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Wimbledon roof finally closed as Federer wins

WIMBLEDON, England - Centre Court fans applauded RogerFederer's latest win at Wimbledon. And they really roared for theroof.

Five-time champion Federer advanced to the quarterfinals on aday Wimbledon went indoors. Some 90 minutes after Federer was doneMonday, rain halted play with Amelie Mauresmo leading top-rankedDinara Safina, 6-4, 1-4, and officials ordered the new retractableroof closed for the remainder of the match. Safina rallied to win,4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Federer hit 23 aces, never lost serve and beat familiar foilRobin Soderling 6-4, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5). Federer improved to 11-0against Soderling, including a victory in the French Open finalthree weeks ago to complete a career Grand Slam.

This time the No. 2-seeded Federer came through on a handful ofkey points. He earned the only service break of the match in theninth game of the opening set, when Soderling committed fiveunforced errors to fall behind for good, 5-4.

Soderling led in the final tiebreaker but double-faulted on thenext-to-last point, then hit an errant return.

"Today was hard to get through a really dangerous match,"Federer said. "Not many rallies, so maybe not as much fun for thepeople. But I stayed calm, waited for my chance."

With all 16 fourth-round matches scheduled, the Williams sistersremained on course to play an all-family final for the second yearin a row.

Five-time champion Venus led 6-1, love-1 when Ana Ivanovicretired with a left thigh injury. Two-time champion Serena beatDaniela Hantuchova 6-3, 6-1. Venus beat Serena in last year'sfinal.

American 17-year-old Melanie Oudin's surprising run ended whenshe lost to No. 11-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-4, 7-5.

In men's play, No. 22 Ivo Karlovic hit 35 aces and beat No. 7Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-3, 7-6 (9). The 6-foot-10Karlovic, who has yet to lose his serve in four matches, will faceFederer on Wednesday.

Unseeded Lleyton Hewitt, the 2002 champion, rallied from atwo-set deficit for the sixth time in his career to beat No. 23Radek Stepanek 4-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2. No. 4 Novak Djokovic brokeseven times and beat Dudi Sela 6-2, 6-4, 6-1.

On the hottest day of the tournament, the temperature reached 87degrees on Centre Court before the rain arrived. The roof, built toensure continuous play on the most famous court in tennis, wasn'tneeded during the first week of the tournament.

When the roof closed, many spectators responded with a standingovation. Safina liked the new environment, too.

"It was great," she said. "Very nice. You can't compare itwith anything. It's a really nice atmosphere, especially with thecrowd, because it's getting like louder so it's even nicer to play.I mean, I won, so everything was perfect."

Coincidentally, play resumed on the outer courts at about thesame time.

Soderling had only two break-point chances against Federer --both at 4-all in the third set -- and failed to put either return inplay. Federer lost just eight points on his first serve andcommitted only eight unforced errors in the match.

Federer said he has regained the confidence he lacked early thisyear.

"No signs of panics, what I maybe had, you know, six months agowhen I played. I would just feel uneasy. I wouldn't be exactly surewhat the right plays were. Now I feel perfect."

He needs three more victories this week for his 15th majortitle, which would break the record he shares with Pete Sampras.Federer doesn't have to worry about defending champion RafaelNadal, who missed the tournament with bad knees.

An injury ended Ivanovic's Wimbledon, too. She said she hurt herthigh hitting an ace to erase a break point in the opening game ofthe second set.

"I didn't feel anything up until that point," she said. "WhenI landed, I just felt a sharp pain on my inner thigh, and Icouldn't step on my leg ever since."

Ivanovic took a 10-minute break to have her thigh taped by atrainer. She returned for two more points, but after hitting aservice winner to take the game, she began crying as she walked toher chair and told the umpire she was retiring.

Then she hugged a sympathetic Williams.

"I don't even know the last time that I had thesecircumstances," Williams said. "I don't think ever in a Slam. Ithink she was in a lot of pain. You know me -- I'm one of thoseplayers, I just only pay attention to what's going on my side ofthe net. But today I felt really sad for her actually. She wasreally upset.

"This is Wimbledon. It's the last place you want to have aninjury that you can't overcome. So I'm wishing her a lot of luck inher recovery."

Williams next plays Radwanska, who took advantage of some shakymoments by Oudin, a qualifier from Marietta, Ga. ranked 124th.

"I'm very proud of myself how I did here," said Oudin, whomade her Wimbledon debut this year and pulled the biggest upset inthe first week by beating former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic.

No. 8-ranked Victoria Azarenka beat No. 10 Nadia Petrova 7-6(5), 2-6, 6-3, and she'll face Serena Williams on Tuesday.


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