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Rain has Nadal still waiting to end match



Published: Tue, July 3, 2007 @ 12:00 a.m.

He thought he had it won once, but that was overruled, then rains came.

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Hours after he was sure he had won, Rafael Nadal still had some work to do to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon.

A point away from victory in the third set Monday, Nadal hit a forehand he thought ended his match against Robin Soderling. Nadal raised both arms in celebration, then realized his shot had been called out.

The three-time French Open champion challenged the ruling, but the “Hawk-Eye” replay technology confirmed the ball was out. Seconds later — and before another point was played — rain suspended play for nearly two hours.

Started up again

When they resumed on Court 1, Soderling won two straight points to win the third-set tiebreaker. Then, the No. 28-seeded Swede stretched the match to a fifth set. But with the light fading and rain returning, play was called with Nadal leading 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (7), 4-6, 2-0, 30-all.

That match was one of three in the men’s draw suspended by rain Monday; only four were completed. Three men’s matches never got started, including two-time runner-up Andy Roddick’s meeting with Paul-Henri Mathieu.

Bjorkman advances

Jonas Bjorkman, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year, reached the fourth round by beating Wayne Arthurs 6-2, 6-1, 6-4.

The match featured the two oldest men in tournament — Bjorkman is 35; Arthurs is 36. It was the first Wimbledon match since 1974 between two men at least 35 years old.

“Well, I don’t feel like 35,” Bjorkman said. “I feel much younger, and I think I’m moving great.”

Bjorkman, playing at Wimbledon for the 14th straight year, next will face No. 7 Tomas Berdych. The 21-year-old Czech advanced by beating Lee Hyung-taik of South Korea 6-4, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3).

The 19th-seeded Bjorkman is trying to reach a Grand Slam semifinals for the third time in 55 appearances.

“This is my favorite tournament,” said Bjorkman, who also reached the semifinals at the 1997 U.S. Open. “Just got so much history here. The tradition, the atmosphere, got so many things that’s just so unique.”

Arthurs, who said before the tourney that this Wimbledon would be his last, twice has reached the fourth round at the All England Club.

“There was a very small possibility that I was going to go on, and that would have been the fairy tale,” Arthurs said. “I had the dream to make it here, and it’s landed somewhere in between both of those, so I can’t complain.”

Others advancing

Also, No. 10 Marcos Baghdatis defeated No. 23 David Nalbandian of Argentina 6-2, 7-5, 6-0, and No. 14 Mikhail Youzhny beat No. 18 Jarkko Nieminen of Finland 7-5, 7-6 (5), 6-3.

“He didn’t play really good,” said Baghdatis, the 2006 Australian Open runner-up. “I know he’s a dangerous guy, especially through his career he came a lot back from two sets down, match points down.”

In the suspended matches, No. 4 Novak Djokovic was leading Nicolas Kiefer, No. 6 Nikolay Davydenko was ahead of Gael Monfils, and No. 16 Lleyton Hewitt was leading No. 22 Guillermo Canas.

The only man to reach the quarterfinals already? Four-time defending champion Federer, whose fourth-round opponent, Tommy Haas, withdrew with a stomach muscle injury Sunday. It means Federer will go from Friday until Wednesday without playing.

“It’s a long break,” he said, “but I just have to make sure I hit the ball a little bit and be ready for Wednesday.”


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