GSTAAD (Switzerland): Newly-crowned Wimbledon champion Roger Federer clinched his place in the final of the Swiss Open for the first time yesterday when he overcame tough second set resistance by fourth-seeded Argentine Gaston Gaudio to win 6-1, 7-6 (8-6).
Federer, Switzerland's hero after his Wimbledon win, will meet third seed Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic, the 2001 Swiss champion, in today's final.
Federer, 21, whose Wimbledon triumph took him to the top of the ATP Champions Race, cruised through the first set with some excellent serving on the outdoor clay court, but struggled in the second when Gaudio fought boldly to survive.
“I am glad to be through because this is a big thing for me, to reach the final of the Swiss Open,” said Federer after their 82-minutes contest. “It's something I've never done before and I wanted to win badly. For me, it is so exciting now.
“I felt a little tired, but winning the first set was a great start for me so in the second I still felt confident of success. I felt very good with my serving and that was important because even on clay it makes a difference.”
In five previous attempts in Gstaad, Federer has been eliminated four times in the first round and once in the second, but this time he oozed confidence.
Gaudio, the ATP tour's top claycourt player, saved four successive break points in the 11th game of the second set before hanging on to his serve to lead 6-5, but the effort took its toll in the heat. “I couldn't do anything more, his serve was too much for me,” said the 24-year-old.
Federer, finding fresh reserves of energy, served to level at 6-6 and then battled through a tight tie-break, including a controversial unsuccessful protest over a line-call, to complete his 16th straight win since April 4.
Federer, backed by the partisan Gstaad crowd basking in hot sunshine, shrugged the incident aside and, displaying cool and concentration amid much whistling and jeering, clinched victory when Gaudio netted another of his formidable serves.
“He is an unbelievable player at the moment,” said Gaudio. “He can adapt to any surface and his serve is so strong.”
Gaudio's fightback produced more baseline rallies, but Federer was able to cope with the change of style after serving and volleying in the first set. “He can play anything, he has all the game,” said Gaudio.
Novak clinched his place in the final when he beat compatriot Radek Stepanek, the eighth seed, 7-5, 6-1 earlier in the day. – Reuters
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