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Federer earns right to defend title

Roger Federer's forehand was his best weapon against Greg Rusedski Keystone Archive

The Swiss men's tennis star Roger Federer will defend his tournament title in Milan on Sunday, after a tight win against Greg Rusedski in the semi-final.

This content was published on February 2, 2002 - 22:31

Federer only needed two sets to overcome the big-serving Briton, but each of them ended in a tiebreak. In the first, the Swiss number one struggled to contain Rusedski's 200-kilometre-per-hour missiles on the fast indoor court.

Canadian-born Rusedski even came close to taking the set, holding a 6-5 advantage at one point during the tiebreak. Federer saved the point though, and went on to take the advantage 9-7.

The Swiss champion encountered less trouble during the second set, producing some outstanding shots with his forehand, although he failed to break his adversary's serve.

"I was very consistent today, especially on my serve," said Federer. "I was ready at the right time with the right shots."

Clear favourite

Rusedski backed up Federer's analysis of his game. "This is the best tennis he's played all year," said the Briton. "Usually he has one or two lapses during a match and today he had none."

Federer now starts as the clear favourite in the final against local hero Davide Sanguinetti, who beat France's Nicolas Escudé in three sets, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. The Italian's victory came as a surprise against an opponent who is nearly 100 places above him in the ATP rankings.

Federer doesn't expect an easy time on Sunday though. "He's going to be very dangerous, especially with the home crowd behind him," said the Swiss player. "It's going to be a battle."

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