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Rediff.com  » Sports » PHOTOS: Nadal storms into last 16, Soderling stunned

PHOTOS: Nadal storms into last 16, Soderling stunned

Last updated on: June 26, 2011 18:41 IST

Soderling stunned by Aussie teen Tomic

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Fifth seed Robin Soderling lost 6-1, 6-4, 7-5 to 18-year-old Australian qualifier Bernard Tomic on Saturday in the biggest upset so far in the men's singles at Wimbledon.

The youngest player in the men's draw, poised to end Lleyton Hewitt's 11-year reign as Australian number one, produced a brilliant all-round display to stun Swede Soderling, who fought back from two sets down to beat Hewitt in the last round.

"It's the greatest achievement of my career so far and I'm really happy," the Australian qualifier said in a televised interview moments after a standing ovation on Court One.

"I looked calm but inside I was bursting. I tried not to show it to him and he was getting a bit frustrated.

"My approach was just 'win the next point,' that was my whole thing during the match," added Tomic, who came from two sets down to beat Igor Andreev in the second round having knocked out number 29 seed Nikolay Davydenko in the first.

The world number 158 showed no signs of fatigue from that match, however, and raced through the first set in just 17 minutes, before mixing rasping groundstrokes with delicate volleys and lobs to seal victory inside two hours.


Image: Bernard Tomic of Australia celebrates after defeating Robin Soderling on Saturday
Photographs: Getty Images
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Tantrums and thrills as Djokovic beats Baghdatis

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Novak Djokovic and Marcos Baghdatis had the normally reserved Centre Court crowd rocking in the aisles on Saturday as they produced their second Wimbledon blockbuster in four years.

For the record, world number two Djokovic won 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 but the scoreline fails to do justice to a match which had everything from temper tantrums to jaw-dropping rallies.

Serbia's Djokovic demolished his racket frame after one point that bordered on the preposterous at the end of the second set but despite feeling heavy-legged he resisted a furious barrage from the grinning Cypriot showman to reach the last 16.

The 24-year-old won 41 consecutive matches this year, including the Australian Open, but few of those wins provided the sheer sporting theatre that captivated 15,000 fans in Centre Court and millions around the world on television.

"I mean, playing here the last five years, there were not many moments when I saw practically all the Centre Court stadium on their feet," Djokovic, who faces French serve and volleyer Michael Llodra on Monday, said.

"It was incredible really. It was exciting to see the Centre Court of Wimbledon being so enthusiastic about the match.

"Me as a player, I have to appreciate that and be happy I was a part of the exciting match.

"I was moving really bad. I didn't feel great on the court. I think I won because I was hanging in there and fighting."


Image: Novak Djokovic celebrates after beating Marcos Baghdatis on Saturday
Photographs: Getty Images
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'My temper is my temper'

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Djokovic, poised to take over as world number one if Rafa Nadal fails to retain his title here, was in control of the first set and pounced at his first opportunity when former top-tenner Baghdatis served at 4-5.

Something about the Wimbledon air inspires 26-year-old Baghdatis though and he began striking the ball with real panache as Djokovic retreated into his shell.

A forehand return winner that Djokovic barely even saw signalled a Baghdatis counter-attack in the third game of the second set and he secured his first break of the match thanks to a double-fault from an increasingly agitated opponent.

Gesticulating towards his box and chuntering to himself, Djokovic finally exploded in the eighth game when he floated a backhand long after a staggering exchange which had the crowd rubbing their eyes in disbelief.

Once, twice, three times Djokovic buried his racket frame into the dust patch behind the baseline until his shiny frame was in pieces -- the warning issued by the umpire almost drowned out by the din.

"I like to make sure," Djokovic, who beat Baghdatis in a five-hour epic Wimbledon quarter-final in 2007, joked later.

"Look, I'm not going to change who I am. I can work on some things, but, you know, my temper is my temper. My character is my character.

"On the bright side, I hung in there and in the important moments I stayed emotionally stable, believing that I can win, and that's what matters the most."

