Fri, Jun 25, 2004 - Page 24 News List

Coria wins four-day match as Wang falters

AP , WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND

Jimmy Wang of Taiwan reacts after losing a point to Andy Roddick of the US during the Wimbledon Championships in Wimbledon, London, yesterday. Roddick won the rain-delayed match 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.

PHOTO: AFP

It took four days, but Guillermo Coria finally won his first-round match yesterday when rain held off long enough for play to get underway at Wimbledon.

The third-seeded Coria, the French Open runner-up, needed just two points to finish off a 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-3 win over 106th-ranked Wesley Moodie of South Africa on Court 1.

The match began Monday, but was halted by rain at two sets apiece. Play resumed Tuesday, but was suspended in late afternoon with Coria two points from victory at 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-7 (3), 5-3, 30-all. The two never got on court Wednesday as rain washed out the entire day play.

Yesterday's warmup lasted longer than the completion of the match. With Moodie making forehand errors on both points, the Argentine needed two minutes to record his first ever win at the All England Club.

Relieved to get the match over with at last, Coria beamed, pumped his fist and waved to the crowd. In total, the match took 3 hours, 5 minutes over the four days.

"I would have liked this match to finish the day before yesterday," Coria said. "I went in today seriously concentrating on those two points. I felt strong, I was confident. But it's unusual to go into a match like this."

Moodie, who reached the third round here last year as a qualifier, said the delays helped take the strain off his injured left knee.

"`It was probably more frustrating for him than for me, but it was tiring waiting around all day yesterday for something to happen," Moodie said. "I came out needing two points on his serve -- it was over quickly."

All 74 scheduled matches were postponed Wednesday, the first Wimbledon washout in five years. Of 160 scheduled first- and second-round matches in the first three days, the tournament completed just 83, the fewest since 1991.

Play began an hour earlier yesterday, at 11am (1000 GMT) on the outside courts and noon on Centre and Court 1, to help alleviate the backlog. Men's doubles matches were reduced to best-of-three sets until the quarterfinals.

The sun came out yesterday, but conditions were cool and blustery. The forecast called for showers later in the day.

The first match completed yesterday -- about 42 hours since the last result -- was Taylor Dent's victory over Ramon Delgado. The American needed two minutes and 40 seconds to close out a 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 win on Court 6.

Second-seeded Andy Roddick resumed his first-round match against Jimmy Wang of Taiwan, suspended Tuesday at 4-2, 40-all. Roddick won the match 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.

Other men scheduled to play Thursday included top-seeded Roger Federer and former champions Lleyton Hewitt and Goran Ivanisevic. On the women's side, former winners Venus Williams, Lindsay Davenport and Martina Navratilova were due to play, along with French Open champion Anastasia Myskina, Amelie Mauresmo and Jennifer Capriati.

Russian Anastasia Myskina said she hopes her French Open title has given her homeland's image a boost.

"We want to improve the people start thinking about Russia much better," she said in charmingly broken English. "Before, everybody think it's only white bear walking in the street. We want to prove it's a completely different country. It's a nice country."

Myskina beat Elena Dementieva at Roland Garros in the first all-Russian Grand Slam final and became the first woman from their country to win a major. Since then, Russian women have won two grass-court titles -- Maria Sharapova at Birmingham and Svetlana Kuznetsova at Eastbourne.

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