Russia's Marat Safin insisted that the bloom remains on his newfound romance with grass-court tennis despite his third-round loss Friday to Spain's Feliciano Lopez, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3.
Safin, the tournament's fifth seed, brought his customary histrionics to bear against Lopez. He received a warning for smashing a ball out of Court 1 in anger early in the match and later broke his racket in a fit of pique. By rough count, it was the 300th or so broken frame of his career. But his intensity lapsed after he lost the second-set tiebreaker.
Still, reaching Wimbledon's third round was a step forward for the Russian, who vowed last year that he hated grass and didn't intend to play Wimbledon again. And he departed in generally good humor.
"Even though that I lost today, and I didn't really have my day, and I couldn't play my best tennis, at the end of the day I'm satisfied [that] finally I found my game on grass," Safin said.
Safin was hardly the only dramatic Russian on the courts Friday. Anastasia Myskina, the 2004 French Open champion, ran the gamut of emotion during her 2-hour43-minute victory over Serbia's Jelena Jankovic, 6-0, 5-7, 10-8. Myskina ripped through the first set in 19 minutes, stumbled in the second set and berated herself throughout the third set, in which she fell behind 1-5 before deciding to mount a comeback.
"Almost the whole third set I was thinking [about] what I did wrong," Myskina said. "But then after [Jankovic got to] 5-1, I realized that I'm playing the third set, so maybe it's something new I should do to win."
Becker Endorses Bid
London's bid to host the 2012 Olympics got a surprising ally and pitchman Friday: Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker. Becker, who is serving as a BBC commentator here, joined a news conference to promote London's plan for staging the Summer Games, which includes using the All England Lawn Tennis Club as the site of the tennis competition.
Asked why he allied London's bid over that of Paris, the three-time German champion (1985, '86 and '89) said: "I'm a world traveler, and I love being in Paris, I love being in Moscow (also a candidate), and so forth. It's just profession-wise and tennis-wise, this particular city, particularly Wimbledon, is obviously very close to my heart. I call this my second birthplace 20 years ago." . . .
After four unbroken days of sunshine, rain arrived at Wimbledon Friday and played havoc with the schedule, forcing postponement of third-round matches for top seeds Roger Federer and Lindsay Davenport. . . . Simon Barnes of the (London) Times opened his account of Thursday's second-round loss by Spain's Rafael Nadal with this: "Farewell then to the man in silly knickers."