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Friday, July 3, 2009

Roddick sets up Federer fin

Photo Titled Roddick takes a knee
andy Roddick is reduced to his knees during his semi-final victory over Andy Murray.
The home crowd was hoping for a dream “Roger versus Andy” final and they got one, but it was Mr Roddick of that ilk who came in, tore up the script and ensured that Britain’s wait for a successor to Fred Perry will stretch into a 74th year.

Roger Federer certainly kept his half of the bargain, seeing off the challenge of his practice partner, the resurgent Tommy Haas, in three sets, 7-6, 7-5, 6-3. The German came into the match on a 10-game winning streak on grass having won the Halle tournament and powered through to the second week here, beating no less an opponent than world No.4 Novak Djokovic in both competitions.

But he was no match for the canny Swiss, who slowly but surely raised his game throughout the tie. He put the pressure on Haas in the first set tiebreak with some strong serving – the hallmark of his game throughout the match – and when break points finally came his way at the end of the second set, he took them to double his lead.

Federer dropped only 11 points on serve and cruised to victory in a shade over two hours. “The important aspect was that my service was consistent and that I managed to vary it a lot,” the No.2 seed said after the match. “I’m serving a little quicker this year and that means that when I have to, I can take a little bit off it when I need more accuracy. It means I’m not getting to many of those '30-situations' – 0-30, 15-30 or 30-30 on my own serve – which puts you under a lot less pressure.”

The man charged with pushing Federer to a “30-situation” in the final is Andy Roddick after the American No.6 seed broke the hearts of 15,000 Centre Court fans, as many on “Henman Hill” and No.2 Court – where a big screen had been erected specially for the occasion – and 56m more around the UK. In truth, the Nebraska native was a step quicker than Murray all match and ran out a worthy winner, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6, 7-6.

The scoreline reflects how close the second semi-final was. Murray and Roddick matched each other ace for ace, but when it was not an immediate winner, the Scot’s serve was less of a weapon than previously in the tournament and meant that he was not able to dictate the rhythm of play. Murray’s second service is a good 30 mph slower than his first, and it enabled Roddick to come to the net at least twice per game and dominate his opponent.

We will therefore have a remake of the 2004 and 2005 Wimbledon finals, which Federer won in four and three sets respectively. Indeed, the Swiss enjoys an 18-2 head-to-head record against Roddick and will be the red-hot favourite to secure a sixth Wimbledon title and a record-breaking 15th Grand Slam.

In the boys’ singles, Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov put an end to Bernard Tomic’s title tilt in straight sets to book a place in the final against American Jordan Cox, who outlasted his doubles partner Devin Britton 16-14 in an epic final set. No.1 girls’ seed and Roland Garros winner Kristina Mladenovic, meanwhile, will face No.4 seed and 2008 finalist Noppawan Lertcheewakarn after the two cruised through.

Top seeds Leander Paes and Cara Black will face Mark Knowles and Anna-Lena Groenefeld in the mixed doubles final after the two teams came through their semis in straight sets, while Sam Stosur and Rennae Stubbs will be charged with preventing a repeat of last year when the Williams sisters won both the singles and doubles titles.

The Australian duo outlasted French Open champions Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual in three sets, while the sisters made ominously short work of No.1 seeds and doubles legends Cara Black and Liezel Huber, surrendering only three games in the process.

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