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Archive for England

Nadal takes Wimbledon title with passion!

Wimbledon has a new king. Rafael Nadal dethroned Roger Federer after a five-year reign by winning the longest-ever Wimbledon men’s final.

The consistently heartstopping 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7 (8-10), 9-7 classic began at 2.35pm and, thanks to a couple of breaks for rain (surely necessary for the spectators to catch their breath), it ended at 9.15pm with the 22-year-old from Mallorca dropping to the ground with his arms outstretched in celebration.

Watching the 4 hours and 48 minutes on-court action from the vantage point of the royal box was Centre Court legend Bjorn Borg. Nadal had matched the Swede’s fantastic feat of winning the Grand Slams of Roland Garros and Wimbledon back-to-back and in doing so had prevented Federer surpassing the five titles in a row Borg collected between 1976 and 1980.

Conditions for the latest duel between tennis’s two finest players could not have been more demanding. The rain, which delayed the start for 27 minutes, eventually cleared but the chill, gusting wind which accompanied it persisted throughout the match, blowing winning shots off course and making life even more difficult for the two competitors. That they coped so well spoke volumes for their skill and adaptability.

With the five-time champion looking less than his authoritative best, it was Nadal who struck the first heavy blow, capitalising on successive Federer errors to break for a 2-1 lead.

From the start Nadal concentrated his battering-ram attack on the Federer backhand, aiming every serve and looping forehand in that direction and it kept the champion in an unaccustomed position – on the back foot. Federer prospered more when he switched to net-rushing but he could not block Nadal’s inexorable advance towards the first set.

The Spaniard managed to fight off a break point to stay 3-1 ahead and he needed to avert two more as he served for the set, which he clinched on his third set point after 48 minutes, courtesy of another brace of ground stroke errors from Federer. It was the first set Federer had dropped since the final of the French Open, when he was routed by Nadal.

Federer’s counter-attack was immediate and it rushed him three games to the good which he extended to an apparently commanding 4-1 lead with his sixth and seventh aces, only for the irrepressible Nadal to bounce back with some thrilling, all-action stuff.

To Federer’s visible anger, his serve was broken as a stretched volley flew out of play and Nadal pulled level at 4-4 as Federer squandered yet another break point.

Now Nadal was in full, thrilling flow, breaking Federer again to lead 5-4 with another huge forehand and celebrating with pumped fists. As he was serving for the second set, Nadal received a warning from umpire Pascal Maria of France for taking too long between serves.

Clearly unsettled by the timing of that censure, the Spaniard permitted Federer another break point on a wind-caused error, but in typical fashion dug deep and clinched the set when Federer once more mistimed a backhand into the netting. So, having swept five games, Nadal was in the driving set, two sets ahead.

Nadal’s authority suffered a scare in the third game of the third set when he slipped while making a sudden change of direction and called in the trainer to check on his right knee. No time-out was requested by Nadal, though his speed around court appeared to be affected for a while.

He was at full stretch in the next game, fighting off two Federer break points and, as dark clouds began to mass over Centre Court, the champion went flat out to recover a set and get back into the match. But four more break points went begging as Nadal held for 3-3 before wasting three break points of his own which would have put him 4-3 ahead and perfectly positioned to win.

Instead, with Federer leading 5-4, the expected downpour set in and play was held up for 1 hour 20 minutes. On the resumption it was Federer who dominated when a tie-break was needed to resolve the set, hammering four aces to take it by seven points to five.

The fourth set did not contain a single break point for either man and when the second tie-break of the match arrived it was a sensation, with Nadal first leading by five points to two and then reaching, and missing, two Championship points before Federer levelled at two sets all when a Nadal backhand error left him the winner by 10 points to eight.

Another downpour drove the players off court for half an hour with the score at duece and 2-2 in the final set. When they returned the light was fading. But the spirit of both finalists burned bright as they hammered the ball at each other just as eagerly as they had done when this marathon first began.

At 3-4 Nadal saved a break point which would have left Federer serving for the title. At 6-6 Federer saved a couple of break points. Finally, in the gloom, the Spaniard broke to lead 8-7 when Federer struck a forehand too long.

So Nadal served for the match again, getting to his third Championship point only for Federer to hit an incredible backhand service return. Deuce once again, and Nadal moved to his fourth match point with a big serve and, with the crowd going wild, Federer finally cracked, dumping a forehand in the net.
It was late, very late, but not too late for the coronation of a new king.


Ana Ivanovic upset by ranked 133!

Top seed Ana Ivanovic puts her head in her hands during her shock defeat to Zheng Jie of China.

Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, clear favourite to win Wimbledon for the first time this year, was humbled in the third round on Court No. 1 by Zheng Jie of China. Zheng, ranked 133 in the world, secured the astonishing 6-1, 6-4 victory in 72 minutes.

The 24-year-old Zheng was playing at Wimbledon for only the third time and had fallen down the rankings after missing last year with an ankle injury. Her opponent, in contrast, was number one in the world and French Open champion. But Ivanovic, 20, had shown signs of frailty in her second round match against Nathalie Dechy of France, having to save two match points. And turmoil followed her every step of the way against Zheng.

The Chinese woman was playing a calm and precise game and remained unflappable as she neared her astonishing achievement. Ivanovic was chasing the match from the start and the ultimately the task proved beyond her.

Ivanovic was thrust into the top spot in the women’s game because of the unexpected retirement of Justine Henin. She responded to her elevation by winning at Roland Garros but at Wimbledon there were fewer factors in her favour. She is a clay court player of great presence but a counter-puncher like Zheng was always likely to worry her on grass.

Zheng also benefited from a better start than the top seed, taking the first set after only 30 minutes. If there was a test of nerve in the early stages, the woman from Sichuan province passed it comfortably.

Zheng needed just one set point to take the lead. First she had to save four break points at 5-1, and when that was done she went to set point with a drop shot on her backhand side with Ivanovic on the baseline. A service winner gave her the first set.

There were signs at the start of the second set that Ivanovic might recover and start to take control of the match. She held her opening serve but from 1-1 there were three breaks of serve in succession, leaving the Serb 3-2 behind.

Thereafter, Zheng stayed in command, maintaining a high percentage of quality shots. At 5-4 she served for the match. After an Ivanovic forehand winner on the first point, Zheng then produced four service winners in a row, the last one spinning off the Serbian’s racquet and flying out to take the Chinese into the fourth round and a meeting with Agnes Szavay.

No 1 seed Ana Ivanovic looks lost for words after her shock straight sets defeat to Jie Zheng of China.