Friday, July 3, 2009
Tandon's Wimbledon live blog -- Day 11
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. Don't hesitate to ask your questions.
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10
10:32 a.m. ET: So we're now guaranteed a Roger vs. Andy matchup. The only question is whether the Andy will be Murray or Roddick.
Murray must be given the edge based on his 6-2 head-to-head record, excellent return, and the support of the home fans, but Roddick's big serve gives him a fighting chance.
Murray has a decision to make: Go for a lot and try win off his own racket, or defend well and force Roddick to come up with the goods.
As for the crowd, Roddick says, "I'm just going to pretend that when they say 'C'mon, Andy,' that they mean me."
Enjoy the match -- see you live tomorrow for the all-Williams women's final.
10:18 a.m. ET: Federer breaks in a marathon eighth game as Haas finally falters -- a double fault and missed volley off a handcuffed approach.
Four quick points later -- the last a Sampras-esque overhead -- and Federer is through to his seventh Wimbledon final.
As noted by Randy Walker, the PR rep for "The Bud Collins History of Tennis," this is Federer's 20th Grand Slam final overall -- one more than Ivan Lendl's previous record of 19.
10:11 a.m. ET: There seems to be a lot of interest in what will happen to Federer's ranking after this week. It's quite simple:
• If Federer wins Wimbledon, he returns to No. 1.
• If Murray wins Wimbledon, Federer actually drops to No. 3, and Murray becomes No. 2 behind Nadal.
• Anything else, and the rankings stay as they are: Nadal, Federer, Murray.
But I'm told by Italian journalist Ubaldo Scagnatta that his Web site, Ubitennis, has worked out that Federer is guaranteed to return to No. 1 at some point this summer, when Nadal and Murray start dropping points from their Masters and Olympics results last year.
10:03 a.m. ET: Good to see they're both still having fun out there. After hitting a drop shot, Haas nearly ran into the net as Federer sprinted easily up to the ball.
Handcuffed, the German waved his arms in a desperate attempt to distract Federer, and it actually worked as Federer ballooned the ball out of court.
They shared a nice smile afterward -- good thing it was 40-0. Federer still held and now, a couple of games later, we're still on serve at 3-3.
9:57 a.m. ET: It looks like the end of the road is nearing for Haas. He won a five-setter against Marin Cilic in the third round but is going to be hard-pressed to come back from a two-set hole against Federer, who is really taking flight now.
But I just marvel that Haas is even here. We know about the three shoulder surgeries, the motorcycle accident that almost killed his parents and left his father badly injured.
Then add to that ankle problems early in his career, and all the niggling problems like wrist injuries and muscle tears that all players go through. He's made plenty of money and knows how to enjoy life, so what's keeping him out here when he could be leading a nice, relaxed retirement?
Here's what he said after his quarterfinal win: "You want to be able to look back and say, 'Hey, I played the sport that I love as long as I could and I've tried my best.' You look back at what you have accomplished and you want to be proud of yourself. So that's why.'"
9:44 a.m. ET: The seemingly inevitable tiebreaker doesn't materialize as Federer draws an error on the Haas forehand on this third set point to go up two sets 7-6 (3), 7-5.
A smile and a shake of the head from Haas, who's played well but hasn't even managed to get to break point against the mighty Fed.
9:33 a.m. ET: Finally, a close game as Federer gets to 30-30 on Haas' serve at 4-5. After a long baseline exchange, Haas skirts into net and ... nets a backhand volley.
Lo and behold, it's set point for Federer. Guess what happens next? Yes, two unreturnable serves from Haas.
Federer gets another chance as Haas nudges a high backhand volley just wide, but Federer misses a couple of forehands long and it's 5-5.
Nice as it is to see a (neo)classical grass-court match, this is the downside. Bring on the tiebreaker already.
9:23 a.m. ET: Meanwhile, on Court 1, the Williams sisters warmed up for their singles final tomorrow by taking the doubles title 6-1, 6-2 against Cara Black and Liezel Huber (the No. 1 team in the world, by the way).
Was there ever any doubt? The sisters have dropped just one women's doubles match ever at the All England Club -- a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 loss to Elena Dementieva and Lina Krasnoroutskaya in 2003. Every other time, they've either pulled out or won the tournament.
9:15 a.m. ET: One of the trademarks of Centre Court is that there's only one players' box, which means both camps sit in consecutive rows within arm's length of each other.
Federer's pregnant wife, Mirka, is prominent in the front row -- her absence during one of Federer's matches last week prompted lots of birth speculation.
Haas' fiancée, Sara Foster, is sitting in the second row. No glamour from the actress today -- open hair, little or no makeup, intensity all over her face -- this match is serious business.
