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Nadal, Roddick Face Off For Place In Dubai Final Four By Tennis Week Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Tennis Week is a Good Tennis Mag. I learned of it at the ATP in Cininatti. That's a super tournemant. I also go to Miami for the Erickson (sp)

FRom Tennis Week:
The bulls biting at Rafael Nadal's heels served to symbolize the Spaniard's stomping of Andy Roddick in their last match up. When the second-ranked Nadal and sixth-ranked Roddick face off in Thursday's quarterfinal of the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, Roddick will need to reassert his authority on serve if he is to slow Nadal's charge to the semifinals.

The pair last played in the Indian Wells semifinals last March and it was Nadal, sporting the image of a bull stamped on the heel of his Nikes, who prevailed on the strength of a superb serving display. The three-time Roland Garros champion connected on 84 percent of his first serves and did not face a break point in a 6-4, 6-3 dismissal of Roddick that spanned 74 minutes.

Handcuffed by Nadal's high-bounding kick serve, Roddick won only nine points on return inthe match.

For all the work Roddick has put in on the practice court with coach Jimmy Connors on the practice court in addressing his court positioning on the return and selectively picking his spots to play more penetrating replies off opponent's second serves, Roddick's return remains a work in progress. Throughout much of this season, Roddick has been content to try to put a high percentage of returns in play. Given Nadal's superior speed around the court and his unerring consistency, that's the wrong tact for Roddick to take against the World No. 2 tomorrow. He will have to try to take some cracks at Nadal's second serve to avoid getting drawn into lengthy rallies against the Spaniard.

Roddick's first serve kept him in the match against Nadal in Indian Wells — he hit 16 aces — but Nadal punished his second serve winning 16 of the 27 points played on Roddick's second serve.

In his Dubai debut, Roddick has been commanding on serve throughout the first two rounds. He did smacked 18 aces and did not face a break point in his 6-2, 6-4 win over former World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero in the opening round and followed that with a 13-ace effort, erasing all five break points he faced in today's 6-3, 6-4 triumph over Paul-Henri Mathieu.

Nadal has not won a tournament title since he beat Stanislas Wawrinka to capture the Stuttgart title on clay last July and will be eager to reach his fifth semifinal in his last six tournaments this week.

From the neck up, Nadal plays wiser than his years. Shrewd court sense, complete commitment to his high-percentage shots and his insistence on playing the match at his tempo gives Nadal great match presence that can be intimidating to even the most experienced players. Long baseline exchanges will favor Nadal, who beat World No. 1 Roger Federer to win the Dubai title two years ago, so it will be interesting to see if Roddick is willing to try to shorten the points and play more aggressively than he's needed to in reaching the quarterfinals.

The winner could play third-seeded Novak Djokovic for a place in the final. The Australian Open champion takes on Igor Andreev in the quarters on Thursday.

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