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Federer poised for historical weekend at US Open
Larry Fine | September 08, 2007 17:20 IST
Federer faces fourth-seeded Davydenko in one of the men's semi-finals on Saturday, with third-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia playing 15th seed David Ferrer of Spain in the other to set the line-up for Sunday's final.
The Swiss top seed looks set to extend his own record by advancing to a 10th consecutive grand slam final.
The next target would then be to become the first man to win four successive U.S. titles since American Bill Tilden completed a sweep of six straight wins from 1920 and 1925.
Federer, chasing a 12th grand slam singles crown to match Roy Emerson on the all-time list, has a 9-0 career mark against Davydenko, who is bidding for his first grand slam final.
"I think he's a fantastic player. Totally underrated still sometimes," said 26-year-old Federer, who beat the Russian in last year's semis. "Even though I have a great record against him, I'm aware of his ability.
"I'm looking forward to a tough match."
Federer played three tight sets against the Russian in a 7-5 7-6 7-6 win to reach this year's final at the French Open. In the quarter-finals on hard court at the 2006 Australian Open, Federer had to battle for a 6-4 3-6 7-6 7-6 victory.
Davydenko, 26, should be fresh for the challenge. He has conceded just 39 games in his five matches -- the fewest in reaching the U.S. semis since Ivan Lendl lost 34 in 1987.
However, he remains guarded about his prospects.
"I'm playing very well," the fourth-ranked Russian said after beating Germany's [Images] Tommy Haas in the quarter-finals.
"But I'm not feeling I've reached the level of a number one to beat Federer."
The survivor of the Djokovic-Ferrer match will reach his first grand slam final, but could well be feeling the effects of what is likely to be a fierce groundstroke battle.
Djokovic, winner of four titles this year in a breakthrough season, has won a five-setter against Czech Radek Stepanek and a tough four-setter over Juan Monaco of Argentina before beating veteran Carlos Moya [Images] in the quarters.
The 20-year-old Djokovic, the first Serbian man to reach the U.S. semis in the Open Era, is in his third straight grand slam semi after reaching the last four at the French Open and Wimbledon where he fell both times to number two Rafael Nadal [Images].
Ferrer, also thriving this season with two titles, went four tough sets in upsetting Nadal in the fourth round, and five sets to beat Argentine David Nalbandian the round before.
"He's a great competitor," Djokovic said of Ferrer, whose best previous results have come on clay. "Obviously he's performing his best tennis this year.
"He beat Nadal, so he plays every point. He's running and he doesn't give you a lot of unforced errors, so you've got to earn every point."
Ferrer leads their head-to-head 2-1, though Djokovic won their only match on hard court, in the quarters this year at Indian Wells.
The Spaniard was surprised to have come this far.
"I cannot believe it," Ferrer, 25, said after beating Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina in the quarters. "For me, it's unbelievable."