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First full match under roof produces drama

First full match under roof produces drama

The first match played entirely under Wimbledon's new retractable roof produced a five-set marathon that finished later than any previous Centre Court encounter in history.
They might as well have called it Wimbledon's first "night session."
What's more, it ended with a British winner celebrating in front of a raucous home crowd.
Andy Murray and Stanislas Wawrinka battled for nearly four hours Monday under the translucent roof and stadium floodlights before the third-seeded Scot closed out a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 victory with a forehand winner at 10:39 p.m.
Murray sank to his knees and bowed his head on the grass. He then stood up and smacked a ball that hit the roof above.
"It was pretty special," said Murray, who is bidding to become the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.
Previously, no Centre Court match had lasted later than 9:35 p.m.
And at a tournament that began in 1877, not a single point had been played indoors until earlier Monday, when a light sprinkle interrupted Dinara Safina's 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over champion Amelie Mauresmo _ the first rain break of the tournament after a dry first week.
After the fifth game of the second set, the roof above the main stadium was closed, and Safina and Mauresmo finished up underneath _ even though by the time they resumed, the rain had stopped.
Organizers decided to keep the roof closed for the Murray-Wawrinka match in case of more rain. In the end, the rain stayed away but the roof allowed the match to reach its completion while it was dark outside.
Murray was surprised by the decision and found the playing conditions hard to get used to.
"We were warming up outside," he said. "It was dry. Was expecting to play without the roof, and then obviously it came. I had never played a grass court match indoors before and it made a difference."
"It's very, very heavy and very humid," he said. "Sweating so much. From the start I noticed it very early. ... When I finished, it was like I'd been in a bath."
The closed conditions helped magnify the partisan support from Murray's fans in the arena.
"At the end, that was probably the noisiest crowd I played in front of," he said.
Murray, who will face Juan Carlos Ferrero in the quarters, could now enjoy an advantage over other players who haven't experienced the indoor conditions yet.
"Now I know how I'll have to change my game if I do play under the roof, and I'll know the way that the court plays," he said. "In my opinion, there's quite a big difference."
The pressure on Murray will continue to build as Britain's long suffering fans wait for him to end the country's 73-year-old men's title drought.
"I believe I can win Wimbledon," he said. "That's not changed since the first match. But I'm going to have to play great tennis to do it. I had to play some great tennis tonight to come back, because Stan was playing some unbelievable tennis at the start."
The momentum swung back and forth, with Wawrinka seeming to grab the edge when he served an ace to close out the fourth set and send the match to a fifth-set decider.
Murray then ran out to a 3-0 lead, but Wawrinka responded by winning three straight games of his own.
The match turned for good when Murray broke for 5-3 with a clean forehand winner down the line. He served out the match in the next game.
"I tried everything but it was not enough," Wawrinka said. "It was very special, a nice atmosphere. It was very nice to play with the roof closed."
The women's quarterfinals were set for Tuesday. Due up first on Centre Court was top-ranked Dinara Safina against 19-year-old German Sabine Lisicki, followed by No. 2 Serena Williams vs. 19-year-old Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.
On Court 1, five-time champion Venus Williams was matched against 20-year-old Agnieska Radwanska of Poland, with No. 4 Elena Dementieva against Francesca Schiavone.
The men's quarterfinals are set for Wednesday. The other matchups are five-champion Roger Federer against 6-foot-10 (2.08-meter) Croat Ivo Karlovic; 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt vs. two-time finalist Andy Roddick; and No. 3 Novak Djokovic vs. Tommy Haas.
Djokovic and Murray are relative youngsters at 22 compared to the other quarterfinalists: Roddick (26), Federer (27), Hewitt (28), Ferrero (29), Karlovic (30) and Haas (31).
Roddick and Hewitt have met 11 times, including at the French Open, U.S. Open and Australian Open, but never at Wimbledon. Hewitt holds the overall edge of 6-5, but Roddick has won the last four, including a 7-6, 7-6 win in the third round at the Queen's Club grass-court Wimbledon warmup.
"I have loads of respect for Lleyton, what he's been able to accomplish," Roddick said. "Everyone knows he's certainly capable of playing very, very, very well on this surface. It will be a tough one."
Karlovic has won 128 straight service games dating to the Queen's tournament and has served 137 aces so far at Wimbledon.
"I mean maybe it's not the most fun match to go through," Federer said. "But I like to beat this guy because he makes it hard on us. He's become an excellent player. Not only just his serve, he's got to have something more or otherwise he wouldn't be ranked where he is and he wouldn't be beating all those good players. He's not to be underestimated."
Ferrero, a former No. 1-ranked player in 2003, is the first wild card to reach the Wimbledon quarters since Goran Ivanisevic won the title in 2001.
"I would like to repeat what he did," Ferrero said.


Updated : 2021-01-24 02:59 GMT+08:00