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Del Potro hammers Robredo, sets up Federer clash

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-06-04

Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro (pictured) eased past Spain's Tommy Robredo in three sets (6-3, 6-4, 6-2) in their quarter final clash. Del Potro will now face Roger Federer in the semis, after the man from Basel ousted France's Gaël Monfils.

AFP - Roger Federer reached his 20th consecutive Grand Slam semi-final on Wednesday where he will face Juan Martin Del Potro, who'll be playing in his first, for a place in the French Open final.

Federer claimed a 7-6 (8/6), 6-2, 6-4 win over France's 11th seed Gael Monfils to close in on a first Roland Garros title and a record-equalling 14th major.

Argentine fifth seed Del Potro, who had reached the last eight at the US and Australian Opens, eased past Spain's Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in his quarter-final.

World number two Federer is now the overwhelming favourite for the title, following the defeats of four-time champion Rafael Nadal, as well as third seeded Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, the fourth seed.

Victory against del Potro on Friday would take the 27-year-old Swiss into a fourth successive Roland Garros final where a win would make him only the sixth man to complete a career Grand Slam.

It would also take him level with Pete Sampras's record of 14 majors.

Defeat for Monfils ended, for another year, hopes of a first French men's champion at Roland Garros since Yannick Noah in 1983.

"It was very important to win the first set. Gael felt it mentally and physically," said Federer.

"I tried to play aggressively and because of that I made a lot of errors. Perhaps I took too many risks."

Federer will approach the rest of his Roland Garros mission with confidence due to his impressive records against the remaining men in the draw.

Fernando Gonzalez, who tackles Robin Soderling in Friday's other semi-final, has one win in 13 matches against the Swiss master while Soderling is 0-9 and Del Potro, 0-5.

The 20-year-old Del Potro said he was making the most of the quicker courts in the Paris capital.

"The courts are faster than two years ago so that's good for my game," said the big Argentine who added that should he fail to beat Federer, he'd be rooting for the great man in the final.

"If I'm not in the final, then I would love to see Roger do it."

Monfils, whose subdued, on-court demeanour was in stark contrast to to his fist-pumping, chest-beating dismissal of Andy Roddick in the last round, admitted the match got tougher as it went on.

"I had lots of chances in the first set but I couldn't make the most of them. I was a little disappointed by that and after it got a lot harder and he played well," said the 11th seed.

"I was totally off in the second set and this was the big disappointment because if I want to be among the very top players I have to focus more and fight."

In a tense opening set, Federer demonstrated the pressure he is under to finally deliver a French Open title when he engaged in an uncharacteristic and lengthy dispute with chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani over a line call.

He then saved a set point in the tie-break before clinching the opener with a crisp forehand volley, a huge relief for a man who was forced to battle back from two sets down to beat Tommy Haas in the last 16.

Monfils began to wilt in the steamy Paris afternoon.

Federer soon went to three match points and took the tie with a smooth, down-the-line backhand winner.

Del Potro, one of the tour's most-improved players with five titles in the last 12 months, had beaten Robredo on the only previous occasion the two had met in Madrid in 2007.

The 20-year-old Argentine was quickly into his stride on Wednesday breaking the Spaniard, playing in his fifth Roland Garros quarter-final, in the seventh game on his way to claiming the first set after 34 minutes.

He eased through the rest of the match although he needed five match points to wrap up the tie.

Date created : 2009-06-03

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