Federer Faces Safin Today At Wimbledon

Friday, June 29th 2007, 7:36 am
By: News On 6

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) _ Top-ranked Roger Federer faces two-time major champion Marat Safin in the third round at Wimbledon today. Federer needed only 11 minutes to complete his rain-suspended match against Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina 6-2, 7-5, 6-1 for his 50th straight win on grass.

Also, No. 2 Andy Roddick and No. 5 Fernando Gonzalez are on the schedule, as are top-seeded Justine Henin, No. 3 Jelena Jankovic, No. 7 Serena Williams and No. 9 Martina Hingis.

Federer, the four-time defending champ at Wimbledon, led 2-0 in the third set before rain halted play. When they resumed Thursday, he finished off Del Potro, winning three straight games before the Argentine held serve.

``It was done quickly like I was hoping, but I was ready to go five sets in case,'' said Federer, who is trying to become only the second man in the Open era to win five straight titles at the All England Club.

Safin beat Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (4) to advance.

No. 2 Rafael Nadal also won, beating Werner Eschauer of Austria 6-2, 6-4, 6-1, and moved into the third round with No. 4 Novak Djokovic, No. 6 Nikolay Davydenko and No. 9 James Blake.

On the women's side, 2004 champion Maria Sharapova and three-time winner Venus Williams advanced. The second-seeded Russian defeated 2006 quarterfinalist Severine Bremond of France 6-0, 6-3, while Williams beat Hana Sromova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-2.

Sharapova played on Centre Court, which is without a roof this year for the first time while a new one is being constructed for use in 2009.

``It's like someone took the torch from the Statue of Liberty. It's like they took the Arc from the Arc de Triomphe,'' Sharapova said. ``It's my favorite court to play on, but it's definitely so weird, the atmosphere.''

Also through to the third round were French Open finalist Ana Ivanovic, No. 5 Svetlana Kuznetsova, No. 8 Anna Chakvetadze and No. 10 Daniela Hantuchova. No. 13 Dinara Safina and No. 17 Tatiana Golovin lost.

Tim Henman, the last British man or woman in the tournament, was eliminated by Feliciano Lopez of Spain 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 2-6, 6-1 in a match that started a day earlier. It was the third year in a row that Henman lost in the second round.

No. 11 Tommy Robredo became the highest men's seed to fall when he was upset by Wayne Arthurs 6-3, 7-6, (5), 6-3.

Arthurs, playing in the final tournament of his 17-year career, at 36 is the oldest man in the starting draw. The Australian will next face 35-year-old Jonas Bjorkman.

``I don't think we're allowed to play before Monday because the over-35s doesn't start until next week,'' Arthurs quipped.

Amelie Mauresmo is perfectly happy staying out of the spotlight at Wimbledon.

The Frenchwoman doesn't mind that she's playing amid little fanfare this year, despite being the defending champion.

After the traditional Centre Court start as the reigning titleholder, fourth-seeded Mauresmo was shunted to Court 2 on Thursday and dispatched Yvonne Meusburger of Austria 6-1, 6-2 to reach the third round.

She likes the change from Roland Garros, where the two-time major champion and former No. 1 has felt the pressure from home fans to deliver a championship.

``It feels like I've always been (keeping a low profile) here at Wimbledon because the attention is so high at the French Open,'' Mauresmo said. ``To me, it always feels like it's very easy here.''

Her record bears that out. Before last year's title, Mauresmo had reached three successive semifinals at Wimbledon. She's only gone as far as the quarterfinals at the French Open.

The odds were against her this year at Roland Garros. Mauresmo was sidelined for about two months following an appendectomy in March and had a groin problem that contributed to a third-round exit.

To make sure something similar doesn't happen again, Mauresmo pulled out of the doubles at Wimbledon.

``I just don't want to take any risk for the singles,'' she said.