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Tennis-Wimbledon-Federer beats Schalken to reach semi
Updated: 2003-07-04 09:36

Roger Federer became the first Swiss man in the Open era to reach the semi-finals of Wimbledon when he beat eighth-seeded Dutchman Sjeng Schalken 6-3 6-4 6-4 in their rain-delayed quarter-final on Thursday.

Federer, seeded four, trailed 0-3 and then 1-4 in the final set before winning five successive games to reach the last four, where he will play the fifth seed Andy Roddick for a place in the final.

"I am just very, very happy," he said after winning in 98 minutes.

"I have waited a long time for this and to be in the semi-finals is just a great day for me. I definitely didn't play super today because of all the talk of my injury and of his injury, but in fact I had no problems today. I felt fine."

It is only the second time since the Open era started in 1968 that a Swiss man has reached the last four of a Grand Slam tournament. Marc Rosset was the only previous player to do so when he reached the semi-finals of the French Open in 1996 where he lost to Michael Stich.

Federer, still only 21, never appeared troubled by the back problem that hindered him in the fourth round, and moved his opponent around the court, breaking in the fourth game of the opening set which he won 6-3 in 24 minutes.

But Schalken, who was nursing a foot injury, did appear to be troubled by his ailment in the opening stages at least, and called for the trainer in the second set.

He appeared sluggish in the opening set, which Federer peppered with some scintillating top-spin backhands after opening the match with a double-fault and then an ace in his first two serves.

The Dutchman, whose only victory over Federer in six previous meetings was on grass in the Netherlands two years ago, appeared to shake off his lethargy at the start of the second set and held a break point in the fourth game.

But Federer recovered well with one of 13 aces to save the game. Schalken served just one ace in the match.


He eventually broke Schalken in the seventh game and held serve to wrap up the second set 6-4 in 35 minutes.

Schalken, attempting to reach a grand slam semi for the second time in his career after losing to Pete Sampras at the US Open last year, must have thought he was back in match in the third set.

It started strangely with Federer initially going to the wrong end of the court -- and seemed to be heading the Dutchman's way as he raced into a 3-0 lead after breaking Federer's serve for the first time in the second game.

Even after Federer won the next game to love to reduce the arrears to 1-3, Schalken held his own serve to lead 4-1.

Federer, however, recovered with breaks in the seventh and ninth games to take the set 6-4 -- and reach the first grand slam semi-final of his career.

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