Wimbledon

Federer answers Roddick's charge

Down a set, No. 1 chases down No. 2 in successful title defense

July 05, 2004|By Diane Pucin | Diane Pucin,LOS ANGELES TIMES

WIMBLEDON, England - Let's see this again.

Let's see Andy Roddick throw down serves and bring the volley, the surprise volley that kept Roger Federer flummoxed for a while.

Let's see Federer curl that lob over the long reach of Roddick or crack that one-handed backhand across the court until the ball lands on the chalk and causes a cloud of white dust to blow in the wind.

Let's see Roddick wind up and smack that forehand hard, harder, hardest. Let's see more of the Federer choreography, the footwork on the grass, which always had Federer moving in the right direction to chase down Roddick's blasts.

The only regret about yesterday's Wimbledon men's final was that it didn't go five sets. Instead, Federer punctuated his second consecutive Wimbledon title by finishing with an ace, then dropping to his back at the end of his 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (3), 6-4 victory over Roddick on Centre Court.

It was Federer's 24th consecutive grass-court win, one more than Pete Sampras at his best and it made the top-ranked Federer the first man to defend a title here since Sampras in 2000.

Tears filled Federer's eyes as he lay on the ground. "Somehow I feel even more joy this year because I had so much pressure going into this tournament," Federer of Switzerland said. "Now to see my name on the board twice in a row, I get more joy out of this."

For the first time in their young careers, the two players ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the world played each other in a major championship finale. It was the first time since 1982 that that had happened in the Wimbledon men's final.

Roddick of the United States came out hitting 145-mph first serves and 130-mph second serves. This was expected. But he also came out rushing the net more than ever. As he said later, "going to the net will never be my first option," but Roddick did it well early.

There were only three rain-free days during this Wimbledon, and yesterday wasn't one of them. There was a 36-minute delay after the fifth game of the first set when Roddick had a service break in hand and a 3-2 lead. There was another 40-minute delay after the sixth game of the third set when Roddick was leading 4-2. He had broken Federer's serve in the third game by hitting two great service returns and forcing Federer into weak replies when he needed to hit shots off his shoe tops.

It was during the second stoppage that Federer made a crucial decision.

After play resumed, Federer was the one playing serve-and-volley tennis and putting more and more pressure on a tiring Roddick. The same serves Roddick had been blasting at 145 mph early were now in the 120s. And the fleet Federer feet were carrying the champion easily forward.

Federer got his service break back in the first game that Roddick served after the final rain delay. The two played into a tiebreaker, and there Federer gained the momentum for good. The tiebreaker began with a 128-mph ace by Federer, then a 137-mph service winner and 140-mph ace by Roddick, then a 125-mph ace from Federer.

Finally, Roddick got a racket on a second serve on the fifth point, but it was only to send the ball into the net. Then Federer grabbed hold of the tiebreaker by winning two consecutive points on Roddick's serve - one a forehand winner, one a backhand down the line.

"I threw the kitchen sink at him," Roddick said, "but he went to the bathroom and got a tub. It's definitely tough losing, but I feel good in myself that I left everything out there. Roger is a great champion and hopefully we'll get to do this again sometime."

This is Federer's third Grand Slam title within a year's time - in addition to the two Wimbledon titles, he won the 2004 Australian Open. He is 3-for-3 in Grand Slam finals.

"He's got an aura about him ... that's for sure," Roddick said.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Men's final

Box score

Federer Roddick

1st-serve pct. 62 61

Aces 12 11

Double faults 3 5

Unforced errors 28 32

1st-serve winning pct. 67 74

2nd-serve winning pct. 58 40

Winners (including service) 55 51

Break points 5-10 4-14

Net points 27-44 21-44

Total points won 150 137

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