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Federer defeats Roddick again



Published: Mon, September 11, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Golf great Tiger Woods sat in the champion's box to watch the match.

NEW YORK (AP) -- There might be one athlete in the world who knows exactly how Roger Federer feels as he dominates his peers and gobbles up Grand Slams, so it was fitting that Tiger Woods was sitting in his guest box Sunday for the U.S. Open final.

Federer met Woods for the first time beforehand, then apparently set out to impress the golfer, controlling every facet of play in a 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory over Andy Roddick for his third major championship this year and ninth of his career.

"We've been trying to meet on several occasions. He promised me to come if I was in the finals," Federer said. "I'm happy he came. Thanks, Tiger."

Third consecutive Open

The Swiss superstar is the first man since Ivan Lendl in 1985-87 to win three consecutive U.S. Open titles -- and the only man in tennis history to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open back-to-back three years in a row.

And he did it in such impressive fashion, out-acing the big-serving Roddick 17-7, compiling a 69-33 edge in winners, and making only 19 unforced errors.

Federer won eight of the last nine games against Roddick, who won the 2003 U.S. Open but now is 1-11 against the man he once was supposed to rival for supremacy in this sport.

The No. 1-ranked Federer went 27-1 at this year's Grand Slam tournaments, the only setback coming against Rafael Nadal in the French Open final. Federer has moved alone into sixth place for total major titles behind Pete Sampras' record 14.

Fitting conclusion

It was a fitting conclusion to a U.S. Open that's been all about the greats of the game, beginning with the opening night ceremony to rename the tournament's site in honor of Billie Jean King. Week 1 was the Andre Agassi Farewell Show, as he played in his final tournament.

And Martina Navratilova swears she's retiring for good, too; her final pro match came Saturday night in the mixed doubles final, which she and Bob Bryan won for Navratilova's 59th career major championship.

"The way Roger plays the game is phenomenal," Navratilova said Sunday, when she was inducted into the U.S. Open's Court of Champions, "but we need more players like him. ... He's just a genius with the racket."

That's the sort of thing people have been saying about Woods for years, and Federer spoke last week about wanting to get to know his counterpart. It happened Sunday, thanks to their shared management agency.

Woods and Federer have so much more in common, of course, including dominating their respective sports right now and chasing the records of stars from the past. They also both successfully hit shots none of their peers would even try.

Woods, who's won 12 major championships in golf, sat with his wife in the front row of a corner guest box, between Federer's girlfriend and his agent. It's interesting to note who wasn't in that section: Federer's coach, Tony Roche, who prepares his pupil for this event but doesn't travel to it.

Connors coaching

Roddick's new adviser -- they're avoiding the word "coach" -- is none other than five-time Open champion Jimmy Connors, of course. Connors chewed on his fingers when Roddick was having a hard time, and rocked back giddily after his charge's nice shots.

In a couple of months of working together, Connors has rebuilt Roddick's confidence and revamped his game, but Federer was able to come up with all of the answers, particularly in the tensest moments.

Critical tests of wills and nerves came early in the third set: Federer faced four break points but saved them all to hold for a 3-2 lead, and Roddick then successfully dealt with five break points in the very next game to make it 3-all.

Roddick falters

But then, serving to take that set to a tiebreaker, Roddick faltered. Or better, Federer flourished, using two backhand return winners to break serve and end the set.

Federer let out a scream of "Yes!" -- about the only ounce of emotion he showed until falling to his back at the very end.

He then broke to 2-0 in the fourth set, again waiting for Roddick to venture to the net and flicking forehands that the American couldn't volley.

And from there it was pretty much a formality, although Federer would add another service break, making it six for the match, one more time than Roddick was broken in the tournament's first six rounds combined.

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




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