Sat, Nov 20, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Federer gets past challenge by Moya

AP , HOUSTON, TEXAS

Roger Federer returns to Carlos Moya during the round robin stage of the Masters Cup at the Westside Tennis Club in Houston, Texas on Thursday. Federer won the match.

PHOTO: AFP

Top-seeded Roger Federer overcame a second-set lapse and remained unbeaten in the ATP Masters Cup Championships with a victory Thursday over Carlos Moya.

Federer, who won 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, is 3-0 in the Red Group of the tournament's round-robin format and is assured of the top billing for Saturday's semifinals. The loss damaged Moya's chances of advancing.

"Today was tough mentally," Federer said. "Going into the match knowing I am qualified and him knowing he needs win, that doesn't make it easy. He needed to win so much and I didn't need to win that much."

Federer ran his record to 21-0 against top-10 opponents since last year's Masters Cup.

Earlier, second-seeded Andy Roddick beat Russia's Marat Safin 7-6 (7), 7-6 (4) and is 2-0 in the Blue Group. The top two players in each group will play in today's semifinals.

"He plays in 80-90 matches a year, so some are not going to be as good as others," Moya said of Federer. "Today, maybe he missed a few more shots but he's still No. 1."

Federer got the early upper hand by breaking Moya in the eighth game of the first set when the Spaniard double faulted at break point. Moya broke Federer in the fourth game of the second set and then served out to take the set.

Federer narrowly averted being broken again in the sixth game, but avoided two break points.

He boosted his lifetime record to 5-0 against Moya, who dropped to 1-2 in round robin play. Federer increased his season match record to 72-6.

Federer got the advantage in the second game of the third set, breaking Moya at the fourth break point on an overhead.

Roddick and Safin remained on serve throughout the second set, though Safin had to save two break points in the third game and Roddick came back from three break points to hold in the 12th game and force the tiebreaker.

"I felt lucky to get through the first set," Roddick said. "The rest of the match, I couldn't ask for more. I thought that was some high-level tennis."

Roddick broke from a 3-3 deadlock in the second-set tiebreaker with a 195kph ace and didn't trail again. Safin made a running forehand error to bring on match point, and Roddick's 190kph ace closed it out.

Roddick had to struggle to reach the second tiebreaker, overcoming three break points in the final game of the set. After Safin got the third break point, Roddick served an ace to pull even. Roddick then went ahead on Safin's service return into the net. After the shot, Safin broke his racket by slamming it to the court.

"I didn't actually see it, but I looked up and saw two pieces of racket," Roddick said. "I'm sorry I missed it. He's up there with the best of them at breaking rackets."

Roddick finally forced the tiebreaker with a service winner.

With the score tied 7-7 in the first-set tiebreaker, Safin missed an easy volley and then stood watching the ball, his hands on his hips in disbelief. Roddick closed out the set with a forehand volley.

Also, Britain's Tim Henman overwhelmed Guillermo Coria of Argentina 6-2, 6-2. Henman evened his record at 1-1, while French Open finalist Coria, still recovering from shoulder surgery, dropped to 0-2.

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