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Roddick, Hewitt set to clash in semifinal



Published: Fri, January 28, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The winner of the match will face Marat Safin in the Australian Open final.

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- One hardly had to sweat. The other was pushed to the limit.

Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt play quite different styles and they have taken quite different paths to their showdown in the Australian Open semifinals today.

The second-seeded Roddick's game is predicated on power, from his 140 mph serves to his big forehands. He hasn't had to showcase it much here, though, averaging about 1 1/2 hours through five matches.

No. 3 Hewitt is the consummate counterpuncher, relying on tremendous speed along the baseline and great groundstrokes. He might be excused for being a tad slower at this stage of the tournament, having spent 14 1/2 hours on court so far -- including more than four in a five-set quarterfinal against David Nalbandian.

Asked how much gas he has left in the tank, the 2001 U.S. Open and 2002 Wimbledon champion didn't miss a beat.

"Probably just as much as my Ferrari at home," Hewitt said.

"I'll keep going. I've spent about 15 hours on court," he added. "I'm definitely giving the crowd their money's worth."

Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion and runner-up to Roger Federer at Wimbledon last year, is in his second Australian Open semifinal. Hewitt never had been beyond the fourth round at his country's Grand Slam in eight past trips.

The winner will play Marat Safin in the final. Safin upset Federer 5-7, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (6), 9-7 Thursday.

Long match

Roddick knows what it can be like to be exhausted by the time the semifinals roll around.

Two years ago, he lost to Rainer Schuettler in the semis after edging Younes El Aynaoui in a quarterfinal that included the longest fifth set (in games) in Grand Slam history: 21-19.

This time, his quarterfinal ended in the third set; Nikolay Davydenko had to quit with breathing problems while trailing 6-3, 7-5, 4-1.

"Not quite as dramatic as I normally am," Roddick said. "The only other time I got this far at the Australian Open, I felt like I was about to fall over walking out to my semifinal match."

Safin leads

Roddick figures he'll need to be at his best against Hewitt, who leads their head-to-head series 4-1. The Australian won their last meeting 6-3, 6-2, taking the last 20 points in a row when Roddick was hobbled.

"He picks the ball up so well," Roddick said. "When it's in his groove zone, he's not going to miss."

Hewitt is trying to become the first Australian man to win this tournament since Mark Edmondson in 1976. None even has reached the final since Pat Cash in 1988.

It's safe to say most of the 15,000 spectators at Rod Laver Arena will be pulling for Hewitt, even if his pointing and yelling during matches turn off some of his countrymen.

"I don't expect anybody to be cheering for me," Roddick said.




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