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WIMBLEDON NOTES

Williams, Roddick Stunned

July 02, 2006|Chuck Culpepper | Special to The Times

WIMBLEDON, England — Venus Williams seemed mystified, Andy Roddick miffed. Both had violated their accustomed personal calendars and come upon time off during Wimbledon's second week.

"It definitely feels really weird," said Williams, the defending champion, three-time champion and five-time finalist, all in this decade.

"Are my spirits dampened? Hell yeah, they're dampened," Roddick said. "I just lost in the third round of Wimbledon after making it to the semis, final, final the last three years."

Williams lost in three taut sets to Jelena Jankovic, a 21-year-old Serb who had lost 10 of her first 11 matches across 10 tournaments in 2006 before finally reaching the Italian Open quarterfinals, where she lost to Williams, 6-1, in the third set.

So was it Jankovic's big game or Williams' rustiness?

"It's up to you to decide," Williams said. "At this point, you know, I'll think about it."

Roddick lost again to Andy Murray, a repeat outcome of the Scot's bellwether victory over the American in February in San Jose. As Murray takes the baton from Tim Henman as the vortex of British Wimbledon melodrama, his straight-sets win represents his finest performance.

And Roddick?

"There's that intangible quality right now, you know, that edge that's not there," Roddick said. "That's what I'm searching for." Asked where he might look, he snapped, "Probably under my dresser."

His last four Grand Slam events: first round, quarterfinal, first round, third round. He converted none of eight break points and four set points in the first set, mostly because of Murray's winners on the run.

Even the grass bugged Roddick with its slowness. "You know, 70% of the points today, it's tough when I feel like I'm, you know, inside the court, hitting an aggressive forehand deep to a corner and getting beat consistently from six to eight feet behind the baseline," he said.

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Now that England's soccer team has lost in the World Cup, Murray prepares for a bit more attention.

"I'm not used to being around the locker room when there's only 16 people left," he said. "It's much quieter."

After joking last month he'd root against England as do many Scots, Murray expressed disappointment, saying he'd picked England over Portugal on penalty kicks. The penalty kicks occurred during Murray and Roddick's first-set tiebreaker, and Murray said he didn't learn the result until asking fans while signing autographs after his win.

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England's match consumed the Wimbledon grounds Saturday, as many fans tried to strain to look into the press room and its many televisions.

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It's the best Grand Slam event to date for the last remaining American, Shenay Perry, a 21-year-old African American woman who cites the Williams sisters as pioneers and hopes to mimic Pete Sampras' grace. Said Venus Williams, "It's a nice story. I've never really seen her play, per se, to be honest."

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The women seeded first and third, Amelie Mauresmo and Justine Henin-Hardenne, have each lost only nine games in three hasty matches.

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The men's draw has lost two of the top five seeded players, No. 3 Roddick and No. 5 Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia, who had a two-set lead over No. 27-seeded Dmitry Tursunov of Russia but fell, 5-7, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (8-6), 6-2.

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Andre Agassi said of retirement, "I've spent 20 years waking up saying, 'You know, what do I have to do today?' I'm going to now spend the rest of my life waking up and saying, 'What do I want my life to look like?' "

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