London:Tennis' top players were transfixed by Tiger Woods' latest golf triumph.
Four-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal said it was "unbelievable" to watch Woods come from behind on the 72nd hole at the US Open, then win a 19-hole playoff the next day despite a double stress fracture and torn knee ligament.
"Only Tiger can do something like this," Nadal said. "Tiger is probably my idol."
Andy Roddick enjoyed the drama of it all, particularly after 2004 US Open golf winner Retief Goosen jokingly said Woods' limp might not have been as serious as it seemed.
"It was amazing. Especially, I think, learning kind of the extent of everything after the fact," said Roddick, who watched it unfold on TV with friends. "But it was good drama when Goosen called him out and then he was actually hurt. That was pretty good drama, right? That was like a soap opera.
"I don't know if anything (Woods) does surprises anybody any more, but there's no doubt that was a special performance. It was great TV also."
Maria Sharapova was impressed even though she didn't watch the Open live, getting blow-by-blow details on Woods' win from a "news junky" friend.
"What a fighter and competitor he is to go through that pain," she said. "He seems like somebody that's not going to let the world know that he's in pain. He's going to do whatever it takes. That's just a strong personality and individual _ even though I don't know much about golf, somebody I can look up to, definitely."
NO SKIRTING ISSUES
With so much attention paid to what she's wearing, Maria Sharapova doesn't take any fashion decision lightly.
So for Wimbledon, where the dress code is strictly enforced, she's decided on a radical change from the dresses that have been her trademark at Grand Slam events.
"Changing it up this year: I'm going with the traditional shorts, believe it or not," she said, answering the first of what will likely be many fashion questions at Wimbledon. "I've never worn shorts at a Grand Slam. I'm going to be debuting that. Call it mens wear, obviously. It's kind of like a tuxedo look, very simple lines, classic."
A frustrated Andy Roddick flung his racket at a rubbish bin on Saturday, which may or may not have been a commentary on the state of his game.
"I hate myself," he muttered a few points later during a practice match at Wimbledon. "I just can't stand myself."
Roddick was runner-up to Roger Federer in 2004 and 2005, but this year he's seeded only sixth and considered a darkhorse when the tournament starts on Monday. Given Rafael Nadal's improvement on grass and the emergence of Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, Roddick probably faces more potential obstacles than ever at Wimbledon.
"The three guys have established themselves as most consistent on tour this year," Roddick said. "They're certainly the favorites, but I'd consider myself probably right after them."
Roddick has beaten all three this year, but a shoulder injury curtailed his recent schedule. He missed the French Open, then reached the semifinals on grass at Queen's Club in London last week before losing to Nadal.
"I feel OK," Roddick said, sounding less than confident. "I came out of Queen's healthy, which is what I wanted. Going in there I didn't really know what was going to happen. But I've been practicing here this week. It has been going OK. It's not perfect ... doesn't feel as good as it should some days."
Roddick, who won his only major title at the US Open in 2003, has advanced to the second week at Wimbledon four of the past five years. The grass at the All England Club is slower than it was in the 1990s, but it's still a surface favorable to big servers, and Roddick ranks second on the men's tour this year with 380 aces.
That makes Roddick impossible to rule out, even if he's a long shot to win the title.
"When it comes to grass, he's got the hardest serve I've ever seen anyone hit," three-time Wimbledon champion John McEnroe said. "He's got a very loose arm; he's got that huge forehand. So he's got that puncher's chance to win another major. Most guys can't say that."
One thing as reliable as rain delays at Wimbledon is the local fixation on one particular statistic.
No British man has won the grass-court classic since Fred Perry in 1936, so Andy Murray will be fielding questions on it from months ahead of the tournament until longer after he's made an exit.
It was an annual burden for recently retired Tim Henman, who never advanced beyond the semifinals, until he passed the baton to Murray.
Murray, a late scratching last year because of wrist injury, is seeded 12th and has never made it past the fourth round at any major. But that has not dented his ambition.
"Leading into the tournament it's obviously hard, but once you get on the court, it's the last thing that you're thinking about," the 21-year-old Murray said. "Obviously I want to win the matches that I'm playing, and you get awesome support when you're out there. It's just the build-up to it is difficult.
"But it's never been a problem for me in the past, managing the expectations, because I have high expectations of myself anyway."