Federer blasts del potro off court

SWISS MASTER: Roger Federer hits a ball into the crowd after beating Juan Martin del Potro in the men's singles quarterfinal match at the Australian Open in Melbourne yesterday.27/01/09. Pic. Rick Stevens. © AP.
SWISS MASTER: Roger Federer hits a ball into the crowd after beating Juan Martin del Potro in the men's singles quarterfinal match at the Australian Open in Melbourne yesterday.27/01/09. Pic. Rick Stevens. © AP.

MELBOURNE - Switzerland's Roger Federer demolished Juan Martin del Potro 6-3 6-0 6-0 to reach the Australian Open semi-finals and move within two wins of a record-equalling 14th grand slam title yesterday.

MELBOURNE - Switzerland's Roger Federer demolished Juan Martin del Potro 6-3 6-0 6-0 to reach the Australian Open semi-finals and move within two wins of a record-equalling 14th grand slam title yesterday.

Federer, a three-time Australian Open champion , completely outplayed the 20-year-old world number six to make his 19th consecutive major semi, where he will meet old rival Andy Roddick.

"I didn't expect a result like this. This is not usual," Federer said. "I don't think Juan Martin was at his very best tonight, otherwise it would have been much closer."

Federer was taken to five sets by Tomas Berdych in the previous round but he was immediately comfortable against del Potro, taking the first break to lead 3-1 and then the first set 6-3 by wrong-footing the towering Argentine on the baseline.

The Swiss was firing and he dropped a sharply spinning backhand and a classy half-volley for the first break in set two, then faked a drop shot for set points which he converted with an ace.

The exhibition display turned embarrassing by the third set as Federer went 4-0 for the loss of just two points and closed out with a service winner in just one hour and 20 minutes.

It was Federer's most comprehensive victory in the last eight of a grand slam, and puts his record bid firmly back on track after the Berdych scare.

"When all of a sudden it clicks, it's a nice feeling," Federer said. "I tried out a few things and they all seemed to work. He goes down and I go up, the difference is huge sometimes."

The Swiss will be aiming for his 16th win against Roddick in the semifinals after defending champion Novak Djokovic retired complaining of cramp and fatigue.

"It's nice playing someone my age," said Federer, 27. "It's nice to see Andy doing well. He's hung in there for many years so I'm happy for him."

Federer lost in the semis last year and was beaten in the Roland Garros and Wimbledon finals by Rafael Nadal, who ended his record 237-week stint as world number one.

But he rescued his season by winning his fifth US Open title to move to 13 grand slam victories, one fewer than American great Pete Sampras.

Federer has reached the semifinals at the previous five Australian Opens, winning in 2004, 2006 and 2007. - Sapa-AFP

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