Federer fires easily into final with Fish

Federer fires easily into final with Fish

The 36th-ranked Fish reached his fourth title match in just over two months, turning the tide after a rain delay to overcome good friend Andy Roddick 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-1.

Federer, losing finalist a week ago in Toronto against Andy Murray, is seeking his first trophy since the Australian Open in January. Fish lifted back-to-back honours in July at Newport and Atlanta - where he beat Roddick to end a run of nine losses against his friend from their teenaged years.

Federer was back to his imperious best as he ran his record over Cypriot Baghdatis to 7-1 with seven aces, winning 90 percent of his first-serve points in the 70-minute schooling.

He owns Fish with a 6-1 mark, though in their last meeting the American did defeat Federer in 2008 at Indian Wells.

The second-ranked Federer said that "conditions were quick" Saturday against Baghdatis.

"It was a struggle to keep the ball in play. But I played aggressive, and it paid off. I trained hard after Wimbledon and was able to work on a few things. I'm keeping the other guy from dictating, and the hard work has paid off (in Toronto and Cincinnati)," Federer said.

"I've got another chance to win a Masters title here. Things are working out for me. That's something that wasn't happening at the start of the season."

Federer reached the final after an easy week, with one opponent quitting hurt and another failing to front up with injury. "You take those wins when they happen, but they leave a bitter taste," he said.

Federer will be on guard against Fish: "He's a great player with a good serve. Mentally and physically he now has the belief that he can hang with big boys."

The Swiss will be looking for a fourth Midwest title after winning in 2005, 2007 and last year at the Ohio event.

Fish came through over Roddick as the ninth seed saw his game collapse after returning from a five-minute weather pause holding a lead of a set and 5-2.

"He's played better matches against me in the past," Fish said. "We were both in a really good position in the semis of a Masters 1000. I felt great, I've never felt better on the court, and I've never been more confident - and I've never played better."

Fish completed the knockout with a down-the-line winner on the first of three match points.

"This whole week I've kind of been surviving, and I've been competing real well. I got exposed a little bit today," Roddick said. "Mardy's very confident, he's had the last five, six weeks to build up. He played better than I did at the important moments today."

It took just over 90 minutes for Fish to notch his 34th win of the season against 12 losses. Roddick stands 39-10 with two titles.

"I've done some things that I have never done in my career and won more matches this year up to this point than I ever have," Fish said. "I have a great opportunity to improve my ranking to where I've never been before."

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