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Fantastic Federer sets up a semifinal clash with rampant Djokovic

Top seed Wozniacki overcomes Schiavone, meets Li Na for a place in the final

— PHOTO: AP

IN FULL FLIGHT: An athletic Novak Djokovic fires a return during the course of his straight-set demolition of Tomas Berdych.

MELBOURNE: Defending champion Roger Federer demolished fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka to reach his eighth straight Australian Open semifinal on Tuesday, setting up a grandstand clash with Novak Djokovic.

Women's top seed Caroline Wozniacki survived a thrilling quarterfinal with tenacious Italian Francesca Schiavone and will now need to beat Li Na, who ratcheted up Chinese hopes of a first Grand Slam singles title.

Federer, who can become only the second man to win five Australian Opens after Roy Emerson (six), showed no mercy against close friend Wawrinka as he took him apart 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 in just 1hr, 47 min in the Rod Laver Arena.

“I definitely needed a good performance and I've obviously played Stan many times in practice and in matches, and there were no real secrets out there for either of us,” Federer said.

Federer and Wawrinka are known for a joyous celebration after their doubles gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but the pair were poles apart as the 16-time Grand Slam winner coolly dispatched his frustrated friend.

Wawrinka, who had not been beaten this year and whipped Andy Roddick in the pre-quarters, angrily smashed his racquet when he was broken for the fifth time, in the third set, as Federer cantered to victory.

Federer, 29, who can equal Andre Agassi's record 46 hard-court titles, will have his work cut out against Djokovic, who came out on top of their last Melbourne semifinal in 2008 and went on to win his lone Grand Slam title.

The 23-year-old third seed was immense in Tuesday's evening match as he saw off a strong second-set challenge from Czech world No. 6 Tomas Berdych 6-1, 7-6(5), 6-1, to reach his third Grand Slam semifinals in the past year.

“If I continue playing like this, and I think I am playing well, then I have a good chance”, said Djokovic. Meanwhile, Wozniacki overcame a tiring Francesca Schiavone 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to reach the semifinals, a result which also ensures she stays as No.1 when the new rankings are published next week.

Wozniacki clawed her way back from losing the first set against Schiavone, who had battled through a Grand Slam record 4hr, 44min epic with Svetlana Kuznetsova on Sunday, to clinch victory on a Hawkeye challenge.

Lifting Chinese hopes

In Thursday's semifinals, Wozniacki will meet Li Na, who lifted Chinese hopes to fever pitch after she weathered an early storm from Germany's Andrea Petkovic to reach her second straight Australian Open semifinals.

A day after compatriot Peng Shuai fell by the wayside, Li weathered a blistering start by Petkovic in both sets to wrap it up 6-2, 6-4 in 80 minutes.

Li said she had no intention of repeating last year's disappointment, when she was bundled out of the last four by eventual winner Serena Williams, who is out this year with a foot injury.

“I played really well in Sydney and I hope I can do better here this year. I don't want to lose in the semis again,” said Li.

A maiden Grand Slam singles title would be considered a huge boost to tennis in China, where the sport has been growing exponentially after it hosted a series of top tournaments and produced its first competitive players. — AFP

THE RESULTS

Prefix denotes seeding

Men's singles: Quarterfinals: 2-Roger Federer (Sui) bt 19-Stanislas Wawrinka (Sui) 6-1, 6-3, 6-3; 3-Novak Djokovic (Srb) bt 6-Tomas Berdych (Cze) 6-1, 7-6(5), 6-1.

Women's singles: Quarterfinals: 9-Li Na (Chn) bt 30-Andrea Petkovic (Ger) 6-2, 6-4; 1-Caroline Wozniacki (Den) bt 6-Francesca Schiavone (Ita) 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Men's doubles: Quarterfinals: Eric Butorac (USA) & Jean-Julien Rojer (AHO) bt 4-Lukasz Kubot (Pol) & Oliver Marach (Aut) 6-3, 6-4; 1-Bob & Mike Bryan (USA) bt 6-Jurgen Melzer (Aut) & Philipp Petzschner (Ger) 6-3, 7-6(7).

Women's doubles: Quarterfinals: 2-Kveta Peschke (Cze) & Katarina Srebotnik (Slo) bt 9-Bethanie Mattek-Sands & Meghann Shaughnessy (USA) 6-3, 6-3; 1-Gisela Dulko (Arg) & Flavia Pennetta (Ita) bt Natalie Grandin (RSA) & Vladimira Uhlirova (Cze) 6-0, 6-3.

12-Victoria Azarenka (Blr) & Maria Kirilenko (Rus) bt Chuang Chia-jung & Hsieh Su-wei (Tpe) 5-7, 6-3, 6-2; 3-Liezel Huber (USA) & Nadia Petrova (Rus) bt 5-Cara Black (Zim) & Anastasia Rodionova (Aus) 6-1, 6-4.

Mixed doubles: Quarterfinals: 2-Katarina Srebotnik (Slo) & Daniel Nestor (Can) bt Olga Govortsova (Blr) & Marcin Matkowski (Pol) 4-6, 6-4, 10-4; 3-Maria Kirilenko (Rus) & Nenad Zimonjic (Srb) bt Sofia Arvidsson (Swe) & Philipp Petzschner (Ger) 6-3, 6-4 .

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