Andy Roddick takes Kooyong hat-trick

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Melbourne( Australia), Jan 12: Andy Roddick won his thrid straight Kooyong Classic and is all set to prove his mettle in Austalian Open which is sheduled to begin this week. Roddick overcame strong challenge from Marcos Baghdatis to win the crown. (7-5, 6-3).

Roddick beat top ranked Roger Federer at the Kooyong exhibition last year, then lost a lopsided semifinal to the Swiss star at the Australina Open.
Former Tennis idols Michael Chang and Andre Agassi had won hatrick victrories in Kooyong.Now, Roddick wants to improve his record at the Australian Open, where his best results have been semifinals appearances in '05 and '07.

"I'm still young and hungry at 25," Roddick said, hoping that the elation that came with leading the United States to its Davis Cup win was still fresh enough to help him end a run of 16 majors without a title since his only Grand Slam title at the 2003 U.S. Open.

"It was great to win that Davis Cup to get to feel something like that so recently makes you want to win even more."

Roddick started and finished with aces against Baghdatis, who was runner-up to Federer in the 2006 Australian Open.

The 22-year-old Cypriot was a late inclusion in the eight-man invitational draw at Kooyong after Federer withdrew because of a serious stomach illness.

Baghdatis has a tough opening week at Melbourne Park, facing 2002 champion Thomas Johansson in the opening round in a difficult section of the draw that also includes 2005 champion Marat Safin, 2005 finalist Lleyton Hewitt and No. 3-ranked Novak Djokovic.

"I know it's a bit tough, but life is tough at least, my life was tough, so I guess I have to accept it and deal with it and try to do as best as I can," Baghdatis said. "I had good preparation here, played three guys in the Top 10, which is a great way to prepare for a Grand Slam. I'm ready for the Open."

Roddick, on the same half of the Australian Open draw as No. 2 Rafael Nadal, has a qualifier in the first round and the possibility of young American Donald Young in the second.

He did not drop a service game in wins here over Ivan Ljubicic, Safin and Baghdatis. He fired 10 aces on Saturday and says he's close to the top of his game.

Roddick broke Baghdatis' serve in the 12th game of the first set after a small blip in the 11th, when he wasted three game points with forehand errors and disputed a line call on what he thought was an ace.

He said holding on, then changed the momentum in his favor.

He broke Baghdatis' second service game in the second set and closed out at love with an ace.

Safin, the only man to beat Federer at Melbourne Park in four years, finished off his preparations for the season's first major with a 6-3, 6-3 win earlier Saturday in the third-place match against Fernando Gonzalez, losing finalist at last year's Australian Open.

No. 7 Gonzalez is seeded to meet Federer in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open.
Federer will begin his bid for a third consecutive Australian title without a competitive match in the leadup, hoping to be the first man since Agassi achieved that in 1995.

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