Sunday, July 5, 2009
Tandon's Wimbledon live blog -- Day 13
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 | Day 11 | Day 12
1:43 p.m. ET: Federer jumps in the air, his 15th major putting him alone in the record books.
The two men hug at net, and Federer bounds to the chair while Roddick puts his head in his hands.
Roddick's voice breaks as he gives his postmatch interview, saying that Federer is a great champion and that he hopes to come back and win one himself next year.
Federer steps up. "Andy, you played an unbelievable tournament," he says. "Don't be too sad -- I went through some tough ones, too, especially last year, and I came back and won it."
"You've won five," Roddick replies.
It's a nice moment, and Federer ends the interview with some apt words: "Tennis is crazy."
1:33 p.m. ET: Roddick has sent the ball flying a couple of times in this game and is looking weary. If Federer can get the ball into play, he's in good shape.
Getting the ball into play is the tough part as Roddick gets to advantage on the first deuce of the game, but then just can't connect properly with the ball as two wild errors finally allow Federer to win a classic encounter 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14.
1:26 p.m. ET: Roddick has been through something like this before -- against El Aynaoui at the Australian Open, 21-19 in the fifth. And yet the look on his face is pure disbelief right now.
Which man will crack first? Roddick keeps digging himself out of trouble on his own serve, but hasn't been able to make any impression on Federer's serve. It's 14-15.
1:23 p.m. ET: It's big forehands all around in the 26th -- 26th! -- game, with Federer sending one cross-court to reach deuce. But Roddick produces a big serve yet again, and Federer then sends a second-serve return into net.
Federer holds easily to go up 14-13.
1:16 p.m. ET: Federer sends a forehand flying to give Roddick 15-30, but three big serves and there goes that half-chance. This must be the longest fifth set in a Wimbledon final ever.
1:09 p.m. ET: What a disappointing loss this is going to be for either man. A couple of big serves, a deftly sliced backhand, and Roddick is back at 12-12.
1:06 p.m. ET: At 10-11 on Roddick's serve, Federer gets to deuce when a couple of Roddick's shots land just wide of the ad tramline. But that's as close as he gets, because Roddick comes up with two big serves.
Federer then holds easily to go up 12-11. The buzz in the crowd is nonstop now, as everyone is in disbelief over another classic final.
1:04 p.m. ET: What can I say? Both men are playing so brilliantly at so tense a time. Serves are landing inches inside the box, and rally shots are landing within a foot of the baseline.
There's applause again as Roddick comes out to serve at 10-11.
12:56 p.m. ET: A scintillating game featuring a beautiful forehand by Federer and a brilliant backhand pass by Roddick. Roddick is upset as Federer wins another Hawk-Eye challenge on the last point -- umpire Lars Graff overruled Federer's ace as a fault but the challenge showed it was indeed in.
It's 10-9 in the fifth, and Roddick walks out to save himself again.
12:53 p.m. ET: Every point bristles with significance now as an opportunity could come out of nowhere. And the two are responding to the occasion with superb effort and some excellent play, like Roddick's drop volley on the way to making it 9-9.
12:49 p.m. ET: A clean forehand winner from Roddick gets him to 8-8 as the tension continues to build. I can barely type fast enough now.
On the first point on Federer's serve, Roddick takes charge of the rally off the return and hits another winner. Federer hits a good serve on the second point of the game, though Roddick only just misses getting a mid-rally stab backhand over the net. Has a moment of inspiration arrived?
Yes, it seems, as Roddick plays two great rallies to reach match point. But Federer plays two good points of his own to save them both. Nerves of steel from the Swiss.
What now? Roddick has a play on the serve at deuce, but sends a forehand return long. A backhand from Roddick on the next point goes a bit long, and Federer has escaped by the skin of his teeth.
12:43 p.m. ET: It's 8-7 for Federer.
A lot of the rallies are being ended on Federer's racket at the moment, but given that he's prone to shanking the ball as well as hitting the winner, it's hard to tell whether that suggests anything about the outcome of this match.
12:34 p.m. ET: A tense moment for Federer at 30-30, but he, too, keeps it together and goes up 7-6 in the fifth. This match is 3 hours, 20 minutes old, and most of the crowd hasn't moved from their seats.
