| Andy Roddick makes a return against Guillermo Coria during the Masters Cup on Friday
Houston, Nov. 15 (Reuters): World No. 1 Andy Roddick is finding life tough at the top as he was forced to dig deep to sneak past feisty Argentine Guillermo Coria 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 on Friday to book the last semi-final berth at the ATP Masters Cup.
Despite his struggles, Roddick now finds himself in good position to add one more jewel to what has been a glittering season as he closes in on a seventh title and a winner’s purse of $1.4 million.
“I came here with one goal and that was to finish No. 1,” said Roddick, who clinched the year-end honour on Wednesday. “Now that I’ve done that everything else is a bonus.”
Roddick’s win sets up an intriguing showdown with Roger Federer, the raw, brute power of the US Open champion against the finesse and all-round game of the Swiss Wimbledon champion.
The other semi-final will feature Andre Agassi taking on the surprise package of the Masters Cup, Rainer Schuettler of Germany.
Since taking possession of the No. 1 ranking in Paris last month, Roddick has quickly discovered that staying on top of the tennis summit may indeed be tougher than climb to get there.
Roddick’s first match as No. 1 ended in a loss to Britain’s Tim Henman and while his three matches here have produced two wins, the 21-year-old American has been stretched to the limit, each time needing three gruelling sets to get the job done.
With his thundering serve and punishing forehand finding their mark, Roddick claimed the only break of the opening set to open his account.
When he broke the Argentine again to forge 2-1 ahead in the second the American looked in full control.
But suddenly the match swung, the fourth-ranked Coria immediately breaking back, playing some inspired tennis to force the second set to a tiebreak which he took 7-4 when a faltering Roddick double faulted.
The slim Argentine carried the momentum into the third, breaking Roddick to open the set.
But just as suddenly as it appeared to be slipping away the match would swing back in Roddick’s favour, the American sweeping through the final five games and closing out the match with two booming aces.
In the day’s only other match Carlos Moya beat Schuettler 7-5, 6-4.