LEANING TOWER OF ZAGREB TUMBLES AT LAST, DONE IN BY FEDERER’S RETURNS

Another view of the roof closed over Centre Court as an experiment.

Another view of the roof closed over Centre Court as an experiment.

Somebody had to break Ivo Karlovic’s serve.  It looked for days that a sledgehammer would be required, but all it took was a tennis racket – in the skilled right hand of Roger Federer.  Karlovic, the Leaning Tower of Zagreb, was toppled like a pile of bricks after Federer got his eyes fixed firmly on the ball.  At 6-feet-10, the mighty Croat seemed to be dropping grenades from a high-rise during his first four victories that took him into the quarter-finals.  He suffered no breaks in 79 games while looking at only 4 break points and firing 137 aces.

He held the first time around for 80 straight. However, Roger was ready with two shots – a backhand return down the line to break point, and a forehand return down the line for a 3-1 lead.  At 1:20 on a warm Wednesday afternoon, the Tower began to crumble.

Federer would break him only once more for a 6-5 lead in the 2nd set, but it was enough in a 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (7-3) decision that put him in a major semi for the 21st straight time.  ”Amazing!” he praised himself.  ”I’m very proud of that record” – as he should be.

Not a bad tournament for Karlovic: two breaks of serve.  He’ll probably start for Croatia on home indoor clay against the U.S. in Davis Cup the weekend after Wimbledon.  Teamed with Marin Cilic, it’s not a bright prospect for Capt. Patrick McEnroe’s Americans.

But an overdue bright light shined on the imaginative Tommy Haas, who came so close to beating Federer in the 4th rd of the French.  I’m so glad for Tommy, a great guy, who has spent more time nursing injuries than playing at 100 per cent.  Proving that winning  the grass test at Halle (Germany) and beating Novak Djokovic along the way was no fluke, Tommy knocked him off again, in 4 sets, to climb to his first Wimbledon semi.  Of course Federer awaits, but Haas knows you can’t have everything.  But at 31, the ancient of the semis, he’s feeling elated. And so are the viewers because he mixes up his strokes, plays quite a bit of serve-and-volley – no, that hasn’t been outlawed, but thoughtful players and rare, and welcome.

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