Wawrinka, Djokovic to play for Rome tennis title

May 11th, 2008 - 2:23 pm ICT by admin  

Rome, May 11 (DPA) Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka and Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic will play Rome Masters final after emerging as survivors during a week on clay plagued by pullouts. The injury and illness shocks only multiplied in Saturday’s pair of semi-finals, with Wawrinka now poised to shoot from 24th in the world into the top 10 Monday after profiting from Andy Roddick’s neck muscle cramping, 3-0.

Less than an hour later, lightning struck twice as Radek Stepanek quit with stomach illness to hand over a 6-0, 1-0 place in Sunday’s final to third seed Djokovic.

They were the fourth and fifth injury withdrawals of the event.

In all, paying spectators at the sun-drenched Foro Italico got just over half an hour of play, with 50 percent refunds promised by organisers.

American Roddick said one wrong movement triggered a small pain in his left neck and shoulder area that he had felt after his quarter-final win Friday.

“It was a little bit uncomfortable this morning, but I warmed up and it was fine. I just made a wrong movement and it went into complete spasm,” he said.

“I can’t really move or do much with my left arm. I mean, you can’t really play around that.”

Stepanek strolled off to jeers after going down in a 21-minute first set against Djokovic, subsequently retiring after a chat with a doctor on the sideline and one more game.

The Czech made himself no friends by his over-the-top victory celebrations a day earlier after upsetting crowd favourite Roger Federer in the quarter-finals.

Djokovic was in a similar situation last month in Monte Carlo when he quit a semi-final with Federer after feeling poorly to equal disapproval.

“What can I say, I didn’t want to win like this,” said the Serb number three, now closing on Rafael Nadal, who lost in the second round with blistering,” he said.

“But this is sport, tennis is tough. I understand how the fans feel after buying a ticket. But I’m in the final and I’m content.”

Djkokvic stands 3-2 over Wawrinka.

But in the Serbs’s own continuing fitness dramas, he handed over an Umag clay title to the Swiss in 2006 as he stopped their match with the breathing problems he frequently encounters at 6-6.

That win produced Wawrinka’s lone title to date at the ATP level.

Djokovic will be seeking his fourth Masters title on clay while Wawrinka will be keen to follow up on his Umag success at a major event.

“I would not have imagined that I would get to the top 10,” said Wawrinka, Roland Garros junior champion and practise partner to Federer.

“For me it’s a pleasure to play behind Roger. My best match this week might have been the quarter-finals, when I beat James Blake, another guy in the top 10.”

The last time two Swiss players ranked in the top 20 was March 4, 1991. They were No.18 Jakob Hlasek and No.20 Marc Rosset.

Wawrinka and Federer have made Swiss tennis history with their dual top 10 standing.

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