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Federer into semifinals at Australian Open

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POSTED: January 25, 2011 1:18 p.m.

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Two points into the final game of his Australian Open quarterfinal against Roger Federer on Tuesday, Stanislas Wawrinka steadied himself to try returning a forehand smash.

Wawrinka playfully waved his racket over his head in a mock attempt to return it. Forget it, the ball sailed past him and Federer won the point.

It was that kind of match for Wawrinka.

Federer faced just one break point, won all 13 of his service games, got 77 percent of his first serves in and polished off his Beijing Olympics doubles gold medalist teammate 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 in 1 hour, 47 minutes.

"When it's clicking it's really a good feeling, and I don't ask too many questions," Federer said of his outstanding serve.

All facets of Federer's game were working Tuesday as he advanced to the semifinals, where he'll meet 2008 champion Novak Djokovic.

No. 3-ranked Djokovic overpowered Tomas Berdych 6-1, 7-6 (5), 6-1 in a night match at Rod Laver Arena.

"I was tying to change the pace, put him out of the comfort zone," Djokovic said. "When he is in his comfort zone, he is a very difficult player, hits very strong, he has powerful strokes, powerful serve. So I needed to put some variety in the game."

He's liking his chances in the semifinals.

"If I continue playing like this, I think I have a good chance," Djokovic said. "But in the next match I have Federer. We all know he is the best player ever, so we all know it is going to be tough."

Still in the realm of probability for the defending champion is a final against Rafael Nadal and a chance to prevent the Spanish left-hander from winning his fourth consecutive Grand Slam. No man has held all four major titles since Rod Laver in 1969.

Nadal plays fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in one quarterfinal Wednesday, while Andy Murray takes on Alexandr Dolgopolov in the other.

Federer is not looking ahead to Nadal just yet."

"It's normal to follow Rafa in a big way because he's going for something particularly very special," Federer said. "My focus is not playing him in the finals quite yet. He still has to win a few matches against really tough players ahead of him. I got my hands full ... I'm not quite there."

Top-seeded Caroline Woznacki is nearly there, advancing to a semifinal against China's Li Na. The 20-year-old Danish player was under intense pressure early against French Open champion Francesca Schiavione before beating the Italian veteran 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Li advanced to the semifinals for the second year in a row at Melbourne Park after beating Andrea Petkovic of Germany 6-2, 6-4.

The other women's semifinalists will be decided Wednesday when second-seeded Vera Zvonareva plays Petra Kvitova and U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters takes on Agnieszka Radwanska.

Wozniacki rallied from a set and a break down to beat Schiavone and ensure she'd maintain the No. 1 ranking after this tournament.

Schiavone dominated the opening set and a half before the effects of her previous match kicked in. She beat Svetlana Kuznetsova in a three-set match lasting 4 hours, 44 minutes, a record for a women's Grand Slam singles match.

"Maybe in the third set I felt a little bit something physically, but it's not an excuse," Schiavone said. "I think I gave the best that I could do."

Wozniacki described Schiavone as a "fighter."

"She started off really, really well and I didn't feel like I had the right timing," Wozniacki said. "So it was difficult for me in the beginning, but I fought back and I'm so happy that I'm standing here as the winner."

The match point was contentious — first called out by a line judge. An overrule by chair umpire Eva Aseraki forced Wozniacki to ask for a video ruling, which confirmed the initial call and ended the match.

Schiavone knew the match was over even before the replay — "I saw the ball was out, was no chance," she said.

Li, who lost the 2010 semifinal in two tiebreak sets to eventual champion Serena Williams, came to Melbourne after winning the title at a tuneup event in Sydney and is on a 10-match winning streak.

"I's good for me. I mean, the second time in the Grand Slam semifinal, always in the Australia Open, and also before I played well in Sydney," she said. "Hopefully I can do better in this year, and everyone will see me again."

Li was the first Chinese woman to win a WTA tour event, and the first to enter the top 10. Her run to the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 2006 was the best for a Chinese player in a major at the time. Now her return to the semis is a first.

No Chinese woman has won a major, but Petkovic thinks that can change here.

"I think she played really well. I think she's going to win the tournament," Petkovic said. "She moves very well, she has a great footwork. She takes the ball very early. She plays flat and deep. She has this sneaky aggressive play, I would call it."

 

 

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