KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. - Andy Roddick resisted the impulse to retreat. Instead, finding himself overpowered by Rafael Nadal, Roddick began to charge the net.
"It's kind of like driving into head-on traffic," Roddick said.
Though counterintuitive, the tactic worked, and Roddick rallied for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory in the semifinals of the Sony Ericsson Open on Friday.
Once Roddick fell behind, he became more aggressive, even following his second serve to the net on occasion. Momentum turned when he won the last 11 points of the second set, including a 143-mph serve - fastest of the tournament - for a winner on the final point to even the match.
Roddick kept coming, winning 12 points at the net in the final set. He also put more oomph into his forehand, especially on returns.
"I took a lot of risks there in the last two sets," he said. "I rolled the dice a lot and came up Yahtzee a couple times."
Seeded sixth, Roddick advanced to the Key Biscayne final for the first time since winning the championship in 2004. He'll try for his first Masters 1000 title since August 2006 in Cincinnati when he plays Tomas Berdych, who advanced Friday to the final by beating Robin Soderling 6-2, 6-2.
Berdych broke serve four times and faced only one break point. The 6-foot-5 Berdych upset the top-ranked Federer in the fourth round.
But it was Roddick vs. Nadal that felt like a final. The near-capacity crowd included Tiger Woods' wife, Elin, and their son Charlie, who watched under an awning at the skybox level near the players' lounge.
South Florida's polyglot population made for divided fan support, with chants of "An-dy!" and "Ra-fa!" drowning each other out.
Like his pal Dwyane Wade, Roddick won going to the net.
"He started to play more aggressive," Nadal said. "It was a surprise for me."