Federer through to Basel semis
Swiss number one Roger Federer has made it through to the semi-finals of the Swiss Indoors tennis tournament for the third time in his young career, after beating American teenage star Andy Roddick in three sets (3-6, 6-3, 7-6).
In terms of both their appearance and their play, there was little to distinguish the two young stars throughout much of Friday’s service-dominated match.
Dressed in near-identical black shirts, white shorts and white headgear, Federer and Roddick spent much of the first two sets firing yellow missiles at each other from the base line.
Occasionally one player would manage to successfully return a few of those missiles, causing the odd rally or two, and it was in just such a rare spell during the fourth game of the match that Roddick managed to grab the first break.
Failing for once to hit a single service winner, Federer was also off-target with his groundstrokes, allowing the American to take a 3-1 lead. With no more interruption to the power-play, Roddick was able to clinch the first set in just 23 minutes.
Considering the dress of the two players it was fitting that the second set was a near mirror image of the first. This time it was Roddick whose service delivery slipped just enough to let Federer win a single break and shortly after the set – by the same 6-3 scoreline.
By the time the deciding set came around, both players’ service arms seemed to have tired a little, making for a much more entertaining finale. Federer had easily the best of the play, but was unable to convert any of the three break points he won off Roddick’s first three service games.
The Swiss player’s luck finally improved in the seventh game when Roddick netted on a further break point to hand Federer a 4-3 lead.
Serving for the match at 5-4, Federer suffered his own lapse of concentration though, allowing the American to break back and send the deciding set into a deciding tie-break.
Apart from a single Federer ace, the tie-break was decided entirely by open play, and it was here that the Swiss star continued to excel. Coming back from an early mini-break against him, the former Basel ball boy won the last four points of the match thanks to three stylish winners and a final shot by Roddick into the net.
Leaving the court to thunderous applause, Federer can now look forward to a semi-final against George Bastl’s conqueror Julien Boutter, with the Swiss number one a strong favourite to reach his second Basel final in a row.
by Mark Ledsom, Basel
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