After the free-hitting Baghdatis, who once broke British hearts by beating Andy Murray on Centre Court, levelled the match it looked grim for Djokovic.

He was reduced to ball retriever for a while as Baghdatis pounded the corners, his racket a swishing blade. At one point Baghdatis ended up on Djokovic's baseline after chasing down a drop shot, sharing a joke with a lineswoman while he was there.


Image: Novak Djokovic
Photographs: Getty Images
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Djokovic relieved to still be in hunt for Wimbledon title

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It was cracking stuff but Djokovic, whose nickname is Joker, is not the heir to the No.1 throne for nothing and when he needed to dig deep, he kept digging.

He broke Baghdatis's serve in a mesmerising fourth game of the third set despite trailing 40-0 and suddenly a match that appeared to be slipping away was back in his grasp.

He broke again to lead 3-2 in the fourth when Baghdatis hoicked a forehand into the net but there was a final twist when Djokovic served for the match and was seized with nerves, fluffing a forehand into the net.

A fist-pumping Djokovic saved two break points, one with a Hawkeye challenge, and finally claimed victory when Baghdatis fired a forehand wide.

The warm embrace at the net between two of the game's stand-out personalities spoke volumes and Djokovic was clearly relieved to still be in the hunt for the Wimbledon title.

He may even seek out former champion John McEnroe to prepare for facing left-hander Llodra.

"If he's willing to change his clothing. Most of the time I see him he's in a suit and tie. Maybe he's going to change for tomorrow. We'll see," he said.


Image: Marcos Baghdatis
Photographs: Getty Images
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Bartoli battles through after banishing parents from court

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Ninth seed Marion Bartoli said that throwing her parents out of court helped her fight back to beat Flavia Pennetta in a gruelling third-round clash at Wimbledon on Saturday.

The excitable Frenchwoman, runner up at Wimbledon in 2007, lost the first set 7-5 and immediately gestured furiously for her mother and father, who is also her coach, to leave the viewing area in Court 14.

The move had the desired effect as she won the next two sets 6-4 9-7 - the decider after she was 5-3 down - to set up a last-16 clash with holder Serena Williams.

"I was so tired and exhausted that really I had to express my emotions somehow," she said when asked about the unusual development.

"I needed to get that frustration out so I showed it that way. I could have broken a racket or thrown a bag or something. I normally never act like that but I felt at this point I had to get all this frustration out and start again."

Bartoli, who saved three match points en route to beating Lourdes Dominguez Lino in the second round on Thursday, said there were no hard feelings when the family linked up afterwards.

"I saw them after the match and they understood completely," she said.

"It was not against them. It was just that we played a very long first set and I was exhausted and I was tired and I was feeling worse and worse.

"My dad told me he watched from the TV and he said it was the best match he ever saw me play at Wimbledon."


Image: Marion Bartoli
Photographs: Getty Images
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Nadal slams door on 2005 conqueror Muller

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Gilles Muller was the last player to beat Rafa Nadal at Wimbledon apart from Roger Federer but the Luxembourger never seriously looked like repeating the feat in the third round this year.

The top seed and defending champion completed a 7-6, 7-6, 6-0 win on Saturday and although he did have to save two set points in the opening set on Friday before rain fell, Nadal looked in total control of his game as he bids to retain his title.

"It was a very difficult match in the first two sets, I had no real chance to break him and the tiebreak is like a lottery," Nadal said in a televised interview.

"But I'm happy with how I played the tiebreaks, especially the second one, so it was a very good victory for me and in the third set I played very well."


Image: Rafael Nadal celebrates defeating Gilles Muller
Photographs: Reuters
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'I am a bit more tired than usual'

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Nadal made only three unforced errors in the match and Muller, who beat him in four sets in the second round at Wimbledon in 2005, simply did not have the weapons to hurt him.

The second set went with serve to the inevitable tiebreak in which Muller continued to pepper Nadal with his whipping deliveries out wide.

