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Roddick reaches semis, Federer back on track
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World number one Roger Federer kept alive his dreams of winning a fourth tennis Masters Cup title with a 6-4, 6-3 triumph over No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko in the Red Group round robin competitions on Wednesday.

Following the Swiss on court, American Andy Roddick became the first player to secure a semifinal berth at the year-ending elite tournament after overpowering Fernando Gonzalez 6- 1, 6-4.

Federer, defending champion and three-time Masters Cup winner, will be seeking to beat Roddick on Friday to avoid an early exit from the US$4.45 million event.

He could even qualify by losing against Roddick if Gonzalez loses to Davydenko, but it could come down to the ratio of sets won and lost.

Federer, who was shocked by Gonzalez in his opener on Monday, was again not in his best form against Davydenko, but did just enough to capitalize on the world number four's mistakes.

"It was a different situation coming back from losing," shrugged the Swiss, who had never lost a round-robin match at the Masters Cup before being ambushed by Gonzalez.

"Here you lose and you play another top 10 guy. This was a top four guy so it doesn't get any easier. Anything can happen in the men's game.

"You're a little bit off, you're a little bit tired, you'll lose right away. But I create myself many, many opportunities so eventually I'll break through and I'll break their will."

While Davydenko' Masters Cup trip almost came to a halt after two straight losses, but he might have something else to worry about after the horrible season spotted by betting probe.

"Normally I'm just trying to get concentration and took my games away from the ATP investigations. I try not to be affected by the affairs," said the Russian.

"I know I have last match against Gonzalez. I won over him in few matches and he beat Federer. That's surprising for me. But in the last match, I have nothing to lose."

One thing that was clear on Wednesday night was that Roddick had worked himself into some of his best form of the season.

Roddick dictated play as usual with his serve and forehand, but the continued improvement of his backhand will not escape the attention of his rivals.

"Some days you have good days where everything feels pretty clean, and this was one of those. I didn't want to let him set up and try to hit those big shots. I thought I did that pretty well," said Roddick, who made just seven unforced errors.

Looking ahead to his clash with Federer, Roddick said: "There's no reason for me to be nervous. I can go out there and let it fly, play aggressive and try to knock him out."

"I'm sure I'll have about seven other guys cheering for me to do that," added a beaming Roddick.

(Xinhua News Agency November 15, 2007)

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