Roddick rolls into fourth straight Kooyong final

Andy Roddick continued his bid for a Kooyong Classic hat-trick on Thursday with a 6-3, 6-3 defeat of Marat Safin to reach his fourth consecutive final.

Roddick braved 41°C temperatures for the quickfire win, which sets him up for Saturday’s final against either Marcos Baghdatis or Fernando Gonzalez.

“It was hot and windy, we got both today,” said the former world number one, who is seeking a title boost ahead of next week’s Australian Open Grand Slam.

“I concentrated well as you don’t want to stay out there for so long.”

Roddick was beaten in the 2005 final by Roger Federer but then won the 2006 edition against Tommy Haas before taking his revenge over the top-ranked Swiss last year.

Meanwhile Britain’s Andy Murray said he had never been in better shape for a major as he bounced back from his opening Kooyong Classic defeat to beat Ivan Ljubicic 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 6-2.

The world number nine, jet-lagged and nauseous during Wednesday’s loss to Marat Safin, felt the benefits of a Florida training stint as he overcame a slow start to get his Australian Open preparations back on track.

“I’ve never been more content before a slam,” said the Scot, who parted company with coach Brad Gilbert last year and brought in his own team of specialists.

“I feel good, I’ve trained hard and prepared really well. I got in my matches last week and have three more here. I expect to play my best at age 22 or 23, but you have to keep improving the little things.”

Murray, who won last week’s Qatar Open, looked in trouble at a set and 0-3 down, but then reeled off five straight games on the way to levelling before dominating the third.

“I spent seven weeks preparing,” said the 20-year-old.
“Four of those were in Florida. It’s much better than training at home indoors.

There’s more humidity in Florida than here.”

Both Murray and Ljubicic were playing for pride at the relegation-promotion event, which has already lost Roger Federer and David Nalbandian to illness and injury.

Ljubicic lost his opening match to America’s Andy Roddick, the two-time defending champion.

The talented Murray, who has four titles to his name, is widely touted as a future Grand Slam winner with former British number one Greg Rusedski saying he has the potential to claim the top world ranking. - Sapa-AFP

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