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Rain holds up play again

London: A violent thunderstorm and a series of rain showers wreaked havoc at Wimbledon on Wednesday, leaving all four menís quarter-finals unfinished.

Britainís Tim Henman left a dank Centre Court in trouble in his quarter final against Sebastien Grosjean, trailing two sets to one after being largely outplayed by the 13th seed.

Grosjean led 7-6, 3-6, 6-3, 1-2 on serve when tournament referee Alan Mills intervened to call an end to a disrupted dayís action.

ďIn fairness to the players itís very slippery out there,Ē Mills said having ordered the players off court at 1820 GMT. ďItís dangerous for the players.Ē

In the other quarter-final match between two unseeded players, Australian Mark Philippoussis recovered from two sets down to level his match with German Alexander Popp.

Popp took the first two sets 6-4, 6-4 but Philippousis took the next two 6-3, 6-3. The pair were level at 2-2 on serve when play was halted.

The winner of that match will face either Grosjean or Henman in the last four.

Both matches and the remaining two menís quarter finals, Swiss fourth seed Roger Federer versus Dutchman Sjeng Schalken and Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden versus American fifth seed Andy Roddick, will be re-scheduled for Thursday.

Play will start at 12 noon (1100 GMT), organisers said.

The first set on Centre Court, played under blackening skies, was a mix of the agony and ecstasy that characterises the Wimbledon career of Henman, who has reached the semi-finals and lost four times.

Trailing 1-5 after two rain breaks, the Englishman roared back to 5-5, then squandered four set points in the tiebreak and lost it 8-10 when Grosjean delivered a dipping forehand passing shot right into the corner of the court.

Grosjean was the better player for most of the second set, his touch play and strokes of improvised genius a joy to watch.

But an outrageous piece of Henman luck, when a service return clipped the net cord and plopped over, secured him a break for 5-3 and the Briton levelled the match. After a two-hour break caused by a violent electrical storm over southwest London, Grosjean produced some thundering service returns to break twice and take the third set 6-3.

With rain drizzling down on the court, Grosjean twice asked the umpire to call play off at the start of the fourth set and Mills finally walked on to the court and did so, with the agreement of both players.

Bhupathi nearing semis

Indiaís Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi of Belarus were just four points away from a berth in the semi-finals when rains suspended their menís doubles quarter-final match against Martin Damm and Cyril Suk of Czech Republic for the second time on Wednesday.

The top seeded Bhupathi and Mirnyi were leading 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-3), 5-3 and serving for the match when the rain disruption came. A victory would set up a clash with fifth seeds Leander Paes and David Rikl of Czech Republic in a repeat of the French Open quarter-final encounter.

The Williams ousted

Meanwhile, late on Tuesday, Venus and Serena Williams relinquished their Wimbledon doubles title when they were beaten 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 by Russians Elena Dementieva and Lina Krasnoroutskaya in the third round.

The American pair, seeded third, had to play late into the evening after both needed three sets to win their singles quarter finals.

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