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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 July, 2004, 17:55 GMT 18:55 UK
Wimbledon welcomes new rivalry
By Piers Newbery
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Andy Roddick and Roger Federer.
Wimbledon may have witnessed the birth of the next great tennis rivalry in this year's final between top seeds Roger Federer and Andy Roddick.

If so, it can only be to the benefit of the sport.

The last time the top two seeds reached the men's singles final was back in 1982, when Jimmy Connors beat John McEnroe.

Federer and Roddick may not quite have the combustible mix of personalities of the two great Americans.

But their characters are sufficiently different - and their tennis certainly spectacular enough - to provide long-term interest.

The steady return to top form of a rejuvenated Lleyton Hewitt will ensure Federer and Roddick are pushed to the limit.

And David Nalbandian, absent from Wimbledon through injury, looks ready to make the Grand Slam breakthrough with a shot-making ability only Federer can surpass.

Roger Federer
The only player who can draw gasps from the crowd through sheer shot-making ability
Lleyton Hewitt
Proved beyond doubt he has rediscovered his legendary fighting spirit
Mario Ancic
Finally produced the results to match his talent
Goran Ivanisevic
After three years away, said goodbye in style
Wayne Ferreira
For playing an incredible, record-breaking, 55th consecutive Grand Slam
As for Wimbledon, it may be some time until anyone is able to take the title from Federer.

Boris Becker was the first to describe Centre Court as his "living room" in the 1980s, and Pete Sampras took possession in the 1990s.

It is only four years since Sampras' last victory but already it seems reasonable to suggest that Federer, at just 22, could match his seven titles.

But Roddick has at least shown that the champion may not be invincible.

One of the men who will be doing everything to derail Federer's smooth progress is Hewitt, who was back to something near his best as he reached the quarter-finals.

There was more fist pumping and screams of "Cmon!" than ever and the Aussie has clearly got the hunger back.

One man who will not be back to test Federer or anyone else is Goran Ivanisevic, who finally got to say goodbye to his favourite tournament.

The 2001 champion put three years of injury problems behind him as he delighted the crowd with victories over Mikhail Youzhny and Filippo Volandri.

Facing Hewitt on Cente Court was a fitting end for a player who will be missed both on court, and in the press room.

As if to soften the blow, fellow Croat Mario Ancic - or "Baby Goran" - made the long-predicted breakthrough.

Tim Henman
Not for losing in the quarter-finals, but the limp manner of his defeat
Marat Safin
Too talented to lose in the first round even if he does hate grass
Albert Costa
For putting in the minimum amount of effort on a rare visit to SW19 (although he did lose to a Brit)
Jonny Marray
For the forehand he missed on match point against Karol Beck
Andre Agassi
Sadly missed due to a late injury withdrawal - no way to say goodbye
With a big serve and attacking style, the comparisons to Ivanisevic were obvious and, at 20 years old, he will be a challenger for years to come.

Unfortunately for British fans, he took the Goran impression too far by knocking out Tim Henman in the last eight.

In truth, the Briton flattered to deceive despite coming into the tournament on a high after reaching the last four at the French Open.

A good performance against Mark Philippoussis could not hide the fact that Henman looked ordinary in his other four matches.

It was a shame to see Marat Safin so despondent after his first-round exit, claiming he had "given up on grass", but the Russian is prone to extravagant outbursts and will surely be back.

French Open runner-up Guillermo Coria made little impact, although did at least win his first ever match at Wimbledon, while Juan Carlos Ferrero was clearly short of fitness.

But the steady improvement of committed baseliners in recent years continued as Carlos Moya made the fourth round for the first time.

All those players will feel they have a better chance when they get back to hard courts, and the US Open promises to be fiercely contested.

But when it comes to grass, and in particular Wimbledon, only Roddick looks capable of tripping up Federer in the near future.

Watch highlights: Men's final

Interview: Roger Federer

Interview: Andy Roddick

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