AND NOW A WORD FROM COACH STEFANKI: After Andy Roddick’s clutch five-set win over Lleyton Hewitt, his coach, Larry Stefanki (who has worked with John McEnroe, Tim Henman, Marcelo Rios and Fernando Gonzalez, among others), said that Andy was now a man – that he showed great maturity at crunch time. A quietly elated Stefanki, said that, deep into the fifth set, the match was totally up in the air, but, ultimately, Roddick prevailed in part because he has the best serve in tennis. (He noted the power in Andy’s legs and said he had the best service mechanics in the game.) He contended that Andy wouldn’t be phased by 15,000 crazed Brits yelling for their Andy (Mr. Murray) when they face off in the semis on Friday; that Roddick was a seasoned Davis Cup player and that Andy will love the situation and view the thunder of the British crowd as a challenge. He continued, saying that Murray was a great talent and agreed with a popular comparison that the Brit was like the old Czech Miloslav Mecir (a fast, smooth mover), but with power. Plus, he added that Murray has a potent serve. Stefanki, a student of teaching savant Tom Stow, said that when Roddick was drubbed by Murray in the Doha final, it was the first tournament he had worked with Roddick and he confided that he had done a poor job, but he has learned the simple lesson that Murray loves a target. Translation: don’t look for a whole bunch of net charges on Friday.
LIKE AN ELEPHANT OUT THERE IN THE DESERT: When IT asked Richard Williams about the chances of Venus (who will face Dinara Safina on Thursday) and Serena (who plays Elena Dementieva) he replied, “I have never said this before here at Wimbledon this year, but I will say this now. There is no one that is going to stop them now. They are like a horse – an elephant out there in the desert. They can smell the water. No one can stop them now.”
THE 800-POUND GORILLA IN THE ROOM: The possibility of Federer breaking the most important record in tennis (Sampras’ mark of 14 Slam wins) hovers over Wimbledon. Roger himself noted, “We all know it. It would be writing in the history books of tennis. It’s not there yet. Still far away. Many points, many serves, many forehands. We’ll see.”
REFLECTIONS ON YET ANOTHER BEAST: Radio Wimbledon said, “Hewitt’s forehand has been an errant beast.”
CURIOUS RODDICK DIALOGUE WITH THE PRESS I:
Q. We have a revival of the, ‘New Balls, Please’ generation here in Wimbledon. Is that because experience is very helpful, especially on grass? Or are there other reasons for that?
ANDY RODDICK: I don’t think it’s either/or. It’s probably a combination. Now we’re just old balls.
CURIOUS RODDICK DIALOGUE WITH THE PRESS II:
Q. Last year, after your tough loss, you said it was like watching a Rolling Stone concert from the eighth row when you’re used to seeing it from the first row. What row are you in now?
ANDY RODDICK: Getting closer. I can see what Mick Jagger is wearing now.
CURIOUS RODDICK DIALOGUE WITH THE PRESS III:
Q. How does your maturity play into a match like that? Do you feel almost feel a sense of calm?
RODDICK: I’ll let you know when I have some.
- Rage. That’s What Makes Murray a Winner
- You Need to be Losing to be Loved at SW 19
- Murray Hits the Roof After Thriller
- Scrapper Hewitt is Snarling Again
- The Invinsiblings
- Murray Poised to Swipe Mosquito
BEST VISUAL OF THE TOURNAMENT: Centre Court and its dandy new roof – bright and looking like an illuminated spaceship in the British night.
INCREDIBLE: Mardy Fish said that Federer reaching 21 straight Slam semis was an “incredible” feat and far better than Ivan Lendl reaching nine straight U.S. Open finals. Andy Murray quipped that Federer’s consistency is ridiculous. “No one will ever match that, I think.” Federer himself said of the record: “It’s amazing. Means the world to me. Let’s see what happens now.”
