Woods and Federer have much in common. Both successfully hit shots none of their foes would try, and they're at their best when it matters most: Federer is 9-for-10 in major finals, the closest equivalent in tennis to Woods' 12-0 mark when leading going into the last round of a major.
"More and more often, over the last year or so, I've been kind of compared to Tiger - what he's doing on the golf tour, me doing on the tennis tour," Federer said. "I asked him how it was for him. Many things were similar. He knew exactly how I kind of felt out on the court. That's something that I haven't felt before: A guy who knows how it feels to feel invincible at times and when you just have the feeling like there's nothing going wrong anymore."
Woods and his wife sat between Federer's girlfriend and his agent. It's interesting to note who wasn't in that section: Federer's coach, Tony Roche, who prepares his pupil for this event but doesn't travel to it.
Roddick's new adviser -- they're avoiding the word "coach" -- is none other than five-time Open champion Jimmy Connors, of course. Connors chewed on his fingers when Roddick was having a hard time, and rocked back giddily after his charge's nice shots.
"He played like a man tonight, win, lose or draw," Connors said. "I'm so encouraged by the kid. I'm proud of him."
Connors has rebuilt Roddick's confidence and revamped his game, but Federer was able to come up with all of the answers, particularly in the tensest moments.
Critical tests of will and nerve came early in the third set: Federer faced four break points but saved them all to hold for a 3-2 lead, and Roddick then successfully dealt with five break points in the very next game to make it 3-all.
"We were pretty much fighting tooth and nail," Roddick said.
But then, serving to take that set to a tiebreaker, Roddick faltered. Or better, Federer flourished, using two backhand return winners to break serve. Federer let out a scream of "Yes!" -- about the only ounce of emotion he showed until falling to his back at the very end.
Overall, Federer broke six times; Roddick lost his serve a total of five times in the tournament's first six rounds combined.
Federer was beyond brilliant at the start, using a mix of well-spun aces, curling passing shots, crisp volleys and reflex returns of Roddick's serves topping 135 mph.
When Federer hit his fourth ace at 131 mph to cap that opening five-game run, Roddick bowed his head and shook it.
"You don't want to get embarrassed out there, that's for sure," Roddick would say later.
Shortly thereafter, the first set was done. Federer hit a cross-court backhand passing shot that dipped as though attached to a string, and then he broke for the third time by getting back a 142 mph serve with a return so tough Roddick meekly slapped a forehand into the net.
And then, suddenly, Roddick got back into the match, breaking Federer at love to open the second set and running to the sideline with an uppercut and a yell.
The book on Roddick has been that his game is limited to two power strokes, his serve and his forehand. But in the past couple of months with Connors, the repertoire has expanded, and Roddick held his own in the second set and most of the third.
On one point, Roddick reached for a half-volley to extend the exchange, and then, with both players at the net, hit a reflex volley winner.
After speaking about the changes to his own game, Roddick was asked about whether Federer is better than when he beat Roddick in the 2004 and 2005 Wimbledon finals.
"He's improving as well," Roddick said, "which is scary."