Federer, Roddick to meet in Wimbledon final

After bating Tommy Haas on Friday, five-time champion Roger Federer will face Andy Roddick in the 2009 Wimbledon final for a chance at a record 15th Grand Slam title.

If Federer wins Sunday, he will be the third player to win six or more Wimbledon titles. William Renshaw and Sampras both won seven.

“I’m very proud of all the records I’ve achieved because I never thought I would be that successful as a kid,” Federer said. “I would have been happy winning a couple tournaments and maybe collecting Wimbledon. It’s quite staggering now having reached … my sixth straight Grand Slam final. Having so many things going for me now again, opportunity again on Sunday, it’s fantastic.”

If he beats Roddick, Federer will regain the No. 1 ranking from Rafael Nadal, who beat him in the Wimbledon final last year and missed this year’s tournament with knee problems.

Federer said he is feeling less pressure this year than in 2007 when he equaled Bjorn Borg’s record of five straight Wimbledon titles. Borg was among those watching Friday from the Royal Box.

It’s a shame Nadal and Federer won’t be squaring off in the Wimbledon final again this year, but Roddick is certainly an intriguing underdog. Maybe he’ll catch Federer sleeping and pull off the upset.

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Wimbledon: men’s semis are set

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Each of the men’s quarterfinals match-ups took place today, and when it was all said and done, Roger Federer, Tommy Haas, Andy Roddick, and Andy Murray had advanced to the next round.

Federer, closing in on his sixth Wimbledon title, reached his 21st consecutive semifinal at a Grand Slam tournament and extended his winning streak to 17 matches with another vintage performance on his favorite Centre Court.

It was Federer’s ninth win in 10 matches against Karlovic, who was playing in his first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Federer’s next opponent will be Germany’s Haas, who upset fourth-seeded Novak Djokovic 7-5, 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-3 to advance to his first Wimbledon semifinal. The 31-year-old Haas was the oldest player in the quarters, while the 22-year-old Djokovic was the youngest.

The third-seeded Murray swept Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 to reach his first Wimbledon semifinal and keep up his bid to become the first British player to win the men’s title since Fred Perry in 1936.

Murray will face the sixth-seeded Roddick, who served 43 aces and outlasted 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 6-7 (10), 7-6 (1), 4-6, 6-4 in the day’s most competitive match. Hewitt battled back from two sets to one down, before Roddick broke for 5-4 in the fifth and then served out the match — which ended after 3 hours, 50 minutes when the Australian popped up a forehand half-volley past the baseline.

Haas led Federer two sets to love in the fourth round of the French Open, only to lose in five. He said he hopes to make amends on Friday.

“That would be nice,” he said. “I’ll give it my best shot. There’s not much he (Federer) can’t do. He’s obviously the favorite to win the title. I’m going to go out there and try to annoy him a little bit and see what happens.”

With Nadal out of the tournament, I assumed the final four would look something like Federer, Murray, Roddick, and Djokovic or Federer, Murray, Roddick, and Gonzalez. I don’t think anyone predicted 34th-ranked Tommy Haas to make it this far, let alone beat the fourth-ranked Djokovic in professional tennis’ most popular tournament. At 31, Haas is the oldest player out of the remaining four. He’s never made it to a Grand Slam final in his career and he unfortunately has to defeat Roger Federer if he wants to break that streak. However, he’s played well against Federer in the past, nearly taking the Swiss at the French Open before being outmatched.

You can catch the women’s semifinals tomorrow at 12 PM on NBC. The men’s semis will then take place on Friday at the same time and station.

Lucky blokes: Wimbledon prize money increases

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Even though the British pound has dropped 25 percent against the dollar and 11 percent against the euro since last year’s Wimbledon, the fine folks at the All England Club have decided to increase the prize money by 6.2 percent for this year’s tournament.

The prize for each of the men’s and women’s champions went up by 13.3 percent to 850,000 pounds ($1.24 million), organizers said Tuesday, but the pound’s weak exchange rate means that translates to a reduction in dollars of 17 percent from last year’s $1.49 million.

Buoyed by a new television contract in Asia and the extension of its commercial agreement with IBM, the tournament has also raised the total prize fund for the June 22-July 5 tournament by 6.2 percent to 12.55 million pounds ($18.38 million).

But that still compares unfavorably to last year’s $23.46 million despite the increase being nearly double the 3.4 percent hike the All England Club managed 12 months ago.

All England Club chairman Tim Phillips said the event was doing what it could to help offset the weakened exchange rates and maintain the prestige among players of the only grass-court Grand Slam.

“Most of the players here don’t bank in sterling,” Phillips said. “We have to be mindful of the fact that a year ago it was $2 to the pound.”

It’s strange to hear that the value of the pound is dropping against the dollar — it’s usually the other way around. As a result, the likely winners of the 2009 Wimbledon tournament will actually receive less money than they would have in 2008. That is, of course, unless they’re from the UK, and the greatest hope there lies in Andy Murray. So, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokavic, Serena Williams, and Dinara Safina, the All England Club apologizes in advance. Still, $1.24 million (936,609 euro) should be enough to brighten your spirits.

Despite these monetary woes, the All England Club has invested a good deal of sterling into tennis’ premier event. This year’s Wimbledon will see the unveiling of the brand new retractable roof over Centre Court.

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