Published Wednesday, June 23, 2010 | 3:14 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, June 23, 2010 | 2:59 p.m.
The 124th Wimbledon championships welcomed American Andy Roddick to the Centre Court Wednesday.
This was the scene of his shattered dreams in the championship match last year when he came within a whisker of winning here for the first time.
It was here on three occasions that he lost the finals to Roger Federer, with last year’s heart-rending spectacle of a 16-14 fifth set, etched in the memory of the Wimbledon faithful. The crowd showed their appreciation in welcoming him back to Centre Court in his 4-6 6-4 6-1 7-6 victory against Parisian left-hander Michael Llodra.
“They kind of maybe appreciate the body of work that I’ve put together at this tournament,” Roddick said. “It’s always gratifying. Centre Court is a special place, the pinnacle of our sport, so it’s always fun to play there.”
Federer, who survived what would have been Wimbledon’s most historic upset Monday against Alejandro Falla, beat Ilija Bozolijac of Serbia to advance to the third round.
Having flirted with defeat a couple of days earlier against Falla — he dropped the first two sets — the top seed found another inspired opponent hoping to block his advance. Federer dropped the second set on a tie-break, but then took the next two in a 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 7-6 (7-5) victory.
If Monday didn’t provide an entry for the history books, today certainly did.
American Taylor Dent produced the fastest serve in Wimbledon history at 148 mph in his match with Novak Djokovic, a loss. The previous record was held by Roddick at 145 mph. But little did we know that shortly after there was tennis history to be made over on Court 18.
American John Isner and Nicholas Mahut of France tore up the record books as their epic first round match became the longest tennis match in history.
As crowds gathered around the court and players became glued to the television monitors in the locker room, the two men battled it out holding serve each time and the match was halted – due to poor light – after a record-breaking 10 hours of play. The final set score was locked at a staggering 59-59.
The match will resume tomorrow.
James Borg has reported on the Wimbledon Championships the last 30 years. He has worked in Las Vegas and regularly writes travel articles about the area. He lives in London.