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German veteran beats Frenchman Arnaud Clement

Latest update : 2008-07-04

German veteran Rainer Schuettler, 32, won a five-hour marathon match against French player Arnaud Clément. He will meet Rafael Nadal in the semis, while Roger Federer will face Marat Safin.

Roger Federer's Wimbledon waltz collides with the wild world of Marat Safin on Friday as the volatile Russian looks to complete his All England Club fairytale and stop the Swiss superstar in his elegant tracks.

Federer tackles the former US Open and Australian Open champion in a mouthwatering semi-final with an historic sixth successive Wimbledon title tantalisngly within his grasp.

It should be a stroll.

After all he is the world number one and top seed while Safin came into the tournament at a humble 75 in the rankings.

Federer has beaten Safin eight times in 10 meetings and has not lost on grass for six years, 64 matches ago.

But he also knows that the 28-year-old Safin is the game's most unpredictable talent; a genius one day, a joke the next.

Federer will also remember that when Safin clinched a shock Australian Open title in 2005, it was his title that the Russian took courtesy of a dramatic 5-7, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (8/6), 9-7 win in the semi-final.

"It was a great match and I went through unbelievable pain," recalled Federer who will be playing in a 17th successive Grand Slam semi-final.

"I was struggling with my feet and I could hardly run. I saw some highlights. I can't believe how well we actually played, because I thought Marat was playing at his peak and I was playing almost as good as I could."

Federer, an astute observer of the game, has nothing but respect for the giant Russian who stunned third seed Novak Djokovic in straight sets in the second round here.

Since then Safin has claimed the scalps of three more seeded players - Andreas Seppi, Stanislas Wawrinka and Feliciano Lopez.

"I never look at Marat as a 75 in the world," said Federer who has reached the semi-finals without dropping a set.

"That's ridiculous and he knows that himself. He's showing again what he can do. It's just surprising he does it here at Wimbledon, because he used to dislike playing on this surface."

Safin, who has been written off so many times, admitted he has even shocked himself.

"I'm surprised I'm still here. I'm surprised I won two Grand Slams," he said.

"But this is my first semi-final here. To beat Federer you need to be like Nadal and run around like a rabbit and hit winners from all over the place."

Second seed Rafael Nadal, who has lost to Federer in the last two finals, faces Germany's Rainer Schuettler, who defeated Arnaud Clement of France, in his semi-final.

The 32-year-old Schuettler won 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (8/6), 6-7 (7/9), 8-6 after saving a match point in his five hour 12 minute marathon with Clement, the joint-second longest men's match in Wimbledon history.

Schuettler, a former world number five and Australian Open runner-up in 2003, is the first German to reach the last four since Michael Stich in 1997.

Four-time French Open winner Nadal, bidding to be the first Spanish men's champion here since Manuel Santana in 1966 and only the third man to win Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year, has had a smooth ride to the last four.

He has dropped just one set - against the promising Ernests Gulbis in the second round - and was ruthless in his straight sets demolition of Andy Murray in the quarter-finals.

Nadal took Federer to five sets in an epic 2007 final and had chances in the decider to break through.

"Last year was close. Only one more point and probably I would have had the trophy in my home," he said.

"I am playing well this year, but I don't know if it's enough."

Murray believes Nadal can be considered the favourite after witnessing the Spaniard's power at close range.

"If he plays that well and returns like that, I think he's very close to being the favourite to win the tournament," said the Scot.

"He was close last year, and I think he's playing better than he was last year."

Date created : 2008-07-03

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