Roddick, Schalken to meet again at Wimbledon

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 29, 2004

WIMBLEDON, England - Andy Roddick and Sjeng Schalken share a bond that goes beyond tennis.

Two months ago, Roddick helped Schalken escape from a hotel fire that killed three people in Rome.

Now their paths are crossing again - in the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

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''Anytime you share a very traumatic situation, and kind of share that fear with someone and get out of it, there's always something there,'' Roddick said. ''I don't know what that is, but there is kind of something between us now.

''By the same token, we're both going to try to win a Wimbledon quarterfinal.''

Roddick advanced to the final eight with a 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 win Monday over 6-foot-7 Alexander Popp of Germany. Schalken beat Vince Spadea 6-2, 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 to reach the quarters for the third straight year.

Roddick has defeated Schalken in three of their four matches, including a 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 rout at the Australian Open in January.

''I've done pretty well against him our last couple of matches, but we've never played on grass before,'' Roddick said. ''He definitely knows how to play on grass.''

Roddick, Schalken, Marat Safin and other players were staying at a luxury hotel in Rome for the Italian Open when a fire broke out in the early morning hours of May 1.

Schalken jumped from his balcony to Roddick's balcony a floor below, with the American helping to catch him.

From there, they were reached by fire truck ladders. Roddick helped about a dozen guests to safety.

Roddick, who lost his first-round match in Rome, said last week it was ''probably the first time in my life, I was out on the court and could care less if I won or lost. I wanted to go home and I wanted to see my family.''

Asked about playing Roddick for the first time since the fire, Schalken said with a smile, ''I hope he's thinking about that a little bit, and taking it easy on me.''

But Schalken doesn't really expect it.

''He didn't do that the last three times,'' the Dutchman said. ''No, we'll go out, go for it. Before and after we'll be good friends, and on the court we'll try to win.''

While Roddick vs. Schalken has an intriguing story line, it can't compete in pure tennis terms with the compelling quarterfinal between Wimbledon's last two champions - Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt.

Top-seeded Federer, who hasn't lost a set or had his serve broken all tournament, extended his grass-court winning streak to 21 matches by beating 6-foot-10 Ivo Karlovic of Croatia - the tallest player in the game - 6-3, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5).

During his winning streak, Federer has taken 53 of 56 sets, including 35 in a row. He has held in 89 consecutive service games at Wimbledon dating to last year's quarterfinals against Schalken. He's faced - and erased - six break points in four matches at this tournament.

Even the modest Federer is talking up his game.

''I have to say every match so far has been quite unbelievable,'' the all-court Swiss star said. ''I've always played great tennis. There's not a match where I remember I've played bad tennis and came through. I always played very good.''

Hewitt lost his first set of the championships but overcame ninth-seeded Carlos Moya 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (3). Hewitt leads Federer 8-4 in career meetings but has lost the last two. Hewitt won their only match on grass, at a Wimbledon warmup in the Netherlands in 2001.

''I believe I can beat him,'' Hewitt said. ''It's going to be an extremely tough match. He's the best player out there at the moment. He's not No. 1 for nothing.''

The other matchups in Wednesday's quarters: Tim Henman vs. Mario Ancic, and Sebastian Grosjean vs. Florian Mayer.

Henman held off Mark Philippoussis - last year's runner-up - 6-2, 7-5, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5) to reach the quarters for the eighth time in nine years. Henman, bidding to become the first British player to win the men's title since 1936, has lost four times in the semifinals.

Two women's quarterfinals and four fourth-round matches were set for Tuesday. In the quarters, 1999 champion Lindsay Davenport faced 19-year-old Karolina Sprem, and 17-year-old Maria Sharapova was up against Ai Sugiyama.

The fourth-round matches paired two-time defending champion Serena Williams against 16-year-old Tatiana Golovin, Jennifer Capriati vs. Nadia Petrova, No. 4 Amelie Mauresmo vs. Silvia Farina Elia, and Paola Suarez vs. Rita Grande.