Entries in Roger Federer (57)

8:20PM Men's quarters day really does bring the heat -- literally

By Art Spander
The Sports Xchange/

WIMBLEDON, England -- It was hotter than Bangkok, literally, according to the official temperatures, if at 89 degrees only a notch or two.

It was so hot, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress said firms should encourage employees to wear shorts "to prevent them from collapsing at their desks."

It was so hot, there were empty seats at Centre Court, some of which had been scalped for more than $1,000 when Britain's long-sought tennis hero appeared.

But that hero, Andy Murray, understood the reasoning.

"It was roasting outside," said Murray, "I wouldn't have recommended anyone sitting in that heat for hours."

Recommended or not, people did sit in that seat. And played tennis in that heat.

On this second Wednesday of Wimbledon 2009, more than mad dogs and Englishmen went out in the midday sun for men's quarterfinals won by Murray, five-time champion Roger Federer, surprising Tommy Haas and, finally, Andy Roddick.

The past month in England has been the hottest, driest and sunniest since 2006, which makes it all the more fascinating that for this Wimbledon the $140 million roof over Centre Court was finally put into operation.

But after another scorcher Thursday for the women's semifinals, the Met Office, the weather bureau here, said change is coming, meaning the men's semis on Friday, Murray against Roddick, Federer against Haas, indeed might be played under that roof if the predicted rains arrive.

In the quarters, Murray, trying to become the first Brit since 1936 to win the men's singles, defeated Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-5, 6-3, 6-2; Federer had a tidy 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 win over Ivo Karlovic; Haas upset No. 4 seed Novak Djokovic 7-5, 7-6, 4-6, 6-3; and Roddick, the American, offered a lot of sweat and even at the end some tears, if no blood, taking 3 hours, 50 minutes to beat Lleyton Hewitt, 6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4.

"I'm really happy," said Roddick, twice a finalist -- and twice a loser against Federer. "I haven't been in the Grand Slam picture very much the last two years. Now (with the Australian) I'm in my second semifinal of the year."

When he left the court at a bit after 8 p.m., Andy reached up and dried his eyes. Yes, he was crying. "It was a mixture of happiness and relief," Roddick said. "You know in your mind you're trying to stay the course for four hours, constantly figuring out what you're going to do. So it's relief, happiness and almost a kind of instant shutdown mode."

Immediately after walking to the locker room, Roddick said to the BBC, "I think there's a lot of respect there. We used to get into it a little bit when we were younger, but now we're just a couple of old married dudes."

So, too, finally, is Federer, at 27, second oldest of the four remaining men (Haas is 31, Roddick 26 and Murray 22). Remarkably, Roger has reached a 21st consecutive Grand Slam semifinal and is in position to break his tie with retired Pete Sampras at 14 Slam wins apiece. Not that Federer is getting ahead of himself.

"We all know it would be writing in the history books of tennis," he said. "But it's not there yet."

The roof has been there. Murray defeated Federer's fellow Swiss, Stanislas Wawrinka on Monday night in Wimbledon's first indoor match, and there's still a debate about whether the ball bounces the same indoors.

The All England Club said the temperature when the roof was closed was a steady 75 degrees, much cooler than the record heat outdoors, and humidity a stable 50 percent, lower than outside. Murray, however, said his shots were not the same.

A professor at Sheffield Hallam University told the Times of London that Andy had a point. "When you play outside," said Steve Haake, of the school's department of sports engineering, "there is a breeze. You don't get a carefully controlled environment where the air is not moving and sweat has nowhere to go."

On Wednesday, sweat was everywhere. Fans came to Wimbledon as they might to the Riviera, in shorts, halter tops, straw hats, floppy hats. Kids were splashing in a decorative water run. The line to the ice cream store under the rim of Court 1 stretched 50 yards.

"I like to play my points short," said Federer, the No. 2 seed. "I like short rallies. I think on grass my strength becomes even better, even more dangerous."

Roddick said this Wimbledon might be his best chance, if not his last chance, to add a second Slam to his 2003 U.S. Open championship.

"This one," Andy said of his win over Hewitt, "certainly wasn't short on drama."

Roddick had 43 service aces.

