| Venus and Serena Williams with the doubles trophy in Melbourne Friday. (Reuters)
Melbourne: Rainer Schuettler squeezed every last drop of energy and fight out of Andy Roddick on Friday to reach his first Grand Slam final at the Australian Open with a 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory.
The 26-year-old employed ruthless tactics to smother Roddick’s hopes and set up a clash with second-seeded American Andre Agassi.
Schuettler becomes only the second German, behind Boris Becker, to reach the men’s final in the event’s 98-year history.
“Right now it is unbelievable,” the 31st seed said.” Schuettler knows it will be an uphill struggle against Agassi. “He has kicked my ass already but it is great to be in the final,” he told John McEnroe courtside, before laughing and flexing his muscles as McEnroe chronicled his progress so far.
For Roddick, though, it was a cruel exit from a tournament in which he had burst through barriers and set new marks for courage and determination.
“It was tough, I went out there, I tried my best... I wasn’t going to pull out of another Grand Slam, that wasn’t going to happen,” Roddick said, referring to his second-round withdrawal here last year.
Schuettler’s strategy was to target the American’s weary legs. Schuettler had enjoyed a walkover against the injured Marat Safin in the third round and has spent six hours less on court than his opponent. On Friday night Roddick played like a man of advanced years, his legs sapped of spring and energy by that marathon with Younes El Aynaoui.
Suffering tendinitis in his right wrist and forearm — an injury sustained in the match with the Moroccan — Roddick was hurting. But he had not come this far to quit and with a strapped-up right wrist. For two sets, he fired on all cylinders but ultimately didn’t have enough strength to topple the German who made him run and run. (Reuters)