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Djokovic, Wawrinka in Rome final

May 11, 2008 09:27 IST

Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic and unseeded Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka will meet in the final of the Rome Masters on Sunday after their semi-final opponents retired injured on Saturday.

Serbian third seed Djokovic went through after unseeded Czech Radek Stepanek, who stunned world number one Roger Federer on Friday, pulled out when 6-0, 1-0 down. After the game Stepanek said he felt weak and dizzy on court.

Wawrinka made the final after American sixth seed Andy Roddick withdrew at 3-0 down in the first set because of a back injury.

Stepanek looked out of sorts from the off. The charges to the net that had proved effective against Federer did nothing to unsettle the 20-year-old Serb.

The Czech player was also guilty of too many unforced errors, screaming in frustration after hitting the first of two double faults to lose his serve in the final game of the first set.

He took a long pause before the start of the second set to consider his fitness and decided to stop after losing the following game to love.


It was clear that Roddick was not at his best in the second game when the big server was broken to love, although Wawrinka did produce some fine returns and forehand winners to the corner to take it.

"I felt something a little bit last night in my back. It was a little bit uncomfortable this morning but I warmed up and it was fine," Roddick told a news conference.

"I just made a wrong movement and it went into a complete spasm. I can't really move or do much with my left arm. We'll have a better reading on it tomorrow or the next day. I probably won't be able to hit much for the next two days."

Wawrinka, who beat former world number ones Juan Carlos Ferrero and Marat Safin and seeds Andy Murray and James Blake to reach the semi, will be aiming to become the first unseeded Rome champion since Spain's Felix Mantilla upset Federer in the 2003 final.

The win will lift him from 24th into the top 10 of the rankings.

"It is very good to be after Roger," Wawrinka said. "He's the number one and it's a pleasure for me to be with him in the top 10."

Djokovic has won three of the five ATP tour matches between the players. The last time they met was earlier this year, when the Serb won a quarter-final on the way to taking the Indian Wells Masters.

"Considering the results of the last couple of months, I'll certainly be the favourite tomorrow," Djokovic said.

"I don't want to underestimate anybody. It's a final and he deserves to be there.

"But I feel great physically and mentally ready as well. Hopefully, I can maintain the high level of performance."

This year's Rome Masters has been dogged by injuries.

Djokovic reached the last four when Spain's Nicolas Almagro withdrew from their quarter-final with a wrist problem with the score at 6-1 1-0 in the Serb's favour.

Almagro had gone through to that stage when Chilean Fernando Gonzalez, last year's finalist, pulled out of their third-round match with a leg injury.

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