Roddick passes 1,000 ace mark

Updated: November 19, 2004, 11:05 PM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON – Andy Roddick pounded 15 aces to become the first player since 1998 with more than 1,000 in a season, helping him beat Guillermo Coria 7-6 (4), 6-3 Friday to wrap up round-robin play at the ATP Masters Cup with a 3-0 record.

Roddick, who lost to Roger Federer in last year's semifinals, will face Lleyton Hewitt in the final four Saturday. Hewitt high-fived a fan to celebrate a great point in his 6-2, 6-1 victory over French Open champion Gaston Gaudio earlier Friday.

Marat Safin beat Tim Henman 6-2, 7-6 (2) to take the last semifinals spot. He will face defending champion Federer, who advanced Thursday night with a victory over Carlos Moya.

Safin's victory means that the top four seeds in the tournament advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 1990, when Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl and Andre Agassi reached them.

With a tournament victory, Hewitt could pass Roddick for No. 2 in the world.

"Lleyton and I have both been No. 1 and I think we'd prefer that instead," Roddick said. "I'm just happy to be here playing good tennis, not counting points to see who is going to be No. 2."

With 1,008 aces, Roddick is just the third player to surpass 1,000 in a season since the ATP Tour started tracking statistics in 1991. Goran Ivanisevic did it four times, including a record 1,477 six years ago. Pete Sampras had 1,011 aces in 1993.

"Pete did it? He was good," Roddick joked.

Coria was playing in his first tournament since July after recovering from shoulder surgery. His serves were routinely under 100 mph – in stark contrast to Roddick's big offerings. Still, Roddick couldn't break Coria in the first set and had to serve aces of 143 mph and 138 mph in the tiebreaker before prevailing.

Roddick already was assured of the semifinals before beating Coria, making it difficult to maintain his intensity.

"It was a little weird because I didn't know what Guillermo would bring to the table," Roddick said. "But we are here at the Masters Cup, but this was a little different feeling than the other matches."

Roddick took a 5-0 lead in the second set before Coria held serve in the sixth game. Coria fought off one match point in the sixth game and served a 112-mph ace to hold serve. Coria threw the ball in the air and raised his hands in mock celebration after the ace.

"I leave the tournament very happy," Coria said. "Obviously, there are some things that I have to get there, like my serve is not there, and some points, the way I play those points is not there. But to come here with one week of preparation and play like this gives me a lot of confidence for next year."

Hewitt finished the round-robin portion with a 2-1 record. With his match already in control, he revved up the crowd in the sixth game of the second set when he chased down a drop shot by Gaudio, then raced back to retrieve a lob and hit the ball down the line for a winner.

Hewitt shouted, ran to the seats and slapped palms with a spectator. The two-time major champion eventually broke Gaudio in that game for a 5-1 lead in the second set.

"That was a good point. I'm not even sure what happened," Hewitt said. "It took me six points to get my breath back. I guess I'm motivated at the moment. I like to play with a lot of emotion."

Gaudio, who finished 0-3 in round-robin play, clearly was not at top form to start the match. He was broken in the fourth game of the first set when he foot faulted and then double faulted for the break. Gaudio also double faulted to end the first set.

"I was a little disappointed going in that I didn't have a chance to get into the semifinals, so I couldn't give my best," Gaudio said. "So I leave town a little disappointed."

Safin jumped on top in the first set with breaks in the first and seventh games and although Henman forced the issue to a second- set tiebreaker, he never overcame the start.

"In the second set I played better tennis," Henman said. "But I didn't raise my game high enough. There is no question the better player won tonight. The games I got into I was always coming back from 40-15 down. I was never able to put pressure on him early."

Safin said he lapsed in the second set.

"I lost a bit of concentration, I was waiting for his mistakes and I thought I could break him any time I wanted to," Safin said. "I was wrong. He had a couple of chances to break me and I almost lost the set."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press