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Federer triumphs in battle of golden boys

Swiss fourth seed Roger Federer bludgeoned US fifth seed Andy Roddick 7-6 (8/6), 6-3, 6-3 in 1hr 43min on Friday to race into the final.
PTI | By Agence France-Presse, London
PUBLISHED ON JUL 04, 2003 09:36 PM IST

Swiss fourth seed Roger Federer bludgeoned US fifth seed Andy Roddick 7-6 (8/6), 6-3, 6-3 in 1hr 43min Friday to race into the final of the men's singles at Wimbledon, setting up a meeting with Australia's Mark Philippoussis.

Philippoussis, like Federer reaching his first Wimbledon final, earlier demolished 13th seed Sebastien Grosjean of France 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-3 in 1hr 56 min.

Federer clenched his fists after winning on his third match point when Roddick fired wide as the 21-year-old from Basel, junior champion here in singles and doubles in 1998, became the first Swiss man ever to reach the final.

On Federer's first match point Roddick, who had lost all three of their previous meetings, forced a forehand error.

A crunching backhand brought another chance to finish the job - but the Swiss drove long.

However, a punched volley brought a third opportunity and Roddick drove wide.

"It's incredible. It's tough to understand what has been happening. I played an incredible match today - this is my favourite tournament. It's a dream," said Federer.

"I am happy I won in three sets. I was way more focused that I was the last few matches. Everything went right, I was serving well, I was reading his serve well.

"I hope I can keep this up for the final," added Federer, who won the ace count 17-4 and who also produced a stunning 61 outright winners.

He also won three quarters of his 39 net approaches - a welcome change from the baseline slugging mostly on offer at this year's event, marked by slower grass and heavier balls.

Roddick was left to curse a first set point which escaped him after his trusty forehand let him down in the tiebreak.

A sixth Federer ace and another minibreak had moved him into the driving seat at 3-1 only for the American to level at 4-4 when Federer netted a backhand.

Then came Roddick's flunked set point before a booming Federer forehand left the Swiss with his own set point whereupon Roddick chopped the ball into the net after 44min.

Roddick twice had break point in the opening game of the second set but the bandana-clad Federer staved off both to move ahead.

He then produced a superb cross court passing winner after Roddick had dived low to his left to send over an acrobatic volley in breaking the American serve for a 2-0 lead. And Roddick was on the backfoot as his rival held with ease.

The 20-year-old Nebraskan disputed a double bounce return off a mishit Federer volley with the Swiss leading 4-2, 30-0, questioning why the umpire did not call a fault until after his opponent had looked at the official.

The distraction was the last thing he needed as he went 2-5 down, Federer holding to love.

Roddick held to love but Federer, moving in for the kill, produced a delicate drop volley on the way to serving out for a two-set lead and a thumping forehand saw him home.

Roddick sprinted out for the third set as if it were he who had the healthy lead - and he held to love.

But Federer held and then broke for 3-2.

Roddick dug deep for one last ditch stand as, serving to save his skin he moved to 30-0 but Federer came back to clinch a scintillating victory that deserved the standing ovation it received.

Philippoussis beat Federer for the first time in three meetings on clay in Hamburg in May - but the pair have never met on grass.

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