Federer sets up Safin showdown, Henman flops

Updated: 2007-06-29 09:30

Champion Roger Federer completed an elegant half century in 10 minutes on Thursday to reach the third round of Wimbledon.

Local hope Tim Henman, however, teased his long-suffering fans for more than three tense hours before his Wimbledon dreams were shattered by a Spaniard who serves and volleys.

Since making his debut here in 1994, the Briton has rarely done anything without an overdose of drama and his 7-6 7-6 3-6 2-6 6-1 defeat by Feliciano Lopez followed the pattern.

By the end of the five-set thriller each had won 153 points but unfortunately for four-times semi-finalist Henman, it was Lopez who had won all the important ones.

"We played 306 points and we're even and it's obviously highlighted on grass that you've got to win the rights ones at the right time. That's frustrating," said Henman, whose defeat marked the end of the British challenge in either singles draw.

There was nothing wrong about Federer's timing.

The world number one's bid to emulate Bjorn Borg's five successive titles at the All England Club gathered momentum when he won his 50th consecutive grasscourt match 6-2 7-5 6-1 against Argentine teenager Juan Martin Del Potro.

While Federer's progress was never in doubt, Marat Safin set up an intriguing meeting with the Swiss by reaching the third round of the grasscourt grand slam for only the third time.

In the process he ruined Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi's bid to become the first Pakistani to reach the last 32 here with a 6-4 6-2 7-6 victory.

Federer was 2-0 up in the third set on Wednesday when rain stopped play and on resumption swiftly finished the job.

Safin had originally been scheduled to play on Court One but probably did himself no favours with the organisers by criticising what he saw as exorbitant prices in the players' restaurant.

On Thursday, officials demoted him to Court 18 and in a rather muted performance, the upredictable Russian conjured an array of lobs and passing shots to outwit Qureshi.


Safin's performance would hardly have worried Federer, who has won seven of their nine duels and has dropped just one set in his last 13 Wimbledon matches.

"I hope he's not going to have one of those crazy good days against me," said Federer.

Lleyton Hewitt, the only other men's champion in the draw, romped to a 6-2 6-2 6-1 win over a clueless Simone Bolleli. Rafael Nadal dropped only two more games than the Australian in a 6-2 6-4 6-1 exhibition against Austrian Werner Eschauer.

Three-times former winner Venus Williams geared up for a potential fourth round showdown with 2004 champion Maria Sharapova with a 6-2 6-2 thrashing of 170th ranked Czech Hana Sromova. The Russian second seed was even more ruthless and trampled France's Severine Bremond 6-0 6-3.

Holder Amelie Mauresmo continued her serene passage with a 6-1 6-2 victory over Austrian Yvonne Meusburger.

Just 24 hours after creating a stir at the championships by emerging on court wearing red underwear, Tatiana Golovin discovered that red was not really her lucky colour.

"I'll keep wearing them as long as I keep winning, they are lucky," the 17th-seeded Frenchwoman had said.

She had obviously spoken too soon as on Thursday she became the highest women's seed to exit following a 6-2 3-6 6-1 defeat by Tamira Paszek.

Serbia enjoyed a double celebration with French Open runner-up Ana Ivanovic and Novak Djokovic both advancing.

Tommy Robredo became the first big casualty in the men's draw. The 11th-seeded Spaniard failed to last the distance against 36-year-old Wayne Arthurs and fell 6-3 7-6 6-3. Next up for the Australian will be the second oldest man in the draw, 35-year-old Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden.

Top Sports News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours