Federer reaches semifinals

August 11, 2006 09:28 PM

Roger Federer 225 w
TORONTO (AP) -- Top-ranked Roger Federer withstood a scrappy performance by Xavier Malisse and earned a thrilling 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5), 6-3 quarterfinal victory at the Rogers Cup on Friday night.

Federer has won 52 straight matches in North America in a span of more than two years.

On Saturday, he'll face either 15th-seeded Fernando Gonzalez of Chile or Jose Acasuso of Argentina for a berth in the final and a chance to win his second Rogers Cup in three years.

British teen Andy Murray and France's Richard Gasquet will meet in the other semi.

Federer entered Friday's match with a 6-1 record against Malisse, but they hadn't met in four years. Federer quickly saw why Malisse has reached two hardcourt finals this year.

Federer needed a tiebreaker to top Malisse in the first set, and served for the match at 5-4 in the second. But Malisse broke back, and rallied from 5-4 down in the second tiebreaker by winning the last three points, two of them off Federer's serve.

"For me, there was no reason to panic," Federer said. "We were back to zero and he's got to win another 40 points or so to win the set. That's a long way, especially against me and I'm very well aware of that."

Malisse couldn't hold the momentum, however. His only lapse on serve in the final set came in the fourth game, when Federer claimed the only break point of the set. That was enough for Federer to take the match in 2 hours, 27 minutes.

Murray was better returning serve than holding his own in beating Finland's Jarkko Nieminen 6-4, 6-7 (0), 6-3.

Andy Murray 225 w

The 19-year-old Scot squandered two chances to serve out the match at 5-3 in the second set and 5-2 in the third. He finally broke 14th-seeded Nieminen for the eighth time, making a lob to finish their quarterfinal after 2 hours, 28 minutes, about an hour longer than he could have originally ended it.

"I thought I did pretty well to keep it together," Murray said. "I didn't really get frustrated -- bar one or two points -- which could have been really easy to do after having served for (the match) and then losing a seven-love tiebreaker.

"But I broke in the first game of the third and started to play aggressive again."

Nieminen gained momentum from Murray's nervous service game to take the second set into a tiebreak, which he swept. Murray, who made only 37 percent of his first serves and double-faulted nine times, then broke the Finn in the deciding set in the first, sixth and final games.

Gasquet took only 66 minutes to defeat 13th-seeded Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-1.

Berdych ousted defending champion Rafael Nadal the day before but the Czech player couldn't rustle up a single break point against Gasquet.

The 20-year-old Frenchman won 22 of the 24 first serves he put in.

"I served well and I returned well, and I think against him it's important because he's really aggressive," Gasquet said.

Gasquet has won 14 of 16 matches, including titles at Nottingham in June and Gstaad last month.

Murray was in sight of his third final this year, after winning in San Jose in February and reaching Washington's finale last Sunday.