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Roddick motors past Bjorkman into semis

Andy Roddick fully lived up to his billing as tournament favourite as he stormed into the Wimbledon semi-finals.
PTI | By Agence France-Presse, London
PUBLISHED ON JUL 03, 2003 09:19 PM IST

Andy Roddick fully lived up to his billing as tournament favourite as he stormed into the Wimbledon semi-finals with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 demolition of Swedish veteran Jonas Bjorkman.

The 20-year-old Nebraskan meets either Roger Federer of Switzerland or Dutchman Sjeng Schalken for a place in Sunday's final.

The match began in enthralling fashion as the unseeded 31-year-old Bjorkman pitted his serve-and-volley expertise, honed by years of top-level doubles playing, against the vast power and huge ground coverage of Roddick, the number five seed.

When play eventually began following a two and a half hour hold-up for rain, the pair swiftly exchanged service breaks, with the wily Swede, known as one of the best returners in the game, seemingly unfazed by Roddick's infamously brutal serves.

But once the American, who jointly holds the record for service speed at 149 miles per hour (238 kilometres per hour), got into the swing of his game and unleashed a string of aces, it rapidly became a one-sided affair.

Bjorkman continued rushing into the net but was repeatedly left standing as the man dubbed "A-Rod" swept low, powerful passes beyond his flailing racket.

The Swede, the reigning Wimbledon men's doubles title holder with Todd Woodbridge of Australia, is ranked only 79th in the world at singles, although he had beaten Roddick last year in the pair's only previous encounter.

He battled particularly desperately in the final set but was unable to deal with the speed and aggression of Roddick, who sealed the game with an exultant overhead smash.

With only Federer seeded higher than he is, the way now appears open for Roddick to begin fulfilling his massive promise.

Long hailed as the future of American tennis, Roddick has won only five minor titles to date.

At Wimbledon, where his powerful serve and quick feet are well suited to the speed of grass play, in two previous visits the US youngster had got no further than the third round.

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