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Sublime Federer beats Roddick

ROGER Federer moved within one victory of his 14th Grand Slam title with another dominating victory, ousting Andy Roddick 6-2, 7-5, 7-5 yesterday in Melbourne to reach the Australian Open final.

Roddick, who undertook a rigorous offseason training regime designed to help him beat Federer and top-ranked Rafael Nadal, was in good form.

But second-ranked Federer outplayed him in every phase of the game with 51 winners to just 15 unforced errors. Ripping winners from all over the court and usually forcing Roddick to hit more than one good shot to win a point, he even had more aces than the hard-serving American, 16-8.

"I served well in the first set and that gave me a lot of confidence," Federer said. "I thought I played really well tonight."

Federer, seeking his fourth Australian title, will face the winner of today's semifinal between Nadal and fellow Spanish left-hander Fernando Verdasco.

"I don't have to wait to see who wins, I can start preparing for a leftie tonight," Federer said.

By the time Federer and Roddick were on court in the evening, temperatures had dropped to 33C (91F) from 44C in the afternoon - news reports called it Melbourne's hottest January day since 1939 - so the retractable roof was open.

Although Roddick won their last meeting, Federer held a 15-2 edge over him coming into the match.

"The last time I lost, so coming into this match there was a bit of pressure," Federer said.

It didn't show. This played out like many of the Swiss star's previous victories.

Blunting Roddick's blistering serves, Federer broke twice in the first set. Adding to Roddick's frustration was a call that went against him as Federer served at 4-1.

A Federer shot was called out, but he successfully challenged. Chair umpire Enric Molina ruled that Roddick couldn't have gotten to the ball and gave the point to Federer. Roddick argued he stopped running when he heard the "out" call, and he had a running dialogue with Molina during several changeovers.

"Let's not kid ourselves," Roddick said. "You're down two sets to him and scraping, trying to survive. I hit the ball pretty well. He just came up with shots when he needed to. That's what he does."

Roddick had 38 winners, only 18 unforced errors and two double faults.


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