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Page last updated at 20:18 GMT, Friday, 27 June 2008 21:18 UK

Marathon wins for Ancic and Safin

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Ancic and Safin fought through in the gloom

By Ben Dirs and Chris Bevan
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Mario Ancic and Marat Safin defied near darkness to each knock out a seeded player and reach the fourth round.

Ancic looked mightily impressive in beating number five seed David Ferrer 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-3).

And Safin followed his win over third seed Novak Djokovic with another shock as he beat 29th seed Andreas Seppi, winning 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-4.

Both matches finished in the gloom, at 2116 and 2126 BST respectively, in front of hugely enthusiastic crowds.

Ancic broke Spaniard Ferrer early in the first and second sets and Ferrer was helpless in the face of some relentless serving from the 24-year-old Croatian.

Ferrer began to read the Ancic serve in the third and nicked it on a tie-break.

But Ferrer blew five break points in the fourth set as Ancic stormed to a 7-3 tie-break victory in near darkness.

The unseeded Ancic will play Spanish 22nd seed Fernando Verdasco on Monday and after a highly encouraging display on Centre Court he will fancy himself against anyone in the draw.

The 26-year-old Ferrer won his seventh career title and his first on grass at 's-Hertogenbosch last week and played his part in a high-quality contest that took three hours, 11 minutes to complete.

But he was no match for the heavy-hitting Ancic, who thundered down 22 aces and combined searching groundstrokes with some fine play at the net.

WIDE606: DEBATE
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Ferrer had a chance to break serve at 0-0 in the fourth and four more break points at 3-3, but Ancic averted the mini crisis and overpowered Ferrer in the tie-break.

Ancic, who has now reached the fourth round on his last four appearances at Wimbledon, would play either defending champion Roger Federer or Lleyton Hewitt in the quarter-finals were he to beat Verdasco.

Ancic missed last year's event because of glandular fever, which forced him to miss six months of 2007 and was the last man to defeat Federer on grass, sending the Swiss crashing out in the first round on his debut in 2002.

"I've been spending hours in the gym dreaming of playing on Centre Court again so this is a big moment," Ancic told BBC Sport.

"I have great memories of Wimbledon and this was an incredible match, we were both fighting until the end. Ferrer showed what a great player he is."

Safin came out on top in a war of attrition with Italian Seppi.

Marat Safin
Safin's best Wimbledon was a quarter-final spot in 2001
The Russian took the first and third sets, in which neither player dropped their serve, on tie-breaks but the second was a real contrast with five breaks between the pair.

Seppi broke first to lead 2-0 and although Safin replied immediately at 2-1, the Italian reeled off three straight games as Safin momentarily lost his way.

Safin's response was to go for broke and it brought him back from 5-1 to 5-3 before Seppi regained his composure and served out.

The fourth set was another tight affair with Safin breaking to lead 3-1 and he went on to wrap up victory.

His next opponent in the fourth round on Monday is Swiss 13th seed Stanislas Wawrinka, who had the easiest passage into the last 16 when Germany's Mischa Zverev retired while 7-5 6-1 down.

Safin told BBC Sport: "We couldn't see ourselves on court and it was freezing cold. But the crowd stayed until the end which was great.

"It was a tough match, especially at the end as I was getting nervous but it was also a great match, I think. There's no pressure on me and it's just match by match from now on."

Verdasco, Ancic's next opponent upset the Wimbledon seedings by beating Tomas Berdych 6-4 6-4 6-0 in the third round.

The 22nd-ranked Spaniard prevailed over the 11th seed from the Czech Republic.

Joining him is Cypriot 10th seed and former semi-finalist Marcos Baghdatis, a 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 6-2 winner over German qualifier Simon Stadler.

He now faces Feliciano Lopez after the Spanish 31st seed beat American Bobby Reynolds 6-4 7-5 4-6 6-4.




see also
Wimbledon photos
27 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Safin stuns lacklustre Djokovic
25 Jun 08 |  Tennis


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