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Tougher Roddick to make it difficult for Federer

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 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 demoralizing 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 armory.

He brutally stifled the menace of Andy Murray in the semifinal, 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. "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," Roddick said.

Unfortunately for Roddick, success is second nature to Federer. Victory would give him 15 grand slam titles, passing friend Pete Sampras on 14.

Federer, 27, has enormous respect for his opponent.

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


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