WIMBLEDON, England - There was a 131-mph service winner to slam shut the ninth game of the first set, a couple of aces in the tiebreaker that left several blades of grass cringing, and another 127-mph blast down the middle early in the second set that chipped off the end of Tommy Robredo's groping racket.
And when this devastating streak was over, fifth-seeded Andy Roddick had won 17 consecutive points on serve, including all six in the tiebreaker on the way to 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-4 win over Robredo yesterday that placed him in the round of 16 at Wimbledon for the first time and secured two days off before beginning a second-week drive that he hopes will go right into the final Sunday.
You can say all you want about Robredo's slicing and dicing and his ability to change up his ground strokes, and the young Spaniard certainly represented a different sort of opponent for Roddick from his first two victims.
But this is grass-court tennis. Take care of your serve and you win, no matter who's on the other side of the net.
And, oh how Roddick has taken care of his serve - not just on this heavily overcast day on Centre Court, but for the first three rounds. The numbers he has rung up are the stuff Pete Sampras used to deliver:
Roddick had 16 service games against Robredo and faced only one break point, which he defended in the first set with - what else? - a 133-mph service winner.
In 46 service games during the opening week, Roddick has faced only five break points and been broken only once, by Greg Rusedski in the second round.
Roddick has played three tiebreakers - two against Rusedski and one against Robredo. He's 15-1 on serve and was 6-for-6 in the Robredo win.
This brace of nearly untouchable serving displays by the 20-year-old from Boca Raton, Fla., brought to mind his two-week run in 2001 at Atlanta and Houston, where he won consecutive clay-court titles.
"I think I didn't get broken until my 50th game at one of those," Roddick recalled. "At times I've semifinaled big. I think in Toronto last year I might have gotten broken only once or twice going into the final. It's not every tournament, for sure."
Next up for Roddick is big-hitting, go-for-broke Paradorn Srichaphan, who shocked Andre Agassi out of Wimbledon in the second round last year and who is now into his first Grand Slam fourth round after defeating Spanish teenager Rafael Nadal, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. He and Roddick have split two previous matches with the powerful Thai winning the last battle, at the Paris Indoors last October.
It was not, however, a good day for the one other American, Mardy Fish of Tampa, Fla., who started slowly, made a spectacular volley to help win the third set and then went down, 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, to No. 4 Roger Federer.
The men will complete the round of 16 today with the eight matches in the bottom half of the draw, led by Agassi, who plays Younes El Aynaoui.
Roddick put a hammerlock on his match with a wonderful piece of running at 3-3 in the second set. On break point, Robredo hit his trademark inside-out drop shot but he wasn't able to snooker Roddick four times in a row.
"He was hitting his inside-out forehand so well and I had to guard against that," said Roddick. "But once I saw he was going to hit the drop, I just tried to make a break for it."
Roddick got to this one and brushed it back down the line. Robredo retrieved, but left Roddick an easy backhand sitter three feet in front of the net. Roddick waited and waited and waited. And when Robredo made his move to the left, he drove the ball down the line to win the game and go up 4-3, then served out the set with the help of two more service winners in the 10th game.
Fish played much too cautiously in the opening two sets.
Fish had break-point opportunities at 3-3 and 4-4 and finally cracked through on a running forehand volley crosscourt.
"That was a huge game at the start of the fourth set," Fish said.
Charles Bricker is a reporter for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, a Tribune Publishing newspaper.
Today's men's singles
Younes El Aynaoui (27) vs. Andre Agassi (2)
Sargis Sargsian vs. Juan Carlos Ferrero (3) Today's women's singles
Serena Williams (1) vs. Laura Granville (28)
Justine Henin-Hardenne (3) vs. Alicia Molik