Sun, Oct 08, 2006 - Page 22 News List

Federer defeats Becker to set up clash with Henman

HARD-COURT HERO The Swiss master swept aside his German opponent with little fuss to make the final and continue his fine form for the season on hard courts

AFP , TOKYOAP, METZ, FRANCE

Loser Benjamin Becker, right, of Germany congratulates Roger Federer of Switzerland after their semi-final match in the Japan Open in Tokyo yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

World No. 1 Roger Federer continued his excellent run on hard courts to beat Benjamin Becker of Germany yesterday for a place in the final at the Japan Open.

Federer faces 10th seed Tim Henman in today's final after the former British No. 1 beat South Korea's Lee Hyung-taik 6-4, 7-6 in the other semi-final.

The 25-year-old Swiss, who set an Open era record of a 56-match hard court winning streak earlier this year, pulled off a service break once in each set to score a convincing 6-3, 6-4 victory in just one hour.

Federer, who had a tough three-set match against local hope Takao Suzuki in the quarter-finals on Friday, got off to a flying start by converting the first chance to break in the second game.

Becker got a break point at 30-40 in the fifth game by charging to the net and forcing Federer to misfire a backhand, but failed to capitalize.

After breaking Becker in the third game of the second set, Federer went on to finish off the struggling German.

Federer hit a total of nine aces against Becker's four. He improved his winning record on hard courts this season to 48-2.

Federer has made 13 finals out of 14 tournaments this season, winning eight of them including victories at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

Henman was helped by a controversial over-rule from the umpire while facing break point at 4-4 in the opening set against ninth seed Lee.

The second set went with serve but Henman's greater experience told in the tiebreak which the Briton took 7-5 to reach his first final since 2004.

In the women's singles semi-finals, Aiko Nakamura kept local hopes alive by beating Chan Yung-jan of Taiwan 7-6 (7/3), 2-6, 6-4 to make her first career appearance in a final on the tour.

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