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Federer sets up Safin showdown
The world number one remains on target for his sixth successive Wimbledon title.
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2008 09:57 GMT
Roger Federer took just 20 minutes to take the first set against Mario Ancic [GALLO/GETTY]

Roger Federer, defending champion, is through to a Wimbledon semi-final match-up with Marat Safin after defeating Croatia's Mario Ancic 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 to reach his 17th grand slam semi-final in a row.

The world number one is aiming for a modern-era record sixth successive Wimbledon title, but he will need to get past Russian hot-head Safin, who fought back after losing the first set to overcome Spanish 31st seed Feliciano Lopez 3-6, 7-5, 7-6, 6-3.

Andy Murray's hopes of ending Britain's 72-year wait for a men's champion ended when he was on the receiving end of a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 masterclass from two-time runner-up Rafael Nadal.

The Spaniard, on course to meet Federer in a third successive Wimbledon final, will have to wait until Thursday to find out the identity of his next opponent after fading light halted play in the final quarter between Frenchman Arnaud Clement and Germany's Rainer Schuettler at one set all.

After several days of sunshine, rain hit southwest London causing more than three hours of play to be lost on Wednesday.

Federer's victory charge was briefly halted, but having blown Ancic off court in a 20-minute opening set for the loss of just one point on his serve, Federer took a two hour rain interruption in his stride and marched towards his 64th consecutive win on grass.

Complete control

"I'm just very happy I didn't have to burn unnecessary energy," said Federer, the only man who has not dropped a set at this year's championships.

"I was in complete control. I was never really under pressure. I served well. I didn't have to save a break point. When you go through a match like that... you know you're in a good and comfortable position."

Meanwhile on Court One, Safin, a two-time grand slam winner but now down at 75 in the rankings, became so enraged with his patchy play in the opening set that he smashed a ball over the roof and out of the court.

However the Russian managed to curb his emotions in a match which soon turned into a battle of the booming serves, as he out-aced Lopez 18 to 17 and his tally of 45 unreturnable serves was one more than the serve-and-volley loving Spaniard.

Safin didn't appear confident ahead of his semi-final with top-seed Federer.

"To beat Federer you need to be Nadal and run around like a rabbit and hit winners from all over the place. I think it would be just a little bit too difficult for me to beat him," said Safin.

Ridiculous forehand

Nadal took just one hour and 55 minutes to defeat home favourite Murray later on Centre Court.

"This was my best match here for sure," the 22-year-old Majorcan said.

"I tried to play aggressive all the time and hit big power on my forehand. I'm happy to be in the semi-final and also to beat such a tough player."

Murray, who produced a stirring comeback from two sets and 4-5 down to beat Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the previous round, acknowledged he was second best on every count.

"His forehand was ridiculous, I couldn't get any rhythm... I felt rushed on every point. All I could do was hope his level would go down a bit but I had no chances at all," said the Scot.

Source:
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