Roddick makes heavy weather of Tipsarevic

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Roddick has also lost two finals - the last two - but at 23 he still has time. It is just the presence of Roger Federer that creates the feeling that maybe the American has come along at the wrong time.

No American has won Wimbledon since Pete Sampras in 2001. No American has won any Grand Slam tournament since Roddick won the US Open in 2003, the same year Federer won his first Wimbledon title. It looked like the two might be sharing the honours for a long time to come, but so far it has not happened. Roddick did not get close to Federer when losing to him in the Wimbledon finals of 2004 and 2005.

Could that change this year? Federer brackets Roddick with Lleyton Hewitt as the men he thinks pose him the biggest threat, but on the evidence of his performance yesterday, Roddick's game still lacks the confidence and variety that might give Federer more than fleeting problems. Indeed, the struggle that the No 3 seed had to overcome the Serbian Janka Tipsarevic, ranked 101, suggested that he would do well just to reach the final for the third year running.

In winning 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, 6-2, Roddick faced a stylistic challenge from Tipsarevic not unlike that of Federer. The Serb combined power with finesse, and mixed up his shots. Time and again Tipsarevic out-manoevred his opponent, his use of drop shots and lobs proving effective on Court One.

Roddick had on his side his huge serve - 28 aces to Tipsarevic's 12 - and a lot of nerve when mini-crises demanded it. Tipsarevic, by contrast, seemed to lose heart when the match eventually turned Roddick's way. Three times in the first set Roddick needed to save break points on his serve, while Tipsarevic was holding his own comfortably. The pattern was set for the tie-break, which Tipsarevic won with a wonderfully improvised lob after one of his less precise drop shots.

Roddick broke in the third game of the second set before the crucial moment when he was serving at 4-3 and saved five break points. He went on to take the set 6-4. In the third set neither gave much away until it moved to a tie-break and Roddick fell 3-0 down.

Recovering to take the tie-break 8-6, Roddick ran away with the fourth set to wrap up the match in two hours and 53 minutes.