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Associated Press

WIMBLEDON, England — With a superior serve and better all-around game, Roger Federer beat Andy Roddick 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-3 in the Wimbledon semifinals Friday.

The matchup between young players touted as future Grand Slam champions turned out to be a mismatch. Federer controlled the net, employed more variety of shots and — surprisingly — hit 17 aces to just four for Roddick.

The No. 4-seeded Federer will play in his first major final Sunday against unseeded Mark Philippoussis, who won every service game and overpowered No. 13 Sebastien Grosjean 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-3.

The women's title will stay with the Williams family for a fourth consecutive year. Defending champion Serena Williams plays 2000-01 winner Venus Williams in the final Saturday.

Federer, whose previous grass-court highlight was ending Pete Sampras' 31-match Wimbledon winning streak in 2001, overcame a set point in the tiebreaker against Roddick and pulled away from there. Federer erased the only two break points he faced and smartly mixed the pace, spin and placement of his shots.

Roddick lost only three of 79 service games in the first five rounds, but Federer dug in against serves of up to 137 mph. He put all but 25 in play, aces included.

The No. 5-seeded Roddick, now 0-2 in Grand Slam semifinals this year, was uncharacteristically subdued for most of the match. He tried a little showmanship, hitting a ball between his legs after it landed long. He tried arguing, briefly complaining when the chair umpire ruled a shot bounced twice before Roddick hit it.

But the match continued to slip away from him. Federer closed the second set on a long rally, moving smoothly from side to side before charging forward for a stylish forehand putaway.

Even Roddick smiled in admiration as he walked to his chair.

While Federer began the tournament as one of the favorites, Philippoussis is an improbable finalist. The Grand Slam title match will be the second for the Australian, but his first since a knee injury that required three operations in 2000-01 and nearly ended his career.

"It's weird," he said. "It feels like I was in a wheelchair yesterday, but then again it feels like I've been away for six years. It's a good feeling."

Against Grosjean, Philippoussis faced only two break points, and the longest rally on his serve was five shots.

Hitting serves at up to 131 mph, Philippoussis totaled a modest 11 aces, raising his total for the tournament to 164 in six matches. He volleyed well coming to the net behind most of his serves, and 37 weren't returned.

Roddick's serve can be just as powerful, but it failed to faze Federer.

The American had a set point in the tiebreaker serving at 6-5, but he put an easy forehand in the net. Federer then hit a forehand winner and a 120-mph service win to take the set.

Roddick reached break point for the first time in the opening game of the second set, but Federer hit two aces to hold.

Federer earned the first service break in the next game. On break point Roddick hit two lunging volleys, but the second one sent him sprawling to the lawn, and Federer put away a forehand to lead 2-0 and take command of the match.

Less than an hour later it was over. When Roddick hit a forehand wide on match point, Federer let out a scream and threw a roundhouse punch at the air.

Grosjean held his own at the outset against Philippoussis. The server won 21 consecutive points during one stretch, and Grosjean lost only one point in his first five service games.

But the exchanges became more interesting late in the set, with three rallies of 15 strokes or more. In the tiebreaker, Grosjean misplayed a volley and forehand to lose two points serving, and Philippoussis won the final five points of the set.

They played for an hour before the Frenchman earned a break point, and that chance slipped away when he put a return in the net. Philippoussis broke twice to take the second set, and Grosjean double faulted to lose serve again in the next-to-last game.

"I don't think Sebastien played his best tennis today, and I took advantage of that," Philippoussis said. "I volleyed well and tried to keep the pressure on."

Philippoussis is trying to give Australia back-to-back Wimbledon champions. Lleyton Hewitt won the 2002 title.

Venus Williams overcame an abdominal strain and a one-set deficit to beat Kim Clijsters 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the women's semifinals Thursday. Serena Williams beat Justine Henin-Hardenne 6-3, 6-2 to avenge a traumatic loss in the French Open semifinals four weeks ago.

The sisters have met in four of the past five Grand Slam finals, including Wimbledon last year, with Serena winning them all. Serena is 39-1 in her past six Grand Slam events, while Venus is 26-1 at Wimbledon over the past four years.

Copyright © 2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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