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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Martin, Washington Play Stranded in London Rain

LONDON -- Todd Martin and MaliVai Washington were locked at two-sets apiece in the all-American first men's semifinal on Center Court when rain forced yet another Wimbledon delay Friday.


Washington had just won the fourth set 6-3 to level the match for the second time when play had to be halted for the second time by a heavy shower, leaving the contest delicately poised after two hours and 43 minutes.


Martin, the only seed left in the men's singles, had led 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 when the action was suspended for the first time at the end of the third set.


The two Davis Cup team mates and Florida residents did their best to ignore the weather, continuing with the third set tie-break as rain started to fall, but Washington's decision not to head for the locker-rooms a few moments earlier proved costly.


He led 3-1 in the tie-break, only for Martin to reel off the next five points and give himself three set points. Washington saved them all, helped by a Martin double fault at 6-5, but then put a volley into the net at 7-6 to concede the advantage.


Martin, who had previously dropped just one set in the tournament, lived equally dangerously in the first set, leading 5-2 before allowing Washington back to 5-5.


He eventually took it 7-5, but Washington's perseverance was rewarded when he took the second set in an encounter which was always destined to be a close-fought affair.


After a 32-minute break, the fourth set saw Washington produce some of his best tennis of the tournament, particularly in the sixth game when he unleashed some flashing passing shots to secure the crucial break.


Further showers were forecast, raising fears the second semifinal between Dutchman Richard Krajicek and Australia's Jason Stoltenberg might spill over into Saturday.


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Pete Sampras, Boris Becker, Andre Agassi and Monica Seles have departed but there is one constant at Wimbledon this year -- the rain.


Frustrated players and fans have suffered through a succession of stop-start days at the 110th championships.


Women's world No. 9 Lindsay Davenport says the delays have been the toughest she has known.


"What makes it so difficult is the showers are so brief and intermittent," Davenport said, as she waited for her double match to start.


"It is much harder for those involved in singles."


The problem of what to do when the covers have been hauled out yet again is especially acute for those still involved in the battle for tennis's top prize. When to eat, what to eat and how much; when to rest, when to stretch -- each needs to be weighed carefully.


"It's not easy," said Britain's Tim Henman, who was beaten by Martin in a quarter-final held over from Wednesday and interrupted at least four times by rain Thursday.


"I feel like I could have won the tournament with the amount of times I've knocked up on the court.


"I must have knocked up, I don't know, 14 or 15 times. I'm quite good at that now."