- COMMENTARIES ON THE OBVIOUS:
- “The ace man cometh.” – Sue Barker on Ivo Karlovic’s appearance on Centre Court
- “Belief.” – Federer on the one thing that enabled him to come from two sets down and score a stunning win over Tommy Haas at the French Open
- “I’m really insatiable.” – Serena Williams
- “Three brilliant Federer shots in a row. Then again that’s why he is who he is.” – Radio Wimbledon
- “Everybody loves James. [Blake]” – Mardy Fish
- “This is not an overnight process.” – Maria Sharapova on her comeback
- “This is where tennis is meant to be played.” – Sharapova on Wimbledon
- “They are playing the Williams way. And when they play the Williams way nobody touches them.” – Richard Williams
- “He’s got a magic wand back in his hand.” – BBC
- “Not long if you are a tree.” – Bud Collins to Allan Trengrove on the 80th birthday of the dean of Aussie tennis writers.
CHINK IN THE ARMOUR: Ivo Karlovic actually said there was a slight weakness in Federer’s arsenal. The Croat asserted, “His second serve isn’t unbelievable. It’s good, but it’s something I try to attack.”
ANNOYING GAME PLAN: Tommy Haas – while reflecting on his upcoming semi against The Mighty Federer (who he’s lost to nine times in 11 tries) – said, “I am going to see if I can go out there and annoy him a little.”
JUST WONDERING: How much does Roddick’s Davis Cup experience help him in big-match situations against tough foes?…Would Roddick be in the semis if he hadn’t signed up with veteran coach Larry Stefanki?
THE POWER OF MISINFORMATION: When the Brits scream, “Come on, Andy!” on Friday in “The Battle of the Andes,” will Roddick simply think they’re encouraging him?”
WHAT A DIFFERENCE TWO YEARS MAKES: Two years ago in the Wimby quarters, Roddick had a two-set lead over Richard Gasquet on Court One. But Roddick allowed the Frenchman back into the match and, as Gasquet’s backhand caught fire, Roddick went down to a brutally painful defeat. But this year – same round, same court – Roddick displayed his fighting skills and at 4-4 just refused to let Lleyton Hewitt hold his serve. And so a victory was crafted.
CURIOUS QUESTION OF THE DAY:
“Do you see the ball better than most players?” – To Federer after his fantastic display of returning serve against Ivo Karlovic’s previously dominating serve
STAT STUFF: The eight different men’s quarterfinalists were from eight different countries…ll.8 million UK viewers watched the Murray-Wawrinka thriller. There are only 61 million Brits…48,826 were on hand on the first Tuesday to set an all-time single day record…Against Lleyton Hewitt, one of the great returners in the game, Roddick blasted 43 aces.
TEAMWORK: James Blake is successfully teaming with Mardy Fish and has now reached the doubles semis (on the opposite side of the Bryans.) All of which means the entire U.S. Davis Cup team is still in Wimbledon and has yet to think at all about clay and the tie vs. Croatia which is played the week right after Wimbledon.
A LOSING PROPOSITION: Trying to lob 6-foot-10 Ivo (“The Mountain Man”) Karlovic.
MERRY MURRAY: Andy Murray has reached the quarters in four of the last Slams and if be becomes the first Brit to win Wimby in 73 years he will come within just five points of Rafa at No. 1. If Fed wins he will reclaim his beloved slot atop the rankings.
POINT OF THE TOURNAMENT?: Deep into his second set tiebreak against Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt had another set point. But after 21 tense side to side stokes, the Aussie rushed to net to retrieve a daring forehand, but dumped a little forehand into the net.
COULD BE: A Williams could very well the singles AND doubles champ again.
KARLOVIC VS. PETE: Sampras had a splendid serve with a lot of speed, plenty of variety and incredible disguise. He probably had the best second serve ever and he was nails at crunch time. But Karlovic’s serve may be more imposing.
NOT SO FAST: James Lawton wrote, “Minus the Williams sisters [which is the reality Indian Wells endures each year], this women’s tournament would be a travesty of a tournament.”
NOT REALLY: Radio Wimbledon said the simplistic chants offered by Hewitt’s fans were “up there with some of the finest lyrics of all time.”
A STUNNING ENDORSEMENT OF THE FOURTH ESTATE (NOT): Murray said he doesn’t read the papers here “because 90 percent of the stuff’s going to be pretty much untrue anyway.”
WE CAN ‘LIZ’ WITH THE THAT: There are rumors that Queen Elizabeth might show up for the final if Murray makes it to Sunday. In the meantime, Kate Winslet, who was spectacular in her portrayal of the original Queen Elizabeth (red hair, no husband, plenty of warfare) was on hand in the Royal Box for Murray’s quarterfinal win.