Federer cruises into Wimledon final
Friday 04 July 2008
Roger Federer made a lightning start in his quest to reach his sixth straight Wimbledon final, taking just 25 minutes to claim the first set 6-3 against Marat Safin on Centre Court.
The Swiss world number one broke Safin in his first service game and did not lose a point on serve until the third game of the match as he set about his quest in predictably focused style.
Safin by contrast looked sluggish and tight but rallied as the set progressed and, although a chance to break back was non-existent, he at least ended the set by posing Federer some problems.
Safin continued to warm to his task in the second set, finally fashioning his first two break point opportunities on the Federer serve at 2-1, both of which the Swiss star swatted away.
Seeking every possible help to build his momentum, Safin queried a Federer serve at 4-4, 30-30, the resulting Hawk-Eye challenge showing the ball had landed a good six inches inside the service box, bringing a smile from Federer.
Safin was serving out with increasing confidence, avoiding giving Federer any break point chances of his own, and, to the delight of the packed Centre Court crowd, forcing Federer to serve out for a tie-break.
But Safin made an awful start, flopping two simple backhands into the net to give Federer the sort of advantage he was not in the habit of relinquishing, and the world number one raced into a 4-0 lead.
Safin did rally to pull one mini-break back, but Federer responded by whipping a forehand down the line to fashion four set points, converting his second with an ace to win the breaker 7-3 and move into a two-set lead.
The frustration was finally beginning to get to Safin, who took a kick at the ball after flopping another sad backhand into the net on the first point of the third set before Federer went on to hold serve with ease.
Safin may have responded with another love service game of his own but the sense was Federer remained in complete control, Safin unleashing a mighty roar as the Swiss man maintained his advantage.
A poor backhand into the tramlines brought up a rare break point for Federer which the Russian saved with a big serve, but the feeling was now that Safin was simply prolonging the inevitable.
An extraordinary backhand recovery shot by Federer in the fifth game of the third set denied Safin what would normally have been another break point opportunity, and Safin's frustration continued to bubble.
He was handed a code violation by umpire Lars Graff for slamming his racquet into his chair at the change of ends after Federer had served out imperiously to move within one game of the match.
Typically, Federer upped his game to break Safin and clinch the match after a long baseline rally, wrapping up his 6-3 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 victory in one hour and 41 minutes.
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