Federer holds off Muller for place in 18th major semi-final

Other News Materials 5 September 2008 03:42 (UTC +04:00)

Roger Federer eased ahead into a record 18th straight Grand Slam semi-final as he ousted qualifier Gilles Muller 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) at the US Open on Thursday, reported dpa.

The Swiss top seed, still searching for a first major 2008 title in the last Grand Slam of the season, kept up his bid for success after winning the last four editions at Flushing Meadows.

Federer will play on Saturday for a place a in the finals against the winner of the all-star pairing of third seed Novak Djokovic and 2003 winner Andy Roddick, seeded eighth.

"I'm looking forward to the semis," said Federer, who won his 43rd New York match against a mere four losses. "Andy in the States is always exciting.

"It will be a tough match either way, I'm happy to be through. I'm playing great so let's see what happens."

Muller, ranked a distant 130th, is coming off of two-five set matches at the event, but didn't look like running out of steam against the second seed.

Federer, holder of 12 major trophies - but none since this event a year ago - took a two-set-to-love lead with only one break in the match, winning four of the last five points.

Federer took the third set to a second tie-break rallying from a 1-4 deficit to advance in his first match point as Muller netted a return after two and a half hours.

Federer is bidding for his 37th hard-court title. He currently stands second on the all-time list, 10 behind leader Andre Agassi.

He is playing the Open for the first time since 2001 without holding a trophy on cement coming into the tournament.

Victory marked his 32nd straight win at the event, where he last lost to David Nalbandian in the round of 16 in 2003.

Muller's best previous result was a Grand Slam third round, at 2005 Wimbledon when he upset Rafael Nadal in the second round.

The outsider was worn down by 0-2 comebacks in New York against Tommy Haas and Nicolas Almagro.

Federer, who lost the French Open and Wimbledon finals to Nadal, said difficult conditions made his straight-forward win more than useful.

"Gilles has won more games than all of us," he said. "He played a fantastic event. Today we had trouble with the sun and the wind. I didn't get many opportunities so straight-set is the best possible result.

"I'm happy how I pulled it out in the end."