Top-seeded Roger Federer to meet Andy Roddick in men’s final

New York, September 10 :

Maria Sharapova insists she’s more about substance than style, and now she has a second Grand Slam title to prove it.

Her strokes as piercing as her shrieks by the end, the third-seeded Sharapova beat No 2 Justine Henin-Hardenne 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday night to win the US Open final.

Sharapova burst onto the tennis scene by winning Wimbledon in 2004 at age 17. She’d come close to adding more major championships since but went 0-5 in Slam semi-finals — until this tournament.

When Henin-Hardenne, a finalist at all four majors this year, slapped one last forehand into the net, Sharapova dropped to her knees and covered her face, then rose and trotted to shake hands.

Sharapova climbed into the stands for hugs with her father and her hitting partner. But Sharapova needed very little help on court against Henin-Hardenne, a five-time major champion who would have returned to No 1 in the rankings with a victory. By facing only one break point, and overcoming an early lapse, Sharapova wound up dominating a player with more impressive accomplishments.

Henin-Hardenne entered the night leading the tour in matches won (54), Grand Slam matches won (25) and tournament titles (five) this season.

“She’s been a real fighter tonight,” said the Belgian, who won the 2003 Open. “The better player won tonight.”

In the men’s final, No 1 Roger Federer will be bidding for his ninth career Grand Slam title when he takes on No 9 Andy Roddick, aiming for his second.

Roddick used his serve to subdue Mikhail Youzhny 6-7 (5), 6-0, 7-6 (3), 6-3 and earn another chance at top-seeded and heavily favoured Federer in the final.

Hours earlier, Federer charged into his sixth straight Grand Slam final, overwhelming Nikolay Davydenko 6-1, 7-5, 6-4. Federer is 10-1 lifetime against Roddick, winning 24 of 28 sets.

Navratilova retires :

NEW YORK: A month shy of her 50th birthday, Martina Navratilova closed out her competitive career on Saturday in fitting fashion: a mixed doubles championship at the US Open for her 59th Grand Slam title.

Navratilova teamed with American Bob Bryan to beat Kueta Peschke and Martin Damm 6-2, 6-3 before an appreciative crowd that stood and cheered throughout the final. Navratilova left the sport in 1994 after winning 167 singles titles.

She returned for doubles in 2000. Navratilova won six straight Wimbledon singles titles from 1982-87. — AP