Sun, Jul 04, 2004 - Page 24 News List

Federer advances in straight sets

AP , WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND

Roger Federer, left, shakes hands with Sebastien Grosjean after their semifinal match at the Wimbledon Championships in London, yesterday. Federer won 6-2, 6-3, 7-6.

PHOTO: AFP

Defending champion Roger Federer won a third-set tiebreaker yesterday to complete a straight-set victory over Sebastien Grosjean and move into the Wimbledon final.

The top-seeded Swiss star needed 29 minutes and four match points to finish off a 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (6) win over the 10th-seeded Frenchman, extending his grasscourt winning streak to 23 matches.

The semifinal had been suspended with Federer two games from victory -- 6-2, 6-3, 4-3 -- when play was suspended late Friday after a day of rain delays.

"I'm very pleased," Federer said. "It's very difficult to stop at such a moment of the match. I'm very relieved. You never know what happens if he can turn it around."

Federer will face the winner of the semifinal between No. 2-seeded Andy Roddick and 20-year-old Mario Antic of Croatia.

That match, which was suspended Friday evening with Roddick leading 6-4, 4-3, 30-40, resumed on Court 1.

Ancic won the second set 6-4 and led 5-4 on serve in the third when play was suspended by rain early yesterday afternoon.

Federer looked like he might close out the match quickly Saturday, but he wound up fighting from behind -- including 4-0 in the tiebreaker -- in blustery conditions.

Federer had two match points on Grosjean's serve at 5-4, but the Frenchman saved both with service winners. Then Federer played a loose game and Grosjean broke for the first time to go up 6-5.

But with Grosjean serving for the set, Federer settled down and broke back, shouting "Come on!" after smacking a forehand crosscourt pass for 6-6.

The momentum swung back and forth in the tiebreaker, with Grosjean winning the first four points and Federer the next four. Federer earned his third match point at 6-5, but hit a backhand wide. He set up the fourth with a forehand volley, then converted with an inside-out forehand approach followed by an overhead.

"I had to really fight hard to actually get to the tiebreaker," Federer said. "I had two match points before the tiebreak and didn't make them and suddenly he was serving for the set in the third. I had to come back in a tiebreaker."

Both players had 25 unforced errors, but Federer finished with 49 winners, compared to 23 for Grosjean.

The women's final, meanwhile, was to be contested later yesterday between two-time defending champion Serena Williams and 17-year-old Maria Sharapova.

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