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Roddick serves self into final



Published: Sun, September 10, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



He beat Mikhail Youzhny. Now comes a far tougher task: Roger Federer.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Andy Roddick smacked a 135 mph service winner, leaned back and screamed, then nodded his head as he jogged to the sideline, knowing he was one set away from a U.S. Open final showdown against Roger Federer.

Jimmy Connors, Roddick's new guru, stood and applauded, enjoying his pupil's work. And 42 minutes later, Roddick's day was done, finally subduing Mikhail Youzhny 6-7 (5), 6-0, 7-6 (3), 6-3 Saturday in the semifinals.

Flashes all talents

Now comes a far tougher task: facing No. 1-ranked Federer, the first man since Rod Laver in 1961-62 to reach six consecutive Grand Slam finals. The two-time defending champion flashed all of his many talents in a 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 victory over No. 7 Nikolay Davydenko in the first semifinal.

"I'm just going to go out and throw it all at him. I'm just going to go for it. Just play the way I have. We've been simplifying it," said Roddick, 18-1 since pairing with five-time Open champion Connors this summer. "If the guy plays too well, then he plays too well. But I'm not going to lay down."

Easier said than done, of course. Federer is 10-1 against Roddick, including wins in the 2004 and 2005 Wimbledon finals.

"It's obviously more difficult here, because of the crowd and ... playing an American and everything," Federer said. "And the only time I lost against him was on hard court. Wasn't here, but was on hard court."

Roddick won the 2003 U.S. Open and finished that year at No. 1, but he's still seeking his second major championship. He was stunned in the first round at Flushing Meadows a year ago, part of a crisis of confidence that led to a 10-month title drought and a brief slip out of the top 10.

Ah, how things have changed.

Has more game

"He has more game," Connors said. "He does a few things different and a few things better."

It all starts with the serve, of course, and after one 139 mph offering in the final set, Roddick yelled out: "Too big!"

"I've been in a groove this whole tournament," Roddick said. "I feel like I'm hitting my backhand pretty solid here, even using it as a weapon up the line, believe it or not. I'm returning OK. Mentally, I'm in a good place right now."

All of that was on display against Youzhny, who was trying to become, at No. 54, the lowest-ranked U.S. Open finalist since the ATP computer ratings began in 1973.

"If Andy will serve really well, he has chances," Youzhny said of the Federer match. "If Andy serves not so good, I think he don't have any chance."

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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