Only Agassi is older on ATP tour

Updated: February 26, 2005, 10:18 PM ET
Associated Press

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Australian Wayne Arthurs, the second-oldest player on the ATP Tour, earned his second career final appearance on Saturday with a 7-5, 7-6 (2) semifinal victory over Christophe Rochus of Belgium in the Tennis Channel Open.

The 33-year-old Arthurs advanced to Sunday's final against the winner of the other semifinal match between defending champion Vincent Spadea and No. 3 seed Mario Ancic.

Arthurs, never a winner on the ATP Tour, dominated the match with a powerhouse serve that has been his big weapon throughout the week at the Scottsdale Princess Resort. Arthurs had 19 aces -- giving him 65 for the week -- and never lost serve in the 1-hour, 19-minute match, running his streak of consecutive held serves this week to 51. His lone lost serve came in his first-round victory over No. 4 seed Taylor Dent.

"I'm just being positive in my best shot, and serving is my best shot," Arthurs said. "If I'm not positive on that shot, I'm going to struggle in a lot of matches, which I have been probably in the last six or eight months. I haven't been real focused and positive on my serve, and that's what I did well today."

The streak isn't close to his personal record. He had 111 consecutive held serves at Wimbledon in 1999, advancing from a qualifier to the fourth round, where he lost to Andre Agassi.

Arthurs' lone other final appearance was at Nottingham, England, on grass in 2002.

Neither Arthurs nor Rochus were seeded in a tournament that has a depleted field, largely because of the lucrative competition in Dubai and the Indian Wells tournament was pushed back a week on this year's calendar.

Players often used the Scottsdale stop as a tuneup for Indian Wells.

Both players held serve through five games in the first set, then the left-handed Arthurs, with a serve that topped 130 mph, broke through on the 11th game, forcing the 5-foot, 5-inch Rochus to knock a forehand into the net for the game point.

In the second set, neither player broke serve, but Arthurs wore his opponent down in a one-sided tiebreaker.

Arthurs lost only nine points on 12 service games in the match. For the second match in a row, Arthurs' opponent never reached break point.

"I knew his serve was his best weapon and he's tough to return," Rochus said, "but I didn't know I couldn't return one for the whole match. Even when I was touching the ball, I couldn't control the return."

On the tour, only Agassi, 34, is older than Arthurs.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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