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Federer moves closer to first grass title

Roger Federer showed just how well he can play on grass in Halle


Swiss tennis star Roger Federer has moved a step closer to a win in a grasscourt tournament, qualifying for the semifinals of the Halle Open.

Federer had little trouble defeating Russia's Mikhail Youzhny in their quarterfinal of the German tournament. The 20-year-old overcame the Russian 6-3, 6-4, blasting an ace to end the match in just 52 minutes.

The Swiss showed off a selection of varied shots, peppering his opponent with lobs, volleys and groundstrokes. He had some trouble in the second set as Youzhny clawed his way back from 4-1 down to 5-4, but Federer managed to close out the match.

Federer now faces German Nicolas Kiefer, who defeated American Pete Sampras in the second round.

Mikaelian imperious

Rising Swiss tennis star Marie-Gaïané Mikaelian is also just two wins away from her first WTA tour title after comfortably reaching the semi-finals in Tashkent. The 18-year-old from Lausanne dropped just one game in Friday's quarter-final action as she brushed aside Belarusian player Nadejda Ostrovskaya (WTA 228) 6-0, 6-1.

While many of the world's top women are currently playing at the Vienna Open or preparing for Wimbledon at the grass court tournament in Birmingham, Mikaelian (WTA 50) has chosen to play at the slightly less lucrative Tashkent tournament - but her decision could now pay off handsomely.

Seeded number one for the first time at a WTA event, the Swiss teenager will now face Italian third seed Tathiana Garbin (WTA 86) for a place in Sunday's final. Garbin also enjoyed a fairly simple passage into the semis, beating fellow Italian Maria Elena Camerin (WTA 148) 6-4, 6-1.

In Vienna, Switzerland's Patty Schnyder was less successful than Mikaelian. The fifth seed bowed out in her quarterfinal against the fourth seed, Israel's Anna Smashnova, 2-6, 6-2, 6-0.

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