WIMBLEDON has two new heroes…at least for one day.
Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis and Swede Jonas Bjorkman were both full of smiles after winning their way into the men’s singles semi finals.
I was on Henman Hill / Murray Mount when Baghdatis sealed his four sets quarter final over Lleyton Hewitt just after 8pm last night. It was almost as packed as for earlier matches involving Tim and Andy.
And the fans on the hill cheered loudly as the flamboyant man from the village of Paramytha – it means “fairytale” – celebrated his win.
Watching from the stands, his mother Andry had her prayers answered as her boy – the conquer of Andy Murray – went through, helped by Aussie Hewitt’s error-strewn performance.
“I love this game,” said Marcos afterwards, who had no problems expressing his joy on court. “That’s the way I am. That’s who I am. I love playing in front of so many people.”
SWISS ace Roger Federer has dashed any hope of anyone stopping his march towards a fourth consecutive Wimbledon title.
Rather unsportingly, he’s refused an invitation to actually play his remaining matches in the cream jacket he wears to walk on to court.
“Maybe I can still try that out some other time. But it’s not the time for jokes now,” insisted the defending champion, who must be a fashion god in downtown Basel.
THUNDER, lightning and violent storms over London at 6am today. It’s stopped for the moment – but the forecast for play in SW19 this afternoon is not good.
A severe weather warning is the last thing those queueing to get in want to hear with four men’s quarter finals due on court.
By 8am there were just 700 people in the queue – with 500 tickets available on each of Centre and No 1 courts. So, surprisingly, you could have had a lie in and arrived late to claim a ticket for Stepanek v Bjorkman and Nieminen v Nadal on No 1.
On this, the last day show court tickets are available to the queue, there were also 500 tickets on offer for No 2 court. Weather allowing – and it may not – it’s due to host a ladies’ doubles match and later a mixed doubles tie, both involving a certain Martina Navratilova. The nine times Wimbledon singles champion is still on track for a record 21st title here.
As shadows engulfed the courts last night, Martina, who turns 50 in October, walked into the press interview room and confirmed this will be her very last Wimbledon.
FORMER Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova was involved in a security scare this afternoon after a streaker invaded Centre Court.
The 19-year-old Russian looked shocked and then turned her back as Dutch DJ Sander Lantinga, 29, leapt out of the crowd behind the umpire.
His naked invasion came 39 minutes into Sharapova’s quarter final with Elena Dementiava when she was 3-0 up in the second set.
The millionaire tennis star immediately turned to face the back court netting as Lantinga did a dance and cartwheel just a few feet away, part of a stunt for a TV show called Try Before You Die.
It was a full 10 seconds before two court attendants eventually appeared with a red sheet to escort him away. Spectators in the 13,700 crowd cheered and applauded. But the Wimbledon authorities have launched a full investigation.
FEELING a little down after Murray misery and penalty nightmares?
Spare a thought for our American friends. After their soccer team finished bottom of Group E in the World Cup, USA sports fans had hopes of better things at Wimbledon.
But as Independence Day dawned this morning, there was not a single American left in the main draw, their worst performance since 1911.
That, and the hangover from yesterday’s Caledonian calamity, was reflected today in the queue for daily tickets along Church Road – the shortest so far during the 2006 Championships.
ANDY Murray threw his bottle of water towards the bin on Centre Court and missed. It was that sort of day.
From the very start, it was clear this was likely to end in yet more tears for British sports fans. Even during the warm up, he looked out of sorts.
At the best of times, the 19-year-old Scot can appear passive and subdued. But this was serious. No spark. No hope.
“Andy, you can do better,” shouted a female admirer in the crowd just minutes before he lost the second set. He was as bad as he had been good on Saturday. The fans simply couldn’t believe it.
WEEK two and a genuine British sporting sensation to lift the nation. There was huge excitement among the crowd as Murray swept aside Roddick in the battle of the Andys.
The Scot voted it the best win of his career. We could all do with more of the same Murray magic this afternoon after an emotional sporting weekend.
Andy has revealed on his website how he was woken up at 3am on Saturday by fellow Scot Sean Connery, who was calling from the Bahamas to wish him luck against Roddick.
Failing to recognise the number, a stirred but not shaken Murray didn’t answer. He picked up the voicemail message in the morning.
“There’s nothing cooler than being woken up by James Bond,” said the young 007 fan, who hopes to fire a few more thunderballs down on Centre Court today.
A much needed day off for the players and officials, including a Manchester tennis fan who might one day make it to the Wimbledon final.
It’s game set and match for aptly-named line umpire Justin Latham. He is working here after an invitation which came out of the blue.
Former tennis player Justin, 34, a business analyst who had no previous experience of officiating, could have been forgiven for exclaiming: “You cannot be serious?”
ANDRE Agassi was tearful after his emotional farewell to Wimbledon today.
Minutes after waving a last goodbye to the Centre Court crowd, the former champion, who retires after the US Open, was in reflective mood.
Sitting in the press interview room, he talked about what he would miss most about SW19. “The people. All my friends, all the relationships I’ve developed here, the familiar faces, the love they have for the sport. It’s that one ball kid that looked at you a certain way – people working here,” he said in a soft voice.
“It’s been a privilege to be out there again for one last time. I’ll look back at this as one of my most memorable experiences. This means as much as winning…saying goodbye.”
Scorching Super Saturday at Wimbledon. The blinds are down and it’s hot, hot, hot. Temperatures are set to hit 31C (88F).
By 3.30am there were 1,858 people in the queue. At 5am that had risen to 2,322. And by 8am a total of 5,931 tennis fans were waiting in the sun.
Those who enjoyed a lie-in and arrived after 9am had almost certainly had a wasted journey. A total of 7,500 tickets were on daily sale this morning. That’s made up of 1500 seats – 500 each on Centre, No 1 and No 2 courts – plus a further 6,000 ground tickets.
At 9.30am stewards reported the queue had hit a figure of 8,073 people, meaning 573 latecomers already faced disappointment when the gates opened an hour later – with thousands more flooding towards SW19 behind them.