Roddick, Ferrero Revisit US Open Final at Cincinnati

Posted on August 20, 2006

With the US Open Series Lever 2000 Challenge title at stake, American Andy Roddick came out no holds barred Saturday evening at the Western and Southern Financial Group Masters.

Before a packed house, the 23-year-old American effortlessly denied Challenge leader Fernando Gonzalez, taking only 67 minutes to defeat the feisty Chilean. He jumped out to an early lead by breaking Gonzalez to begin the match and never looked back. He rifled 12 aces --- eight alone in the second set -- and won 91 percent of his first serve points to cement the 6-3, 6-3 victory.

"I felt the key to the match was whoever got on the aggressive early in the points, because we can both fire the ball a little bit, but I wanted to make him resort to defense as opposed to offense. I felt like I did that pretty well tonight," said Roddick.

With his 23rd event victory, Roddick earned his third trip in four years to the Cincinnat title match. He won the title in 2003 and finished as the runner-up to Roger Federer last year. His 2005 run in Cincinnati was the last time Roddick reached an ATP Masters Series final, and his last title at a Masters event came at the 2004 NASDAQ-100 Open in Miami.

Gonzalez, who would've clinched the US Open Series Lever 2000 Challenge title with the victory, had won 17 of his last 22 matches coming into Saturday's semifinals. He also reached the final four last week at the Rogers Masters in Toronto, falling to eventual champion Federer.

Roddick currently stands seven points behind Gonzalez in the US Open Series standings following the semifinal win, and will have the opportunity to claim the Challenge title with a victory in Sunday's final against Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Roddick and Ferrero, both whom have only been broken twice coming into the final, are the last two players to have ranked World No. 1 before Roger Federer ascended to the top of the INDESIT ATP Rankings in February 2004. Ferrero held the No. 1 ranking for eight weeks in 2003 before Roddick took over to finish the year at the top.

Ferrero who has lost to Roddick twice, in the U.S. Open final in 2003 and in Cincinnati last year, said, "The two times I played against him and I lost I think I had chances to have a win."

The Spaniard has recorded victories over three Top 10 players this week: James Blake in the second round, Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals and Tommy Robredo in the semifinals.

Both Roddick and Ferrero will be going for their first ATP title of the season.

The 26-year-old Spaniard maintained his impressive play on Saturday as he downed countryman and No.7 seed Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-4 in one hour, 37 minutes.

Ferrero, who fired eight aces and broke Robredo for the first time all week, moves into his first ATP final since Vienna in October of 2003. The winner of four career ATP Masters Series events, Ferrero claimed victory with consistent play inside the baseline and by capitalizing on 45 unforced errors from Robredo.

"I have confidence that I could win this match, but maybe not in these two sets," said Ferrero. "It was a little bit easier than I thought because, you know, Tommy, he's playing pretty good, and he was winning also his matches in two sets during the whole week.

"I'm playing very aggressive and not making mistakes. That's very important. Winning also a lot of points with my serve, and I think it's been very important, this week, the serve."

Ferrero's trip to the championship match included a tough quarter of the draw, facing No. 6 seed James Blake in the second round and No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals. Robredo marked the third Top 10 player defeated by Ferrero this week.

With Saturday's win, Ferrero improves his 2006 record to 27-17 and will move back into the Top 20. Ferrero, a holder of 11 career ATP titles, is appearing in Cincinnati for the seventh straight year and posts a 13-6 record. His best previous showing here came in 2002 when he reached the semifinals before losing to eventual champion Carlos Moya. -- ATP