HOUSTON, Apr 16 (Reuters) American wild card Mardy Fish advanced to the final of the US Clay Court Championships after fifth seed Tommy Haas was forced to retire from their semi-final with an injured wrist.
Trailing 4-1 in the opening set, German Haas walked over to the chair umpire during a changeover and said he could not continue because of a painful right wrist.
Haas, who disposed of three-time champion and top seed Andy Roddick in the quarter-finals, has recorded two wins already this season at Delray Beach and Memphis.
''At the beginning of the match against Andy (Roddick) I felt a little tightness in there,'' Haas, the 2004 U.S. Clay Court winner, told the ATP's Web site. ''But it totally went away, so I didn't think about it much.
''Then sure enough this morning, it was pretty tight again and didn't go away unfortunately throughout the day.
''I'm having trouble just holding the racquet. I'm a guy who holds it a little tighter than others sometimes.'' Fish, who took the silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, will meet Jurgen Melzer in today's final, the Austrian advancing with a 6-3 6-4 win over seventh seeded American Paul Goldstein.
After semi-final losses on the Houston clay last year to Roddick and in 2003 to Andre Agassi, Melzer brushed past Goldstein in 70 minutes.
Despite the scoreline, it took a gritty effort from the Austrian to reach the final, falling behind 3-0 in the opening set then sweeping the next six games to go up 1-0.
Melzer again found himself in a 4-2 hole in the second before winning the next four games to clinch the match.
''I've been struggling this year,'' said Melzer, who had a record of 1-8 coming into the event. ''But it's better to start the year in April than to not start it at all.
''I'm very pleased with the way I played today down 3-0. I really started feeling the ball well.
''I knew if I play my game and don't miss too much, I have a really good chance to sneak through.'' It will be Melzer's third career final as he looks for his maiden career ATP title.
REUTERS DH RAI1252