Roddick, Raonic, Fish reach Memphis semis

Andy Roddick overcame a shaky start and beat Lleyton Hewitt 4-6,

6-3, 6-4 Friday night to advance to the semifinals of the Regions

Morgan Keegan Championships.

The top-seeded Roddick needed 2 hours, 13 minutes to win his

sixth straight match against the Australian and leads their

all-time series 7-6. Roddick improved to 10-2 this year as he looks

for his 30th career title and third in Memphis. He will play either

American Michael Russell or Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in

the semifinal Saturday.

”He was playing better early on,” Roddick said of Hewitt. ”I

haven’t gotten off to the best starts in two out of three of my

matches. I’m going to have to start playing better from the get-go.

But a match can turn quickly, and it did tonight in the third set.

The end of the second set and the third set was probably the best

I’ve played in this tournament so far.”

Canadian Milos Raonic advanced to his second straight semifinals

with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Robert Kendrick earlier Friday.

He will play American Mardy Fish, a 6-3, 6-4 winner over defending

champion Sam Querrey 6-3, 6-4.

In the Cellular South Cup, Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia beat

Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to advance to

the championship. She will play Canadian Rebecca Marino, a 6-7 (1),

6-4, 6-1 winner over Evgeniya Rodina of Russia.

Only Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have more career titles than

Roddick (29) and Hewitt (28) among active players, and this match

lived up to the challenge. Roddick said he thought Hewitt was

fighting through something Friday night. Asked if something was

wrong with his foot or leg, Hewitt, who had his parents cheering

him from the stands, said he was all right.

Roddick served up 21 aces and hit over 140 mph regularly. But he

opened the match by double-faulting and also double-faulted as

Hewitt broke him in the first game. Roddick double-faulted again to

fall behind 0-30 trailing 3-5 in the first set and groaned to

himself.

”He made quite a few unforced errors early on, though, and his

serve percentage probably wasn’t as high as he would’ve liked. From

them on, he served a lot better,” Hewitt said. ”I couldn’t get up

in his service games and put pressure on him from there. He’s one

of the better closers out there with his serve when he’s up in a

game.”

In the second set, Roddick broke Hewitt in the fourth game on

his fourth break point when the Aussie came up to the net and put a

forehand into the net. Roddick served out for the set, and he

opened the third set by breaking Hewitt again.

Hewitt fought off four match points in the ninth game of the

third set and held his serve to pull to 5-4. Roddick also had two

more chances to close out the match before he finally converted on

his third by serving up a 135 mph ace.

”I was just trying to make him serve out the match, and I was

able to fight out of that game to my credit,” Hewitt said.

Now Roddick will play in his sixth semifinal here in Memphis. He

hasn’t lost to Hewitt since 2005 in a semifinal at Indian

Wells.

”He just keeps plugging away,” Roddick said of the Aussie.

”He definitely makes you earn it if you want to get a win.”

Raonic’s latest win assured him of moving into the top 50 in the

ATP rankings after he won in San Jose last week. The 20-year-old

needed 1 hour, 53 minutes and 20 aces to beat Kendrick, an American

who beat him in straight sets in Vancouver last year.

Raonic (rau-nitch) improved to 11-2 this year with his third

three-set match here in Memphis. A year ago, Raonic was ranked No.

361 in the world and lost in the first round of qualifying at a

Challenger event in Belgrade.

”It’s tough after having such an amazing week after last week

to come back and sort of keep up the same level,” said Raonic,

who’s in his ninth career ATP World Tour event. ”I’m very proud I

was able to do that that I was able to stay there mentally and do

what I needed to do to get the wins not playing the brightest of

tennis. But in the end, the ‘W’ is what matters.”

Raonic saved eight of nine break points against Kendrick, but

he’s playing with such confidence right now that not even dropping

the second set bothered him. The Canadian regrouped in the third

set and finished off the match.

”At the end, I think I was getting a bit tight, and he was

starting to pick up my serve a bit better and this was putting more

pressure on me. He played a couple good points, but I was happy

with how I played on the critical points,” Raonic said.

Fish reached his third semifinal in Memphis and will try to

advance to the finals for the first time. He lost in 2004 and 2007.

Fish said he’s feeling better after a thyroid condition caused him

to skip last week’s tournament in San Jose.

”I came in here not knowing what to expect as far as my health

was concerned to be honest,” Fish said. ”I’ve gotten so much

better … I’ve been pleasantly surprised how well I’ve felt every

match and getting through that match a couple days ago, the long

2-hour, 40-minute match, helped me a lot today. … Hopefully that

health stuff is behind me, and I can keep going.”

Fish needed 79 minutes to beat Querrey, serving up eight aces

and winning 17 of his points on his second serve. He also saved

three of four break points.