Graf keeps date with Sanchez Vicario

WIMBLEDON 96: Frustration for men's semi-finals as rain delays a finish in one and a start in the other

It was not yet noon, and the sun was still teasing us. Steffi Graf had completed her overtime, a final set to defeat Kimiko Date, 6-2, 2-6, 6- 3, and was ready to nurse her sinuses. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario had practised and was resting in preparation to renew her rivalry with Graf in the women's singles final today.

Meanwhile, the four men whose names almost escaped everyone en route to the semi-finals were wondering how long the weather would hold. Eleven days at Wimbledon had reinforced their faith in taking one match at a time, though not necessarily in the space of 24 hours.

Todd Martin, the last seed on the lawns, and his American compatriot MaliVai Washington were sent out to make the best of it. The Dutchman Richard Krajicek and Australia's Jason Stoltenberg, conquerors of Pete Sampras and Goran Ivanisevic respectively, waited and hoped.

They will be back at 11am today, Martin and Washington to play a fifth set on the Centre Court (the women's final is not due to start before 2pm) and Krajicek and Stoltenberg switched to Court No 1. Fingers crossed, the weather forecast is more optimistic.

Martin tried to push things along yesterday, winning the opening three games against Washington, but his nerve seemed to tighten when he served for the set at 5-3.

Although broken at this stage, Martin regained the initiative and secured a lead, 7-5, but Washington had been encouraged to make the running in the second set.

In common with his opponent, Washington experienced difficulty when it came to serving out the set. Martin saved the first of three set points at 4-5 with a cross-court forehand. On the second, Washington found the net with a forehand.

When Martin hit a forehand wide to leave a third set point hanging, a spectator shouted, "Come on, Washington!" "OK," Washington said, glancing up, and proceeded to terminate a brief rally with a smash for 6-4.

Although Martin took a 4-1 lead in the third set, he was broken when serving for set at 5-3, a forehand clipping the net cord and drifting wide. A confident cross-court backhand created a set point for Martin in the next game, but Washington served it away with an ace.

By now, clouds were gathering, and the rain first began to spit during the tie-break. Washington asked the umpire to request the crowd to be quiet during rallies - such as they were - but he was unable to capitalise on a 3-1 lead.

He did, however, fight off two more set points when serving at 3-6, and Martin subsequently double-faulted on a fourth opportunity. Composing himself, Martin immediately delivered an ace to create a fifth set point, and he converted this one with a powerful service return for 8-6.

Play was then suspended for the first time, for 35 minutes, after which Washington appeared to return to the court the more eager. He pounced on his opponent's rare loose serves, and was the beneficiary of Martin's tendency to be tentative with his volleys.

A combination of these factors cost Martin the fourth set, 3-6, and enabled Washington to square the match. Having denied his opponent four game points at 3-2, Washington passed him with a forehand return off a second serve to give himself a break point. And when Martin again missed his first serve, Washington's return unnerved him into hitting a backhand volley over the baseline.

They had been playing for two hours and 43 minutes, and the result was still in the balance - 7-5, 4-6, 7-6, 3-6 - when further rain caused play to be abandoned at 7.35pm.

The All England Club again did its best to entertain the dampened Centre Court spectators - showtime with Sir Cliff Richard on Wednesday, an audience with Sir Peter Ustinov yesterday. Who next, Michael Fish?

More reports, results, page 27

Unseeded Mens' Singles finalists

1930 Bill Tilden (US) (2) bt Wilmer Allison (US) 6-3 9-7 6-4.

1953 Vic Seixas (US) (2) bt Kurt Nielsen (Den) 9-7 6-3 6-4.

1955 Tony Trabert (US) (1) bt Kurt Nielsen (Den) 6-3 7-5 6-1.

1959 Alex Olemedo (US) (1) bt Rod Laver (Aus) 6-4 6-3 6-4.

1962 Rod Laver (Aus) (1) bt Martin Mulligan (Aus) 6-2 6-2 6-1.

1963 Chuck McKinley (US) (4) bt Fred Stolle (Aus) 9-7 6-1 6-4.

1967 John Newcombe (Aus) (3) bt Wilhelm Bungert (Ger) 6-3 6-1 6-1.

1983 John McEnroe (US) (2) bt Chris Lewis (NZ) 6-2 6-2 6-2.

1985 Boris Becker (WG) bt Kevin Curren (SA) (11) 6-3 6-7 7-6 6-4.

A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor