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Federer sets sights on Slam No. 7

Top-seeded Roger Federer advanced to the Australian Open final with a 63, 5-7, 6-0, 6-2 victory Friday over Nicolas Kiefer.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2006 23:56 IST

Top-seeded Roger Federer advanced to the Australian Open final with a 63, 5-7, 6-0, 6-2 victory Friday over Nicolas Kiefer. Federer was sharp -- and occasionally brilliant -- in beating Kiefer for the seventh consecutive time. The Swiss star now will face heavy underdog Marcos Baghdatis on Sunday as he seeks his seventh Grand Slam title.

Serving notice early that Kiefer would get no easy points, Federer broke for the only time he needed in the first set to go up 3-1, at one point sprinting in from the baseline for a drop shot and flicking a backhand around the net post and down the line for a clean winner. In the same game, Federer reached another drop and sent a lob over Kiefer's head that he tracked down but smacked well long. Kiefer levelled the match by breaking Federer as he served at 5-6 in the second set. Kiefer wasted his first opportunity with a weak forehand into the net, but Federer sliced a backhand just wide on the next.

Implacable as usual, Federer stepped up his game and zipped through the third set, committing only two unforced errors -- after 26 in the first two sets -- to retake control. With Federer serving at 5-0, Kiefer saw his only break point vanish on a shot that was called long but that TV replays showed was on the line. Kiefer held serve to start the final set, only to see Federer run off five straight games. Kiefer saved two match points while serving at 1-5, then a third as Federer served in the next game. Federer finished it off with a serve that Kiefer whacked into the net. “I really turned it up when I had to,” said Federer.

Swiss flag T-shirts were scattered about Rod Laver Arena, and the crowd was clearly behind Federer against the testy Kiefer, who repeatedly questioned calls. He was fined earlier in the tournament for foul language and was warned twice about obscenities in the quarterfinals. In the crowd, was Laver himself who chatted with Federer. “It’s fantastic to play in front of him,” Federer said. Asked who would win if they played on grass, Laver's favored surface, Federer joked: “I would lose because we would probably play with wooden rackets.”


Singles: Men (Semi-final) Roger Federer (1) bt Nicolas Kiefer (21) 6-3, 5-7, 60, 6-2. Doubles: Women (Final) Yan Zi and Zheng Jie (12), bt Lisa Raymond andSamantha Stosur (1) 2-6, 7-6 (7), 6-3. Mixed: (Semi-finals) Daniel Nestor and Elena Likhovtseva (6) bt Leander Paes and Nathalie Dechy 3-6, 6-4, 10-4 ; Mahesh Bhupathi and Martina Hingis def Paul Hanley and Samantha Stosur (5) 6-3, 6-3.

First Published: Jan 28, 2006 23:56 IST