Federer rallies past Wawrinka and into Stockholm semi-finals

Saturday, October 23, 2010

STOCKHOLM - Roger Federer turned the tide in spectacular fashion Friday to recover for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over good friend and fellow Swiss player Stanislas Wawrinka and squeeze into the semi-finals of the Stockholm Open.

It was an extremely close call for the world number two and top seed, who scraped to victory shortly after second seed Robin Soderling lost to 47th-ranked German Florian Mayer 7-6 (10-8), 6-1.

Mayer, playing in only his second semi of the season, will face the on-form Finn Jarkko Nieminen, who ran his record since the US Open to 11-3 with a defeat of 2005 and 2006 Stockholm winner James Blake 6-0, 6-2.

“I’ve been practicing well but it was not that way in matches - now it is. I’m feeling very confident with my game. I knew it would only be a matter of time, I knew that sooner or later things would turn,” said Nieminen.

Federer will next face longtime Croatian rival Ivan Ljubicic, a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 comeback winner over compatriot Ivan Dodig, with the Swiss standing 12-3 in that series.

A scratchy Federer looked nothing like the world number two in his opening set against Wawrinka, his Olympic gold medal doubles partner from Beijing. Down a set and 2-0 in the second set, left Federer in a huge hole.

But Federer was able to fire up in game in the nick of time to turn the tide and take the win in an hour and three-quarters.

“It was looking pretty bad, Stan was playing well and things were going quickly for me, I had no timing and was shanking balls,” said the 16-time Grand Slam champion.

“He was dominating, it was tough for me to stay in it. But I tried, I got lucky and all of a sudden I was back in the match. I fought my way out of this and I’m excited to be in the semis.

“I tried to adjust my game a bit. He was serving big so you try to hit good shots. His level dropped that little bit and things were much easier in the third set.”

Federer looks forward to facing Ljubicic for the first time since 2008. “He’s a a close friend, we go back a long way.

“He’s a great player and the only guy to beat me twice in Switzerland, I owe some revenge just for that,” said Federer, 12-3 in the series. “I have tons of respect for him, I hope we can play a good match tomorrow.”

Mayer, ranked 47th, produced one of the best wins of his career to reach his second semi-final of the season after Hamburg in July. “It was unbelievable to beat a top 10 player at home, indoors on his favourite surface,” said Mayer.

“In the first set I had no chance on his serve, he could have won it 6-4. But after I won the tiebreak, I could see that he was mentally broken. I took advantage, the last three games of the match were easy.”

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