| Andy Roddick celebrates his thrilling three-set win as the ‘victim’ Roger Federer leaves court at the Montreal Masters on Saturday. (AFP)
Montreal: Andy Roddick advanced to the final of the Montreal Masters after a thrilling 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 win over Roger Federer on Saturday, depriving the Wimbledon champion of the opportunity to oust Andre Agassi from the world No. 1 spot.
Roddick will face world No. 21 David Nalbandian in the final of the $2.45 million tournament, after the unseeded Argentine rallied from a set down to beat German eighth seed Rainer Schuettler 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
The 20-year-old American, who had lost all his previous previous clashes with Federer, including the much-hyped semi-final at 2003 Wimbledon, was down a break and trailing 4-2 in the third, but rallied past Federer 7-3 in the tie-break when the 22-year-old double-faulted and made four unforced errors.
“It was nice, it was definitely not looking good for a while,” Roddick said.
Roddick felt the turning point came in the third set when he had to hit a half-volley from between his legs while rushing to the net. The ball landed in and the crowd erupted in awe.
“I guess it was just reaction. It was either that or get hit in the nuts,” said Roddick. “But you know, that definitely took the edge off, it was kind of fun.”
Federer traded nine aces with Roddick during the match, but had ten double faults, compared to only two for the sixth-seeded American.
“I made a few double faults, but it happened because I wanted to take some risks, I wanted to take control because I didn’t wish to get into rallies against him,” Federer said.
Federer, who will move ahead of French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero to second in the world when the new rankings are released, could have also displaced Agassi if he had beaten Roddick. “I’ve never been No. 1, but I’ve never been No. 2 either, so let’s take the positive part of the story,” Federer said.
Roddick has a 23-2 record since he joined forces with coach Brad Gilbert, who turned 42 on Saturday.
“He’s been great. We’re very relaxed together all the time. It’s not too intense, which is a change of pace and it seems to be working so far,” Roddick said.
“I don’t feel like I’m playing hot, I feel like I’m pretty solid. I come out knowing what I’m going to get from myself on a daily basis, and I haven’t had that feeling before,” Roddick said.
Roddick won the only match he played against Nalbandian, disposing of him 6-3, 6-2 in the quarter finals of last year’s hardcourt tournament in Toronto.
Nalbandian’s win over Schuettler in their fourth meeting of the year ensured that this event would be his best performance of the season, surpassing a semi-final appearance at Hamburg in May.
With the victory Nalbandian moved 4-3 ahead of Schuettler in overall results between the two but it was his first triumph on a surface other than clay.
“The key to winning the match was my better serve and playing high on his backhand,” Nalbandian said after reaching his first Masters Series final.
Schuettler felt a lack of consistency was the reason for his defeat. “He served pretty well and I didn’t return that well. My return is usually my strength and today I missed a lot,” he said.
“There were long rallies in the second and third sets and I was making mistakes while he didn’t miss much. He was the better player today.” If he wins the title, the Argentine player will surge into the top 10 of the ATP Champions Race.