Security issues mar clash of grass specialists

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By tennisguru, June 15th, 2009

andy-roddickAndy Roddick won the shootout between former champions when he squeezed past Lleyton Hewitt 7-6, 7-6 to reach the quarter-finals at Queen’s Club on Thursday. The game was overshadowed by a bomb threat delayed the start of the third round showdown but tournament organisers released a statement to squash any public fears for security.

“A member of the public reported a bomb threat message found pinned to a wall just before the third match on Centre Court began. A full and immediate threat assessment was made and there was no intelligence to support the reported threat,” Queen’s Club chief executive Andrew Stewart said in the statement. “The area of the stadium where the reported threat related to did not exist and the threat was deemed to be low risk.”

Both players stayed on court during the hold up and were seen laughing and chatting with each other across the net. “Play was delayed which the practiced routine search of the entire site was conducted and nothing was found,” Stewart added. Roddick and Hewitt have won the pre-Wimbledon warm-up event eight times between them, with Rafael Nadal‘s victory last year the first time neither player had lifted the trophy this decade.

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But Hewitt’s bid for a record fifth success in west London is over for another year after Roddick edged through to the quarter-finals where he will face Ivo Karlovic, whom he beat in the 2005 final. Hewitt, the 2002 Wimbledon champion, held a 6-4 advantage in the 10 previous meetings with Roddick, but they had only played once on grass, and ominously that Queen’s semi-final clash had been won by Roddick.

After the delayed start, both players looked on good form during a tight first set. Neither could manage a break of serve and it went to a tie-break. Roddick, the second seed, edged ahead in the breaker and punched home his advantage with a blistering return of serve to open up a 5-2 lead before serving out the set. The second set was more of the same, with Hewitt able to hold his own serve easily enough but never threatening to do any damage on Roddick’s serve.

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Again it went to a tie-break and Hewitt’s nerve cracked at the crucial moment when he netted an easy volley to give Roddick the mini-break and he followed with two aces to seal victory. Roddick will have to find a way to out-gun Ivo Karlovic next after the big-serving Croat ninth seed beat France’s Nicolas Mahut, the 2007’s Queen’s runner-up, 6-3, 6-4. “Lleyton’s had just as much success here as me and he knows how to play on grass,” Roddick said. “He keeps the ball low and makes it tough to get a clean hit.

“It was tough with the wind but I feel pretty good, I’ve been hitting the ball real well in practice and I just had to hold my service games.”

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