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Andy Roddick's reward: Try to prevent Roger Federer from making Grand Slam history at Wimbledon

WIMBLEDON, England — Who says American tennis is in decline?

Underdog Andy Roddick stunned No. 3 seed Andy Murray and all of Great Britain on Friday, advancing to the Wimbledon men's singles final with a 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (7-5) semifinal victory on Centre Court. Roddick, a two-time Wimbledon finalist, hasn't won a Grand Slam title since the 2003 U.S. Open and was 2-6 against Murray before Friday.

However, his opponent in Sunday's final is five-time champion Roger Federer, who beat Tommy Haas 7-6 (7-3), 7-5, 6-3. Roddick is 2-18 vs. Federer, who will attempt to break Pete Sampras' record of 14 Grand Slam titles and reclaim his No. 1 ranking.

With Roddick's victory, three of the four singles finalists on July 4 weekend are American — Venus and Serena Williams play for the women's title today — and Americans are in the finals of men's doubles (Bob and Mike Bryan of Wesley Chapel), women's doubles (the Williams sisters), and boy's junior singles (Jordan Cox).

"I had to play my best tennis," said Roddick, the sixth seed. "Not many people were giving me much of a chance, but I can play tennis sometimes. Throughout my career, I've had a lot of shortcomings, but trying hard is not one of them.

"(Murray) had all the pressure on him, and I could go out there and just swing, and that probably helped me. The last couple years I didn't know if I'd get to play for another Grand Slam title, and now I am. It's a dream."

Certainly, the majority of the fans at the All England Lawn Tennis Club were pulling for the third-ranked Scot. The last time a British man won Wimbledon was 1936, and the feeling was that it was the destiny of Murray, 22, to make the final, and maybe even win it. Those without tickets either settled on the grass of Henman Hill or jammed into the 4,000-seat Court 2 Stadium, where the matches were shown on giant TV screens.

In the third set, Roddick broke to 3-1 and at 5-2 was two points from taking the set. But Murray eventually broke back, and in the tiebreaker, he held a set point at 6-5. On a 13-stroke exchange, Roddick misplayed a forehand volley in such a way that it turned into a winner.

Moments later, Murray shanked one forehand long, then dumped a passing try into the net, and Roddick owned the lead and momentum.

"I played well," Murray said. "It just came down to a few points here or there on his serve. And he served really, really well.

"I maybe made a couple of mistakes that I shouldn't have in the first tiebreak."

Leaving the court, Roddick paused to enjoy the moment, thankful that all the changes he's made over the past several months paid dividends: tweaking his diet to drop 15 pounds, hiring a new coach, working more than ever to improve his returns, his volleys, his backhand.

But Roddick also knows what he's up against in Federer, who beat him at the 2004 and 2005 Wimbledon finals, as well as in the 2006 U.S. Open final.

On Friday, Federer had a much easier time reaching his seventh consecutive Wimbledon final, beating Haas, seeded 24th, in just under two hours. Federer never faced a break point and had 49 winners to 15 unforced errors.

"I'm very proud of all the records I've achieved, because I never thought I would be that successful as a kid," Federer, 27, said. "It's quite staggering."

Federer is 20-3 in major semis over his career, reaching 16 of the past 17 major finals.

"I know what's on the line," Federer said. "I hope I can play another good match."

The Miami Herald and Associated Press contributed to this report.

Cusp of history

In Sunday's final, Roger Federer tries to break his tie with Pete Sampras for the most Grand Slam singles titles in men's history (14). By winning Friday, he moved to the top of two other lists:

Most consecutive

Wimbledon men's finals

(Since 1922, the end of the Challenge Round)

7: Roger Federer, 2003-09 (5-1)

6: Bjorn Borg, 1976-81 (5-1)

5: John McEnroe, 1980-84 (3-2)

4: Pete Sampras, 1997-2000 (4-0); Boris Becker, 1988-91 (1-3); Rod Laver, 1959-62 (2-2); Jean Borotra, 1924-27 (2-2)

Note: From 1877 to 1921, the previous year's champion advanced directly to the next year's final.

Most career major finals

Player Finals W-L

Roger Federer 20 14-5

Ivan Lendl 19 8-11

Pete Sampras 18 14-4

Rod Laver 17 11-6

Bjorn Borg 16 11-5

Ken Rosewall 16 8-8

Source: Associated Press

wimbledon

Today

Women's final

Serena Williams (2) vs. Venus Williams (3),

9 a.m., Ch. 8

Head to head: Tied at 10

Sunday

Men's final

Roger Federer (2) vs. Andy Roddick (6),

9 a.m., Ch. 8

Head to head: Federer leads 18-2

Andy Roddick's reward: Try to prevent Roger Federer from making Grand Slam history at Wimbledon 07/03/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 3, 2009 9:00pm]
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