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Updated: September 10, 2009 17:04 IST

Federer set for Djokovic showdown

AP
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Roger Federer celebrates after beating Robin Soderling at the U.S. Open in New York.
AP Roger Federer celebrates after beating Robin Soderling at the U.S. Open in New York.

Roger Federer has moved within two wins of a record sixth U.S. Open title, reaching a 22nd consecutive Grand Slam semifinal with a 6-0, 6-3, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (6) victory over 12th-seeded Robin Soderling.

Federer has won 39 consecutive matches at the American Grand Slam tournament, where he is trying to become the first man since Bill Tilden in the 1920s to win six titles in a row.

The Swiss star last failed to reach the semifinals at a major tournament when he lost in the third round of the 2004 French Open. No other man ever had a Grand Slam semifinal streak longer than 10.

“Not what I aimed for, that’s for sure,” Federer said of his record semifinal streak. “Probably one of the greatest records for me, personally, in my career. Glad it keeps going.”

In Saturday’s semifinals, Federer will play No. 4 Novak Djokovic, who eliminated No. 10 Fernando Verdasco of Spain 7-6 (2), 1-6, 7-5, 6-2. Federer beat Djokovic in the 2007 final and 2008 semifinals at Flushing Meadows.

Against Soderling, Federer breezed to a two-set lead, then was within two points of victory in the third, when the Swede made things interesting by coming back to take that tiebreaker. Then Soderling moved within a point of tying the match when he took the lead in the fourth-set tiebreaker.

That’s when Federer restored order, reeling off the last three points.

“It was so close towards the end. It’s a great relief to come through, because Robin started playing better and better as the match went on,” Federer said. “I knew he’d be tough, but the beginning was way too easy. He found his way into the match.”

With Soderling ahead 6-5 in the last tiebreaker, Federer hit a service winner to pull even. Soderling then missed a backhand wide to give Federer a match point, and pushed a forehand wide to end the match.

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