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New Roddick aims to put Federer record on hold

THE numbers are stacked against Andy Roddick when he faces Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final today, but the American is a slicker package than the one beaten by the Swiss in two previous showpiece encounters here.

Federer holds a jaw-dropping 18-2 career advantage over Roddick and comfortably beat the 26-year-old from Omaha, Nebraska in the 2004 and 2005 finals, with Swiss artistry generally trumping American grit each time they have met.

The 2009 edition of Roddick, though, is no longer a big-serving, one-trick pony.

A year ago, the affable American was stuck in an airport lounge and caught on television the scintillating denouement of the final between Federer and Rafael Nadal.

That demoralising sight and a soul-searching conversation with wife Brooklyn Decker convinced him things had to change.

Frustrated at the sight of Federer and Nadal hogging the majors, Roddick set to work on his fitness and linked up with new coach Larry Stefanki. That and the weight of years of experience have brought him a new, formidable armoury.

He brutally stifled the menace of Andy Murray in the semi-final, using his massive serve, punching accuracy with his groundstrokes and shrewd advances to the net to dismantle the Scot's game before a devastated nation.

"Brook and I had a lot of talks on if I still thought I could play and at least be towards the top of the game. I definitely openly questioned it at that point," Roddick said moments after unseating world number three Murray.

"So this off season, we said, you know what, if you're not gonna be up there, let's at least not wonder. Let's prepare yourself and give yourself every opportunity.

"I did work real hard and was committed, and have been committed from everything to diet to sleep to everything. So I certainly gave myself every opportunity to succeed."

Unfortunately for Roddick, success is second nature to Federer.


These days he claims more records with each passing match, and stands on the cusp of arguably his finest achievement.

Victory on Sunday would give him 15 grand slam titles, passing friend Pete Sampras on 14, to provide the most significant piece of evidence yet in the perennial debate about the game's greatest player.

Advocates of Rod Laver, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg and Sampras will have little answer once that particular statistic can be waved in their face.

Federer, 27, has enormous respect for his opponent and a review of the Murray semi-final will show him that getting the mighty Roddick serve back is no longer the only concern.

"I've played him 20 times, so I've had plenty of time to study his game, to understand his game," the elegant Swiss said.

"He's always played me also quite differently every single time I've played him. I've had many different looks against Roddick.

"I enjoy how he leaves everything out on the court. I can only marvel at how incredible his serve is. I like playing against him, not only just because of the record."

A fascinating encounter awaits.


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