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Thursday, June 25, 2009
Tandon's Wimbledon live blog -- Day 5

By Kamakshi Tandon
Special to ESPN.com

Need the inside scoop on all the latest news, results and gossip during the 2009 Wimbledon Championships? Our fearless blogger Kamakshi Tandon is on hand to fill you in on all the happenings every day from noon to 3 p.m. ET. Don't hesitate to ask your questions.

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

2:56: And Novak Djokovic wraps up a disappointingly routine 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over Mardy Fish. Despite a brief charge in the second set, Fish didn't make too much of an impression in this match and looked frustrated with his level of play. Djokovic was solid, with 31 winners and 15 unforced errors, and goes into the second week hoping his best tennis is ahead of him.

This blog is also wrapping it up for the week ... check back next Monday between noon and 3 ET for all the action from the business end of the Championships!

2:38: Howdy, Dudi -- Dudi Sela has just knocked out Tommy "Grass is for cows" Robredo to make the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time.

He faces the winner of the Novak Djokovic-Fish match.

2:22: You might have been hearing about Wimbledon's recession-proof resilience, with record-breaking crowds pouring in this year. The tournament is in healthy shape, no question, but those attendance figures are a bit misleading.

With a new, bigger Court 2 and expanded capacity on Centre Court, the higher numbers reflect the greater number of tickets on sale. Demand definitely exceeds supply where Wimbledon is concerned.

Here are the attendance figures for the first four days, with all-time records set Monday-Wednesday:

Monday: 42,811

Tuesday: 45,955

Wednesday: 46,826

Thursday: 45,370

2:13: A few verbal tidbits: One of the British commentators called returning serve in that match "being goalkeeper" ... A newspaper article described Fernando Verdasco's new hairstyle as a cross between "Cristiano Ronaldo and Elvis" ... This one, previewing the Gisela Dulko-Nadia Petrova duel, seems a little cruel: "Beauty and the Beast?"

Petrova's frills and ruffles dress is nothing to please the eye, certainly, but neither was Dulko's tennis in the later stages of the match, and Petrova beat the new pin-up of Wimbledon in three sets. Take that, says Nadia.

1:45: Quick rundown of the order of play for tomorrow:

Centre (1 p.m. start)

Venus Williams-Carla Suarez Navarro

Jurgen Melzer-Andy Roddick

Andy Murray-Viktor Troicki

Court 1

Nikolay Davydenko-Tomas Berdych

Sabine Lisicki-Svetlana Kuznetsova

Fernando Gonzalez-Juan Carlos Ferrero

Court 2

Sam Stosur-Ana Ivanovic

Lleyton Hewitt-Philipp Petzschner

Dinara Safina-Kirsten Flipkens

1:37: It's been all Novak Djokovic so far in his third-round match against Mardy Fish -- the Serb is up a set and two breaks in the second. Does a Davis Cup spot hang in the balance?

There's much speculation about whether James Blake will keep his spot on the U.S. team when the Americans face Croatia on clay after Wimbledon.

The feeling here is that he probably will, though it might be the last time. Blake reached the Estoril final on clay and captain Patrick McEnroe seems big on keeping the four-person team of Andy Roddick, the Bryans and Blake intact. Still, even Patrick's big brother, John, is speculating in the BBC booth about a possible change, singling out Sam Querrey in particular.

The team should be announced next week, but Fish is about to put himself out of the running unless he perks up here.

1:35 p.m. ET: More random player encounters: Hunting for dinner at the pizza place at Wimbledon village about 11:30 p.m. yesterday -- marathon match winners Melanie Oudin and Jesse Levine both heading home after finishing their late dinners. (At least they get a day off in between matches.)

Oudin got Yaroslava Shvedova in three sets, while Levine beat Pablo Cuevas in five. Both overjoyed.

1:21 p.m. ET: Bumped into Sam Querrey today, and he confirmed that he's been randomly punched and poked by two people walking around the streets of Wimbledon village.

1:08 p.m. ET: Serena's next opponent is Daniela Hantuchova … remember their dramatic fourth-round match here two years ago, when Serena was hit by cramps but somehow hobbled to victory?

Hantuchova is fighting a cold and sounded very hoarse today but will have two days to recover before facing Serena.

