Roddick folds, just two points from victory, in quarterfinal

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Two points.

That’s how far Andy Roddick was from getting another crack at Roger Federer at Wimbledon.

Two points.

Up two sets and a break against a kid making his Grand Slam quarterfinal debut Friday, and later just that close to winning, the No. 3-seeded Roddick unraveled, losing 4-6, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3), 8-6 to No. 12 Richard Gasquet of France.

A white baseball cap tugged over his eyes, the usually gregarious Roddick discussed the defeat deliberately and in a monotone, as if he couldn’t quite believe what happened.

“Well, it’s another lost opportunity at Wimbledon,” the American said. “I’d love to make you try to understand what it feels like in the pit of [my] stomach right now, but I don’t know if I can do that. I don’t know if I’m articulate enough.”

He lost to four-time defending champion Federer at the All England Club in the 2003 semifinals and the 2004 and 2005 finals. Another showdown loomed because they were in the same half of the draw this year, and Federer beat 2003 French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 in an earlier quarterfinal Friday.

Might Roddick have been thinking ahead, even a tad, once he built his big lead against Gasquet?

“No,” was Roddick’s reply.

Gasquet will be interloper

So instead of having all top four-seeded men in the Wimbledon semifinals for the first time since 1995, Gasquet will be the interloper, facing No. 1 Federer today, while No. 2 Rafael Nadal meets No. 4 Novak Djokovic.

Not only does Federer take a 52-match winning streak on grass into his semifinal, but he also had the advantage of having played a little more than 1 1/2 hours Friday in his rain-suspended match against Ferrero and walking off court before 3:30 p.m. Gasquet’s struggle against Roddick, in contrast, lasted more than 3 1/2 hours and finished after 8 p.m.

“I am tired,” said Gasquet, who hit more aces than Roddick, 23-22, and far more winners, 93-60. “I played a lot of time, with a lot of pressure.”

His wasn’t even close to the longest workday, though. Djokovic played for 5 hours — 5 minutes shy of the longest one-day singles match in the tournament’s 130-year history — before pulling out a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (9), 6-7 (3), 4-6, 7-5 victory over No. 10 Marcos Baghdatis on Court 1.

Federer loses set, but wins

Federer dropped a set for the first time this year at the All England Club, but still beat Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-1, 6-3.

“OK, a set is lost, but a match isn’t lost,” said Federer, who beat Nadal in last year’s final.

Ferrero, the 2003 French Open champion and a former No. 1, broke Federer to go up 5-3 in the second set and then served it out, but that was the end of the Spaniard’s influence on the match.

Before his brief spell on court Thursday, the top-ranked Federer had not played since beating Marat Safin last Friday in the third round. His fourth-round opponent, Tommy Haas, withdrew with an injury, giving Federer almost a week off.

“It was hard for me. I had many days off,” Federer said. “I’m just really happy I came through it and I’m back in the rhythm now.”

Federer, who stretched his grass-court winning streak to 52, is trying to win a fifth consecutive Wimbledon title, something only Bjorn Borg has done in the past 100 years.

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