Federer cruises to final

Caroline Frost

January 25, 2007 12:00am

Article from: AAP

ROGER Federer produced an almost flawless display of tennis to vanquish Andy Roddick's hopes and take his place in the men's final of the Australian Open.

The No 1 seed and defending champion took just one hour and 23 minutes to stun both his opponent and the Rod Laver Arena crowd with a catalogue of strokes that took him to victory with a score of 6-4 6-0 6-2.

Andy Roddick, seeded 6, had been feeling confident before the match, talking of the "gap closing" between himself and Federer.

The American had also enjoyed an encouraging six months, under the tutelage of Jimmy Connors, and was looking to test his more aggressive, versatile game against the supremacy of Federer.

But Federer answered the test. Roddick, armed with one of the game's biggest serves, suffered as it was regularly broken - at one point in the match, five times on the trot. Federer won 83 points to Roddick's 45, making 45 winners against the American's meagre 11.

Afterwards, Andy Roddick rued the fact that he hadn't played as well tonight as he had previously in the tournament. He said, "I think I left a lot out on the table tonight. I don't think he played brilliantly, I think it was a combination."

Asked what he would take away from this resounding defeat, Roddick said he would try to "take it like a man" and carry on working on his game, which he thought was improving, despite tonight's result. He gave Federer credit, though, not just for the way he won, but "the way he handles himself".

Others didn't consider the score to be the result of any failing on Roddick's part. Past master Rod Laver was in the audience and, like everyone else, could only watch in awe as Federer tied another historical record tonight - levelling Jack Crawford's 1934 record of appearing in seven consecutive championship finals.

After the match, Laver went to the dressing rooms to offer his congratulations to Federer, who said, "Breaking records is something you never dream of. It's fantastic, I hope I can keep it up."

Talking of the pre-match hype that this match would be the contest of the tournament, Federer agreed that it had caused him more pressure than normal.

He said, "I didn't read the papers today. I was worried going into this match, I knew it was going to be tough, I could see 50 aces going past me. But I just had one of those days where everything worked. Andy will get his chances, I was just lucky I got mine tonight."

Federer will now face either German No 12 seed Tommy Haas, or the big-serving Chilean Fernando Gonzalez, who saw off Rafael Nadal on Thursday night.

Both men are semi-final surprises and will have watched tonight's match carefully, looking for any weakness in the defending champion that they may be able to exploit.

But it may prove difficult. Agreeing with the general consensus that it was one of the most impressive displays of tennis ever seen, Roger Federer said, "I'm shocked myself. But the tournament's not over yet. Let me try to do it one more time and then we can get all excited."

Meanwhile, Andy Roddick described Jimmy Connors' reaction to his new protege's bad night. "He gave me a beer."