Federer, Roddick reach men's final

Updated: July 3, 2004, 6:58 PM ET
Associated Press

WIMBLEDON, England -- Defending champion Roger Federer won a third-set tiebreaker Saturday to complete a straight-set victory over Sebastien Grosjean and reach the Wimbledon final against Andy Roddick.

The top-seeded Swiss star needed 29 minutes and four match points to complete a 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (6) win over the 10th-seeded Frenchman, extending his grass-court winning streak to 23 matches.

The semifinal had been suspended with Federer two games from victory -- 6-2, 6-3, 4-3 -- when play was suspended late Friday after a day of rain delays.

"I'm very pleased," Federer said. "It's very difficult to stop at such a moment of the match. I'm very relieved. You never know what happens if he can turn it around."

The No. 2-seeded Roddick beat 20-year-old Mario Ancic of Croatia 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, 7-5. That match, which was suspended Friday evening with Roddick leading 6-4, 4-3, 30-40, resumed on Court 1. Ancic won the second set 6-4 and Roddick took the third 7-5 before another rain interruption. When play resumed again Roddick won the fourth set.

Federer will be playing in his third Grand Slam final. After winning Wimbledon last summer, he won the Australian Open in February and took over the No. 1 ranking.

"This year has been fantastic for me" Federer said. "It's still very difficult for me to understand why and how come that I'm so dominant this year. But every match I go with the same attitude out on the court. I'm a more complete player, more secure."

Federer's 23-match winning streak on grass ties him with three-time champion John McEnroe and seven-time winner Pete Sampras. Only Bjorn Bjorg (41 straight) had a longer run.

Federer has dropped only one set this tournament, against Lleyton Hewitt in the semifinals, and lost serve just twice.

"My matches have been rather easy, so I couldn't make somersaults," he said. "But I'm very happy to be again in the finals and to have the chance now, finally, to defend my title."

Federer looked as if he might close the match quickly Saturday, but he wound up fighting from behind -- including 4-0 in the tiebreaker -- in blustery conditions.

Federer had two match points on Grosjean's serve at 5-4, but the Frenchman saved both with service winners. Then Federer played a loose game and Grosjean broke for the first time to go up 6-5.

But with Grosjean serving for the set, Federer settled down and broke back, shouting "Come on!" after smacking a forehand crosscourt pass for 6-6.

The momentum swung back and forth in the tiebreaker, with Grosjean winning the first four points and Federer the next four. Federer earned his third match point at 6-5, but hit a backhand wide. He set up the fourth with a forehand volley, then converted with an inside-out forehand approach followed by an overhead.

"I had to really fight hard to actually get to the tiebreaker," Federer said. "I had two match points before the tiebreak and didn't make them and suddenly he was serving for the set in the third. I had to come back in a tiebreaker. Luckily for me, I could turn it around."

Both players had 25 unforced errors, but Federer -- the best all-around shotmaker in the game -- finished with 49 winners, compared with 23 for Grosjean.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press