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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 July 2006, 18:56 GMT 19:56 UK
Bjorkman to face Federer in semis
By Mike Burnett
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Jonas Bjorkman
Bjorkman makes the semi-finals at a grand old age of 34
Jonas Bjorkman triumphed in a five-set thriller to book a semi-final showdown with Roger Federer at Wimbledon.

In a rain-hit clash on Court One, Bjorkman, 34, took four hours and two minutes to edge Czech Radek Stepanek 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (9-7) 6-4.

There was little to separate the players in a tightly-fought match, twice interrupted by rain.

But the veteran Swede survived a fourth-set tie-break before gaining a vital break at 5-4 in the fifth to win.

What seemed destined to be a war of attrition started off briskly with Stepanek squandering two break points before seeing his own serve broken in the second game of the match.

After the first of two rain delays, the ageing Bjorkman marched on to a 5-3 lead and should have closed out the set but his Czech opponent broke back on his third attempt.

To be playing in a semi-final at the age of 34 is a dream come true

Jonas Bjorkman
Despite forcing the tie-break, Stepanek could not stop the more consistent Bjorkman converting the first of three set points.

However, the clash on Court One soon lived up its tag as a dour evenly-matched battle with both players ebbing and flowing in form.

Bjorkman was next to slump, double-faulting to give his adversary a 2-1 lead in the second set.

This time it was Stepanek's turn to serve out at 5-3 but Bjorkman prolonged the agony, clawing back a game before being broken again to tie the scores at one set each.

Stepanek rattled off eight aces during the next set but had to wait until the tie-break to prevail and seemed to have victory in his sights when he gained a break early in the fourth set.

Martina Hingis
Hingis watched on as boyfriend Stepanek suffered a dramatic exit
But doubles specialist Bjorkman refused to give up, taking advantage of his opponent's ninth double fault of the match to level the scores at 5-5 before ensuring a third tie-break.

Although Stepanek battled back to earn a match point on Bjorkman's serve, his opponent showed his mental strength by seeing out the tie-break and taking the clash to a deciding fifth set.

Girlfriend Martina Hingis and an enthralled crowd could only watch on as a shattered Stepanek exchanged breaks with Bjorkman before crucially dropping his serve again at 5-4 down to leave Swedish opposite serving out for the match.

Bursting into tears in front of the delighted Court One crowd, Bjorkman said: "I'm very emotional, I can't believe I've won.

"To be playing in a semi-final at the age of 34 is a dream come true.

"I don't have too many Wimbledons left and I just want to enjoy the tournament. You can never give up, you have to fight to the last point."

SEE ALSO
John McEnroe on Federer
05 Jul 06 |  Tennis
Gamewatch: Stepanek v Bjorkman
05 Jul 06 |  Tennis
The busiest man at Wimbledon
04 Jul 06 |  Tennis


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