Vindicator Logo

Federer advances to final, climbs to No. 1 in rankings

Friday, January 30, 2004

The Wimbledon champion will face Marat Safin.
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Wimbledon champion Roger Federer advanced to the Australian Open final today, turning his showdown with Juan Carlos Ferrero for the top ranking into a rout.
In becoming the 23rd player to ascend to No. 1, Federer took control of the semifinal after fending off four break points while serving at 3-3 in the first set, rallying from 0-40.
From 4-4, Federer won five straight games and eight of nine, and never gave Ferrero a chance to break again, winning 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 in just 1 hour, 29 minutes.
"I love it," said Federer, when asked of his new status as No. 1.
Third-seeded Ferrero, facing a seeded player for the first time in six matches after benefiting from a rash of upsets in his quarter of the draw, looked increasingly downcast as Federer ripped winners from the baseline and the net, while keeping him off-balance with a mix of spins with pinpoint placement.
Federer had 11 aces and 34 winners, finishing off the match when Ferrero hit a serve return long.
Federer will be seeking his second Grand Slam to go with his Wimbledon title when he faces former No. 1 Marat Safin in Sunday's final.
Safin has beaten U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick -- ranked No. 1 coming into the Australian Open -- and defending Australian Open champion Andre Agassi in his last two matches.
Unseeded and ranked only 86th after an injury-plagued 2003, Safin could rise to 18th by beating Federer. Roddick will fall to third and Agassi will drop one spot to fifth.
Rank at stake
Top-ranking is on the line in the women's final Saturday between No. 1-seeded Justine Henin-Hardenne, the reigning French and U.S. Open titlist, and fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters.
They have played 17 head-to-heads on tour, including eight times in 2003, with Clijsters holding an overall 9-8 edge. But Henin-Hardenne leads 2-0 in Grand Slam finals.
Neither has lost a set in six matches. Clijsters, seeking her first title in a major, has been battling a sprained ankle. As the fiancee of Australia's Lleyton Hewitt, Clijsters will be the crowd favorite in the final.
"I've come to so many Davis Cup matches here, and now to be on court, and have the support of the crowd, it's very special," Clijsters said. "I've made the final at the French and U.S. Open, but coming here means a lot more to me."
Doubles title
Top-seeded Virginia Ruano Pascual and Paola Suarez won their fifth Grand Slam women's doubles title Friday, the first championship to be decided.
It was the eighth straight Grand Slam doubles final for Ruano Pascual, a 30-year-old Spaniard, and Suarez, a 27-year-old from Argentina. They had their serve broken only once, while serving for the match at 5-2, but rallied for their fourth break to finish off fourth-seeded Russians Svetlana Kuznetsova and Elena Likhovtseva 6-4, 6-3.
"Our coordination is really good," Suarez said. "I think we have a really good feeling between us."
Martina Navratilova, 47, took another step toward her 10th Grand Slam mixed doubles title when she and India's Leander Paes -- the defending champions -- beat Jonathan Erlich of Israel and Liezel Huber of South Africa 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals.