Old friends Grosjean and Roddick fight for spot in semis

ANDY RODDICK and Sebastien Grosjean will put their friendship on hold when they meet for a place in the men’s singles semi-finals today.

American Roddick, last year’s beaten finalist, is a regular practice partner of the Florida-based Frenchman and is looking forward to their eighth meeting in the last three years.

“We practise together a lot on the road,” he said. “We’re pretty friendly. He’s been a pretty good friend since I’ve been on tour. We normally practise at tournaments.”

Both men are bidding to reach the last four for the third successive year, with Grosjean aiming to halt a run of six straight defeats at the hands of the second seed.

Grosjean, who lost to Roddick at Queen’s earlier this month, says he has had no need to do any homework on his opponent.

“He’s a really nice guy. I like to practise with him because he puts a lot of intensity into it.”

Grosjean’s other incentive will be to reclaim his position as French number one, a status he surrendered after a run of four years to teenager Richard Gasquet just before the start of Wimbledon.

The player with the biggest task is 24-year-old Fernando Gonzalez, the first Chilean quarter-finalist for 20 years who takes on two-time champion Roger Federer.

Gonzalez, who has yet to drop a set, has surprised himself by reaching the last four after only 11 matches on grass.

“I’m really surprised about this,” he said. “I never thought I could play well on grass so I had nothing to lose. This is my best tournament of the year so I’m really happy.”

Federer, who has not lost on grass for two years and is aiming to match the feats of Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras in completing a hat-trick of Wimbledon titles, insists he will not be under-estimating the world number 24.

“I was close to losing a set to him at the French,” said Federer. “But grass should favour me.

“I’m looking forward to playing him. He’s always got good shots.”

Another surprise quarter-finalist, Feliciano Lopez, has the chance to avenge his defeat in last year’s US Open when he takes on 2002 Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt.

Lopez, the only left-hander in the last eight, should hold no fears for the world number two, who has won his last 18 matches against left-handers.

“He’s one of the best players in the world,” said Lopez, the first Spaniard to reach the quarter-finals since Manuel Orantes in 1972.

“It’s going to be a tough match. It’s easy to dream but I just want to play as well as I did in the last round.”

Eight different countries are represented in the quarter-finals for the second year in a row and Thomas Johansson bids to become the first Swedish semi-finalist since Stefan Edberg in 1993 when he takes on 2002 runner-up David Nalbandian.

After putting out two teenagers, Andy Murray and Richard Gasquet, in his last two matches, Nalbandian faces an altogether different challenge against the 30-year-old Johansson.

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