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Roddick edges Hewitt to set up Stepanek final

TOP seed Andy Roddick rallied for a 2-6 7-6 6-4 semi-final victory over Australian Lleyton Hewitt yesterday, setting up a revenge match with Czech Radek Stepanek in the Memphis Championships final.

Fifth-seeded Stepanek, who defeated Roddick in last week's San Jose semi-finals, advance to the title showdown with a 6-3 6-1 demolition of Israel's Dudi Sela.

After being outplayed by his unseeded opponent in the opening set, Roddick found his form in the second and sent the contest into a decider when a Hewitt sent a forehand into the net when trailing 6-4 in the tiebreak.

The 26-year-old American broke for the only time in the final set when Hewitt belted a backhand into the net in the seventh game and despite squandering a pair of match points two games later, Roddick served out the match to love.

The world number six was broken twice in the opening set, which Hewitt closed out with his fourth ace, before both players held serve throughout the second set with the Australian saving six break points and Roddick two.

Roddick finished the two-hour, 11-minute match with 16 aces to Hewitt's 14 in the battle of two former world number ones.

"I played pretty well today and served well," Hewitt, who was bidding for his first ATP World Tour final since March 2007, told reporters.

"I had a couple of chances in the second set and couldn't convert. Then in the third I was holding serve relatively easy but then I played a few loose points when I got broken.

Roddick, who is seeking his first title of the year, is 4-1 in career matches against world number 19 Stepanek.


The in-form Czech, gunning for back-to-back titles after winning in San Jose last week, brushed aside Sela in only 57 minutes to stretch his win-loss record this season to 16-2.

"I knew going in that Dudi was not a big server and I wanted to be aggressive," The 30-year-old Stepanek told reporters after winning his ninth consecutive match.

"I did that pretty well today and it's always enjoyable when you win. Every match I'm feeling good and I hope to get another title tomorrow (Sunday)."

Stepanek broke Sela in the fifth and ninth games to cruise through the opening set of their semi-final in 33 minutes.

He then streaked 5-0 ahead in the second before going on to seal victory with his eighth ace of the match.

The Czech, who lost only eight points on serve, is looking forward to another final.

"I'm playing with a lot of confidence," said Stepanek, who last week beat Roddick for the first time with his 3-6 7-6 6-4 triumph in San Jose. (Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; and Mark Lamport-Stokes in Pacific Palisades, California; Editing by John O'Brien)


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