The Web


Slide Shows

Home > Sports > News > Reuters > Report

Schuettler downs Roddick to reach final

Ossian Shine | January 24, 2003 17:49 IST

Rainer Schuettler squeezed out every last drop of energy and fight from Andy Roddick on Friday to reach his first grand slam final at the Australian Open with a 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory.

The 26-year-old employed ruthless tactics to smother Roddick's hopes and set up a clash with second-seeded American Andre Agassi.

Schuettler becomes only the second German, behind Boris Becker, to reach the men's final in the event's 98-year history.

"Right now it is unbelievable," the 31st seed said, choked with emotion. "It was a dream and sometimes you have a chance to realise a dream. I have another dream now, to win it."

Schuettler knows it will be an uphill struggle against Agassi, who is chasing a fourth Open crown, a record for an overseas player.

"He kicked my ass already but it is great to be in the final," he told John McEnroe courtside, before laughing and flexing his muscles to the crowd as McEnroe chronicled his progress so far.

For Roddick, though, it was a cruel exit from a tournament in which he had burst through barriers and set new marks for courage and determination.


Before this event, the American had never come back from two sets down to win a match. In Melbourne he managed it twice. On the second occasion he saved a match-point and twice came from a set down to beat Younes El Aynaoui 4-6, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4, 21-19.

It was a match which lasted a minute short of five hours and featured the longest fifth set in grand slam history. It put Roddick and El Aynaoui in the record books but ultimately destroyed the ninth seed's chances of reaching a first grand slam final.

Both semi-finalists were in uncharted grand slam territory, Roddick's best performances had been two U.S. Open quarter-finals while Schuettler had never been beyond the last 16 at one of the Big Four.

Schuettler's strategy was clear from the start. He did not target Roddick's forehand his backhand or his return, he targeted the American's weary legs.

Schuettler had enjoyed a walkover against the injured Marat Safin in the third round and has spent six hours less on court than his opponent.

On Friday night the American showed up dressed like any fashion-conscious 20-year-old, spiked hair sprouting out from a retro sun-visor and wearing baggy board shorts.

But he played like a man of more advanced years, his legs sapped of spring and energy by that marathon with the Moroccan.


Suffering a wrist injury sustained in the match with El Aynaoui, Roddick had not come this far to quit, though. With a strapped-up right wrist he came out all guns blazing.

He snatched a break in the very first game and then held with some fierce serves, wincing after each delivery. But Schuettler had a game plan and it started to pay dividends.

Ghosting groundstrokes into the corners, flighting gentle, sharply-angled shots away from the American and nudging drop shots over the net, the German kept Roddick running and running.

He broke back in the fourth game and another break in the 12th game gave the 31st seed the opening set.

Tournament trainer Bill Norris re-taped Roddick's wrist at the end of the set as the 20-year-old looked up at his coach Tarik Benhabiles watching anxiously from the stands.

He need not have worried so soon. Roddick blazed into a 4-0 lead with two breaks of serve as Schuettler temporarily lost his way.

The explosive American wrapped up the set 6-2 in just 24 minutes with some tremendous power hitting to level the match.

But his wrist was still troubling him and Norris re-taped it once more.

Despite winning the set, Roddick's body language was terrible. His shoulders hunched and he practically hobbled around court between points.

Unable to last long rallies and feeling the pain of Schuettler's tactics, Roddick was forced into going for more and more outright winners.

It was a high-risk strategy and one which stung the American.

By the end of the third set he was once again behind and his unforced error count had leaped to 33.

The snap in his shots was missing and the spring in his step a fading memory as he failed to summon any energy on centre court.

Schuettler broke in the first game of the third set when yet another attempt at a clear winner flew wide and long.

Almost energised by his opponent's lethargy, Schuettler chased and raced for everything, holding for a 2-0 lead as Roddick's chances slipped away.

Seven games later he closed out the biggest victory of his career in two hours 19 minutes with a backhand pass down the line to break Roddick to love.

© Copyright 2003 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Article Tools

Email this Article

Printer-Friendly Format

Letter to the Editor

Related Stories

Big guns advance in Australian Open

Agassi wins Kooyong title

Capriati bundled out of Aus Open

People Who Read This Also Read

ICC accepts altered contracts

Paes-Navratilova in final

Anand scores over Shirov

Copyright © 2003 rediff.com India Limited. All Rights Reserved.