12:31 p.m. ET: No nerves from Roddick as he holds to love, and Federer to 15. So it's Roddick to serve to stay in it again after the changeover. That's a lot of pressure each time, and the reason it's considered a significant advantage to serve first in the fifth set, as Federer did.
12:25 p.m. ET: I wonder if Federer has been surprised by the way Roddick has played within himself today, trying to work the rallies and coming to net selectively.
Federer has played Roddick more times than he's played anyone on tour -- this is their 21st match, compared to 20 Federer has played against Nadal. Before the final, the Swiss talked at some length about the experience of playing Roddick:
"I've played him 20 times, so I've had plenty of time, you know, to study his game, to understand his game. He's always played me also quite differently every single time I've played him. In the beginning of his career, I remember back in 2003, he was sometimes standing way back, you know, on the return. But then I played him one year, I mean, not on grass, but let's say in 2004, he chipped and charged a lot, you know, came to the net a lot. I've also played him when he's serve and volleyed first and second serve almost.
"I've had many different looks against Roddick. I enjoy how he leaves everything out on the court. I can only marvel at how incredible his serve is. I like playing against him, not only just because of the record [I have against him]."
Almost presciently, he added, "I don't know how much, you know, like a record, like my great record I have against Roddick, would come into play. I'm not sure. It starts from zero."
It's now 5-4 on serve for Federer in the fifth. The set has been pretty routine for both players on serve so far, but Roddick is now serving to stay in the match.
12:10 p.m. ET: The wind has been picking up as the match has gone on -- sitting in the shade, I've got my jacket on now. From watching the tassel on the umbrella being held over Federer on the changeover, I can tell you that it doesn't seem to be blowing in any one direction, just gusting occasionally.
12:07 p.m. ET: Needless to say, both players are desperate to take an early lead in the fifth set. Federer had a chance in the second game, and Roddick thought he had one when Federer's forehand was called out to make it 30-30.
But Federer wins a Hawk-Eye challenge, for once, and it's now 2-1 on serve.
12:05 p.m. ET: Federer earns his sixth break point of the match as Roddick takes another tumble diving futilely for a volley, but again neither gets nor creates an opportunity to break through. It's 1-1 in the fifth.
11:56 a.m. ET: There's a murmur from the crowd as Roddick tumbles in the second point of the eighth game. He definitely winced as he went down and took his time before the next point but seemed to shrug it off quickly with a return winner in the next point.
The American did get in trouble at 0-30 when serving for the set but stayed absolutely calm, and Federer couldn't get on top of him, losing the next four points to drop the set 6-3.
The crowd rises to applaud as the players go to a fifth set.
11:48 a.m. ET: We should note that Federer hasn't actually broken Roddick in this match yet, despite getting close a couple of times.
He gets a chance as Roddick double-faults at 4-2 to make it 30-30, but being up a break has put some life back in Roddick's forehand, and he holds to make it 5-2.
11:42 a.m. ET: Just as I remark on Roddick's backhand below, he sticks a backhand volley down the line to earn two break points, and two points later blasts a passing shot off that wing which Federer can't handle.
It's 3-1 Roddick now, most unexpectedly.
11:33 a.m. ET: Regardless of what I said about Roddick's backhand looking good in the early stages, the backhand down the line hasn't produced for him as the match has gone on.
Federer went to an old ploy a couple of times in the tiebreaker, using the short slice to draw Roddick in on the backhand, and Roddick either netted his slice down the line or found himself being passed.
Federer found himself at 15-30 in his last service game, but he's feeling comfortable now no matter what the score. It's now 2-1 on serve for Roddick.
11:27 a.m. ET: There was almost another miraculous comeback in this tiebreaker as well -- from Roddick this time. Down 5-1, he produced a deep return to get back one of the minibreaks and got back to 6-5.
But Federer produced a big serve and pounded the short reply to prevent the third-set tiebreaker from becoming a mirror image of the second.
The Swiss can smell major No. 15, while it's all uphill for Roddick now.
11:19 a.m. ET: More missed first serves and more trouble for Roddick, but again he finds the big one when he really needs it, and we're in another tiebreaker.
11:13 a.m. ET: Federer, meanwhile, has been cruising through his service games, barely dropping a point (none when he gets his first serve in).