"Andy has been playing great," Roddick said of Murray. "He's certainly come into his own as a player. With my serve, I can give myself a chance in any match."

When you're hot, you're hot.

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© 2009 CBS Interactive. All rights reserved.

RealClearSports: We Can Stop Worrying about Tiger and Roger

By Art Spander

The questions have been answered. The shots have been made, chips from the edge of the green, forehands from the back of the court. We can stop worrying about Tiger and Roger. 

All is right with the world. Summer is coming on. Tiger and Roger have come back, as if we ever should have doubted they would. Dial up another Sinatra song on the iPod or the radio. Hoist a glass of ice tea. Back the ’55 Chevy out of the garage.

We’ve returned to the good, old days, 2009 version.

So quick to lose faith, particularly in Roger Federer. We knew Tiger Woods eventually would be there. It takes time to recover from ACL surgery. The tee shots would return. The confidence would return.

We merely wondered when. Now we know.

Roger Federer was different, in our minds at least. Men’s tennis, so long his domain, suddenly was in the grasp of Rafael Nadal.

When Nadal beat Federer in that marvelous Wimbledon final last July, when Federer’s streak of Grand Slam tournaments without a victory had extended to three, we decided the torch had been passed.

A champion is more than the game he plays. A champion is a winner, able to reach into the past and when the moment arises, when proof is required, regain the brilliance he or she once displayed.

Federer did exactly that during a French Open that, with the first-week upset of Nadal, who previously never had lost in the tournament, presented an opportunity.

Champion that he is, Federer grabbed that chance and carried it to history, becoming one of six players ever to win all four Slams, the Australian, the French, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

In tennis and golf, familiarity does not breed contempt but rather comfort. If Roger Federer is hoisting a trophy with tears in his eyes, if Tiger Woods is balling a fist and shaking it in triumph, then everything again makes sense.

Woods’ victory seemingly didn’t mean quite as much as that of his colleague, with whom Tiger shares respect and Nike and Gillette endorsements. Or maybe it meant more.

No major title but a giant step forward, a verification that on a tough course, Muirfield Village, Tiger could drive straight and long and rally on the final day as he had done so often.

One magnificent round, one reassuring finish, and like that Woods became the favorite for the U.S. Open next week at Bethpage, where he won America’s golfing championship in 2002.

“I knew I could do this,’’ Tiger said Sunday after his victory in the Memorial, a victory that came maybe half a day after Federer’s in Paris.

“I was close to winning, but the game wasn’t quite there when I needed it on a Sunday,’’ Tiger explained. “I rectified that.’’

The way Roger Federer rectified his problem, filled in the blank.

So much in common those two. Each has a cap with his own initials on the front. Each has a claim on being the best ever in his sport.

Federer’s win was his 14th in a Grand Slam, equaling the record of Pete Sampras. Tiger has 14 majors, four behind Jack Nicklaus, who as fate and fable would have it conducts the Memorial event and was a spectator at the final green.

Tiger is 33, and has many more years remaining. Federer is 27 and has enough time left. But what they accomplish from now on cannot mean any more than what they have accomplished, particularly on Sunday.

For Federer it was overcoming an obstacle that two weeks earlier the experts never believed he never could overcome, not with Nadal, who had beaten him on clay repeatedly, in waiting. Then Rafa departed and the gates, and heavens, opened for Roger.

For Woods it was an irritation. He hadn’t been the Tiger who was so reliable before that knee operation last June. There had been a victory, in March, but there also had been a few last-day misdeeds. He was grumpy from his lack of progress. We were bewildered, even though medical experts said healing could not be rushed.

Tiger’s U.S. Open is a week away. Roger’s Wimbledon is in two weeks. Where will they be in another month? Receiving more accolades after receiving more trophies? Where will their sports be?

Nicklaus suggests Tiger will be a winner, which is no great shock. Federer’s achievement on clay suggests Roger will be a winner on the grass at Wimbledon, where he had five straight titles from 2003 through 2007.

We can only anticipate. These good, old days are very up to date indeed.
As a reporter since 1960, Art Spander is a living treasure of sports history. A recipient of the Dick McCann Memorial Award -- given for his long and distinguished career covering professional football -- he has earned himself a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And he has recently been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the PGA of America for 2009.

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