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Page last updated at 04:04 GMT, Friday, 5 September 2008 05:04 UK

Djokovic sets up Federer showdown

Novak Djokovic
If Djokovic wins the US Open he will usurp Federer as world number two

Third seed Novak Djokovic battled past Andy Roddick in four sets to set up a meeting with defending champion Roger Federer in the US Open semi-finals.

The 21-year-old Serb was easing towards the last four when he claimed the first two sets in just 62 minutes but Roddick came from nowhere to take the third.

The 2003 champion served for the fourth at 5-4 but Djokovic forced a tie-break and came through 6-2 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-5).

Federer, meanwhile, beat Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 7-6 (7-5).

The world number two will meet Djokovic for the third time in Grand Slams, a year on from their clash in the 2007 US Open final.

The Swiss prevailed that day to win his fourth successive title but has not won a Grand Slam since - losing to Djokovic in the Australian Open semi-finals - and has been replaced as world number one by Rafael Nadal.

"He's the absolute favourite," insisted Djokovic.

After beating the last remaining American in the men's draw, Djokovic was booed by parts of a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd during a court-side interview when he hit out at Roddick for accusing him of faking injuries.

Roddick had joked after his previous match that Djokovic was "either quick to call a trainer or the most courageous guy of all time."

The Serb responded: "I know they (the crowd) are already against me because they think I am faking everything.

"That's not nice to say in front of this crowd that I have 16 injuries and that I'm faking it."

However, Djokovic later apologised for his reaction, saying he had misunderstood Roddick.

"Unfortunately, Andy made a statement, and I don't think it was intentional. He made a joke and it was a misunderstanding.

"I exaggerated and I reacted bad in that moment. I apologise if I reacted like that. It was just impulsive and I had a lot of emotions in the last two days."

Roddick reiterated that his comments were not meant to be taken seriously.

"It was completely meant in jest," he said. "I'm sorry he took it that way. Maybe I did him a favour tonight."

Roddick was initially out of sorts against Djokovic, who had been taken to five sets by Tommy Robredo in the fourth round.

The American, who struggled terribly on serve in the early stages, had no answer to his opponent's power, placement and variety from both the baseline and at the net.

Djokovic broke three times to canter through the first set in 27 minutes and a single break at 4-3 was enough for him to deservedly wrap up the second.

606: DEBATE
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Cheered on by a partisan home crowd, eighth seed Roddick eventually found consistency on his own serve and began challenging Djokovic's, which enabled him to break for a 3-1 lead.

All of a sudden Djokovic's game was crumbling and Roddick's growing confidence resulted in an audacious passing shot to break for a 4-3 lead in the fourth set.

It appeared as though the match was destined for a fifth set but Roddick served two double faults when 5-4 and 30-0 up. Djokovic worked a break point and won the game by landing a lob on the baseline.

The Australian Open champion looked on top throughout a pulsating tie-break and completed the win when Roddick went long.

"There's not a whole lot of regret about how I played those last two sets," said Roddick. "I dug myself a hole and I gave myself a chance to get out of it but it was too little too late."

Djokovic will replace Federer as world number two if he wins the title at Flushing Meadows but the 12-time Grand Slam winner looked in good form against Muller, a qualifier.

Federer, who has not lost a match at the US Open since 2003, had to be patient and relied on raising his game at key moments.

The world number 120 survived Federer's first flurry, saving five set-points in the 11th game of the first set, but Federer struck decisively at 4-4 in the tie-break to close out the set.

Roger Federer
Federer has not lost at Flushing Meadows since 2003

Muller, the surprise package of the tournament, continued to serve strongly in the second set but, again, Federer chose his moment to pounce - breaking at 4-4 and serving out to extend his lead.

Federer never looked like being broken during the third set but he had to wait for another tie-break before sealing his victory.

This time Muller looked well-placed, leading 4-1 and 5-3, but two mistakes on serve proved crucial and Federer won four straight points to progress.

Federer's victory extended his US Open winning streak to 32 matches and his consecutive Grand Slam semi-final sequence to 18.

"I'm really happy with the way I pulled it out at the end because I thought it was going to four sets," said Federer.

"It's great to keep the semi-final streak alive. That's a huge streak for a long time. I'm really happy with my mindset going into the semi-finals."

The world number two is seeking a 13th Grand Slam title to move within one of Pete Sampras's all-time record.

The other men's semi-final involves Britain's Andy Murray and world number one Nadal, who is seeking his third Grand Slam in a row after beating Federer in the French Open and Wimbledon finals.

Both semi-finals are scheduled to take place on Saturday.



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see also
Roddick v Djokovic as it happened
05 Sep 08 |  Tennis
Federer v Muller as it happened
04 Sep 08 |  Tennis
Rain threatens Murray semi-final
05 Sep 08 |  Tennis
In-form Murray eyes US Open glory
04 Sep 08 |  Tennis
Federer edges through in thriller
03 Sep 08 |  Tennis
Djokovic battles to five-set win
03 Sep 08 |  Tennis
Order of play
23 May 08 |  Tennis
Men's singles draw
26 Aug 11 |  Tennis
Women's singles draw
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Tennis on the BBC
19 Jun 08 |  Tennis


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