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Federer secures semis spot

WORLD No. 2 Roger Federer survived a gritty Andy Roddick fightback to beat the American sixth seed 7-5, 6-7, 6-1 and advance to the semifinals of the Madrid Open yesterday.

The Swiss maestro mixed up his game beautifully against the big-serving Roddick in the first set and clinched it with an exquisite drop shot.

He had chances to break for a 5-4 lead in the second but Roddick held on and stormed back from 3-0 down in the tie-break, helped by one scorching forehand winner, to take the match to a deciding set.

Federer suddenly found a higher gear and three stunning passing shots set up a break in the second game.

He played an extraordinary shot from the baseline between his legs with his back to the net to keep himself in one rally, saved a break point in game five and broke again the following game.

Roddick saved three match points before sending a return long on a Federer second serve to put the Swiss through to face the winner of the quarterfinal later between fourth seed Andy Murray and fifth seed Juan Martin Del Potro.

Federer, who has yet to win a title this year, had never faced Roddick on clay before and improved his record against the American to 18 wins and two defeats.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal will continue his quest for a sixth title of the season and a fourth on clay in his quarterfinal against Spanish compatriot Fernando Verdasco, the seventh seed, later yesterday.

Serb Novak Djokovic, chasing a fifth straight final appearance, meets Croatian wildcard Ivan Ljubicic in the other quarterfinal.

In the women's draw, Amelie Mauresmo will play Caroline Wozniacki in the semifinals after both players won yesterday.

Mauresmo rallied for a 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 win over Agnes Szavay of Hungary. She broke for a 3-1 lead in the second set when Szavay netted a forehand and then played a soft forehand passing shot to break again before holding to even the match.

The 21st-ranked Frenchwoman then broke her Hungarian opponent to open the decider before saving a break chance for 2-0.

Szavay repelled two break points in the third game before hitting long to trail 3-0 and Mauresmo was never threatened thereafter.

Ninth-seeded Wozniacki beat Russian qualifier Vera Dushevina 6-0, 6-4 for her tour-high 72nd match win of the season.

Wozniacki, the ninth seed, was helped by some poor serving from the Russian qualifier and broke six times on the clay in the new Magic Box stadium.

She is projected to become the first Danish woman to break into the top 10 when the WTA rankings are updated on Monday.


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