Haas has not gone away so far in this second set -- it's 3-3.
9:02 a.m. ET: Federer has the first set 7-6 after winning three straight points following that passing shot winner from Haas. A huge backhand return from Federer was the critical shot that put him up 5-3.
Impressive serving stats from Federer in that first set: 71 percent first serves in, with 83 percent winning percentage on those points and 80 percent on his second serves.
The Swiss maestro had 18 winners and 5 unforced errors, with Haas breaking even at 10 apiece. But most discouragingly for Haas, he's only 6 for 15 on net points while Federer is 13 for 16.
8:57 a.m. ET: Federer and Haas are very different in their behavior between points. Federer is his usual unruffled self, not reacting to anything.
Haas is already getting frustrated about some missed chances, grumbling to himself and kicking a ball in frustration that almost hit someone courtside.
Haas has (or at least used to have) a reputation for being quite mean to ball kids, and his running tirades at former coach Red Aymes during matches were once legendary. His current coach, Thomas Hogstedt, has escaped serious abuse so far.
We're in a tiebreak now. Haas sent a forehand long to go down a mini-break at 2-3, but just pulled off a magnificent forehand pass to get back on serve at 3-4.
8:48 a.m. ET: After losing the first, point, Federer holds comfortably for 5-5. Haas, meanwhile, gets into his usual 30-30 situation but again serves his way out of it. Haas is really going after his second serve, which has already produced one double fault, but has paid off otherwise.
But will he be able to hold his nerve and keep going after it if this set goes to a tiebreaker?
8:42 a.m. ET: Some great defense from Federer against Haas at net on the opening point of the 3-4 game: a flicked forehand and a great lob that landed inches from the line.
Not sure if this is to try to keep Haas away from net, but Federer is looking to charge in quite often behind his own service points.
Another close game has developed on Haas' serve at 4-4 -- it's 30-30 after a Haas double fault, but Federer uncharacteristically nets a chipped second-serve return and will now serve to stay in the set.
8:36 a.m. ET: Haas makes a forehand error at 30-30 on Federer's serve and punches the air angrily. It was a real chance to get to break point, but once it's gone, Federer doesn't give him another. Still, Haas is up 4-3 after an easy hold.
Federer, meanwhile, is down to one Hawk Eye challenge in this set after a couple of incorrect challenges in the last two games.
8:30 a.m. ET: It was 0-30 for Haas again after a nice passing shot from Federer and a netted backhand from Haas. But again, some good serves bail him out.
The 31-year-old is still sticking to the net-rushing approach that won him the match against Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals. Smart move, because he's not going to win most of the baseline exchanges against Federer, plus it keeps the points quick and saves wear and tear on those old legs.
8:27 a.m. ET: This match is going to be mostly uphill for Haas, because Federer has more artillery from everywhere except on the backhand. The German will want to be able to count on good serves at will today, as he just did to bail himself out of an 0-30 hole in his 1-1 game. A very deep second serve (Federer thought it was out but didn't challenge) got him the hold.
The two players barely sat down at the changeover before getting back out there; the umpire had to tell people to find their seats quickly. A quick love hold for Federer and it's 2-2.
8:19 a.m. ET: Whether this match goes the distance or not, we know we're going to get some scintillating tennis between these two stylists. One-handed backhands on both sides of the net, both willing to come into net -- this should be beautiful, classic grass-court tennis.
Haas has already serve-volleyed three times to win his opening service game from deuce, and Federer has ventured to net three of four times as well (including one serve-volley).
8:15 a.m. ET: Hi everyone, and welcome to the first cool day of these Championships. Roger Federer and Tommy Haas have just finished their warm-up and are about to get under way.
Federer is the heavy favorite today, but these two have a long history; remember their superb 8-6 in the fifth battle at the Australian Open in 2002? But that was before Federer was Federer, of course, and Haas was in the kind of form that saw him reach No. 2 in the world.
Since then, Federer has won all eight of their matches, but they've gone five sets in all of their Slam meetings. Most of you will remember the previous one just a few weeks ago in Paris, when Haas was up two sets and a break point before Federer produced a big inside-out forehand winner and turned the match -- and his tournament -- around.
7:10 a.m. ET: Welcome to men's semifinal day at the All England Club. Will Roger Federer and Andy Murray prevail and set up what would be a scintillating championship matchup? Here is today's schedule:
Tommy Haas(GER)  vs. Roger Federer(SUI) 
Andy Roddick(USA) [ 6] vs. Andy Murray(GBR) 
Keep those e-mails coming (firstname.lastname@example.org), as I also will be answering your questions and comments throughout the day.