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Federer and Djokovic scrap their way to semi-finals

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:41

Defending US Open champion Roger Federer admitted it was a relief to have beaten quarter-final opponent Robin Soderling 6-0 6-3 6-7(6) 7-6(6) as the Swede mounted a late fight-back in Wednesdays night session.

Federer, who beat Soderling in the French Open final and at Wimbledon this year, had looked on course for a rountine win after playing some outstanding tennis for the first two sets, before the No.12 seed battled his way back into the match.

The world No.1, chasing a sixth straight US Open title, will face Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals after the No.4 seed beat Fernando Verdasco earlier in the day.

There were no early signs of Soderling threatening Federers 11-match unbeaten run against the Swede as Federer, in supreme form, was virtually flawless throughout the first set, providing a lesson in accurate serving and hitting an array of devastating drives to wrap up the bagel in under 25 minutes.

Soderling, who had not played badly, got a game on the board at last in the second set but still found himself two sets down within an hour.

Finally in the third set, the Swede made his serve count, keeping Federer at bay until the tiebreak. Then, having seen the world No.1 race to a 5-2 lead, Soderling romped back with four straight points before sealing the set 8-6.

As the fourth set followed a similar path thoughts turned to the seasons other great upset Soderlings fourth-round defeat of Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros and the prospect of the Swede taking it to a nail-biting fifth set.

Another tiebreak followed yet more dogged serving as Federer could not put his opponent away, and he was lucky to see Soderling blow a set point at 6-5 in the breaker with a poor return.

It was the last stand from the Swede, and Federer clinched the next two points and the match to seal his spot in a 22nd consecutive grand slam semi-final.

“This feels great,” Federer said. “It was so close towards the end and it’s just a great relief to come through because Robin just got better and better as the match went on.

“I knew it was going to be tough but the beginning was a bit too easy and all of a sudden he found his way into the match and showed what a great player he really is.”

Novak Djokovic had to deal with blustery conditions and a resurgent Fernando Verdasco in the days first semi-final to win 7-6(2) 1-6 7-5 6-2 and set up a third consecutive US Open showdown against Federer.

After a relatively poor showing at the grand slams this year the world No.4 rediscovered some form at just the right time, subduing some brutal forehand strikes from the Spaniard.

After the light-hearted atmosphere following his victory over Radek Stepanek in the last round, it was back to business for Djokovic as Verdasco forced him to produce a spellbinding defensive display in the third following a second-set thumping.

After clinching the crucial break in game eleven, Djokovic sealed the set and stepped up a gear in the fourth to seal the match in commanding fashion.

“The dangerous thing about Verdasco is to let him take over the control of the match, because he’s physically very strong,” Djokovic said. “He stepped it in, played very aggressive, and he deserved that second set.

“I managed to come back, and that’s what matters.”

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