Federer into semis after two tie-breakers

Swiss Roger Federer returns to Swede Robin Soderling during their quarterfinals match on Wednesday.
Top seed Roger Federer fended off a resurgent 12th seed Robin Soderling with two razor-thin tie-breaking sets to reach the U.S. Open semifinals 6-0, 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 7-6 (8-6).

Federer on Wednesday unleashed 28 aces and kept unforced errors to 26, compared with his Swedish opponent’s 45, to pull the win. Federer succeeded in winning 86 percent on his first serve alone. The Swiss tennis player is seeking his sixth consecutive U.S. Open win, which would cap a year in which he won the French Open and Wimbledon titles and was Australian Open runner up. Such a win would equal the feat set by American Bill Tilden in 1925, who then went on to claim his seventh U.S. Open title in 1929. Federer will face fourth seed Novak Djokovic, who reached the U.S. Open semi-finals for the third year in a row after beating Spaniard and 10th seed Fernando Verdasco in four sets 7-6 (7-2), 1-6, 7-5, 6-2. Yesterday, third seed Rafael Nadal of Spain overcame a first set tiebreaker loss to cruise through the next three sets and beat Frenchman Gael Monfils 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-1, 6-3. Nadal, the six-time grand slam winner and reigning Australian Open champion, has been coming off a two-month lay-off due to knee tendinitis, a break that kept him from defending his 2008 Wimbledon crown. He also showed no signs of the stomach injury which troubled him in the previous round but served conservatively with a maximum speed of 119 mph (192 kph) compared with 131 mph (211 kph) by Monfils. But Nadal had no double faults against four for his opponent and showed signs that he is coming back to his best.

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“I am improving every day. After a month and a half or two months, it is not easy coming back,” Nadal told reporters. Nadal advances to a quarterfinal matchup against 11th seed Chilean Fernando Gonzalez, who edged out seventh seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4. Earlier, in a massive fourth-round upset, second seed and last year’s runner-up Andy Murray lost in straight sets to Croatian 16th seed Marin Cilic. Briton Murray, who was seeded to face holder Roger Federer in a repeat of last year’s Flushing Meadows final, looked lackluster throughout the match as Cilic comfortably reached his first grand slam quarterfinal with a 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 victory in two hours and eight minutes.

Cilic will now face Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro for a place in the semifinals, after the sixth seed secured a comfortable 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Spanish 24th seed Juan Carlos Ferrero. “I played very well and Andy was missing a lot,” Cilic told reporters. “I don’t think he was playing his best. It feels amazing to reach the quarters,” added the 20-year-old, who is the youngest player in the world’s top 20.