If tomorrow's match between British hope Andy Murray
and the physically fragile Tommy Haas
is anything like their previous two encounters, fans on Centre Court can expect high drama.
Haas, one of five German men in the third round, downed Murray in three sets at the Pacific Life Open in March a year after the Scot won in three sets and nearly three hours at the same venue. There were more than a few momentum swings in both matches.
The pair can do almost anything on the tennis court, including pummel a few rackets, which should add to the excitement.
"Against someone that's as solid as him you've got to stay focused the whole match, and that's going to be one of the keys,'' Murray, seeded 12th, said Thursday.
While Murray is trying to become the first British men's singles winner at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936, Haas, 30, admits he's hoping to simply stay healthy so he can properly compete. He underwent a third operation to his right shoulder in November, missed the Australian Open, returned in February, then skipped most of the clay-court season, including the French Open, the shoulder again the culprit.
He's suffered injuries to virtually every other part of his body, including a torn stomach muscle which forced him out of a fourth-round encounter against Roger Federer at Wimbledon a year ago.
"I thought about staying around and just maybe walking out on Centre Court,'' Haas, a former world No. 2, said. "I just really want to play there.''
Murray, by his own admission, needs to serve well and take advantage of his chances. In the two matches against Haas, his combined first-serve percentage was 52, and he went a combined 5-for-25 (yes, 5-for-25) on break points.
The serve stats were better in a second-round rout of Belgian Xavier Malisse
on Thursday: Murray delivered 16 aces and notched a first-serve percentage of 67.
"They both have more strengths than weaknesses,'' said 1991 Wimbledon champion and German Michael Stich, a commentator for host network the BBC during the tournament. "The weakness of Tommy is that if things don't go his way, sometimes he just loses it mentally. He just loses his focus throughout the match, giving his opponent too many free points, so he has to focus on that. Andy's weakness is his second serve. If that's being exposed by a player like Tommy, who has the options to do that, then that might be a threat because Andy is going to struggle to hold serve.''
-- Ravi Ubha
It's all about the shortbread
The much-talked-about, mouthwatering homemade shortbread of granny Shirley Erskine made it past the lips of her grandchildren, Andy and Jamie Murray
, at Wimbledon.
For as long as the Murray brothers have been on the tour, they've talked about missing their granny's fabulous baking when on the road.
When she and Roy Erskine, made the trip this year to Wimbledon from their home in Dunblane, Scotland, which overlooks the Dunblane golf course, they brought a little care package of the famous shortbread for more than just the grandkids.
The Erskines stopped by to do a guest spot at Radio Wimbledon 87.7 FM, which also broadcasts on the official Wimbledon Web site and on Sirius radio back in the United States.
Their visit included more than family lore -- it came complete with a tin of the buttery shortbread for the station's staff.
After chatting about their grandsons, the Erskines talked about preparations for coming to Wimbledon, which included getting two of their friends to agree to share babysitting chores for their 10-year-old golden retriever.
"He usually knows when we're going away because he sees the golf clubs come out," said Shirley Erskine.
"You mean you don't play tennis?" was the obvious next question.
"We did, but not anymore, we're too old," she said.
After their on-air stint, the sprightly grandparents went off to find their family and get ready to watch Andy's Centre Court match against Xavier Malisse of Belgium.
Murray had no trouble with Malisse, defeating him 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.
-- Sandra Harwitt
Down and out
Austria's Tamira Paszek
has reunited with Larri Passos, the Brazilian coach whose tutelage helped the 17-year-old become a top-50 player last year.
Passos, the longtime mentor for Gustavo Kuerten
, stopped working with Paszek at the end of last year partly due to family reasons and partly so he could accompany Kuerten on his farewell tour this season. It was a tour that ended for all practical purposes in the first round of the French Open, although Kuerten still hopes to play in the Beijing Olympics.
But Paszek's father, Ariff Mohamed, said Passos agreed to start coaching his daughter again about a month ago. "We're very happy,'' Mohamed said Friday. Paszek, who reached the fourth round here last year, lost her opening match to 20th seed Francesca Schiavone
of Italy and is currently No. 64 in the WTA rankings. She is waiting to hear whether she will be accepted into the 64-player Beijing draw, which will be announced July 2.
-- Bonnie D. Ford
Jelena Jankovic vs. Caroline Wozniacki:
Unlikely as it seems that all three Serbian seeds could go out in the first week, this 18-year-old Dane is an excellent candidate to keep the upsets coming. She was a junior champion here two years ago and will feel more free to swing away than Jankovic. The two women have never played, and Jankovic hasn't been tested so far. Something tells us she will be in this third-round match. Wozniacki in three.
ESPN.com prediction: Wozniacki in three sets.
-- Bonnie D. Ford