LONDON, June 30: British hope Tim Henman crashed out at the quarter- final stage for the second year in succession on Wednesday at Wimbledon Championships as the fifth seed never got revved up against Croatian Mario Ancic during a 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 6-2 defeat.
The bitter blow leaves the host nation of the most prestigious of the four Grand Slams still searching for a men's singles champion to follow on from Fred Perry in 1936. Henman, who had fought bravely through two days previously to knock out 2003 finalist Mark Philippoussis, showed a game which was a lethargic shadow of his best.
"He gained confidence after he won the tie-breaker," admitted Henman. "In the second and third sets my level went down. There's no question he was better on the day. It's a massive disappointment."
Ancic, a 20-year-old ranked 63rd and Croatian tennis heir to just- retired Goran Ivanisevic, put on the pressure from the start and never gave the fifth seed a glimmer or a hope on a Centre court filled to capacity with Henman faithful.
The one-way win put the outsider into the first Grand Slam semi- final of his career. The Croatian was the last man to beat world number 1 Roger Federer on grass, two years ago here.
"I played good tennis and kept everything under control," said Ancic, ranked 63rd, who next faces the winner from Andy Roddick and Sjeng Schalken. The winner hit 11 aces, struck 45 winners and broke the Henman serve on four of eight opportunities.
Ancic finished his demolition job just as rain began to splatter the court. Shortly after the upset, covers were pulled over all courts as afternoon showers arrived as forecast.
After falling apart in the first two sets and well into the third, Henman produced a last-gasp love game for 2-5; but it only took a final blast off the Ancic racket to end it all on the first of three match points when Henman sailed over his tenth and final unforced error.
Earlier, Serena Williams crushed long-time rival Jennifer Capriati 6-1, 6-1 to roll almost unchallenged into the women's semifinals. The hammering was a one-way affair for Williams, holder at the last two editions at the All England club.
She will on Thursday play fourth seed Amelie Mauresmo of France who fought back successfully in the final set to overwhelm Argentine number 9 Paola Suarez 6-0, 5-7, 6-1.
Results: Women's singles
-Amelie Mauresmo (France) bt Paola Suarez (Argentina) 6-0 5-7 6-1; Serena Williams (U.S.) bt Jennifer Capriati (U.S.) 6-1 6-1
Andy Roddick (U.S.) bt Sjeng Schalken (Netherlands) 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (11-9) 6-3; Mario Ancic (Croatia) bt Tim Henman (Britain) 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 6-2. -Agencies
Roddick fights through to semis
LONDON: Andy Roddick reached the Wimbledon semifinals for the second straight year on Wednesday with a no-nonsense win over Dutchman Sjeng Schalken. After two tight tie break sets, the second seed and U.S. Open champion ran away with the third for a 7-6 7-6 6-3 victory on court one, showboating on match point with a spectacular leaping smash.