Wimbledon tennis: Indelible image of Day 5 -- Victor Hanescu, spitting


One day removed from the spellbinding match on Court 18 between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut that lasted a record 11 hours and 5 minutes and was twice suspended by darkness, Victor Hanescu muddied up the Wimbledon grounds Friday.

Hanescu, a Romanian seeded 31st and playing on Court 18, was charged with a code violation after spitting into the crowd amid boos and catcalls toward the end of his match with Daniel Brands of Germany. Minutes earlier, Hanescu had asked that play be halted because of darkness and when it wasn’t, he began playing without purpose. He also appeared to aim his anger at certain people sitting in or near the right side of the front row.

The official line score was 6-7 (7), 6-7 (3), 7-6 (7), 6-3, 3-0, retired, and Hanescu left the court to even more boos. His actions were under review by the International Tennis Federation and Wimbledon officials, and a fine is likely.

Afterward, police were called in and Scotland Yard, in a statement, said four men were being questioned after a complaint from Hanescu. No other details were given.

The ugliness was in stark contrast to the good feelings that had been brought on by the intrepid will of Isner and Mahut.

Isner, seeded 23rd, had nothing left to offer in his second-round match. He lost to unseeded Dutchman Thiemo De Bakker, 6-0, 6-3, 6-2, and afterward said, “I didn’t really have a chance.”

Fellow American Andy Roddick, seeded fifth, said it was no surprise to him what happened to Isner. “His toes were just torched,” Roddick said. “They looked like deli meat. I mean, credit to him, he knew he didn’t have his best stuff. He was finished. I thought that was a classy move.”

Hanescu’s bad behavior took place well after top-seeded Roger Federer had tidied up his tennis on Centre Court.

After losing three sets in his first two rounds to players ranked 60th and 152nd in the world, after being behind, two sets to none, in the first round and being turned around by the power of a Serbian qualifier in the second, defending champion Federer regained his dominant gene with his 6-2, 6-4, 6-2, win over French veteran Arnaud Clement.

Court 1 was where second-seeded Venus Williams outslugged 26th-seeded Russian Alisa Kleybanova. The five-time Wimbledon champion won, 6-4, 6-2.

Roddick, who lost to Federer in last year’s five-set final, stumbled a bit Friday. He lost the second-set tiebreaker to hard-hitting German Philipp Kohlschreiber, then dominated the final two sets in a 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-3 win.

The American had lost to Kohlschreiber the last time they played, in the fourth round of the 2008 Australian Open, and Roddick said he wasn’t thrilled when he saw this Wimbledon draw.

“I think I had one of the tougher second-round draws,” he said. “For the slotted seeds I could have played, 25 to 32, he might be the most dangerous one there. Obviously, I had lost to him in a Grand Slam before.”

Federer does not often admit to having vulnerability but did concede Friday that this has been a difficult tournament so far. “This was a solid match for me,” he said. “It was clean, hardly any errors. In the first match, obviously, I was four sets in trouble and only in the fifth set could I finally start to play a bit of normal tennis. Last match was hard to tell because there was more just serving, bombing, returning, reacting.”

As Federer said, the tennis was clean. He had only 12 unforced errors and 29 winners, and accepted serenely a standing ovation at the end, the kind of ovation six-time Wimbledon winners often receive. And exactly the opposite of the reaction Hanescu received.