Saturday 18 November 2017

Wimbledon: Rain stops Andy Murray as Roger Federer advances to 33rd grand slam quarter final

Press Association

RAIN stopped play at Wimbledon today, with Andy Murray's match delayed as drizzle hit the All England club.

The start of play of matches on the outside courts was delayed this morning and despite a dry start, British hopeful Andy Murray's match faced a delay for rain.

The 25-year-old's game against Marin Cilic was put on court one - which does not have the benefit of a roof like centre court.

The match was suspended with Murray at a set up and 3-1 up in the second set against the Croatian.

The delayed day came as the Met Office revealed this June was the wettest since records began, with double the average rain falling during the month.

This morning the rain had stopped by 11.30am, the intended start time for play on all courts but Centre and Court One.

Play on courts two to 19 began at midday and matches on centre court and court one started on time at 1pm.

But rain began to fall at 2pm, delaying the centre court match between Roger Federer and Xavier Malisse.

The roof was later put on the court during the second match, between Ana Ivanovic and Victoria Azarenka.

Forecasters have said the wet weather could continue throughout the week, in contrast with last week's fairly bright weather. Last Thursday spectators enjoyed soaring temperatures of up to 28C at the All England Club.

Murray had been below his best in his late-night tussle with Marcos Baghdatis on Saturday and made the worst possible start today when he was broken in the first game.

The conditions were cold and damp and Murray was soon grabbing at his back, which has bothered him on and off all year.

Cilic is a big danger on grass, the surface suiting his hard and flat hitting, and he went into the clash on an eight-match winning streak after lifting the title at Queen's Club.

It did not take Murray long to break back, though, the fourth seed levelling at 2-2 when his opponent fired a forehand wide.

Cilic continued to pose plenty of problems and Murray needed a timely ace to get himself out of a hole in the ninth game.

He was frustrated by his performance but held on and at 6-5 came another chance for the British fourth seed.

A stunning forehand return brought up three set points, and he took the first when Cilic hit a forehand wide, the Scot letting out a cry of "Yes!".

Meanwhile, Roger Federer reached his 33rd consecutive grand slam quarter-final despite suffering an injury scare on his way to a tough win over Xavier Malisse at Wimbledon.

Federer looked far from his best amid cold and blustery conditions on Centre Court, but he still managed to record a 7-6 (7/1) 6-1 4-6 6-3 success against the world number 75 that sets him up for a last-eight clash against Mikhail Youzhny or Denis Istomin.

Part of the reason behind Federer's laboured victory was a back injury for which he needed off-court treatment after the eighth game of the first set.

Federer looked determined to get back to the warmth of the locker room early on.

The Swiss handed his opponent two break points but Malisse wasted them by netting a forehand and returning wide.

The problems did not stop there for Federer as he offered Malisse another chance to break in the fifth game but an ace rescued the six-time champion.

Federer then took a medical time-out to receive treatment on the injury, leaving the court, and he moved gingerly upon his return.

Malisse seized the initiative, breaking Federer to move 6-5 ahead, but the Swiss struck back immediately by returning a bullet forehand just over the net to draw level.

Luckily for Federer, Malisse's game imploded in the tie-break as he made three unforced errors to hand the third seed the set before the rain came.

Comical scenes followed as the players emerged from the locker room but they were ordered back when it started raining again.

Following an inspection the players returned 35 minutes after the tussle was first suspended, and despite light drizzle, the roof remained open.

Federer was still not moving perfectly, but he adapted his game to allow him to take a grip on the match.

The Swiss avoided getting involved in baseline rallies and instead opted for softer drop shots to prevent him from putting his injured back to the test.

The tactic worked as Federer engineered a break point in the third game and Malisse completely mis-timed a forehand to send the ball flying into the stands about seven yards from the Royal Box.

Federer broke again and survived two Malisse break chances to wrap up the second set in quick fashion.

Federer wanted to wrap the match up in three sets, but the Swiss, and a shivering crowd on Centre Court, were stunned as Malisse fought back, breaking with a forehand in the opening game.

Malisse had two more chances to break in the fifth but he wasted them. It did not matter, however, as the Belgian was already a break up and he served out for the set.

A superb backhand from Malisse gave him an immediate break in the fourth set but Federer levelled the match when his opponent spooned a forehand wide at 40-30 behind in the fourth.

Federer, who now seemed to be moving better than before, broke again in the sixth game when Malisse netted and the crowd favourite clinched victory with a powerful ace three games later.

Earlier four-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams came through a tough test of her title credentials on a damp and drizzly Court Two today as she saw off Yaroslava Shvedova in three sets.

Conditions were rarely better than grim, with a strong wind ripping around for the duration and the final games being played under fine rain.

But Williams overcame the elements, as well as her in-form opponent - Shvedova recorded the first-ever 'golden set' at a grand slam on Saturday - to progress to a 12th Wimbledon quarter-final, winning 6-1 2-6 7-5.

Her winning shot - a backhand that Shvedova failed to respond to - came with the rest of the courts taking shelter from the rain, but Williams insisted afterwards she never considered asking to leave the court.

"I didn't want to lose today, I thought stay relaxed," she said.

"I felt fine. We both wanted to keep playing as it was so deep into the match. I didn't want to stop and I don't think she did."

It had looked as though the match would be wrapped up in no time at all when Williams took the opening set without barely breaking sweat.

Shvedova actually took the first point of the match, raising fanciful hopes of another perfect set, but that was neither likely nor expected and she then lost her first service game when she netted a forehand.

Her second game with ball in hand went in Williams' favour too and at 4-0 down with 11 minutes gone, the omens were not good for the 24-year-old from Kazakhstan.

She made a fist of the closing games, though, and despite losing the set was far more competitive, highlighted when she broke WIlliams in the sixth game of the second set when she forced the American to net.

Another break in the eighth game - a backhand winner completing the job - got her level at 1-1 and set up a decider, which was a chanceless affair until Williams earned a seventh-game break point.

She was unable to take it, Shvedova serving away from trouble, and when she squandered three more in the ninth game, it appeared that fortune was not with Williams.

But when another chance came her way at 5-5 she took it, albeit through her opponent's error, and she served out for the match, digging out a brilliant backhand lob at 30-30 to set up her one and only match point.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer needed treatment for an injury as he struggled to take the first set against Xavier Malisse on Centre Court.

Play was suspended in the fourth-round Wimbledon clash due to rain after Federer took the tie-break 7-1 at a stroll, but it was far from comfortable for the Swiss until then.

The six-time champion needed to go off court for treatment on what looked like a back injury and returned to soon lose his serve, before repairing the damage.

On a cold and very blustery day at Wimbledon, Federer looked determined to get back to the warmth of the locker room, clinching his first service game to love with less than a minute on the clock.

The 30-year-old then suddenly started to struggle. He handed his Belgian opponent two break points but Malisse wasted the first by ploughing a forehand into the net and he then snatched at a return that flew well wide.

The problems did not stop there for Federer as he offered Malisse another chance to break serve in the fifth game but an ace rescued the six-time champion.

Federer then took a medical time-out to receive three minutes' treatment on the injury, and he moved gingerly upon his return to Centre Court.

Malisse looked to be on the verge of taking the set when he broke Federer to move 6-5 ahead but the Swiss struck back immediately by returning a bullet forehand just over the net with a volley, forcing the tie-break.

Luckily for Federer, Malisse's game then went, the 31-year-old making three unforced errors to hand the third seed the set as the rain came.

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