‘Andymonium’ hits Wimbledon: Roddick-Murray in 1 Wimbledon semi, Federer-Haas in other

By Howard Fendrich, AP
Thursday, July 2, 2009

Andy vs. Andy: Roddick faces Murray at Wimbledon

WIMBLEDON, England — The current edition of Wimbledon is the 23rd Grand Slam tournament since Andy Roddick won his lone major championship at the 2003 U.S. Open.

He badly wants to win a second.

It’s why he changed coaches for this season. Slimmed down. Put in as much work as ever in practice, striving to improve his returns, his backhands, his volleys.

Add it all up, and the sixth-seeded American is back in the Wimbledon semifinals for the first time since 2005, facing No. 3-seeded Andy Murray of Britain on Friday. Roger Federer — seeking a sixth Wimbledon championship and record 15th Grand Slam title — faces No. 24 Tommy Haas of Germany in the other semifinal.

“Andymonium” has hit the All England Club, but don’t think Roddick is happy merely to be a part of it.

“By no means is he satisfied, because the whole gig when he hired me is we’ve got to win a Slam,” Roddick’s coach, Larry Stefanki, said. “I said, ‘That’s what I’m here for.’ Winning a Slam is what it’s all about. Coming in second is like kissing your sister. And he knows that he’s already won one. Nothing is going to suffice. Even if you get to the final, it won’t do.”

Roddick’s major title, not quite six years ago, was also the last at any Grand Slam event for an American man, the country’s longest drought in the Open era, which began in 1968.

That wait must seem rather quaint to the folks around here.

Murray is trying to become the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936. No British man has won any Grand Slam championship since Perry at the U.S. Open later that year.

So the buzz builds with each victory by Murray. The 22-year-old from Scotland wrote on Twitter about the good-luck note he received from Queen Elizabeth II — everyone in Britain wants to know whether she’ll show up in the Royal Box if Murray reaches Sunday’s final — and the phone call he got from actor Sean Connery.

“It doesn’t make any difference the way you perform, the hype. If you … spend a lot of time reading the papers, watching everything on the TV, all the things that are getting said on the radio, then you get caught up in it,” said Murray, the runner-up to Federer at last year’s U.S. Open. “If you ignore it, you don’t realize it’s happening.”

Murray is 6-2 against Roddick, including a lopsided victory in their most recent meeting, in the final of a hard-court tournament at Doha, Qatar, in January.

That was Stefanki’s first tournament with Roddick and expects Friday’s encounter to look different.

“It wasn’t pretty. That tactic won’t be used again. It was a very aggressive, offensive, bring-out-the-bugle-and-charge,” Stefanki said. “And this guy is like (Mats) Wilander or (Bjorn) Borg — you give him a target and he’s going to pass you, lob you, dink you, because he’s a great mover off the ball.”

This match could be decided by Roddick’s serve against Murray’s returns. Roddick pounded 43 aces past 2002 Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt in Wednesday’s quarterfinals, and he acknowledged that Murray is “certainly in the conversation among the best returners.”

Roddick will have his new wife, his trainer and Stefanki in his corner Friday. Murray, meanwhile, will have roughly 15,000 supporters at Centre Court.

“It will certainly be something to remember. I think the crowd’s going to be electric. I think it’s going to be a great atmosphere, and one that I can certainly appreciate, even if it’s not for me,” Roddick said. “I’m just going to pretend when they say, ‘Come on, Andy!’ that they mean me.”

Murray was the only British man or woman to get past the second round in singles and will be playing in his first Wimbledon semifinal.

Federer will be attempting to get to a record seventh consecutive Wimbledon final and record 20th career Grand Slam final. His match against Haas is the Swiss star’s 21st Grand Slam semifinal in a row, extending a record he already owned.

“The consistency, right there, in the big tournaments is ridiculous,” Murray said. “You know, no one will ever match that, I don’t think.”

By winning the French Open last month, Federer completed a career Grand Slam and tied Pete Sampras with 14 major championships.

Sampras has not said whether he’ll show up if Federer has a chance to break that tie Sunday. Past performances certainly indicate Federer should be there.

After all, he is 19-3 in Grand Slam semifinals, and Haas is 0-3. Plus, Federer leads Haas 9-2 head-to-head, including a big comeback June 1 in the fourth round of the French Open, where the German took the first two sets and was five points from victory.

Federer, of course, came back.

“I stayed calm and I knew that if the match was going to swing around that it was going to be really difficult for him. It’s exactly what happened,” Federer said. “But new match, new tournament. We’ll see what happens.”

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