Roger Federer breezed through his semifinal in just 70 minutes on Saturday to set up a final at the Cincinnati Masters against Mardy Fish, who capitalised on a timely rain delay to beat Andy Roddick.
Federer was sharp in his 6-4, 6-3 defeat of Marcos Baghdatis, never facing a break point. He broke the Cypriot to close out the first set, then again to go ahead 5-3 in the second. The Swiss will be trying to win the Cincinnati title for the fourth time _ he also was the champion in 2005, 2007 and 2009. In the earlier semifinal, the seven-minute delay came with Fish only one game away from a straight-set defeat, and he returned far the better player after the interruption, winning 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-1 against his American compatriot, boyhood friend and high school teammate.
"It wasn't long at all," Fish said. "It was only a couple minutes that we were back there, so I just changed (outfits). It was only a couple of minutes."
The start of the match was delayed 50 minutes by heavy rain. Another cloudburst during the first set resulted in a 1-hour delay that knocked Fish off his game. Roddick was up 5-4 coming out of the delay. Fish developed trouble with his forehand, dumping three into the net while Roddick won the game and the set.
Fish trailed 5-2 in the second set when another shower forced that brief break that had the opposite effect.
"The first one really helped, the second one obviously didn't," Roddick said. "That's the thing with rain delays. The momentum can shift really fast."
Fish broke Roddick's serve for the first time in the match to keep it going, then won the tiebreaker when Roddick began missing routine shots. Roddick fell behind 3-0 in the third set, becoming so upset with himself that he swatted a ball away and bounced his racket off the ground.
Roddick faded at the end, showing little emotion while Fish finished him off.
Fish has played some of his best tennis lately, winning back-to-back titles in Newport and Atlanta while putting together a 16-1 streak.
"I've never felt better on the court and I've never been more confident and I've never played better," Fish said. "So I kept that in the back of my head, that I've won a lot of matches this summer."
Despite the defeat, it had been a positive week for Roddick, who pulled out of the Rogers Cup in Toronto the previous week, unsure why he was feeling sluggish. A blood test found he'd been fighting off a mild case of mononucleosis the last couple months. The top-ranked American felt revived in Cincinnati. He considered it a "complete positive" to reach the semifinals. "To get in five really tough matches is more than I could've asked for going into the Open," Roddick said. "When I came here I was thinking maybe two matches and we'll see. I hadn't really put too much time in."
Roddick and Fish know what the other is about to do on the court, a bond that goes back to their boyhood. Fish lived with Roddick's family in Boca Raton, Florida, in 1999. They went to the same high school, played on the tennis and basketball teams together, and practiced against one another nearly every day.
They remain close while competing against each other. Roddick has gotten the best of it, he has a 9-3 head-to-head record, though Fish has now won the past two.