SAN JOSE, Calif. - Andy Roddick was expected to reach his first final of the season. Mardy Fish will be making a surprise appearance.
The third-seeded Fish overpowered second-seeded Andre Agassi 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 on Saturday night to advance to the final of the Siebel Open. Fish will face the top-seeded Roddick, who beat wild-card entry Robert Kendrick 7-6 (3), 6-2 in an earlier semifinal.
“I don’t know how I beat him, but I did,” Fish said.
Try a career-high 29 aces to Agassi’s 11, and by breaking Agassi’s serve twice in the third set. Some animosity might have helped, too.
During the last game of the second set, Fish pumped his fist toward his coach, Kelly Jones, after winning a point. Agassi pumped his fist in return.
“Obviously, he thought I fist-pumped to him,” said Fish, who had never played Agassi before. “But that’s not what happened. I’ve never fist-pumped anyone before. Why would I do it to Andre Agassi? It fired me up though, and made me want to beat him even more.”
Fish finished Agassi off with an ace and quietly walked off the court to a nice ovation.
“Once I was down a break, that was a pretty big momentum change,” said Agassi, who had eight double-faults. “All of a sudden he’s in control of the match. I lost rhythm on my serve and threw in a couple of double-faults that let me down.”
As for the fist pump, Agassi suggested he was just frustrated about his own serve.
“I started forcing it,” Agassi said. “I didn’t come through in the second set and he did everything he needed to do.”
Roddick and Fish will meet for the fourth time, and in a second straight final. Roddick beat Fish in Cincinnati last year 4-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4).
Roddick sliced a 107 mph ace to the corner on match point and finally finished off an opponent who put up a much bigger fight than anyone envisioned.
Roddick, ranked third in the world, dropped only three points on his serve in an entertaining first set, but had to go the distance against the free-swinging Kendrick, who had nothing to lose.
“I didn’t feel super threatened,” said Roddick, who had 11 aces, topping out at 134 mph. He lost only eight points in 10 service games, dropping just one point on his first serve.
Roddick won his first three service games at love and improved to 11-2 this year. He reached his first final since winning his first career Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open last September.
With girlfriend Mandy Moore cheering him on, Roddick routinely congratulated Kendrick with a “nice shot” and a clap of his racket. And Roddick made a quick exit afterward.
“I promise you, Valentine’s Day was created by women to get men in trouble,” Roddick told the crowd moments after the match. “So, basically my goal for Valentine’s Day is to stay out of the dog house.”
Would a tournament win make a difference?
“That doesn’t play on Valentine’s Day,” Roddick said. “She’ll say, ’Yeah, that’s great. You can hit a tennis ball, but let’s go out and see something.”’
This marked the first all-American semifinal at this tournament since 1995 — featuring Agassi, MaliVai Washington, Jim Courier and Michael Chang. The last tour semifinal with four American players was last February in Memphis, with Roddick, Taylor Dent, Vincent Spadea and Brian Vahaly.
The 24-year-old Kendrick reached the semis of an ATP tournament for the second time in his career. He advanced with a hard-fought 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-3 win over Frenchman Cyril Saulnier on Friday.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Kendrick said. “I felt comfortable out there against Andy. I think this will help me down the road playing top-five guys.”
Kendrick, ranked 139th, grew up in Fresno and often attended this tournament as a youngster. He had a strong rooting section all week — about 20 friends and family members have been in attendance.
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