June 29, 2005
Roddick power ends Grosjean challenge
By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) - Andy Roddick reached the Wimbledonsemi-finals for the third successive year on Friday, survivinga high-velocity five-setter with Sebastien Grosjean.
"There's still a long way to go," Roddick said after beingtaken the distance for the second time in this year'stournament. "He was coming up with the goods, but I held mynerve in the end. It was a big one to get through."
Roddick, unbeaten on grass this year, had to wheel out theheaviest weapons in his armory to subdue the impish Frenchmanwhose early brilliance threatened a Center Court upset.
The two players are close friends and regular practisepartners and Grosjean began the match as if he had been writingsneaky notes on the American's firecracker first serve.
Wherever Roddick aimed it, the 27-year-old Grosjean seemedto magically appear, flicking back net-skimming returns tothrow Roddick out of his rhythm.
Roddick's first service of the match was a booming 139 mphace but Grosjean, who had lost his previous 11 sets against theAmerican, did not flinch.
In the sixth game a wickedly dipping return forced Roddickto half-volley clumsily over the baseline. He then survived abreak point when serving at 5-3, but held firm to take theopener with a powerful serve of his own.
"I felt the first set was the best of the match," saidGrosjean. "We were both playing well.
"It's a shame I couldn't keep the pressure on him."
Grosjean showed no sign of faltering in the second set asthe first four games went with serve, but Roddick kepthammering away and the first cracks in the Frenchman'sresistance appeared in the sixth game.
A sloppy forehand into the tramlines followed by a backhandhanded Roddick his first break to lead 4-2. Grosjean, selfbelief draining away, capitulated again at 2-5 as Roddicksquared the match.
Grosjean took a fearful battering in the third set andcould have been excused if he had raised the white flag. On onepoint both he and a female line judge were sent scurrying byanother Roddick salvo.
With Roddick rampaging, a steady stream of spectatorsheaded off for some afternoon tea in the balmy London sunshinerather than watch Grosjean suffer further punishment.
However the Florida-based Frenchman, a semi-finalist herefor the last two years, was still dangerous.
He seized on a rare Roddick lapse to break for a 4-2 leadin the fourth set and clung on to drag the match into adecider.
Roddick quickly regained his momentum at the start of thefifth, forging into a 3-0 lead. Serving at 5-3 he banged downhis 14th ace to reach match point and clinched victory withanother unreturnable delivery.