Roddick, Raonic meet in Memphis final

Andy Roddick knows a number that sounds even better than reaching his 50th career ATP tournament final.

”Better than 50 finals would be 30 wins,” Roddick said Saturday. ”I think that’s what I have ahead of me. Certainly a pretty big number. Not sure how many guys have won 30 tournaments, so it certainly kind of rounds off the number. It sounds better than 29.”

Only Roger Federer (67) and Rafael Nadal (43) have more career wins among active players than Roddick, and the top-seeded American beat Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina 6-3, 6-4 Saturday in the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships to advance to yet another final.

”Honestly, I had no idea until I saw it last night,” Roddick said. ”Yeah, to play in the final of 50 tennis tournaments as a professional is a pretty big number. (I) might not be that bad after all.”

Roddick will play Milos Raonic of Canada, a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 winner over Mardy Fish, in the championship. This victory is a little sweeter since Roddick had lost his first three matches with del Potro, and he also struggled with slow starts. Not Saturday as Roddick reached the finals for the fifth time in six semifinals at The Racquet Club.

”This is probably the best match I’ve played this year, including Australia,” Roddick said. ”I played one bad game.”

He will play for his third title in Memphis on Sunday and would join Tommy Haas and Jimmy Connors as the only players to do that here.

Rebecca Marino of Canada was scheduled to play Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia for the Cellular South Cup championship Saturday night.

Del Potro came in not having lost serve this week after reaching the semifinals in San Jose last week. But Roddick broke him in the second game, and del Potro had his right leg wrapped above the knee for what he later called tightness after the fifth game before resuming. Roddick served out.

”He played really well,” del Potro said. ”He served really well, and I think he played much better than me in important moments, especially on the break points.”

Del Potro broke Roddick in the second game of the second set, converting points off some of the American’s unforced errors. Roddick hit a forehand long to lose serve and dropped his racket with a grimace. Roddick broke right back, then had a trainer stretch his right arm.

Roddick said he has been having trouble looking left with a bit of a pinched nerve and will get more treatment before the final.

The treatment helped as Roddick held serve with three straight aces on his next service game, and he took control of the match by breaking del Potro in a fifth game where they were knotted at deuce five times before Roddick broke again on his third break point when the Argentinian put a backhand into the net.

Roddick won 86 percent of his first serves and faced only two break points. Del Potro, who was sidelined by an injured right wrist for more than eight months last year, saved seven of 10 break points but was struggling with both his serve and his return game.

Still, he will move up to around No. 164 in the rankings based on his past two weeks. Roddick predicted the 2009 U.S. Open winner will be back in the top 10 later this year.

”I hope so,” del Potro said when told of Roddick’s comment. ”It’s a long road. Andy will be top 10 I think forever.”

Raonic is on what he calls an amazing run, and he’s not ready to stop. The 20-year-old will play his second ATP final in as many weeks after winning in San Jose last week. He even had a couple fans waving Canadian flags for him.

”I’m playing amazing and getting amazing results,” Raonic said.

This is just Raonic’s ninth ATP World Tour event, and his hot start to this year already moved him from No. 156 at the end of 2010 to a career-high No. 59 coming into Memphis. His performance here will move him into the top 50 to around 37, which would make him the highest-ranked Canadian ever. Greg Rusedski was the last Canadian to win on tour in April 1995.

This was Fish’s third semifinal in his 11th trip to Memphis, but the 29-year-old American hadn’t seen Raonic play before in person outside of perhaps 30 minutes on TV. Fish backed up about 6 feet off the base line, sometimes behind the word ”Memphis” on the court trying to give himself a fraction longer to pick up Raonic’s serve.

”You’re basically guessing if you’re standing way up,” Fish said. ”I felt like I was able to move back and at least get my racket on a few and not necessarily have to guess as much. But he hit spots, and it doesn’t matter.

Raonic never played a third set in San Jose. He hasn’t finished a match here yet without going to a third set. He won the first set over Fish in 35 minutes after breaking the American in the third game only to need 1 hour, 59 minutes to close out this match.

The 6-foot-5 Raonic hit 144 mph on some of his serves, and he also has the mobility to run all around the court. He broke Fish again and won the match by going to the net and dropping a soft shot where Fish couldn’t reach it. That came a point after Raonic got the advantage on a shot that appeared out.

Fish pointed to the spot and complained to the chair umpire with no success.

”Certainly wasn’t the reason I lost that call. It didn’t help …,” Fish said. ”Obviously, the goal in that situation is to try to make him serve it out, make him nervous. He’s never been in the semis of a 500 event before.”