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Federer storms into Hamburg semis

Roger Federer in action on Friday


Swiss tennis star Roger Federer is through to the semi-finals of the Masters Series tournament in Hamburg after a convincing win over Brazil's Gustavo Kuerten.

The 20-year-old Swiss (ATP 14) needed just 20 minutes to clinch the first set 6-0 against his South American opponent, who is seven places above Federer in the ATP rankings.

Kuerten then fought back in the second set beating Federer 6-1, giving the crowd at least a glimpse of why he had been tipped as the second favourite to win the $2.8 million tournament.

But the Swiss number one was undeterred and clinched victory by winning the decisive third set 6-2 to book his first ever place in the semi-finals of a major clay-court tournament.

Energy saving

"By the middle of the second set, I was already thinking of the third," Federer told reporters after the match. "Kuerten was cruising and I didn't want to lose too much energy chasing every ball. I wanted to get a good start at the third and I did."

For his part, Kuerten said he "couldn't really do much out there," adding that it was the first time he'd faced Federer and that the young Swiss knew how to cope better then he did.

Federer's win shows that the 20-year-old has made significant improvements to his game on clay - his least favourite surface.

Before arriving in Hamburg, Federer - currently ranked 14th in the world - had suffered early exits from his two previous clay tournaments in Rome and Monte Carlo.

Federer will now go on to meet Belarus's Max Mirnyi (ATP 39) in the Hamburg semi-finals, after Mirnyi booked his own place in the final four with a three sets win (7-6, 4-6, 6-3) over France's Julien Boutter (ATP 60).

It will be the third meeting between Federer and Mirnyi on the ATP Tour with the young Swiss having won both their previous encounters in straight sets. However both came on Federer's favoured hardcourt surface.

swissinfo with agencies

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