Roger Federer served notice of his determination to claim a record 15th Grand Slam crown by firing 23 aces as he shot down Robin Soderling to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals on the day the Centre Court roof was closed.
Federer triumphed 6-4 7-6 7-6 in a repeat of the recent French Open final win that saw him defeat Swede Soderling and equal Pete Sampras’s haul of major titles. “Today was pretty much a serving contest,” admitted Federer of a match which featured just one break of serve. “It was just hard to get through, a dangerous match. “I thought Robin served great and thank God he served a double fault in the tie-break otherwise it could have gone to four sets. “I’m happy to be through four matches already, I gave myself a chance back in the quarters and I’m looking forward to my next match.” Some 90 minutes after Federer was off Centre Court, rain halted play with Amelie Mauresmo leading top-seeded Russian Dinara Safina 6-4 1-4. Officials ordered the new retractable roof closed for the rest of the match — the first time it has been used during play in the tournament — and Safina responded by battling back to reach her first Wimbledon quarterfinal 4-6 6-3 6-4. Asked afterwards about the roof, she told the BBC: “It was great, very nice. I can’t compare (it) with anything. It’s a really nice atmosphere, especially with the crowd because it’s getting louder.” Federer, chasing a sixth Wimbledon crown, will be appearing in his 25th Grand Slam quarterfinal where he faces Croatia’s 22nd seed Ivo Karlovic who beat Spanish left-hander Fernando Verdasco 7-6 6-7 6-3 7-6. Germany Tommy Haas, the oldest man left in the draw at 31, reached his first Wimbledon quarterfinal with a 7-6 6-4 6-4 win over Russian 29th seed Igor Andreev. “I served extremely well. I didn’t give him many opportunities or the confidence for him to break me,” said Haas who won the Halle grasscourt tournament in the run-up to Wimbledon. “I’m having a fantastic run and I’m really pleased to be in the quarterfinals.”
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Haas, seeded 24, and who saved two match points in his third round marathon victory over Croatia’s Marin Cilic, next faces Serbian fourth seed Novak Djokovic who ousted Israel’s Dudi Sela in straight sets. In sweltering 35-degree conditions at the All England Club, Federer seemed content to take a cautious approach, allowing his opponent to dictate the rallies from the baseline with his powerful groundstrokes. But the world number two finally stepped up a gear when required to break Soderling’s previously dominant serve in the ninth game, taking advantage of a double fault and forehand error for a 5-4 lead before serving out for the set. Soderling, who had lost all 10 of his previous matches against the Swiss, was unable to exert any pressure on Federer’s serve in the second which was decided on a tie-break. But he had a chance in the third set tie-break when he led 5-4 with two serves to come, only for Federer to produce a brilliant forehand winner. Soderling then served a double fault to gift Federer his first match point and he gratefully accepted to seal a hard-fought victory. Djokovic continued to progress almost unnoticed as he claimed his place in the last eight with a 6-2 6-4 6-1 victory in just 89 minutes. With all of the attention on Federer and British hopeful Andy Murray, the Serbian fourth seed and 2008 Australian Open winner has managed to keep a low profile so far in the tournament.