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Federer formidable, but Roddick ready



Published: Sat, July 2, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The tournament's top two seeds will meet in a rematch from last year.

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) -- With a rain-interrupted victory helped by a lucky bounce, Andy Roddick earned a Wimbledon final rematch against two-time champion Roger Federer.

Roddick reached match point by hitting a forehand return that kissed the net cord twice before landing for a winner, and he then smacked one last service winner to beat Thomas Johansson 6-7 (6), 6-2, 7-6 (10), 7-6 (5) Saturday.

"I definitely got very lucky with the one that trickled over," Roddick said. "It was tough. We were both playing at such a high level."

Trying for third straight

Federer, the top-ranked Swiss who defeated Roddick in last year's final, advanced to today's final by beating Lleyton Hewitt on Friday. Federer needs one more victory to join Pete Sampras and Bjorn Borg as the only men since 1936 to win three consecutive Wimbledon titles.

Roddick, seeded second, is 32-2 on grass since 2003. Both losses have been to Federer at Wimbledon.

"I'm so happy to be through that we could play tonight and I would still be thrilled," Roddick said. "He's the champ. He's going to make it extremely tough for me, but I'm going to go out there and have fun and give it all I have."

It's the first time the same men have met in the final in back-to-back years since Boris Becker played Stefan Edberg three consecutive times in 1988-90.

The second semifinal was on serve in the first set Friday with Roddick leading 6-5 when showers forced play to be suspended overnight, and the match resumed 20 hours later.

Roddick squandered two set points to lose the opening set and overcame three set points in the third-set tiebreaker. The only mini-break in the last tiebreaker came on the next-to-last point, when Roddick's slice return skipped over the net cord. He walked away from the point with his right arm raised, the traditional gesture of apology for a luck bounce.

"I had a couple of lucky net calls," Johansson said. "Of course, he's going to have one or two himself. It was just unlucky that it happened at 5-all in the tiebreak."

Roddick won the match with one more swing, sank to his knees and raised his hands. He improved to 16-5 lifetime in tiebreakers at Wimbledon.

Dominant serve

As usual, Roddick relied on his dominant serve -- he made 75 percent of his first serves and hit 61 unreturned serves, including 19 aces. He was broken just once, and for the second straight round had no double-faults.

But Roddick also won thanks to his best net play of the tournament, aggressively moving forward and also laterally. He dove to the well-worn lawn attempting volleys at least twice, a la Becker, and put away a nifty volley on the run after a shot by Johansson deflected off the net cord.

"There are only so many times you are in the semis of Wimbledon, it's OK to get a little dirty," Roddick said.

The Grand Slam final will be Roddick's first in a year. The 2003 U.S. Open champion is bidding for his second major title.

Johansson, a 30-year-old Swede, came up short in his bid for a second berth in a Grand Slam final. He won the 2002 Australian Open.

Only 1-8 against Federer

Roddick's challenge will be even more formidable today. He's 1-8 against Federer, including losses in their past four matches.

"I believe strongly in my capabilities," he said. "I'm very motivated. There's a lot of confidence as well with my record on grass and in general over the years. I've built up this feeling on big points that I can do it over and over again."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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