After more than a week of stellar weather, the climate has changed at the All England Club. Thursday brought the second straight day of rain delays, but there was an upside.
The second delay left three cliff-hangers pending as the players scurried for cover:
• The Bryan Brothers were staring at match point against them in the fourth set of their men's doubles semifinal match against Jonas Bjorkman
and Kevin Ullyett
• Rainer Schuettler and Arnaud Clement, continuing a quarterfinal match that was stopped after two sets because of darkness Wednesday, were in the fifth set, tied at 6-all and 40-all.
• Serena Williams was leading Zheng Jie 6-2, 5-5 in their women's semifinal match with Zheng serving at 40-30.
"It wasn't Wimbledon for the first 10 days," said Clement, who actually held a match point. "We didn't have a rain delay, so we had two today. You know, it's a little bit special when it's 6-all, 40-all."
Schuettler completed his match first, when Clement's backhand service return skittered wide. The German prevailed 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (7), 8-6. The two-day affair lasted 5 hours and 12 minutes.
"It's one of my matches I will always remember," said Schuettler, saying he was "so far away" from his Nadal match. "I growed up watching Boris [Becker] win Wimbledon, so now I'm in the semis.
"I am more than happy."
And then, 12 minutes later, at 6:39 local time, the other two matches ended at almost exactly the same time. Serena won a second-set tiebreaker, 7-5, when Zheng double-faulted and the Bryans fell 7-6 (3), 5-7, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (11-9).
Maybe serving statistics are overrated. The Bryans went through their entire tournament without losing serve -- a streak of 85 games -- but still lost.
-- Greg Garber
The Next Big (British) Thing?
While the British media bewailed the loss of their beloved Andy Murray
-- both the Times and the Daily Telegraph used "Out-muscled" in their tabloid headlines -- there might be a new star on the horizon.
Fourteen-year-old Laura Robson swept into the semifinals of the girls' junior tournament with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over No. 9 seed Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia. She will next face Slovakia's Romana Tabakova.
Robson, who was granted a wild card into the event, is a true prospect.
She was born in Melbourne, Australia, moved to Singapore at the age of 18 months and, after a four-year stay, settled in Wimbledon.
"I'm just doing what I'm doing and people are talking," she said. "But it's nice to be getting compliments -- that means I'm doing well."
Robson is the highest-ranked 14-year-old in the world and the No. 2 junior in Great Britain. She has been compared (favorably) to a young Justine Henin
-- Greg Garber
Roger Federer vs. Marat Safin:
You might remember the 2005 Australian Open, when Safin prevailed 9-7 in the last of five sets on his way to the second career Grand Slam title. On the other hand, Federer has lost to only one player outside the top five in a Grand Slam since he's been No. 1 (No. 30 Gustavo Kuerten
in the 2004 French Open). This time, Safin is out of gas.
ESPN.com prediction: Federer in four.
Rafael Nadal versus Rainer Schuettler:
Schuettler played a crazy 5-hour match, defeating Arnaud Clement in five sets, which must have delighted Rafa. Under ordinary circumstances, it would be tough sledding for a veteran like Schuettler, but factoring fatigue into the equation, this is a severe blowout.
ESPN.com prediction: Nadal in three.
-- Greg Garber