Federer's easy passage to semi
WIMBLEDON champion Roger Federer enjoyed a hassle-free passage into the semi-finals of the Swiss Open yesterday after his quarter-final opponent David Sanchez was forced into withdrawing from the tournament due to a knee injury.
To the dismay of the local fans, who were bursting with enthusiasm at the prospect of witnessing their compatriot extend his run of 14 straight match wins since 4 April, the 21-year-old was given a welcome rest that boosted his hopes of winning his home title for the first time.
"I came off the practice court and I was ready to go on court for my match when I was told the news," said Federer, whose soar in popularity since the victory at the All England Club has led to a huge increase in attendances in the Alpine resort this week.
"I am happy to be in the semi-finals and it doesn’t matter how I managed to get there, but I do feel sorry for him. Injuries are always problems.
"It is not often you get games like this when you are given a walkover before the start."
To placate the crowds - and a small army of media photographers and camera crews desperate to see Federer in some sort of action - the Gstaad organisers arranged a 20-minute exhibition game for the man of the moment, who played with compatriot Michael Lammer.
Federer is seeking to win the Swiss Open, played on an outdoor clay court, for the first time in his career. In five previous attempts, he has lost in the first round four times, only once reaching the second round. So it can easily be derived that his extended run in this year’s tournament is most welcome.
Federer, who heads the ATP Champions Race this year, now meets last year’s beaten finalist Gaston Gaudio in an intriguing battle to see who will take the coveted place in the final.
The Argentine fourth seed, one of the strongest clay court players on the ATP tour, beat unseeded Austrian Stefan Koubek 6-3 6-1 in the yesterday’s last quarter-final.
The other players who comprise the semi-final foursome are Radek Stepanek and Jiri Novak, who both successfully negotiated difficult quarter-finals to, guarantee at least one Czech Republic player a place in the final.
Eighth seed Stepanek beat the highly-fancied German Rainer Schuettler, who was seeded second, 6-4 6-2, while third seed Novak disposed of fifth seed Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina 6-3 6-3.
Novak’s victory was a small personal milestone as it was his first in three meetings with Chela. It prompted him to suggest he had rediscovered his best form, and at a rather convenient time. But, he warned, that was not likely to be any assurance of an easy passage against compatriot Stepanek in their all-Czech semi-final.
"We are friends and we play a lot together in practice," said Novak, doubtless wary of his opponent. "He has improved a lot this year and he has nothing to lose. Our rankings will mean nothing in this game."
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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