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Fed express steams into semi-final

Fourth seed Roger Federer steamed into the first Grand Slam semi-final of his career with a straight sets win over Sjeng Schalken.

india Updated: Jul 03, 2003 21:29 IST

Fourth seed Roger Federer steamed into the first Grand Slam semi-final of his career with a straight sets win over Sjeng Schalken at a rain-hit Wimbledon on Thursday.

The Swiss won 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to set up a clash with the tournament favourite Andy Roddick for a place in Sunday's final.

The start of a match which had already been held over from Wednesday was delayed for another two and a half hours by rain.

Schalken had been grateful for the extra 24 hours he had to rest a badly inflamed and infected left foot which had almost forced him to pull out of the tournament.

But although he was able to play with the help of painkillers, it was soon apparent that the Dutchman was not 100 percent and Federer quickly secured what proved to be a decisive break in the fourth game of the first set.

Schalken had a chance of getting back into the contest when he earned a break point in the fourth game of the second set.

But Federer responded with an ace and went on to break his opponent in the seventh game, at which point Schalken called for the trainer and looked as if he was considering stopping.

Schalken finally managed to break Federer's serve at the start of the third set but he could not hold on to his advantage and the Swiss number one broke back twice to wrap things up.

Federer is the highest seed left in the tournament but he will start Friday's semi-final against Roddick as the underdog and knows from bitter experience that nothing can be taken for granted on the lawns of the All England Club.

Two years ago he played one of the greatest games of his life on centre court to dump Pete Sampras, then the unrivalled king of Wimbledon, out of the tournament in the fourth round.

But, as so often in what has been something of a stop-start career, the former world number one in juniors followed up that famous victory by succumbing to Tim Henman in the quarter-finals and has consistently under-performed in Grand Slam tournaments since then.

But his confidence on grass was given a boost when he won at Halle in Germany the week before Wimbledon. That was the first grasscourt title of his career, as well as meaning he had won on four different surfaces this year -- an achievement no player had managed since Sampras in 1998.

First Published: Jul 03, 2003 21:29 IST