As for Roddick, his previously 80 percent-ish first-serve percentage has dropped to 58 percent in this set. That is going to make it difficult to get the job done, though he did come up with a big one to get out of 30-30, and it's now 5-5 in the third set.
Check that -- 6-5 for Federer after a quick hold, and now Roddick walks out to serve to stay in the set. He's been getting up from the chair much earlier than Federer, keen to get on with it.
11 a.m. ET: One of the noticeable things about the normally hyped-up Roddick during this tournament has been his calm. In the semifinal, it was Murray, not Roddick, getting into it with the umpire, and Roddick has kept the same demeanor in this match.
"I knew going in that getting all hyped-up and up and down, especially in an atmosphere that probably wasn't gonna be super favorable to me, wasn't probably the way to go," he said. "So I kind of just wanted to stay the course. I was fully aware that there might be ups and downs. I just wanted to kind of keep the same face regardless."
After having a two-set lead whisked away in front of his nose, that's going to be the challenge for Roddick again.
He just fended off a break point to make it 3-3, but Federer has started to pick up on Roddick's delivery now, and it's now going to be harder for the American to avoid rallies in his service games.
The score is now 4-3 on serve for Federer.
10:49 a.m. ET: Well, no sign of an imminent collapse from Roddick in the third set, as he holds his opening couple of service games and gets into a few rallies on Federer's serve. It's now 2-2.
10:43 a.m. ET: Wow. A stunning U-turn in that tiebreaker, with Roddick holding four set points at 6-2, but Federer, suddenly catching fire, ran off six points in a row. An angled backhand gave the Swiss back one of the mini-breaks, and after two quick serves, he received a gift off a stiff Roddick backhand volley to draw even. Just a few seconds later, both players walked back to their chairs, unexpectedly finding themselves at a set apiece.
Federer is clearly relieved and pumped up -- what must Roddick be feeling?
In the box, Sampras is laughing in disbelief, his record in a little more danger than it was a few minutes ago.
10:31 a.m. ET: And we're now at 6-6. The most amazing thing about today's match might be how little impression Federer has made on Roddick's serve. Granted, Roddick is serving at about 80 percent, but Federer is normally so good at blocking back Roddick's return and taking control of the rallies.
Let's see how he does in the tiebreaker.
10:24 a.m. ET: There's consternation as Federer double-faults to make it 30-30, and relieved cheers as he puts away a forehand to reach game point. The crowd's ultimate allegiance isn't completely clear -- they've built up a great relationship with Federer over the years, but Roddick is popular, too, and they'd probably like to see him win the title once.
But they're unanimous in their appreciation of good tennis, and a roar goes up as Federer flicks a running forehand pass off a Roddick drop shot to reach 5-5.
"Come on, Sampras!" someone calls out, drawing laughter.
10:19 a.m. ET: Roddick has just held for 5-4, so it's pressure time for Federer as he now serves to avoid going down two sets. The crowd is now starting to get behind the five-time champ.
10:14 a.m. ET: Roddick's success this fortnight and this season have made his coach Larry Stefanki the man of the moment. I spoke to Stefanki in Australia when the two had been working together only a few months.
"There's a lot of pieces of the puzzle. It's not like Jiffy Lube -- in and out in 30 minutes," Stefanki said then. "You've gotta say, 'Listen, your feet aren't moving, you're as stiff as a rock. Hit, move, hit, move.' People get kind of tired of hearing it, but it's something that has to be a way of life until it becomes part of you."
All those pieces seem to have come together for Roddick over the last couple of matches, because he hasn't been playing any one extreme to get to this point: not going for winners off every shot, nor just serving and running around at the back, but playing a very sharp, focused game and "managing" his matches very well.
After the win against Murray, Stefanki told Inside Tennis magazine: "Before he wasn't that sound technically, but he has really focused on that the last seven months. It was very alien to him. I didn't really want to get too technical with him, so I kept it as basic -- big thought process -- as possible.
"Everyone said his backhand sucks, it was no good. But he's really worked on his backhand return for seven months, and it's paid off. In December we talked about it paying off for Wimbledon."
10:04 a.m. ET: A high first-serve percentage was always going to be vital for Roddick, and he's delivered so far with 78 percent in the first set. Federer was at a respectable 69 percent, and both players had a similar winner/unforced error ratio -- 36/13 for Roddick and 33/14 for Federer.
