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Federer topples Karlovic to face Haas

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:37

World No.2 Roger Federer is through to his 21st consecutive Grand Slam semi-final after dissecting serve machine Ivo Karlovic in the last eight with a 6-3 7-5 7-6(3) victory.

The five time Wimbledon champion had said he always relished the challenge of playing the 6’10” Croatian after his fourth round win. Karlovic entered the match in formidable serving form, having hit over 130 aces and, even more amazingly, having held serve for 80 straight games.

The record didn’t last long. Federer broke as early as game four and restricted Karlovic to three aces in the first set, dropping just three points on his own serve in the process.

It may not always have been pretty, but the crowd marveled at the Swiss’ instinctive returning game. Disarmed, Karlovic was reduced to looking like an very ordinary player during many of the rallies in the first set.

“Twenty-one is quite a number, and it shows how consistent and injury-free I’ve been”

The aces began to come for Karlovic in the second. Federer was left to scrap for half-chances, and looked likely to rue two errors that let the Croatian off the hook from 30-30 at 3-3 as the set approached a tie-break.

But at 5-5, Federer put a string of points together with a smash, a backhand return and a forehand down the line from 15-15 to leave himself serving for the set, which he did comfortably.

Karlovic, wearing sunglasses beneath his cap, against racked up the aces in the third set to take his match tally to 23. It was all in vain, though, as after reaching the inevitable tie-break Federer simply outclassed the Croat when it counted.

“Twenty-one [semi-finals] is quite a number and it shows how consistent and injury-free I’ve been,” said Federer afterwards. “Once you are in this kind of position you try to win the tournament. It is great that I have been able to play consistently this week, it has been good and I’m really excited.

“I have just won Madrid and beat Rafa there, I won Paris for the first time and have come into Wimbledon on a winning streak. I am sure I’d be even more confident if I’d won here last year.”

But he refuses to picture himself lifting a record fifteenth Grand Slam title just yet. “I just won my quarters, so my mind has not started wondering yet,” he added. “I think tomorrow I’ll prepare for a tough weekend ahead of me.

“It would be writing in the history books of tennis but it’s not there yet. It’s still far away – many points, many serves, many forehands.”

No.24 seed Tommy Haas had never been beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon but now awaits the five-time champion after shocking Novak Djokovic 7-5 7-6(6) 4-6 6-3.

A single break point was all the 31-year-old German needed to nick the first set, and after trading breaks in the second Haas sealed a two set lead in the tie-break.

“I just yelled at myself basically to wake up. Within a minute I won five points in a row”

Incredulously Djokovic had led the breaker 6-3, but Haas sent down an ace and service winner to leave the Serbian with a set point on his own serve. Haas whistled a return past the No.4 seed, and brought up a set point of his own when Djokovic wildly put the ball out at the net with the whole court to aim at.

He took the set at the net after a tight rally to assume total control.

Djokovic responded by winning the third set with a solitary break, but was too passive in the fourth set as Haas took the game to him. Another single break wrapped up the match in just short of two hours 45 minutes.

The German was satisfied with a comprehensive display. “I served extremely well and didn’t really give him much of a rhythm. He never really got a groove on returning well to maybe get some confidence or break me.

“Even though he had a chance in the second set, I think the second set was maybe the key for the match in some ways, because the whole time we were both just holding serve pretty comfortably.

“Then somehow I broke him where he made a few loose errors. I played a couple of good points to go up 6-5. All of a sudden I lost four points in a row on my serve. I felt like I didn’t really go for it. I hesitated. He came up with some good shots.

“Next thing you know, I’m down in the tie-break, 3-6. Then I just yelled at myself basically to wake up. Within a minute I won five points in a row. That was huge, I think, to kind of give me the two sets to love lead.

“He played a good game in the third to break me and served well to serve it out. I kind of waited around and see if I could get a chance, which I did in the fourth.”

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