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Roddick upbeat despite another defeat to Federer

Written by: Staff

NEW YORK, Sep 11 (Reuters) Andy Roddick lost the U S Open final to Swiss maestro Roger Federer yet the 24-year-old American said he had a blast being back on the centre stage of tennis and was excited about his future.

''I gave myself a shot today,'' Roddick said yesterday after his 6-2 4-6 7-5 6-1 loss to the world number one - his 11th defeat to Federer in 12 meetings.

''I wanted to make it tough. I played my heart out. I tried my best. You know, I'm excited. I feel like I have a lot of room for improvement still. I just got to keep working.'' Roddick is now working with former five-times U S Open winner Jimmy Connors and that association has revitalised the former world number one and given him new hope.

''I'm excited. I can't wait to spend the off season working with Jimmy for an extended period of time. I still feel like I have a lot to learn, and there's a lot of upside still there.'' Roddick said there was no shame in losing to Federer, who became the first man ever to win three U S Opens in a row in the same span as three Wimbledons as he claimed his ninth grand slam title.

''Roger is at the top and he's the only person at the top regardless of how much people want to make rivalry comparisons and this, that and the other,'' said Roddick.

''He's the best player in the game. There's no question in my mind or if you ask any player's mind about that.'' FIERCE BATTLE The American ninth seed gave Federer some testy moments, battling him fiercely in the third set, fighting off five break points in the sixth game after failing to take advantage of four break points in the fifth game, before the Swiss champion broke him in the last game to take the set and seize control.

''I felt like I had him a little bit off for a little bit of that third set, and it could have gone either way,'' he said. ''But you know I thought he played a pretty good game there to break me to win the set.'' Roddick said playing so well in the middle of the grand slam final was thrilling.

''The atmosphere was great. I was really enjoying competing.

You want to be on that stage. At that point, it was a real battle. I was really enjoying myself out there,'' he said.

''I just want to keep doing it. If I lose to him in eight grand slam finals, that's fine. You throw enough crap against the wall, something's gonna stick one of these times.'' Roddick, the 2003 U S Open winner, had dipped out of the top 10 after he lost in the third round of Wimbledon to Briton Andy Murray, rebounded with a great hard court season after hooking up with Connors this summer, reaching the final in Indianapolis and winning in Cincinnati.

''I leave here excited about where I'm heading right now.'' REUTERS AD RN0732

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