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Roger Federer reaches Australian Open semi-finals

AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Venue: Melbourne Park Date: 18-31 January
BBC coverage: Every Murray match live on BBC 1 or 2
Daily from 0800 GMT: live on BBC Red Button/website, 5 Live sports extra
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Roger Federer

Video replay - Australian Open highlights

Top seed Roger Federer overcame a shaky start to see off Nikolay Davydenko and reach the Australian Open semi-finals.

From a set and 3-1 down, the world number one took an incredible 13 games in a row and won 2-6 6-3 6-0 7-5.

Davydenko staged a mini-revival in the fourth set, saving a match point at 5-4, but he could not force a decider.

Federer's 23rd consecutive Grand Slam semi-final will be against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who beat Novak Djokovic 7-6 (8-6) 6-7 (5-7) 1-6 6-3 6-1.

It was a repeat of the 2008 final but having lost that in four sets, 24-year-old Tsonga gained revenge with an absorbing - albeit error-strewn - victory against the third seed in a match lasting almost four hours.

Djokovic looked set for victory when he cruised through the third set, but having dropped serve in the fourth, he immediately left the court, telling the umpire he was about to vomit.

On his return, the Serb, who retired from his quarter-final a year ago with heat exhaustion, quickly found himself 5-0 down and never really recovered, Tsonga powering through the decider in 33 minutes.

It's amazing. Definitely one of the most incredible things I have in my resume

Roger Federer on his 23 consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals

Djokovic congratulated Tsonga on a "great match" before explaining: "It was unfortunate that I couldn't perform at the level I wanted to in the fourth and fifth sets.

"I don't want to find excuses for my loss, but, you know, I went to vomit and I had diarrhoea before the match.

"Just a terrible feeling. It's been a great tournament for me, so it's just a bad way to not to be able physically go through the whole match."

For Tsonga, however, fitness was not an issue and the Frenchman said: "I was in good shape, maybe a little bit better than him.

"I saw he was not very good, but sometimes, you know, he do that and he win..."

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
An unseeded Tsonga rose to fame by reaching the 2008 Australian final

Looking ahead to Friday's showdown with Federer, the 10th seed said: "It's going to be tough because he's the best player ever."

Federer, meanwhile, said: "I'm just happy to be through."

Analysing his victory over Davydenko he said: "I've played him many times and I know he goes through phases for half an hour, an hour.

"You've just got to stick with him and if you don't he's going to crush you.

"All of a sudden I went on a run like I did and that was a bit surprising, but I needed that cushion at the end of the fourth when he played well."

Asked if he was concerned that he might lose, he said: "I was a touch worried, let's put it that way."

Federer won his first 12 matches against Davydenko, but the Russian was the form player coming into the Australian Open and had won his last two encounters with the world number one.

That looked set to become three when Davydenko, his groundstrokes firing with their usual unerring accuracy, broke twice to take the first set in 34 minutes, helped by Federer's 17 unforced errors.

When Federer double-faulted to gift Davydenko two points for a double break in the second set, the Swiss star's remarkable run of Grand Slam semi-final appearances was in real jeopardy.

CONSECUTIVE GRAND SLAM SEMI-FINAL APPEARANCES (Since 1925)
23 Roger Federer 2004-10
10 Ivan Lendl 1985-88
10 Rod Laver 1960-62
8 Ashley Cooper 1957-58
7 Jack Crawford 1933-34

But the Russian made two errors, and then saw a third opportunity slip by when Federer found a big serve and forehand winner.

From there, Federer clicked into top gear and turned the match on its head, winning 13 games in succession to go two sets to one up and lead 2-0 in the fourth.

Davydenko, facing the humiliation of two 'bagel' sets, rediscovered his poise to peg Federer back to 4-4 and then, thanks to a series of extravagant return winners, saved a match point as the top seed served for the match for the first time at 5-4.

But Federer broke straight back and served out to love at the second time of asking to win in two hours and 36 minutes.

No other player in history has appeared in more than 10 consecutive semi-finals but Federer's remarkable run stretches back to the 2004 French Open when he was beaten in the third round by Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten at Roland Garros.

"It's incredible looking back on how many years it is now that I'm able to deliver at Grand Slam play, especially this year," said Federer, who with his victory ensured he would remain number one when the new world rankings are announced on Monday.

606: DEBATE
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"I was just a bit worried I was not going to make it this time in the semis. You always believe the streak is going to be broken.

"Now the record is safe again and I've been able to add one more. It's amazing. Definitely one of the most incredible things I have in my resume."

Davydenko was a disconsolate figure and said: "Again, again, again, like the same that has happened last time in Grand Slam. I have a chance and I didn't realise it and I lost.

"I won virtually every baseline game and then I started to lose everything," he lamented. "My serve today was surprising. I have no first serve and that was really bad luck for me."

Of his quest to reach a first Grand Slam final the 28-year-old said: "Australian Open not any more, but my tennis is better. For sure it's better.

"I think I still have a chance. I don't know about this year, but I have a good chance at the French and US Opens."



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see also
Australian Open day 10 photos
27 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Serena battles through to face Li
27 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Teenager Robson beaten in doubles
27 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Murray powers into Aussie final
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Men's singles draw
26 Aug 11 |  Tennis
Women's singles draw
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Tennis on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Tennis


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