Federer seeks ninth straight Grand Slam semifinal

7/5/2006 - Tennis


By Keith Hawkins, ESPN.com Tennis Editor
No. 1 Roger Federer vs. No. 7 Mario Ancic
Federer, the three-time defending champ, has yet to lose a set through the first four rounds -- the only player left who can say that. With a win, the Swiss will extend his grass-court record win streak to 46 matches, and reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam event for the ninth straight time. (Only Ivan Lendl -- who reached 10 in a row from 1985-88 -- has a longer streak in the Open era.)

To get to the semis, Federer is going to have to beat Ancic, who coincidentally enough is the last player to beat Federer on grass. The Croatian beat Federer here in 2002; since then he has lost each of the last three meetings. Ancic was a semifinalist here in 2004, losing to Andy Roddick in four sets.

This is the second straight Grand Slam that Federer and Ancic have met in Week 2, with Federer winning in straight sets at the French Open last month.

No. 14 Radek Stepanek vs. Jonas Bjorkman
The winner of the Federer-Ancic match will face either the only unseeded player left in the field or Stepanek, who, prior to Wimbledon, had never advanced to the second week of a Grand Slam.

Bjorkman (34) and Stepanek (27) are two two oldest players remaining in the men's draw. Bjorkman has never advanced past the quarterfinals at the All England Club in 12 previous appearances. In fact, he's reached the semifinals of a Grand Slam event only once in his career back in 1997, losing to Greg Rusedski in five sets at the U.S. Open. Bjorkman has reached the quarters here despite playing only one seeded player -- No. 12 Thomas Johansson in the first round.

Prior to his run at Wimbledon, Stepanek had never advanced past the third round in 16 previous Grand Slam appearances. If the Czech is going to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal, then he will have to beat a player he's winless against in his career. Stepanek is 0-3 against Bjorkman and has yet to take a set from the Swede.

No. 6 Lleyton Hewitt vs. No. 18 Marcos Baghdatis

In the bottom half of the draw, Hewitt and Baghdatis will meet for the first time. Hewitt is the last player not named Federer to win Wimbledon (he beat David Nalbandian in 2002). The Australian is playing well, taking a nine-match win streak into Wednesday's quarters. Hewitt won the Queen's Club tournament leading up to Wimbledon, which included wins over Rafael Nadal, Tim Henman and James Blake.

Baghdatis beat Great Britain's Andy Murray in the fourth round to reach his second Grand Slam quarterfinal of 2006 (he lost to Federer in Australian Open final). Baghdatis has yet to win a grass-court tournament, while Hewitt has won six.

No. 2 Rafael Nadal vs. No. 22 Jarkko Nieminen

The only two left-handers in the quarterfinals will meet for the second time this year. Nadal beat Nieminen in three sets in Barcelona and is 2-0 in his career against the Fin, with both wins coming on clay. The French Open champion, who has won a record 60 straight matches on clay, was only 5-4 in his career on grass before the fortnight and had never advanced past the third round in two previous appearances at Wimbledon. Nadal has won nine straight sets since losing the first two in his second-round match against American Robert Kendrick.

Nieminen, who beat Ancic earlier this year in Auckland for his first ATP Tour title, is playing in just his second Grand Slam quarterfinal. Last year, he reached the final eight at the U.S. Open before losing to Hewitt in five sets.


WIMBLEDON, England -- Usually, the post-match handshake is a symbol of sportsmanship. On Monday, Dmitry Tursunov took the usually perfunctory gesture to a new -- and horribly low -- level.

After losing his fourth-round match to Jarkko Nieminen, Tursunov reached up to shake hands with chair umpire Fergus Murphy, and refused to let go.

On Tuesday, Tursunov was fined $7,500 by the International Tennis Federation for his impertinence, an ATP spokesman confirmed.

"I've always had problems with him," Tursunov said. "I think he's a very bad referee. Maybe it's something personal now because I've always argued with him during my matches. But I think he's terrible.

"Then he, you know, as you saw, gives me a point penalty at 8-7. Four hours on the court doesn't seem to be a good enough reason for him to be more lenient.

"You know, if the guy's an idiot, the guy's an idiot. I'm going to let him know that I feel that."