Roddick beats Berdych in straight sets
By the ninth game, Berdych was so flummoxed he lost track of the score.
There was no confusion about the final result: Roddick beat Berdych 7-5, 6-4 to win the Sony Ericsson Open.
It was Roddick's fifth title in a Masters 1000 tournament -- one level below the Grand Slams -- and his first since 2006. The runner-up two weeks ago at Indian Wells, another Masters 1000 event, Roddick has a record of 26-4 this year, best on the men's tour.
"The last month has been real good for me," said Roddick, who was seeded sixth. "I've played well on the big moments. I've been able to have a game plan and execute it, regardless of what kind of shots it takes. So it's all good. It's all encouraging."
At 27, he's showing he can win with more than just a big serve. He surprised Rafael Nadal in the semifinals by frequently charging to the net.
"A lot of people say the serve is fine and the rest of it's pretty average," Roddick said. "That's all right. But there are a lot of guys with big serves who are pretty average, so there's got to be some difference."
Roddick's slice backhand repeatedly forced the 6-foot-5 Berdych to hit the ball at ankle level, robbing his forehand of power. While searching to find a rhythm with his strokes, Berdych also lost track of the score in the ninth game, lining up to serve from the wrong side.
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The match turned two games later, when Roddick reached the first break point of the match. He broke when Berdych hit a forehand out, then held at love to take the first set.
That was part of a streak where Roddick won five consecutive games. He broke again to start the second set when Berdych hit another errant forehand, and never faced a break point.
Since hiring Larry Stefanki as his coach in late 2008, Roddick has lost at least 10 pounds, improved his foot speed and developed a more well-rounded game.
"He works as hard or harder than anybody else on this tour," Stefanki said. "He could be similar to Andre Agassi, where his best years are from 27 on."
Roddick's lone Grand Slam title came at the 2003 U.S. Open, and after a series of disappointing defeats in 2008, he wondered if his best days were in the past.
"I honestly didn't know," he said. "But I knew there was a way to find out, and that was to kind of go back to the drawing board and give myself every opportunity to succeed. Luckily, that has given me some good days."
Roddick coaxed one last errant groundstroke from Berdych on championship point, and responded to the crowd's cheers with a thumbs-up. The title was Roddick's second at Key Biscayne, where he also won in 2004.
Need the scores from any match played in today's tournaments? Results
The No. 16-seeded Berdych, who beat top-ranked Roger Federer in the fourth round, was playing in only his second Masters 1000 final. He made just 48 percent of his first serves but attributed his defeat mostly to Roddick.
"He was just too strong today," Berdych said. "He's not just serving the big bombs. His variations of the serve are a really big improvement. ... I was really looking for maybe to get one chance, but he held pretty well. I didn't get any chance during whole match."
Roddick had 13 aces against Berdych and dropped just two service games in the tournament.
"It was a pretty good day," Roddick said. "But it wasn't really serving -- the rest of it was pretty clean."
Happy to settle into rallies that often lasted more than 10 strokes -- one reached 29 -- Roddick committed only 16 unforced errors. He hit the fastest serve of the tournament at 143 mph, but didn't approach that speed against Berdych.
He now has other ways to win.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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