Federer and Nadal blow into semi-finals as sun shines

By Bill Scott, DPA

London : Four-time champion Roger Federer dropped only his sixth Wimbledon set in the past 32 matches as he resumed his rhythm after a week of rain delays with a wind-blown victory into the semi-finals Friday.

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The Swiss top seed, bidding to duplicate the five All England Club titles in a row last achieved by Bjorn Borg 27 years ago, won his seventh straight against Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero, advancing 7-6 (7-2), 3-6, 6-1, 6-3.

Federer and Ferrero began their delayed contest Thursday but were driven off court at 5-5 by rain for the night.

They resumed in the dry, sunny conditions which officials say will allow the weather-plagued major to finish on time Sunday – though winners will be playing every day.

"I'm delighted to be in the semi-finals, but it was hard with so many days off," said the ten-time Grand Slam champion whose last win was earned a week ago before persistent rain set in.

"I had days off. I'm happy I came back and got into the rhythm again. I know that if I want to win this again, I have to play every day.

"It was difficult conditions today with the wind and I had a tough opponent.

"The pressure here is always the same, it's not more because I'm going for the fifth in a row. There is always so much at stake it would be a pity not to be Wimbledon champion for a year.

"That's why I'm so happy to be back in the semis."

As Federer rolled to his victory in the blustery conditions after two and a quarter hours, hot rival Rafael Nadal was also bearing down on a potential final.

The losing 2006 finalist took a shortcut into the semi-finals, defeating Tomas Berdych 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, 6-2 in the wake of a pair of five-set victories.

Spain's second seed spent 58 minutes in securing the first set, then reduced his workload accordingly to reach the final four in two hours, seven minutes.

The world number two will face the winner from Serb fourth seed Novak Djokovic and former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis from Cyprus while Federer play either Andy Roddick or Richard Gasquet.

Nadal limited his unforced error count to 20 as sun came out over Wimbledon after nearly a fortnight of foul weather.

Nadal lost a break in the first set, but took the early lead as he swept the tiebreaker.

A break in the first game of the second and third sets provided the cushion for victory, his 50th of the season.

A satisfied Nadal is on threatening form as even the fortnight's weather interruptions failing to dent his enthusiasm with his game.

"For the conditions, I played a very, I know I beat one of the best players in the world," he said of Halle champion Berdych.

"It's a very good victory for me. This year I'm very happy about my Wimbledon, I'm in the semifinals and am beating very good players."