Tue, Jun 15, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Federer, Sharapova stake Wimbledon claims with wins

REUTERS , LONDON AND HALLE

World number one Roger Federer confirmed his status as favorite to defend his Wimbledon title later this month with a 6-0, 6-3 demolition of US sixth seed Mardy Fish on his way to successfully defending his title at the ATP grasscourt tournament in Halle, Germany on Sunday.

Big-serving Fish, the only man to take a set off Federer at Wimbledon last year, was unable to find his range against the top seeded Swiss player who passed him at the net time and again in the first set.

Fish, 22, put up some resistance in the second but was broken in the sixth game and went down to his fourth loss in as many meetings with Federer after 57 minutes on court.

"It was so easy it's even surprising," said 22-year-old Federer after winning his fifth title this season after the Australian Open, Dubai, Indian Wells and Hamburg and the 16th of his career.

"I'm happy to have been able to play solid tennis all week. I really enjoyed playing here. It's the best possible preparation for Wimbledon."

Stella Artois

Andy Roddick retained his Stella Artois title on Sunday with a 7-6 6-4 victory over Sebastien Grosjean -- a repeat of last year's final.

The top seed's triumph in 83 minutes gave him a 14th career title and his second on grass.

"Any time you win a tournament it's an all round good feeling," the 22-year-old smiled. "My big concern had been getting some grasscourt matches under my belt. I couldn't ask for better preparation for Wimbledon."

The two players were inseparable in the opening set, trading heavy groundstrokes from the baseline.

Grosjean, having served first, kept his nose ahead throughout and held two set points when Roddick fell 15-40 behind while trailing 6-5.

The US Open champion saved the first with an ace and Grosjean missed the second by millimetres when a whipped forehand flew just beyond the baseline.

Roddick grabbed the first mini-break of the tiebreak to lead 3-2 but by staying at the back of the court after his serve allowed Grosjean to work his way back into it, the Frenchman breaking back for 3-3 with a foray to the net.

The American inched ahead with a wrong-footing backhand behind Grosjean and then broke again for 5-4 when the fifth seed sailed a forehand long at the end of a long rally.

This time there was no way back. Roddick smashed an overhead for 6-4 and two set points of his own before thumping his 10th ace to wrap it up 9-7 in 48 minutes.

Edgbaston

Maria Sharapova warmed up for Wimbledon by capturing her third career title on Sunday, defeating France's Tatiana Golovin 4-6 6-2 6-1 at Edgbaston, Birmingham.

The two teenagers, who have a combined age of 33, battled for an hour and 44 minutes before third-seed Sharapova emerged victorious to collect her first title on grass.

The 17-year-old Sharapova won her first two crowns in Tokyo and Quebec City last year. Golovin, 16, was competing in her first WTA Tour final.

"In the first set she did everything right, she was just too good," said Sharapova.

"I was just lucky she couldn't do it the whole match. I just hung in there and played my game and in the end that was good enough."

Sharapova now takes a week off to prepare for Wimbledon. In this form the tall Russian, who is guaranteed a top 16 seeding, will be one of the floaters in the draw.

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