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Fired-up Hewitt destroys Roddick

Hewitt rounded off victory by winning the final 20 points.

HOUSTON -- Fired-up Lleyton Hewitt defused hard-hitting Andy Roddick 6-3 6-2 in Houston, as he raced into the final of the Masters Cup for the third time in four years.

Back at the top of his game, the Adelaide fighter took the best shots the big-serving American could offer and gave back better to finish off the Texan in just 58 minutes.

In the final Hewitt will meet world number one and defending champion Roger Federer.

The Swiss clinched a two-set victory by winning an epic tiebreak 20-18 to account for Russian Marat Safin 6-3 7-6.

Hewitt took the last 20 points of the match to round off a devastating win over the second-ranked American.

Third-ranked Hewitt took full advantage of 25 unforced errors by Roddick and committed only six.

He ripped through breaks to love in the fifth and seventh games as he charged to victory.

Hewitt rose to 4-1 lifetime against Roddick, with all three prior triumphs coming in 2001. Roddick had won their only match since, in June at the Queen's semifinals.

Hewitt could do no wrong against an off-the-boil Roddick, who was watched by his parents and thousands of Texas home supporters.

"I didn't play well and he took his chances," said Roddick. "It's self-explanatory. He makes you play at a certain level to beat him and I fell well short today.

"You have to make things happen against Lleyton to beat him. I had to be aggressive - and unluckily I didn't do that today."

Hewitt said: "I was moving extremely well, able to dictate play. I was seeing the ball really well. It helps if you're in the zone like that."

Eased doubts

Federer soon eased any doubts that in-form Safin would have the edge on him after his recent injury layoff.

Safin came into the event after back-to-back Masters wins in Paris and Madrid, while Federer was playing his first event in almost month after straining his left thigh muscle.

Coached by Federer's former mentor Peter Lundgren, Safin might have also hoped for some valuable inside information.

But if Safin did have any tips they did not work against the 23-year-old Swiss, who has quickly returned to the sublime form that carried him to three Grand Slam titles this season and 10 tournament wins.

Certainly the time off did not dull any of Federer's competitive edge which shone through in a gripping tie-break, the Swiss finally securing a victory on his eighth match point, when Safin sent his return long.

The final will give the fired up Hewitt one last chance at revenge over his Swiss rival, who has claimed victories in all five of their meetings this season, including a straight sets demolition in the final of the U.S. Open.

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