Roddick powers his way past Stepanek

The American uses his powerful serve to wiggle out of two tight sets in the title victory dash past the defending champion in the Brisbane International.

Roddick serves seven aces to Stepanek in the final.
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Top seed Andy Roddick beat Radek Stepanek in two tight sets in the final of the Brisbane International today. The American defeated the second seed and defending champion from Czech Republic 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (9-7) in two hours and five minutes. Roddick's serving was key to his victory as he got an impressive 77 per cent of first serves in and sent down seven aces. Neither player dropped serve in the opening set, Roddick seeing five break opportunities go begging and saving two of his own. He broke twice early in the second set, Stepanek double-faulting at crucial times in the first and third games, but was pegged back before finally prevailing in the tie-break.

Roddick, who was now won 28 career singles titles, admitted he expected to close out the second set sooner, having held a 5-1 lead at one stage. Last year's Wimbledon finalist told the ATP Tour website: "I don't think I've ever squandered a lead where I've been putting in first serves and making approach shots. "The first time I served for it I had a double fault, but I don't know that I missed a ball apart from that. The next one I actually made five out of six first serves and again was coming in. "Once he got down he kind of loosened up and played more aggressively." Roddick was hampered by injury after his Wimbledon exploits last year. He added: "I certainly don't know if I expected to come and win my first tournament after a pretty extended lay-off."

Stepanek was pleased with the fighting spirit he showed to claw his way back into the match. "I was able to come back from 1-5 down in the second set against a player such as Andy with a tremendous serve, to break him twice in a row," he said. "I was fighting until the last point, I never gave up. I had my chances at the end of the second set in the tie-break. "I think the biggest difference today was in the serve, Andy had a great percentage of first serves and I wasn't able to hold my percentage that high." * PA