WIMBLEDON, England -- Roger Federer shares with Pete Sampras
more than just a dominant serve, fearsome forehand, stylish flair
and love of grass.
There's also the impassive demeanor and reluctance to show
emotion, so that the occasional "Come on!" from Federer when he
wins a pivotal point seems startling.
"All in all, I'm very quiet, very calm also from the inside,"
he said. "Obviously now the way it's going, I don't have any
reason to be too nervous."
The way it's going, Federer will be tough to beat in the final
two rounds at Wimbledon. The 2003 champion will play Sebastien
Grosjean in the semifinals Friday, and the other match will be
between Andy Roddick and Mario Ancic.
Federer lost his serve and a set for the first time in the
tournament Wednesday but still beat 2002 champ Lleyton Hewitt in
"I'd be very surprised if he doesn't win his third major on
Sunday," Hewitt said.
Federer earned his first Grand Slam championship a year ago at
the All England Club, then added the Australian Open title in
February. He's ranked No. 1 and gaining momentum on grass, where
he's 22--0 in the past two years.
That doesn't make him a lock for the trophy. The tournament was
back on schedule Thursday for the first time since rain washed out
the third day of play, and Federer and the No. 2-seeded Roddick are
on schedule to meet in a much-anticipated final.
An Ancic-Grosjean showdown would carry slightly less appeal,
especially for network TV executives in the United States, but both
players will be dangerous underdogs in the semifinals.
Ancic, the protege of fellow Croat Goran Ivanisevic, finds
himself advancing beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam event for
the first time at age 20. He's the only change in the final four
lineup from last year, supplanting Mark Philippoussis.
The unseeded Ancic was the last player to beat Federer on grass,
pulling off a first-round upset at Wimbledon in 2002. In
Wednesday's quarterfinals, the 6-foot-5 youngster used big serves
and emphatic returns to beat Englishman Tim Henman.
"He's playing great on grass," Roddick said. "I don't know
what it is with all the tall, skinny Croats serving big. He's
definitely going to be tough."
The No. 10-seeded Grosjean, a Frenchman who lives in Florida,
lost to Philippoussis in last year's semifinals. He's 2--1 against
Federer, but those matches all came in 2001.
"For sure he's the best player on the tour, especially on
grass," Grosjean said. "I have nothing to lose. In the semis,
everything can happen."
So he hopes. But thus far Grosjean is 0--3 in Grand Slam
That makes reigning U.S. Open champion Roddick the most imposing
potential remaining obstacle for Federer. They met in the
semifinals last year, and Federer won in straight sets, but Roddick
has since developed a more well-rounded game.
And the American's formidable serve is better than ever. He set
a Wimbledon record with a 146-mph serve in his quarterfinal victory
over Sjeng Schalken, and he hit second serves at up to 130 mph.
"It's an amazing serve," Schalken said. "He can hit a 125--mph
serve like I hit a 90-mph serve.
"He doesn't have a weakness. He's just going for it in the
service game with his serve, and the rest of his game is very
Still, Roddick is all about power, while Federer is all about
variety. Former top players rank Federer's forehand and volley as
perhaps the best in the game, and while his serve is slower than
Roddick's, he can mix and place it with uncanny consistency.
It's all reminiscent of seven-time Wimbledon winner Sampras.
Perhaps most significantly, Federer has developed the resolve of
a champion. For example, when he was broken for the first time in
the tournament to fall behind Hewitt 4-3 in the fourth set, Federer
broke back, held and broke again to close out the victory.
"He's a good competitor -- a lot better than he probably was a
couple of years ago," Hewitt said. "He gives 100 percent, and
it's not too often that he goes away. That's the part of his game
he's probably worked on over the last couple of years.
"He's the favorite for the next two matches, for sure."