Neither player managed a mini-break until with Muller serving at 5-5 Nadal pounced and served out for the set.

That knocked the stuffing out of the 28-year-old Muller and Nadal motored through the third set, showing no ill-effects from his fall during the match on Friday which caused pain in his thigh.

"I feel something here, not because of the fall, a bit more tired than usual but I played today without problems and I have a day and a half to recover," the 10-times Grand Slam champion said looking ahead to his mouth-watering last-16 clash with 2009 US Open winner Juan Martin del Potro.


Image: Gilles Muller hits a return to Rafael Nadal
Photographs: Reuters
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Dangerous Berdych flies under Wimbledon radar

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Last year's runner-up Tomas Berdych coasted into the last 16 at Wimbledon on Saturday and his smooth progress through the draw continued to go almost unnoticed outside the Czech Republic.

He faced a barrage of questions in his native language at a post-match news conference and then politely answered one in English about the lack of interest in him.

"It's kind of funny. Maybe I need to win more matches for the English-speaking media to come," joked the 25-year-old Czech sixth seed after his 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 win over American Alex Bogomolov Jr. which was carried over from Friday.

Since his journey to last year's final against world number one Rafa Nadal, during which he upset Roger Federer in the last eight and Novak Djokovic in the semis, Berdych has not won a tournament.


Image: Tomas Berdych waves after defeating Julien Benneteau
Photographs: Reuters
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'He's playing really well on grass'

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After a grasscourt masterclass lasting just 103 minutes his beaten opponent was in no doubt, however, that Berdych is peaking at just the right time and that the world number seven is good enough to win a maiden Grand Slam title.

"He got to the finals last year for a reason. He's playing really well on grass and hitting some incredible shots on the run. They're flat, they stay very low to the ground, and you can't really play offence against him," Bogomolov Jr. said.

Berdych will next face another American in Mardy Fish and should he win that he would set up a possible quarter-final clash with top seed Nadal.


Image: Tomas Berdych
Photographs: Getty Images
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Fish last American man afloat in second week

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Mardy Fish will go into the second week at Wimbledon as the lone American survivor in the men's singles after getting past Dutchman Robin Haase in a delayed third-round match on Saturday.

The 10th seed was leading 6-3, 6-7, 6-2, 1-1 when Haase walked to the net to offer his hand, complaining of a knee problem.

After Andy Roddick's straight-sets defeat by Feliciano Lopez on Friday, only Fish and Alex Bogomolov were still alive in the men's draw on middle Saturday but Bogomolov was quickly finished off by 2010 runner-up Tomas Berdych after being saved by the rain the previous day.

"Mardy is still playing well. I think he can go well because he has a great game for grass," Bogmolov said after his 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 defeat by the hard-hitting Czech.

"Sad to see no more Americans, but I think Ryan Harrison did a good job out here as well. Personally I'm going to get ready for the hard court season, which is my favorite."

Fish comfortably took the first set and seemed set to win the second when he had Haase in trouble on serve at 5-5. He wasted several chances to break and paid the price when he was dragged into a tiebreak which Haase pinched 7-5.

The 29-year-old upped his game in the third to forge back in front and he was well in command when Haase quit.

Fish can now look forward to his first fourth-round appearance at Wimbledon on Monday, against Berdych.

Nine American men started in the draw.


Image: Mardy Fish returns a shot against Robin Haase
Photographs: Getty Images
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Sharapova hurries into last 16

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Maria Sharapova dispatched Klara Zakopalova 6-2, 6-3 to reach the Wimbledon fourth round on Saturday.

The Russian fifth seed looked more assured than in Friday's scrappy win over 17-year-old Briton Laura Robson, blasting a succession of winners past her Czech opponent to take the first set.

Sharapova, Wimbledon champion in 2004, lost concentration at the start of the second as Zakopalova opened up a 3-1 lead but the 24-year-old refused to cave in and stormed back before sealing victory with a thundering forehand winner.


Image: Maria Sharapova plays a return against Klara Zakopalova
Photographs: Getty Images
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