Federer to face Baghdatis in Open final - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Federer to face Baghdatis in Open final

By Darren Walton 27/01/2006 11:19:35 PM Comments (0)

World No.1 Roger Federer will meet unseeded Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis in the Australian Open final after the Swiss master saw off Nicolas Kiefer in four sets at Melbourne Park.

Federer, the first player since Andre Agassi in 1999 to reach three consecutive grand slam finals, rebounded from a second-set lull to crush Germany's 21st seed 6-3 5-7 6-0 6-2 in two hours and 40 minutes.

The 24-year-old has won all six of his previous grand slam finals and a seventh success will take his tally to exactly half Pete Sampras's benchmark of 14 majors.

Federer has beaten Baghdatis on all three occasions they've met, most recently in straight sets in Doha this month, and will start odds-on favourite to continue his dominance of the 20-year-old former world junior champion.

Baghdatis, the world No.54 who has upstaged heavyweight seeds Andy Roddick, Ivan Ljubicic and David Nalbandian on his fairytale run at Melbourne Park, will be attempting to become the fourth-lowest-ranked player in grand slam history to win the championship.

Despite controlling the last two sets, Federer was below his imperious best.

He achieved the only service break of the first set in the fourth game to seize the early initiative after 44 minutes and appeared on track to inflict his seventh straight defeat on the German.

But, as in his two previous matches against Tommy Haas in the fourth round and Nikolay Davydenko in the quarter-finals, the usually brilliant Swiss lapsed and struggled to stem a constant flow of unforced errors.

His high mistake rate eventually caught up with the top seed as a sliced backhand drifted wide to hand the second set to Kiefer after 56 minutes.

Stung into action, Federer restored order to race through the third set in 25 minutes, conceding only eight points to take a stranglehold on the semi-final.

Kiefer, contesting his first grand slam semi after 12 years on tour, surrendered an early break in the fourth set and was unable to recover, Federer triumphing on his second match point when the German sent another backhand into the net.

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