Federer shines in Estoril, Serena impresses in Charleston

Switzerland's World N.1 Roger Federer breezed through to the last four in Estoril (Portugal), 2008's first ATP tournament on clay. On the women's side in Charleston, US Serena Williams beat Russia's Maria Sharapova for the third time in a row.



LISBON - World number one Roger Federer and Nikolay Davydenko shrugged off the rain to reach the semi-finals of the Estoril Open clay court tournament on Friday.


Despite a series of unforced errors, Federer took advantage of two match interruptions caused by rain to improve his game and beat Portuguese player Frederico Gil 6-4 6-1 under the gaze of his new coach and clay court expert Jose Higueras.


"Gil played an excellent set and a half," said Federer. "Thank God I could use the rain delays to improve my level of play."


The 26-year-old Swiss will meet unseeded Denis Gremelmayr of Germany on Saturday.


A visibly irritated and tired Davydenko struggled to overcome Frenchman Marc Gicquel's powerful baseline game 6-4 5-7 6-3 in a gruelling two and a half hour match.


"I was tired and really nervous because of the weather. Every point that I missed, every easy mistake, I was feeling more crazy," said Davydenko, the world number four and a winner in Estoril in 2003.

"But I was fighting until the end and I won the match."


The Russian said his mental strength helped him overcome his exhaustion and the adverse weather conditions.


"I think it's the biggest strength I have," said Davydenko, who won the Miami title two weeks against over world number two Rafael Nadal. He will play Florent Serra of France in Saturday's other semi-final.

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