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Federer brushes aside Karlovic

ROGER Federer neutralized Ivo Karlovic's huge serves yesterday to reach the Wimbledon semifinals and move a step closer to a record 15th Grand Slam championship.

In a match featuring short points and few rallies, Federer conjured up a few great returns to break the 2.08-meter Croatian twice and secure a 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (3) victory on another sunbaked day at the All England Club in London.

Federer, closing in on his sixth Wimbledon title, reached his 21st consecutive semifinal at a Grand Slam tournament and extended his winning streak to 17 matches with another vintage performance on his favorite Centre Court.

"I love the record I have of reaching so many semifinals in Grand Slams in a row - 21 is quite a number," Federer said. "It shows how consistent I've been."

It was Federer's ninth win in 10 matches against Karlovic, who was playing in his first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Federer will face Tommy Haas, who upset No. 4 Novak Djokovic 7-5, 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-3, in tomorrow's semifinals.

The 24th-seeded Haas saved three straight set points in the tiebreaker before converting his first with a volley for a 2-0 lead. He sealed the win when Djokovic netted a forehand return on the first match point.

The 31-year-old Haas was the oldest player to reach the quarterfinals, while the 22-year-old Djokovic was the youngest.

In other men's quarterfinals yesterday, No. 3 Andy Murray of Britain defeated wild card and former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-5, 6-3, 6-2. Murray will face either Andy Roddick or Lleyton Hewitt in the other semifinal. Their match was in progress at press time.

Karlovic served 23 aces to raise his tournament total to 160, but it was Federer who never faced a break point in this match. The second-ranked Swiss star won 74 of 85 points on serve and was taken to deuce only once, in the sixth game of the third set. Federer got out of that jam with a service winner and an ace.

"It's difficult because there's not really any baseline rallies on his serve or on my serve," Federer said. "You expect a tough scoreline all the time. It's not easy to break him. I'm very happy to break him twice and win the match."

The statistics told the story: Federer had 39 winners and only seven unforced errors, to 29 winners (almost all on serve) and 17 errors for Karlovic.

Federer grabbed the upper hand early when he broke Karlovic in the fourth game of the match with flashes of brilliance.

He got to break point with a reflex backhand return winner off a 209 kph serve and then ripped a forehand return winner off a 196 kph serve, pumping his fist and shouting, "Come on!"

It was the first time Karlovic had been broken during the tournament after winning 80 consecutive service games.

Federer finished off the match with an inside-out forehand winner on the first match point.


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