Gloom settles over England as Henman bounced by Ancic

Federer wins

Roddick, Grosjean join him in semis


July 01, 2004|By Diane Pucin | Diane Pucin,LOS ANGELES TIMES

WIMBLEDON, England - Henmania is over for another year, done in by a nerveless Croatian with a strong arm and indomitable will.

Once again, as has been the case since 1936, there will not be a British winner of the men's Wimbledon title. Tim Henman, the fifth seed and an eight-time quarterfinalist, could not win a set from the unseeded but spirited Mario Ancic yesterday, suffering a 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2 loss in the quarterfinals.

Ancic, who announced himself as a potential Wimbledon threat two years ago when he upset Roger Federer and earned the nickname "Super Mario," set Henman on his heels from the start in a triumph that left the crowd inside and outside Centre Court sad and subdued.

As a man quickly approaching his 30th birthday, Henman admitted this loss hurt more than others here. The disappointment, he said, was "worse, actually. That's the honest answer. My hopes and desires and aims were to win this tournament. Having lost it, it's a tough one to swallow."

Lleyton Hewitt, seeded seventh, swallowed hard, too. He became the first man since Sjeng Schalken at the 2003 Wimbledon to break Federer's serve, but in the matter of five minutes in the fourth set he went from having more break points than the defending champion to double-faulting on match point.

He then saw a relieved Federer take a bow in appreciation of a 6-1, 6-7 (1), 6-0, 6-4 victory, his 22nd consecutive win on grass.

Andy Roddick, the No. 2 seed, was also well-tested by Schalken, the No. 12 seed. The lanky Dutchman pushed Roddick to two tiebreakers and, as Roddick admitted, outplayed the American from the baseline.

But by averaging 113 mph on his second serve and hitting his fastest serve - 146 mph - 30 mph faster than Schalken, Roddick moved into his second consecutive Wimbledon semifinal, where he'll face Ancic.

Federer will get 10th-seeded Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean, who, like Roddick, hasn't lost a set here this year. Grosjean dispatched 20-year-old German Florian Mayer, 7-5, 7-4, 6-2, to advance to his second consecutive Wimbledon semifinal.

Henman had entered this tournament with momentum built from a surprise run to the French Open semifinals and with confidence in the coaching of Paul Annacone, the man who helped Pete Sampras dominate Wimbledon. Henman had hired Annacone for this year, hoping for some tips, a little something extra.

"The reality is," Henman said, "that I don't have an endless number of years for chances here. And I felt this was a good opportunity. I'm sure my desire and dedication and motivation will always be there, but I've not got endless chances."

Ancic is at a point where his chances for everything seem endless. Against Henman, his 11 aces weren't dramatic, but his serve was effective. Also, especially after the first set, Ancic began returning Henman's serve deep enough to put his opponent on the defensive.

Ancic said that after the first set, "I think I had really everything under control."

Roddick finished his 2-hour 9-minute match that was interrupted twice by rain with an ungainly but successful imitation of the overhead that had been Sampras' signature shot. "Got it a little too early," said Roddick, whose momentum almost carried him into the net. "I need to work harder on it I think."

Schalken seemingly had Roddick in deep trouble in the first set tiebreaker. After winning the first two points, the American slipped to the ground while pushing a weak floater over the net. But Schalken bungled his normally deadly backhand.

Rain first sent Roddick and Schalken off with the score 5-5, 40-40 and Schalken serving in the second set. When the rain ended, the second tiebreaker came quickly and it was filled with big serves from Roddick and penetrating baseline shots from Schalken. Roddick saved three set points and took control with back-to-back forehand winners.

Though Federer lost his first set of the tournament, Hewitt, who won here in 2002, converted only that one of 11 break-point chances. "I predicted before the match it's going to be difficult," Federer said. "It's going to be a hard battle where I really have to run a lot."

Hewitt has an idea of who will win it all. "Roger's seeing the ball very well," he said. "His returns are a lot better than they used to be. He really cut out a lot of those unforced errors he used to make. He's going to be a tough player to beat on grass."

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.


Men's singles


Mario Ancic, Croatia, def. Tim Henman (5), Britain, 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2. Andy Roddick (2), United States, def. Sjeng Schalken (12), Netherlands, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (9), 6-3. Roger Federer (1), Switzerland, def. Lleyton Hewitt (7), Australia, 6-1, 6-7 (1), 6-0, 6-4. Sebastien Grosjean (10), France, def. Florian Mayer, Germany, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2.

Women's singles


Serena Williams (1), United States, def. Jennifer Capriati (7), United States, 6-1, 6-1. Amelie Mauresmo (4), France, def. Paola Suarez (9), Argentina, 6-0, 5-7, 6-1.

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