next game. She converted and served out the match to book her place in the last eight, which will undoubtedly mean more than her new entry in Wimbledon's history books

Centre Court - Ladies' Singles - 4th Round
Dinara Safina RUS (1)Winner466
Amelie Mauresmo FRA (17)634

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