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Federer books semifinal berth in Paris Masters
Federer beat Jurgen Melzer 6-1, 7-6 and will next face last year's runner-up and local favorite Gael Monfils.
Paris: Top-seeded Roger Federer reached the semifinals of the Paris Masters for the first time by defeating Jurgen Melzer of Austria 6-1, 7-6 (4) on Friday.
Federer, who earlier this week called the Parisian indoor tournament his "worst" Masters, had previously lost three times in the quarterfinals.
"I wouldn't say it's a relief, because a relief is something else, but I'm pleased to be in the semis," Federer said. "I knew it was going to be difficult because in the beginning I only had one hour of practice here. But now I feel good and
I'm not too tired."
Following victories in Stockholm and Basel, the Swiss star won a 12th consecutive match and delighted the crowd by sending winners all over the court during a 20-minute first set he opened with an ace.
Federer, who fired 18 aces and had 33 winners overall, will next face last year's runner-up and local favorite Gael Monfils, who beat third-seeded Andy Murray 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.
Murray ran out of gas and struggled on his first serve in the decider, allowing Monfils to make the decisive break in the fifth game after the 23-year-old Scot made two consecutive unforced errors.
"I'm going to chill out for a few days, get a good night of sleep and then try to get my body right for London", Murray said, referring to the ATP World Tour Finals in the British capital from November 21-28.
Murray was clearly feeling the effect of having played Marin Cilic in a tough three-setter on Thursday night.
"When you get to bed at 3 a.m. the night before the match, this is not the ideal preparation," Murray said.
Melzer showed a better face in the second set against Federer but wasted a mini break early in the tiebreaker and missed an easy forehand volley to give Federer a 5-4 lead. The 16-time Grand Slam winner set up match point with an ace and converted it with a service winner.
"I thought I played a wonderful first set, being aggressive on returns, serving really good. So it was the perfect set," Federer said. "Got a bit of a fright early on in the breaker but he's not famous for being the best server in the game,
so I knew I would always get a sniff."
Fourth-seeded Robin Soderling also reached the semifinals, using 18 aces to defeat Andy Roddick 7-5, 6-4.
Soderling will play Michael Llodra after the Frenchman made light work of 10th-seeded Nikolay Davydenko of Russia, winning 7-5, 6-1.
Soderling got off to a strong start on the fast Bercy center court, losing just one point on his first serve in the first 10 games.
"Against Andy, it's always just a matter of taking the chances you get," the Swede said. "And then today I think I did really well. I served pretty well. I could have put some more first serves in but my second serve was good and overall it was a good match."
Roddick struggled to return the Soderling's big serve and failed to convert the only two break chances he had.
"Maybe I should move over," two-time French Open runner-up Soderling said when asked if he should buy a flat in Paris.
"It's a nice city and I have the best memories of my career here, both in Roland Garros and here in indoor."
Roddick said he might have lost his focus after qualifying for the ATP Finals on Thursday. Soderling will also feature in the year-ending tournament.
"The last two weeks you're kind of pins and needles trying to qualify for this thing, and it might have been a little bit of mental letdown today, which is completely on me," Roddick said. "That's my fault. I should be professional enough not to have that."
Llodra, the only unseeded player remaining, had never advanced beyond the second round at Bercy before. But after upsetting defending champion Novak Djokovic in the previous round, he continued to make the most of the fast surface, which has been made quicker this year and perfectly suits his serve and volley style.
Llodra and Davydenko traded breaks in the first set before the Frenchman won seven consecutive games for a 7-5, 5-0 lead.
Cheered by his son and French Davis Cup captain Guy Forget in the stands, Llodra produced 30 winners and sealed the victory with a service winner on his second match point.
"It will be tough against Soderling," he said. "He is a great indoor specialist and he is full of confidence."
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