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Federer enters French Open final

Roger Federer closes in on a Grand Slam title sweep as he overcomes courageous but stressful Nikolay Davydenko 7-5, 7-6, 7-6.

india Updated: Jun 08, 2007 20:32 IST

Roger Federer closed in on a Grand Slam title sweep when he overcame courageous but nerve-racked Russian fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko 7-5, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (9/7) to reach the French Open final on Friday.

The world number one, hoping to win a first Roland Garros title and become just the third man to hold all four Grand Slam crowns at the same time, will face either defending champion Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic in the final.

Federer also claimed another record on Friday as he reached an eighth consecutive Grand Slam final bettering the mark set by Jack Crawford in 1934.

But Davydenko, playing in his second Roland Garros semifinal, was left to regret a catalogue of missed opportunities including wasting three set points in the third set.

He had an astonishing 11 break points in the first set, but was able to convert just one; Federer had two and profited from both.

By the end of his ninth defeat in nine meetings with the top seed, Davydenko was left with the demoralising statistic of having secured just three of a huge 17 break points in the tie.

"I could have just as easily have lost in three sets," admitted Federer. "But I'm glad to get through. The last two matches against Mikhail Youzhny and Tommy Robredo were tough and I knew this was going to be difficult."

Davydenko was by far the better player in the opening exchanges and broke a subdued top seed in the first game.

The 26-year-old Russian, regularly finding the lines and corners, forced Federer to save two more break points in the third game.

At 3-4, Federer again was under siege having to stave off another four break points.

But Davydenko, stunned by his inability to hammer home his superiority, dropped serve to love straightaway as Federer levelled the tie at 4-4 on his way to a 6-5 lead.

He claimed the set in the 12th game after 51 minutes on court.

Watched by Hollywood actor Don Johnson in the VIP box, Davydenko was hit by stagefright when he carved out a break to lead 5-4 in the second set but was unable to serve it out, allowing the Swiss to level at 5-5.

The Russian then squandered another break point, his 13th of the tie, in the 11th game before Federer romped to a two-set lead with a confident tiebreak.

Despite the deficit, Davydenko battled on. Three more break points went begging in the second game of the third set but he made a crucial breakthrough in the fourth to lead 3-1.

However, the occasion got the better of him again when he wasted two set points on his own service in the ninth game, which handed Federer another lifeline.

Davydenko bravely saved a match point in the tiebreak, then had another set point but Federer wrapped up the semi-final when the Russian went wide with a drop shot.

First Published: Jun 08, 2007 19:40 IST