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Roddick aces out Safin in Masters Cup
Updated: 2004-11-19 09:31

Andy Roddick and Marat Safin both had good chances to win. Only Roddick took advantage of his opportunities.

Roddick came up with four aces in the second-set tiebreaker and defeated Safin 7-6 (7), 7-6 (4) in a second-round match at the ATP Masters Cup Championships on Thursday.

Marat Safin of Russia returns to Andy Roddick during the round robin stage of the Tennis Masters Cup at the Westside Tennis Club in Houston, Texas.[AFP]

The second-seeded Roddick remained on course for a weekend meeting with No. 1 Roger Federer, already assured a semifinal berth in the round-robin format.

Federer was scheduled to play Carlos Moya later Thursday. Federer beat Roddick in the semifinals of last year's Masters Cup.

Roddick has a 2-0 record in the Blue Group. The top two players from the Blue and Red groups meet in Saturday's semifinals.

Andy Roddick of the United States celebrates after defeating Marat Safin of Russia in two straight tie break sets 7-6 7-6 during the round robin competition at the Tennis Masters Cup November 18, 2004 in Houston. [Reuters]
Roddick and Safin remained on serve throughout the second set, though Safin had to save two break points in the third game and Roddick came back from three break points to hold in the 12th game and force the tiebreaker.

"I felt lucky to get through the first set," Roddick said. "The rest of the match, I couldn't ask for more. I thought that was some high-level tennis."

Roddick broke from a 3-3 deadlock in the second-set tiebreaker with a 121 mph ace and didn't trail again. Safin made a running forehand error to bring on match point, and Roddick's 118 mph ace closed it out.

Roddick had to struggle to reach the second tiebreaker, overcoming three break points in the final game of the set. After Safin got the third break point, Roddick served an ace to pull even. Roddick then went ahead on Safin's service return into the net. After the shot, Safin broke his racket by slamming it to the court.

"I didn't actually see it but I looked up and saw two pieces of racket," Roddick said. "I'm sorry I missed it. He's up there with the best of them at breaking rackets."

Roddick finally forced the tiebreaker with a service winner.

With the score tied 7-all in the first-set tiebreaker, Safin missed an easy volley and then stood watching the ball, his hands on his hips in disbelief. Roddick closed out the set with a forehand volley.

"I was just a bit unlucky, it's like I always say, tiebreaks are a lottery," Safin said. "I did everything right. I can't say that I made a huge mistake. But I had chances before to break him."

In an earlier match, Tim Henman overwhelmed Guillermo Coria 6-2, 6-2. Henman evened his record at 1-1, while French Open finalist Coria, still recovering from shoulder surgery, dropped to 0-2.

Coria, playing in his first tournament since July, was at a disadvantage on his serve, with many of his first serves dropping below 100 mph.

"Today I feel better than my match against Safin," Coria said. "I could do more things but I was a little disappointed with myself, you know, it was 6-2, 6-2. I still had some chances."

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