12:58 p.m. ET: Question from B Jones on players and umpires:

Over time some tennis players seem to develop a real animosity toward certain chair umpires or lines people. Are those personality quirks taken into account when matches are set up? Other than not having a chair umpire from a country of one of the players in the match, are any other possibly conflicting items considered? -- bjones

Interesting question. There are players who do dislike particular umpires to varying degrees, but I still see those umpires working the players' matches. So in general I don't think it plays a big role -- the umpires' work schedules are probably the biggest factor.

But if there's a significant incident, say on the level of Tarango-Rebueh or Serena Williams-Mariana Alves, then it seems they'll avoid having the umpire work that player's matches for a while.

12:46 p.m. ET: Saying a player was upset by Ivo Karlovic is like saying he had an accident walking through a hail of gunfire. So it was for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who went down 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5) to the 6-foot-10 Croatian today.

Let's cut straight to the serve stats -- 72 aces between the two of them, 46 for Ivo alone. If the match had gone five, Karlovic would definitely have broken the 55-ace record he set at the French Open a few weeks ago.

As the score shows, just a few shots decided the match. Tsonga missed a backhand an inch or two wide on his serve in the first-set tiebreaker, and Karlovic closed it out with -- what else? -- an ace.

Karlovic got the lone break of the match in the third set -- I have no idea how, because I was waiting for the tiebreaker to start watching again.

Another tiebreaker in the fourth set, with Tsonga getting ready to return at 6-5 -- try to imagine the feeling of facing Karlovic's serve on match point against you. Well, at least it didn't last long. Karlovic finished with -- what else? -- an ace and then gave a most uncharacteristic whoo-whoo-whoop at the end.

Is this really the shy, stuttering giant who didn't know which way to look after beating Lleyton Hewitt in the first round in 2003?

As he walked off court, a TV reporter asked, "Can you serve any better than that?"

"Of course."

Everyone take cover -- he's still chasing that 55-ace record.

12:20 p.m. ET: Is Roger Federer a tennis player or an intergalactic ambassador of arts and culture? He's just been into the interview room and got asked about Michael Jackson, Nelson Mandela, the merits of childbirth in England, and Fabrice Santoro.

Tony Godsick needs to arrange a full briefing on world affairs before each press conference.

12:06 p.m. ET: 12:06 p.m. ET: Earlier today, Serena Williams went through quickly and spent a lot of time answering questions about Michael Jackson in her press conference. Once Serena showed she was quite willing to answer, it became quite a cacophonous scene, with people calling out questions over one another. You can read the transcript here.

Noon ET: Hi, everyone, and welcome to Day 5 at Wimbledon.

The sun is shining here at the All England Club, which for once has been a bit of disappointment -- we were hoping to see the roof in action on Centre Court.

Still, if the roof is going to keep the rain away long-term, it'll be worth every penny of the 100 million pounds it's rumored to have cost.

Lots of things happening today. Roger Federer unexpectedly dropped the third set to Philipp Kohlschreiber but has gone safely through to the fourth round. Next up is a rematch of the French Open final against Robin Soderling.

We're all looking forward to that one, but I don't think I can say the same about Soderling. He sounded pretty downbeat about his chances and says he's been having stomach troubles that have kept him from eating properly.

The only time the Swede perked up was when someone pointed out that playing Federer on grass is the same as playing Nadal on clay (Soderling last month became the first man to defeat Nadal at the French Open).

"Yes, I mean, maybe it's the same challenge," he said. "It's very tough to beat Rafa on clay, and it's as tough to beat Roger on grass. But I made it once. We'll see. It's going to be a tough match for sure."

Is he just playing possum? We'll find out next week.

Mirka watchers, rejoice -- she was back in Federer's box for this match after missing his last encounter.

6:10 a.m. ET: Welcome to Day 5 of Wimbledon. For the first time since the tournament started, we might see a little precipitation. Will we finally see the much-anticipated roof closing over Centre Court?

Nonetheless, it promises to be a thrilling day. Here are Friday's notable matchups:

Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)[27] vs. Roger Federer (SUI)[2] Victoria Azarenka (BLR)[8] vs. Sorana Cirstea (ROU)[28] Mardy Fish (USA)[28] vs. Novak Djokovic (SRB)[4] Regina Kulikova (RUS) vs. Elena Dementieva (RUS)[4] Ivo Karlovic (CRO)[22] vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)[9] Tommy Haas (GER)[24] vs. Marin Cilic (CRO)[11] Roberta Vinci (ITA) vs. Serena Williams (USA)[2]

See you at noon ET.

Keep those e-mails (courtcoverage@rogers.com) coming, as I also will be answering your questions and comments throughout the day.