Top-ranked Federer to face third-seed Djokovic in Rogers Cup final

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MONTREAL (CP) Roger Federer knows hell have his work cut out for him when he faces Novak Djokovic in the Rogers Cup final, regardless of the Swiss stars recent success against the young Serb.

MONTREAL (CP) Roger Federer knows hell have his work cut out for him when he faces Novak Djokovic in the Rogers Cup final, regardless of the Swiss stars recent success against the young Serb.

Defending champion and world No. 1 Federer moved to within a win of a third Rogers Cup title with a methodical 7-6 (6), 6-2 victory over giant-killer Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic at the US$2.45 million Masters Series event on Saturday.

And third-seeded Djokovic downed No. 2 Rafael Nadal 7-5, 6-3 to set up a showdown with Federer in the final on Sunday at Uniprix Stadium. Federer has won all of their four previous meetings, including twice this year on hard courts.

Novaks absolutely a tough player at this moment, said Federer. Hes got a good serve and return and he always makes you work hard.

Top-seeded Federer has won 16 straight matches at the Rogers Cup, with tournament wins in 2004 and 2006 in Toronto. He sat out the 2005 event in Montreal with a foot injury. His last loss in Canada was to American Andy Roddick in the 2003 semifinals.

The 20-year-old Djokovic jumped from No. 83 to No. 16 in world rankings last year and now is ranked No. 4, with three tournament wins this year as well as semifinal appearances at the French Open and Wimbledon.

And while the Serb has never beaten Federer, they have had some close, three-set matches.

Ive lost every match against him so Ill be motivated, for sure, said the six-foot-two Djokovic. Hes definitely the favourite, but theres nothing to lose.

With the way I played this week, I had some really impressive matches, I can say Im feeling really confident and I have a chance.

Djokovic did not lose a service game against 21-year-old Nadal, and has lost only once on serve in 40 chances in the tournament.

But he had to hold off three break points in a long game for a 6-5 lead in the opening set, then got a service break to close the set.

He was down 0-40 early in the second, but won a challenge for an ace and went on to hold service again before breaking the Spanish lefthanders serve for a 5-3 lead in the second. Nadal went 0-for-8 on break points.

Im not disappointed, said Nadal, the 2005 Rogers Cup champion who won a third straight French Open title this year. Its my first week on hardcourts (since March) and I had a good week. I reached the semifinals. Thats a good start to the American season. But I know I need to improve.

Djokovic said Nadal is likely the fittest player on the ATP Tour, which makes him especially tough to beat on clay courts, so he had keep the tempo high on the quicker hardcourt.

I had to be aggressive from the start, Djokovic said. When youre controlling the points, he feels uncomfortable and probably thats why he played some unusually bad points, for him.

It was only his second win in seven career meetings with Nadal, but Djokovic has won the last two on hardcourts.

Federer needed a set to adjust, but then was workmanlike in ousting Stepanek.

I was very happy with the way I played, the 26-year-old said. It was a tough match with a lot of crucial points and a lot of shots played on reaction.

I couldnt really dictate play because he kept coming at me, but I came up with some nice passing shots when I had to.

Since surviving two tiebreakers with Ivo Karlovic of Croatia in his opening match this week, he drubbed Italian qualifier Fabio Fognini in only 45 minutes before besting old rival Lleyton Hewitt of Australia in two sets in the quarter-finals.

He had a tricky opening set against the unseeded Stepanek, who played many drop shots and went to the net as often as possible.

The two held service through the set, but Federer got a scare when he was down 0-40 in the seventh game. He took charge by pounding four straight points and ended the threat with his second ace of the game.

Organizations: French Open, ATP Tour

Geographic location: MONTREAL, Czech Republic, Uniprix Stadium Toronto Canada Wimbledon Croatia Australia

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