The difference was those couple of errors by Federer when holding break point against Roddick at 5-5, and facing break point at 5-6.
It's now 2-1 in the second set. Roddick had a minor hiccup when he double-faulted to put Federer up 15-30 in the last game, but he's just been rock-solid at the pressure moments so far.
9:52 a.m. ET: Wow. Déjà vu from Friday, as Roddick suddenly takes the first set out of nowhere.
How did it happen? Federer pounced on a short forehand but missed to make it 15-30. A big serve put the score back at 30-30, but Federer then sliced a backhand just wide to give Roddick a break point. A missed forehand up the line from the Swiss, and lo and behold, Roddick has the first set.
Things are now very interesting.
9:49 a.m. ET: Great drama in the tenth game. The pressure is back on Roddick at 5-5, and he makes two quick mistakes to go down 0-30 at 5-5. It's the first slight opportunity Federer has had on Roddick's serve, but it's quickly wiped away by two big serves from Roddick.
Still, the momentary tension has certainly woken up the crowd. A tense rally develops at 30-30, and after a bit of jostling for position, Roddick slices a backhand into net. He's clearly frustrated.
Federer misses a forehand by less than an inch, and then a backhand return follows a big Roddick serve on another break point. The rallies are getting longer now and Federer is looming larger.
Roddick wins a Hawk-Eye challenge on a Federer forehand to fend off another break point, and again when Federer loses a challenge off a similar shot.
Finally, Roddick finds a big serve to pull off what could turn to be a critical hold.
9:38 a.m. ET: It's 5-4 for Roddick -- this is where the American produced a surprise break against Murray in the semfinals, and you can bet he'll be trying to do the same again.
But he has no luck. A backhand down the line from Roddick goes just wide, and then a terrific shanked drop volley from Federer puts the Swiss up 30-0. Then it's another foray into net from Federer and he puts away the overhead easily, followed by a big serve for a love hold.
9:32 a.m. ET: Federer has been holding easily so far, not losing a point on his first serve and out-acing Roddick five to three. But he hasn't made much headway on Roddick's serve yet, either.
We all know about the big serve and forehand, but it's Roddick's backhand that was a revelation against Murray. He's worked on it very hard over the years, retooling it with Connors and trying to be more aggresive with it under Stefanki.
He's already hit a couple of winners off that side, and that changes the dynamic of the rallies a little bit because Federer can't count on getting a relatively simple shot off that side all the time.
So another changeover after two fairly quick holds -- the two aren't wasting any time between points, either. It's 4-3 Roddick.
9:27 a.m. ET: The thinking was that coming into net would be a good tactic for Roddick to mix in against Federer. But so far it's Federer who's been trying to get in on Roddick's serve, and he's been passed three times. 3-2 for Roddick.
9:21 a.m. ET: No bad signs for Roddick so far -- a couple of aces, a backhand pass winner, and he's held serve easily for 2-1
There's a big buzz on the changeover as Sampras arrives in the Royal Box.
9:10 a.m. ET: Another fortnight is drawing to a close, and history beckons as Roger Federer goes for a record 15th Grand Slam title against Andy Roddick today.
The players have just walked out onto Centre Court, and if there's anyone capable of savoring the sense of occasion as much as the fans out here, it's Federer. "I've been very fortunate that I've been able to play against not only my rivals but also against the history books," he said before the final in his usual inimitable way.
Pete Sampras, incidentally, doesn't seem to have made the trip -- there was speculation that he might show up after saying he would try to be present when Federer broke his record of 14 Grand Slams.
All this makes Roddick seem like the forgotten man of his final, and certainly the weight of history is against him. The American has lost 18 of their 20 previous matches, including all seven Grand Slam meetings and three Wimbledon meetings.
He'll have to get off to a good start and hope to sneak out the first set like he did against Andy Murray in the semifinals.
7:52 a.m. ET: Welcome to the final day. The Wimbledon Championships culminate with an intriguing final between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick. Will the favorite, Federer, triumph and pass Pete Sampras as the all-time Grand Slam champ, or will Andy Roddick capture the elusive Wimbledon title he has dreamed of? We'll have play-by-play action throughout the duration of the match.
Keep those e-mails coming (email@example.com), as I also will be answering your questions and comments throughout the day.