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Wimbledon diary: Tsonga picks a winner

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Originally published on: 01/07/10 10:34

Tsonga backs Murray
Positive words were exchanged at the net after their match and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga added to them in his press conference, saying he hopes Andy Murray goes on to clinch the Wimbledon title after his 6-7(5) 7-6(5) 6-2 6-2 loss to the Scot. “Yeah, I hope is gonna be him.  I told him, you know, at the net, make me a pleasure; go all the way, you know. I hope he will win because he’s a good player. It’s never easy to play, you know, in front of his crowd. He’s really strong, and I hope he will win.” Here’s hoping Murray responded to the Frenchman with a good old ‘Merci Beaucoup’, and if not for the British, do it for Tsonga eh Muzz?

Back the beard
He’s certainly not admitting it’s a lucky beard (and he’s still not sure when he will next shave) but Murray knows he’s being scrutinised for his hairy signs of superstition. “Might shave tonight. Might shave tomorrow. Might leave it till the end of the tournament,” he said yesterday, to keep us all guessing.

Bears aside, in listening to Murray talk, there’s definitely a relaxed air that pervades his words. Commenting on the fact he’s still on course to achieve an historic victory for the Brits at their home tournament, the Scot said: “It’s something that’s kind of joked about amongst players and people within tennis about how long it’s been since someone British has won at Wimbledon. I don’t know how it affects the atmosphere in the matches or not. It’s something that you just, yeah, learn to deal with. It doesn’t affect the way that I play. It’s not something that you’re thinking about when you’re on the court at all.”

Djokovic first to semi-finals
On Court 1, Novak Djokovic was the first man to book his place in the 2010 semi-finals with a 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory over Yen-Hsun Lu, Andy Roddick’s conqueror. And Lu, who revealed a proud and engaging personality after his win against Roddick, was gracious in defeat, commenting straight up that ‘He (Djokovic) play very good today. I mean, for my side, I already tried my best.  Of course, he’s great player. He give me a lot of pressure today. I mean, I try to, you know, stay lines and also I try to move him, but he’s play better than me. And so I have nothing to say.  He’s better player today’. The man from Chinese Taipei has made many friends and admirers in the last 10 days.

The victorious Serb believes he’s back in Grand Slam form and ready for the challenge of his semi-final against Tomas Berdych. Defeated by Tommy Haas in the quarter-finals in 2009, the 23-year-old urged: “This time I’m ready mentally and physically, just barely waiting to get on the court.” Victory over the Czech will earn him his a career-best Wimbledon finish, having lost to Rafael Nadal in the last four in 2007 after retiring in the third set.

Federer admits to injury
Roger Federer arrived at his post-match presser in double-quick time and confirmed a few suspicions, revealing that he is suffering from both an injury to his right leg and a stiff back. But without making any excuses, he pointed out: “Quarters is a decent result. Obviously people think quarters is shocking, but people would die to play in quarterfinal stages of Grand Slam play. It’s not something I’m used to doing, losing in quarter-finals, because it’s not something I’ve done in the last six years…

“I’ve been feeling bad for the last two, three matches now,” he added.

“It’s just not good and healthy to play under these kind of conditions, you know. So if there’s anything good about this, it’s that I’m gonna get some rest, that’s for sure.” At the grand old age of 28 – he’s 29 in August – the imperious 16-time Slam champ is finally showing signs of being a human.

Rafa in good spirits on ‘clay’
Rafa shared a joke with the media at his press conference following his four-set victory over Robin Soderling. Despite the lack of rain and the rock hard surface that’s rather devoid of grass, Rafa admitted to finding the courts “perfect” because “they are dry and [there is] a lot of clay behind the baseline. You can move well, so…  perfect conditions.”  Perhaps he shouldn’t look at the forecast for his Friday semi-final with Murray. It’s due to rain…

Junior Britwatch
There were good wins today for the junior British No.1s. In the boys singles Oliver Golding took out top seed Jason Kubler of Australia 4-6 6-3 7-5 in just under two hours, before Laura Robson progressed in straight sets.

The 16-year-old won her third round match against Belgium’s An-Sophie Mestach, the No. 11 seed, 6-4 7-6(2). Seeded eighth, the 2008 champ played an excellent tiebreak, sealing the one-hour-45minute victory with a thumping overhead on match point.

Tara Moore will play Robson in the quarter-finals after beating Nigina Abduraimova 6-1 6-3. The other Brits were less fortunate, Eleanor Dean lost 6-0 6-2 to Krystina Pilskova of the Czech Republic, while Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics defeated James Marsalek 6-3 6-2 on court 12.

Williams out of the dubs
Vera Zvonareva couldn’t contain her beaming smile after teaming up with Vera Dushevina to pull off a 3-6 6-3 6-4 victory over defending champs Venus and Serena Williams. It was the first time the Williams sisters had been beaten all year as a doubles pairing, with the Russian duo taking their place in the semi-finals where they will meet Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta after the Argentine/Italian pairing beat Agnes Szavay and Julia Georges 6-2 6-2.

Hide and seek
Q: What do Vera Zvonareva and Robin Soderling have in common?
A: A tendency to wear a towel over one’s head during changeovers – recommended by top players to cut out noise and improve concentration. Expect only a 50% success rate, mind, since is worked for Vera, but served only to block out an unsightly scoreboard for the Swede.

Mixed Doubles
Kim Clijsters may be out of the singles but she’s still on court at the All England Club. Having teamed up with fellow Belgian Xavier Malisse, today they won their third round mixed doubles match 6-4 7-5 against Nenand Zimonjic and Sam Stosur. They face the No.10 seeds Brazilian Marcelo Melo and and Aussie Rennae Stubbs in the quarter-finals in the second match on Court 1 on Thursday.

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